Trick or Treat?

What's to be done about Conflict Palm Oil in candy.

Nathan E. Jones headshot posted by Nathan E. Jones

First off, I want to say thank you. Thank you for reading our emails, signing our petitions, writing back, sharing your thoughts on our Facebook and Twitter pages, engaging one another, and just caring enough to do something, anything, even if it’s just reading this paragraph.

Because of your efforts, in the first day after our last email, we sent more than 140,000 emails to folks at Hershey’s, Nestlé, Mars, and Mondelēz.

We’re just days from Halloween and many of you have already picked out costumes (or made your own!), stocked up on candy and chocolate, and are ready for when the kids come calling for treats.

Trick or Treat?

Some of you have asked us — and each other — some great questions and they’re worth repeating and, at least, beginning to answer. They’re questions a lot of folks have had; they’re questions I myself had before I started working for Rainforest Action Network. So maybe I’m biased when I say, “They’re good questions.”

Is Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification good enough?

The short answer is: no.

Some folks have pointed out that Mars, for example, says that it buys RSPO-certified palm oil. But the RSPO still certifies as “sustainable” the palm oil from companies like Indofood, accused of rainforest destruction, human rights abuses, worker exploitation (including child labor), climate pollution….in other words, NOT sustainable.

It’s on companies like Mars to implement a strong No Deforestation, No Peatland Destruction, No Exploitation policy and stick to it … in addition to any certifications they acquire. They can’t merely rely on the RSPO and consider the problem solved.

Why don’t we suggest boycotts?

With millions and millions of dollars worth of palm oil flowing into products under dozens of names and forms, both hidden and clear, we are past the point where it is practical or possible to eliminate enough palm oil from our homes — let alone account for the millions of other global consumers — to impact a brand’s bottomline. We can’t convince these companies by not buying their candy bars when so many others do.

What we can do is shine a light on these sordid connections, embarrass them publicly, and be so vocal that they cannot ignore us. Companies care about their image and the more we can prove and reveal and share their connections to bad actors, the more pressure they will feel to do something about it: either because they want to avoid a PR disaster or they want to look like they care, or because someone high enough up finds their heart and their backbone and decides to do something about this.

That’s why we put very public pressure on all of the actors in the supply chain: the buyers, the growers, the sellers, the certifiers, the financiers. Because as we move more and more of these big corporations to do the right thing, the others must follow and the whole industry will shift. And it’s not that they’re going to remove palm oil from their products; it’s that they will remove the conflict from it.

And finally, what the heck do you give kids for Halloween?

THAT, is a good question. But I’m going to need some help. Do us all a favor and if you have an idea, post it to our Facebook or Twitter threads.*

And while you’re on social media, help us spread the word demanding candymakers cut Conflict Palm Oil from their supply chains!

Share the petition on Facebook here or Tweet it!

Remember folks: learn, reveal, spread the word, shine the brightest light you’ve got. Trouble can’t hide in the shadows if there are no shadows.

*UPDATE: We asked and YOU answered! What are fun alternatives to problematic candy this Halloween? Here’s what you came up with!