UPDATED 2/13/2017: Here’s the response from Seventh Generation:
Thanks for getting back to me.
I apologize that the links did not work, we recently changed our site around a bit.
The system for purchasing credits is certainly not perfect and we would love to purchase sustainable palm oil, unfortunately there is not a dedicated supply channel for this. We feel that this is the best option currently and we are always open to suggestions to help minimize our impacts on the planet.
How does that make you feel? A company that uses its greenwashing as a marketing ploy!?
AND this comes on the heels of this yesterday, the bank HSBC funds deforestation in Indonesia AND they’re members of the RSPO!
I WILL NOT BE BUYING SEVENTH GENERATION ANYMORE. There are other non-palm oil (and sustainable palm oil) soaps out there.
In Fact, Dr. Bronner’s, which DOES USE ONLY sustainable palm oil, has a cheat sheet on how to use their soaps for household needs.
Buy Dr. Bronner’s. BOYCOTT Seventh Generation:
Original 02/10/2017 Post
I was in the store last week, needing dishwashing soap (hey, I live in society and not like the Unabomber out in the wilderness eating grubs and hunting). I literally stood in the supermarket aisle and pondered my choices. Naturally, I reached for Seventh Generation, which touts its alleged environmental bona fides. After all, their brand name means “Seven generation sustainability, the idea that decisions should be considered for their impact on the seventh generation to come, inspired by the laws of the Iroquois.”
Seeing palm oil code names on the label, l I called the 800 phone number from right there in the store. Much to my great surprise, a live person actually came on the line (“Hunter”). He was a super-knowledgeable kid who knew all about “greenwashing” and was genuinely interested in discussing the palm oil issue –and inquired on possible solutions to the problem. Well, some 20 minutes of shooting the breeze with this Vermont company rep later, I told him he convinced me for now, I reached for their product and wrote an email to the company when I got home.
Here’s their response:
Thank you for contacting us about our use of Palm Oil.
In our ongoing quest to make our products the most sustainable and plant based cleaning products available, we are continually working up and down our supply chain to ensure that the ingredients in every bottle of Seventh Generation are not just less bad for people and the planet, but are truly good.
Seventh Generation was one of the the first consumer packaged goods company in North America to address the issue of destructive palm oil production and its effect on tropical rainforests. We purchase sustainable palm kernel oil production credits to cover our company’s use across our entire cleaning product portfolio and pay a premium to producers of sustainable palm in order to support their work and to expand the market for greener palm oil production.
The purchase of sustainable palm kernel oil credits is only the first step in a broader strategy that will culminate in sourcing a segregated supply of palm kernel oil for our exclusive product use. Currently, the infrastructure needed to supply Seventh Generation with adequate levels of sustainable palm oil simply does not exist, so we have purchased credits as an interim measure while we work diligently to achieve our sustainable sourcing goal.
There is an ugly side to growing palm. In order to make way for large-scale plantations, vast tracks of old growth rainforest, in places such as Indonesia and Malaysia, have been clear cut. As the global demand for palm oil skyrocketed over the last 20 years (with an almost six fold increase in production), deforestation has continued on an epic scale.
Scientists refer to forests as the lungs of our planet. We pump out increasing quantities of CO2 — the most prevalent global warming inducing greenhouse gas — and our tropical forests act like giant CO2 digesters. They breathe in CO2, and breathe out oxygen. As more and more rainforests are clearcut to make room for palm oil plantations, not only does carbon absorption cease, but also the carbon stored in the trees is released into the atmosphere as CO2 if the wood is burned or left to rot after cutting.
Tropical deforestation also destroys crucial habitats for wildlife, thus contributing to (even causing) endangered species (think orangutans, elephants, and tigers). As habitats are lost to palm oil production and without immediate intervention, these species face almost certain extinction. Without a change in forest practices in Indonesia and Malaysia, it is likely that orangutans will disappear in the next five years.
By supporting sustainable palm oil production, we hope to contribute to positive change. We strive to stop the rapid conversion of tropical rainforest and peatlands to palm oil plantations. We can ensure that the critical habitat for some of the world’s most threatened species remain intact, and we can take part in ensuring that the indigenous people of the rainforest are not driven from their land.
The links below will tell you more about our efforts:
If after reading the above, you have any questions or concerns, I am happy to continue to discuss this topic with you.
The term “credits” scared me to know end. I know that all that means is that they buy UNSUSTAINABLE palm oil from somewhere that pays credits to the GOOD GUYS who ARE creating sustainable palm oil. (See Dr. Bronner’s post, for instance.)
And their links weren’t even live and took me to a general sourcing page that didn’t even discuss palm oil, or so it seemed, so I wrote them back.
Your canned response says, among other things, “We purchase sustainable palm kernel oil production credits to cover our company’s use across our entire cleaning product portfolio and pay a premium to producers of sustainable palm in order to support their work and to expand the market for greener palm oil production.”
While that’s a step in the right direction, because you’re paying credits (much like carbon tax credits, offsets, etc.), SOMEBODY is still creating wholly unsustainable palm oil such that credits is merely an instrument to try to move the industry away from unsustainable. But most likely your supplier is NOT the one using unsustainable palm oil or you wouldn’t need to purchase credits!
Have you thought about using NO PALM OIL? I shudder to think what wild, wooly Borneo and Sumatra were like BEFORE THE PALM OIL boom of the 2000! What a sight it must’ve been.
DO NOT BE A PART OF THE PROBLEM! Just stop using it!
Forgetting a thought, I quickly wrote another email:
Also the links you provided are not live! They only take me to your general Ingredients + Source page. Nice bait and switch.
Credits do NOT mean you’re buying from sustainable sources. It means, rather, that you’re buying from NON-SUSTAINABLE sources and giving money via credits to the GOOD GUYS.
That’s It! I will post this on my anti-palm oil blog and will STOP buying your products that contain palm oil.
Yuck. For a company called Seventh Generation I’d expect more.
So for now, I’m skeptical — and bummed.
I’ll post any response when I get the latest.