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US Programs

The overall objectives of the programs listed below are to raise awareness among the American consumer of the ecological and social devastation occurring due to the cultivation of oil palm in Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as encourage a market that sustains chemical supply lines not involved in deforestation or human rights violations.

Product Certification

  • Purpose: Certify finished goods as being free from palm oil and palm oil derivatives.
  • Activities: The Palm Free Council will work with raw material suppliers and finished product manufacturers to obtain origin statements for all ingredients listed on product labels and verify these materials are free of palm oil and palm oil derivatives. Certification will be monitored on a biennial basis. Certified products will contain the Palm Free Council seal which lists the web address, where consumers can go and learn more about the effects of oil palm, our programs and other palm free products currently on the market.
  • Justification: The US consumer is largely unaware of the global effects oil palm has had and is having on our planet. Finished product manufacturers (ie-Unilever, L’Oreal, Nestle, Mars) claim to source sustainable palm oil or source from fully traceable supply streams. Unfortunately, those responsible for certifying sustainable palm oil (ie-Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil) have been connected to child and forced labor, disregard of land rights and the clearing of primary forest and peat land, which is a major contributor to what some are calling the 2nd mass extinction. Traceability also has limited meaning when traceable supply streams are connected to human rights violations and environmental crimes. The Palm Free movement applies social and financial pressure to producer countries as well as global brands who profit off the use of this inexpensive material but do little for the people and environment of supply countries.

Speaking Engagements

  • Purpose: To inform chemical industry professionals, brands andfinished product manufacturers how their raw material choices effect our planet. Raise awareness of palm free certification and the availability of alternative chemical supply streams. We also seek to raise awareness among consumers thereby encouraging social pressure to evoke change.
  • Activities: Speak at industry events aswell as various community events and make direct calls on beauty brands that can help to grow the Palm Free movement by certifying their products or contributing to our efforts on the ground in Indonesia.
  • Justification: According to the leading global market research firm of consumer goods (Mintel), natural claims are one of the leading influencers of consumer behavior today. Palm oil falls under the cover of the natural market so it often escapes scrutiny. Natural origins and the low cost and wide availability of palm oil have allowed this material to dominate the chemical market even though there are many other options not connected to environmental atrocities or human rights violations that can easily replace it.

Beauty Industry Liaison

  • Purpose: Serve as a liaison between large brands wanting to enter the palm free market and chemical manufacturers wanting to supply that market.
  • Activities: : Utilize industry contacts in the chemical and cosmetic and personal industries to find sources and customers to achieve reciprocal agreements and encourage the development of deforestation free supply streams that also respect human rights and do not use child labor.
  • Justification: The Palm Free market is a viable yet fledgling market that requires the assistance of sales and marketing toraise awareness of consumer demand and the potential of this market.

501©3 Registered Corporation

  • As a 501©3 corporation (EIN 82-2964754), all donations to the Palm Free Council are tax deductible.
  • 90% of our donations go directly to our Indonesian partner foundation.
  • No salaries are taken by administrative staff at the Palm Free Council.

Indonesian Programs

The overall objective of the programs listed below is for the tourist destination Batu Kapul and neighboring corridor forests to serve as examples and inspiration that can be repeated in other areas of Indonesia also facing the threat of deforestation and species extinction due to the extraction of natural resources. It is our hope that Batu Kapal will be the jewel of responsible eco-tourism and provide a benchmark that is followed for years to come. It is also our goal to provide a means of income that will support the people of the region and minimize the influence that poverty has over the welfare of Indonesia’s many natural treasures which are critical to the overall health of our planet. Our goal is to make these programs self-sustaining.

Batu Kapal Ranger Program

  • Purpose: Monitor flora and fauna of corridor forests of Gunang Lesuer National Park and prevent illegal logging, hunting and conflict between endangered wildlife and humans while also providing employment for locals.
  • Activities: Camera trap monitoring, foot patrols, snare removal, aerial surveys with Justification: Camera traps monitor elusive species that are low in numbers and difficult to observe. Foot patrols guard against illegal logging and hunting, and snare removal keeps endangered species from getting caught in snares meant for other animals. Drone surveys aid in monitoring changes in land use and allow for proactive engagement with neighboring properties. Finally, the Batu Kapal Ranger program promotes conservation of an ecosystem that is critical to our planet while also teaching new skills to local population as well as providing employment.
  • Justification: Endangered species aren’t always easy to spot. Camera traps help us to observe elusive animals so we can help them flourish. As farms continue to encroach on forested areas, animal/human conflicts increase. Farmers begin to see animals like the orangutan as pests rather than critically endangered species needing protection. Snares are a major threat to animals in forested areas.
Hanging animal snare found by local ranger patrol.
Hanging animal snare found by local ranger patrol.
Baby Sumatran elephant caught in animal snare that later died due to injuries and loss of her herd. (2018)
Baby Sumatran elephant caught in animal snare that later died due to injuries and loss of her herd. (2018)
Pregnant Sumatran tiger caught in a pig snare and died due to a ruptured kidney.  She was pregnant with boy and girl tiger cubs. (2018)
Pregnant Sumatran tiger caught in a pig snare and died due to a ruptured kidney. She was pregnant with boy and girl tiger cubs. (2018)

Homeless Empowerment Through Recycling

  • Purpose: Establish a recycling depot in the slums of Batu Kapul to sort and recycle waste while also providing income and education for the homeless women of the area. These women are typically affected by the death or illness of loved ones and lack resources to support themselves
  • Activities: Pay for collected waste (per bag), reuse plastic by making bags and eco bricks to sell and use, collect food waste from local guest houses and restaurants for composting.
  • Justification: Indonesia ranks 2nd in the world as a contributor of plastic marine waste but has no established recycling program. Poverty and lack of choice fuels a desperate labor supply ripe for exploitation in industries like oil palm. Providing employment opportunities that serve the local community as well as the world enables the local population to gain control over their futures and develop new skills and alternative employment opportunities.The women of this area began collecting plastic and repurposing into eco bricks themselves.
Slums of Batu Kapal. The people living here are squatting on public land and can be thrown off anytime.
Slums of Batu Kapal. The people living here are squatting on public land and can be thrown off anytime.
Bath time for one of the babies living in the slums of Batu Kapal.
Bath time for one of the babies living in the slums of Batu Kapal.

Conservation Program

  • Purpose: To educate volunteers on the consequences of deforestation and loss of species while also teaching sustainable eco-tourist practices and respect for our surroundings.
  • Activities: Volunteer program, track local animals and trees with GPS, create wildlife corridors, develop best practice ecotourism activities that have minimal impact on the surrounding environment, plant trees and seedlings to restore corridor forest.
  • Justification: Volunteer programs minimize costs and environmental impact (ie-tourists come to serve the environment rather than take from it). Tracking of flora and fauna provides awareness of local endangered populations and the ability to assist (ie-planting mature, trees so wildlife can travel through the corridor and access other DNA pools, working with farmers not to kill endangered animals found eating their crops). Best practices eco-tourism encourages sustainable practices like zero plastic left by guests, no feeding animals to minimize the spread of disease and conflict, provision of a water source so single use water bottles are not brought in by tourists. Functional wildlife corridors are necessary for animals to access other DNA pools. This is particularly crucial to stressed populations like the orangutan, Sumatran tiger, rhino and elephant.
Volunteer working with Volunteer Coordinator at Sumatra Rainforest Eco Retreat to weed and plant seedlings and replenish corridor forest.
Volunteer working with Volunteer Coordinator at Sumatra Rainforest Eco Retreat to weed and plant seedlings and replenish corridor forest.
Daily patrol in Bukit Lawang corridor forest to track flora and fauna with GPS
Daily patrol in Bukit Lawang corridor forest to track flora and fauna with GPS

ROAR (Recycle or Actively Reduce) Project

  • Purpose: Supply guest houses with water pumps and signage for refilling. Sell ROAR reusable water bottles made from recycled plastic to guest houses and provide free refills. Educate and train guesthouses on how to compost. Partner with Erna’s Eco Farm Compost. Provide compostable straw option to schools and community. Organize clean up days with schools and community. Post signage and posters with details of ROAR in tourism areas. Use Recycling, Reuse and Repurpose programs as a means of income generation for the community. Reduce the use of single use plastic bags through education. Encourage reuse of plastic bags, rather than burning. Provide fabric bags to local community and encourage guesthouses to sellfabric bags.
  • Justification: Indonesia ranks 2nd in the world as a contributor of plastic marine waste but there is no established recycling program.
Water station supplied with well water for filling reusable water bottles.  Signage about the importance of minimizing plastic waste is listed on the wall above.
Water station supplied with well water for filling reusable water bottles. Signage about the importance of minimizing plastic waste is listed on the wall above.

Adopt a Forest

  • Purpose: Purchase land in the Batu Kapal biolink buffer zone to protect from exploitation.
  • Activities: Purchase small tracts of land (known as “rantes”, 50m x 50m in size).
  • Justification: Sumatra has the world’s third largest forest and ranks second in the world for deforestation. 70% of Indonesian palm oil comes from the island of Sumatra and oil palm plantations typically replace forest. Half of Sumatra’s forest disappeared between 1985-2008 and forest cover on Sumatra has gone from 50% to 25%. The critically endangered orangutan travels through the forest in the tree canopy. When native trees are replaced by oil palm trees, orangutans lose safe mobility that enables them to travel to other forests and access new DNA pools. They are also killed or driven from palm plantations because they will eat the palm fruit.
Tall, native Meranti tree
Tall, native Meranti tree