Sunday, 18 August 2013

In the PALM of your hand

As per all the best laid plans, as soon as I started the blog I got some work ^^, which of course I'm always very happy about. However it does draw me away from the creativity a little.
Ollie Orangutan by Louise 2005
(Chalk Pastel)
With World Orangutan Day approaching (unless it's passed already) I thought this a nice introduction to a recent experience I had with a client of mine. Of late I've really ramped up my personal efforts to avoid anything which might have caused suffering, especially to other lifeforms who don't have any choice - yes the animals! Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a bit of an animal nut.

Anyway, I recently began to do some research on the products I was using in the bathroom and found out that nearly everything contained (apart from all the chemicals) either animal residue (beef or pork fat) or palm derivatives.

Now, as a vegetarian, I'd rather not be rubbing myself with dead cows and pigs, but the consequences of the palm derivatives are, to a degree even more harmful, especially to the environment. And folks, they are hidden in ways you wouldn't believe (I'll list the pseudonyms later on). So, my client had emailed me asking if I was free for a little marketing content writing and gave me a brief. His line of business is mostly medical marketing for dentists, plastic surgeons and cosmetic surgeons (there's a difference ^^), orthopedics, etc. Unfortunately the brief was to write some promotional content for an on-line store which would be selling beauty products...hmm. After a little research I managed to find the ingredients list for the goods and lo and behold amongst the 'organic' and 'bio' additives were the tell tale palm derivatives. What to do? This was the first time I've come across this kind of situation of 'needs vs doing the right thing'. You'd think it would be easy, but it's not.

After some deliberation about a) How I should decline and b) How to explain my reasons for declining to the client and c) Whether or not this might be held against me for future work, I finally decided to go with gut feeling number 1 'Decline the job politely; explain the real reason; and don't worry about whether or not you get more work because some things are way more important than that!'...Voila!

I carefully drafted my mail and, after hovering over the key for a few seconds while re-checking and re-checking my mail, I hit send.

The most amazing thing happened. The client replied that he was sorry he hadn't known about the palm derivatives and that he agreed what an awful business the palm trade was. Not only that but he even went further to ask how I managed to avoid using palm too...wonderful! And when I replied that it was nice to have a human being for a client he simply responded that although he thought he was human it was just that he wasn't desperate! I'm so pleased to have stuck to my principles, I feel a little bit more grown up because of it, lol.

For those who are interested the list of palm nasties is below - remember thought, a product may say it's 'Organic' or 'Bio' or '100% vegetable' but then palm is a plant; it may even say its made from 'sustainable palm', but it's most probably not. If you want more information and a detailed list of companies which are responsible for the bulk of the palm industry trade then you can also go to this site -

Foods, Body Products, Cosmetics & Cleaning Agents:
-Vegetable Oil
-Vegetable Fat

-Sodium Laureth Sulfate (in almost everything that foams) ^
-Sodium Lauryl Sulfate ^
-Sodium Dodecyl Sulphate (SDS or NaDS) ^
-Palm Kernel#
-Palm Oil Kernel #
-Palm Fruit Oil #
-Palmate #
-Palmitate #
-Palmolein #
-Glyceryl Stearate #
-Stearic Acid #
-Elaeis Guineensis #
-Palmitic Acid #
-Palm Stearine #
-Palmitoyl oxostearamide #
-Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-3 #
-Steareth -2 *
-Steareth -20 *
-Sodium Kernelate #
-Sodium Palm Kernelate #
-Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate *
-Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate ^
-Hyrated Palm Glycerides #
-Sodium Isostearoyl Lactylaye ^
-Cetyl Palmitate #
-Octyl Palmitate #
-Cetyl Alcohol ^
-Palmityl Alchohol #

# These ingredients are definitely palm oil or derived from palm oil.
* These ingredients are often derived from palm oil, but could be derived from other vegetable oils.
^ These ingredients are either derived from palm oil or coconut oil.   


I've found a supplier (I think so anyway) of 100% vegetable/non palm/non chemical soap here in France and as soon as I've received it, checked the bottle and tested it I'll do a write up. The only other one that I've heard of is Dr. Bronners pure castille soap, but it's a bit difficult to get it here so I spend almost half a day trying to find an alternative, can you believe it, half a day! Incredible, all just to get a safe and environmentally kind product. 
I had visited a local pharmacy which was stocked to the ceiling with hundreds of 'Bio' , 'Organic' and '100% vegetable' products, yet each one had the fateful words 'Laureth', 'Stearate'. 'Palmate' and so on looming out of the ingredients list. The worst one yet thought, was the lovely block of Marseilles soap I bought in glee from the local supermarket last week (the last straw before my half day quest) when I saw no chemicals or stearates, etc, in the ingredients - only to get home and check one word I hadn't come across before 'Tallowate', which is the bit that turned out to be beef and pork fat, lol.  
Roll on the time when I have a little space of my own to get bubbling my cauldron to make my own products, I don't think my mother-in-law would appreciate me burning the saucepans to make soap
Have a great day or evening wherever you are in the world!
Love & light
Mermie aka Louise 

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