I've been surprised this week by the number of people in my social media network who have shared Iceland's "banned" Christmas ad - many of whom I have never known to support any other environmental issue. The "Blue Planet" effect which catapulted single-use plastic to the top of the mainstream agenda seems to be at play again, this time on palm oil. The animated film is estimated to have received in excess of 30 million views across multiple social media platforms.
Iceland has certainly taken a bold stance on palm oil, which it has promised to remove from own-brand promises by the end of 2018, and whatever the true background to this ad (which I recognise from a previous Greenpeace campaign) it has certainly grabbed the public imagination. But unlike single-use plastics which are easy to avoid with a few simple lifestyle changes, eliminating palm oil is much trickier. No doubt Iceland's market share will be boosted by food shoppers who appreciate the convenience of a one-stop palm oil-free grocery shop. However, palm oil is also used in a vast number of toiletries and cosmetics - not a market where Iceland plays - and it's notoriously difficult to avoid because of the huge number of different names it goes by.
I've been trying to avoid palm oil for a while and have found that there are few reliable UK-based sources of information for the concerned shopper. Here are a few that might help:
Which everyday products contain Palm Oil? - via WWF
Palm Oil-free product list - via Ethical Consumer
Directory of Palm Oil-free brands via Shop Palm Oil-free
25 sneaky names for Palm Oil - via Treehugger