Everyone has a part to play in the Haze

With everyone (Singaporeans mostly) constantly blaming Indonesia for the haze, three non-government groups joined forces to start a movement advocating for sustainable palm oil as a way to alleviate the haze problem — which by the way is not entirely caused by Indonesia, but instead, us Singaporeans.

Environmental group WWF-Singapore teamed up with People’s Movement to Stop Haze (PM.Haze) and Singapore Institute of International Affairs, to launch “We breathe what we buy” —  a campaign to raise awareness of consumers’ role in the haze.

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What exactly is “We breathe what we buy” about? Well, the campaign wishes draw the link between Singaporeans’ shopping habits and haze.

Basically, they are telling you that Singapore’s annual Genting impersonations are all your fault.

Just like global warming.

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But why the hate on palm oil?

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Palm oil has been linked with the destruction of the world’s precious rainforests — mainly because it is a vast mono-cultured plantation. As palm oil is also a useful edible oil, large areas of tropical forests and other ecosystems with high conservation values are then cleared to make room for these oil palm plantations – destroying critical habitat for many endangered species, including rhinos, elephants and tigers.

Methods include deforestation, man-made forest fires, peat drainage, land conflict and climate change.

Thus, when we as consumers buy unsustainable palm oil and paper products, we are paying money to make the haze worse!

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Through reading this you’ll have a better knowledge of how we Singaporeans are a main contributing factor to the haze, and what we can do to fix the damage done.

So how exactly can we help to fix it?

Simple.

All you have to do is to start buying/using products from companies who use certified sustainable palm oil.

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How do I know what products contains palm oil?

As it’s hard for consumers to discern which companies and products use certified sustainable palm oil, the aim of the entire campaign is to open the open companies’ eyes to the demand from consumers for sustainably sourced products.

They even have a page on the website which educates us on brands we should be using.

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The companies listed on the website serves as a ‘sneak preview’ to the other 100s of companies listed in the WWF Scorecard.

You’d be surprised at some companies.

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McDonald’s how could you.

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Happy Meal? More like hazy meal.

This campaign also wishes to address that the fault of the haze does not solely lie on Indonesia.

For years people, have been blaming Indonesia, but what everyone fails to understand is that the only reason Indonesia continues to burn is because of the rising demands for products made from palm oil.

The “Haze & Us” page on the website explains a list of causes for the haze, with Palm Oil being the root cause.

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HALF the products in the supermarket contains palm oil!? Thats crazy.

This is gonna be crazier.

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Yup. Ice cream too 🙁

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Solid evidence that we are all to be blamed for the haze. We are all officially culprits.

It should then be of no surprise that such products are made EVEN by multinational companies with regional bases in Singapore.

So then, what can we buy!?

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Palm oil isn’t the enemy.

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The production method is the enemy. Thus, all we have to do to continue enjoying ice cream breathe cleaner/fresher air would be to use SUSTAINABLY PRODUCED palm oil.

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That’s what sustainably produced palm oil refers to.

Okay… so what can we buy?

Always look out for products with  the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification logo.

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The RSPO is an organisation that sets a globally recognised minimum standard for the cultivation and distribution of palm oil.

Unfortunately, products which use sustainable palm oil are not widely available or clearly labelled in our region.

In the absence of labelling, consumers may decide which brands to support based on the palm oil scorecard published by the Union of Concerned Scientists (USA), which ranks major global companies relevant to the palm oil supply chain.

You can also refer to this list of brands and products that have been certified by RSPO.

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There are some sustainable palm oil products though…

After taking a look at the palm oil scorecard, we have some good news to share:

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YAY ICE CREAM!!!!!

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We can make a change

The campaign aims to gain a total of 50,000 pledges from Singaporeans to buy products made from sustainable sources.

With public support, WWF-Singapore hopes to eventually put a stop to the Haze. With enough support, they will engage companies here to work on long-term solutions that will encourage the use of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). These include oil suppliers Fuji Oil and Cargill. European companies are leading the charge internationally, setting the target to achieve 100 per cent CSPO by 2020.

Though the company is still at its infancy phase, with more pledges, it will definitely be able to demonstrate demand to the manufacturers and retailers.

Now that you know that you too have a part to play, help fix the situation.

Make a change while you can. Every pledge counts.

Check out the campaign website here: webreathewhatwebuy.com.

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Featured image via webreathewhatwebuy.com
With reference from webreathewhatwebuy.compmhaze.org, WWF-Singapore