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Protect Wildcat Habitat: Take the 28-Day No Palm Oil Challenge!

In learning more about the wild relatives of our domestic cats (check out last month’s blog post, “Raising Awareness for the World’s Small Wildcats”), we discovered just how devastating the palm oil industry can be on the natural habitats of wildcats. This month, we’re taking a 28-day challenge to reduce palm oil consumption in our own lives. We know money talks, and so we’re choosing to discontinue purchasing products that contribute to the deforestation brought on by the palm oil industry.

Why? Palm oil is one of the most widely used vegetable oils in the world due to its versatility, and it’s found in all sorts of products – from foods like cereal, chips, peanut butter to dairy products, soaps, toothpaste, makeup, and laundry detergents (just to name a few.)

It is also one of the most devastating crops to the forests of Southeast Asia where half of the world’s small wildcat species make their home. There are few protections for the environment and wildlife in this part of the world so the palm oil industry faces little push back when it destroys forests and sets up massive operations.

As we explained last month, “because wildcats are apex predators, when we conserve their habitats, we are saving entire ecosystems and helping to preserve biodiversity.” Once you get into the news and research about palm oil, the problem can feel daunting and so we wanted to provide some practical steps that you can take to help.

The organization Say No to Palm Oil’s first recommendation is to take their 28-Day Palm Oil Challenge to identify and eliminate purchasing products that contain palm oil. The challenge is broken into four, 1-week periods, looking at a different category of products each week (pantry, fridge, bathroom products, and laundry products). We’ve already begun our challenge at The Happy Beast and would LOVE to have you join us. We’ve outlined each of the weeks below with products to avoid and healthy alternatives, including homemade recipes and DIY cleaners that are super easy to make and environmentally friendly.


WEEK 1: PANTRY

The FDA requires palm oil to be listed on the ingredient panel of packaged food. Be on the lookout for palm oil in the following items: Shortenings, cookies, crackers, cake mixes, icing, instant noodles, bouillon cubes, biscuits, gluten free breads, and almond and peanut butters.

Homemade Everything Crackers
This recipe is super simple and the crackers are done in about 15 min

Recipe from www.thekitchn.com

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, or a mix of all-purpose and whole grain flours
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, 1 tbsp fennel seeds, 1 tbsp poppy seeds, 1 tsp sea salt


WEEK 2: FRIDGE

Be on the lookout for palm oil in the following items: Ice cream, non-dairy creamers, and margarines. And if you are a vegetarian or vegan and use “meat-free” or “dairy-free” products, it is especially important to read all the ingredients. We tend to assume vegetarian and vegan products are both ethically and environmentally responsible, but there are several dairy-free cheeses and milks that contain palm oil. For instance the popular So Delicious Dairy Free brand has several products that contain palm oil.

Homemade Almond Milk

Making milk seems really intimidating, but it’s actually quite fun and easy. Plus, it excludes thickening agents such as carrageenan, guar gum, and xanthan gum.

Recipe from www.thekitchn.com

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw almonds, preferably organic
  • 2 cups water, plus more for soaking
  • Sweeteners like honey, sugar, agave syrup, or maple syrup, to taste, optional


WEEK 3: BATHROOM

The FDA does not require palm oil to be listed in the ingredients for non-food products, so identifying it in bathroom products is a little tricky. Avoid anything with sodium lauryl sulfate and palmityl alcohol. Check out this list of palm oil synonyms and derivatives from the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University​. Overall, products like mouthwash, toothpaste, lotion, and skin care products can contain palm oil and are quite ubiquitous in our personal care products.

DIY Toothpaste

Recipe from: www.wellnessmama.com

Ingredients

  • About 1/2 cup coconut oil.
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of baking soda.
  • 2 small packets of stevia powder.
  • 15-20 drops of peppermint or cinnamon essential oil (optional)


WEEK 4: LAUNDRY

Household cleaning products frequently use palm oil for their foaming and emulsifying properties. Remember that it’s always important to read the labels, especially for those products promoting themselves as “green” or “natural.” For instance Clorox Greenworks, Method, Seventh Generation, and Simple Green cleaners all contain palm oil derivatives.

DIY Cleaner

Recipe from: www.popsugar.com/smart-living/Homemade-All-Purpose-Cleaner-28495713

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Borax
  • 1 tablespoon hydrogen peroxide
  • 2 cups hot water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Touch of Lavender essential oil (optional)

PACE Sustainability Certification (Part 2)

Earlier this month, The Happy Beast received sustainability certification in waste, water and energy efficiency through Partners for a Clean Environment (PACE). In partnering with PACE, we’re joining a community of businesses that:

  • Are dedicated to the community in which we live
  • Care about our customers
  • Pursue more sustainable practices to support the health, environment, and economy of our local community.

Our PACE certification in waste diversion and water efficiency demonstrates our high level of environmental performance. PACE’s certification performance criteria are based upon and consistent with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) criteria as well as EnergyStar Building certification. To achieve certification, we demonstrated:

  • Waste Certification: Diversion of at least 70 percent of waste stream away from the landfill. (Our diversion rate is 87%!)
  • Water Certification: Water savings of 20 percent better than usage predicted by current code. (Our savings is 21%!)

We’re making some great strides in sustainability certification and will continue these efforts throughout 2015 and 2016. You can read our Part 1 blog post to see where we started, or check out our progress-to-date below.

The Happy Beast: Steps to PACE Certification
(Audit conducted: May 15, 2015 | Last updated: September 15, 2015)

  • Water: CERTIFIED (Gold)
    • Install low-flow faucet and dog wash sprayers: COMPLETE
    • Install additional drain screens for dog washes: COMPLETE
    • Install water efficient toilet: COMPLETE
    • Install dual-flush toilet conversion kit: Pending
  • Energy: CERTIFIED (Silver) 
    • Update thermostat programming: COMPLETE
    • Use smart power outlet strips: COMPLETE
    • Use sleep mode for all computers: COMPLETE
    • Install Energy Star certified washer and dryer: COMPLETE
    • Upgrade all remaining lighting to LEDs: COMPLETE
    • Install occupancy sensors in bathrooms: Pending
    • Upgrade to energy-efficient water heater: Pending
  • Waste: CERTIFIED (Gold) 
    • Establish composting and recycling, including packaging film plastics: COMPLETE
    • Provide reusable shopping bags and $.10 bag credits (stop by the store to get yours!): COMPLETE
    • Divert over 70% of monthly waste stream (recycling, compost, plastics, and trash): COMPLETE

 

Our Journey Toward Greater Sustainability (Part 1) – Making a Pawsitive Impact

We’re excited to announce that we’ve started working with Partners for a Clean Environment (PACE) to conduct a sustainability audit and provide recommendations to help us measure and improve our use of energy and water resources while reducing our overall waste stream. Like all PACE Partner businesses, at The Happy Beast, we’re committed to supporting a strong local economy, implementing environmentally sustainable practices, and demonstrating leadership in our community. We’re extremely proud to have already achieved our water usage certification, but we’re still working toward our energy reduction and waste diversion goals. We’re including a list of the steps we’re taking below, but please let us know if you have any other ideas or suggestions. We want to share these goals and achievements with our customers at every step and we always welcome your feedback.Partners for a Clean Environment | The Happy Beast

If you’d like to to learn more about what sustainability steps you can take for your business or home (and what rebates may be available) please contact PACE or Eco-Cycle for more information.

 

The Happy Beast: Steps to PACE Certification
(Audit conducted on May 15, 2015)

  • Water: CERTIFIED
    • Install low-flow faucet and dog wash sprayers: COMPLETE
    • Install additional drain screens for dog washes: COMPLETE
    • Install water efficient toilet: COMPLETE
    • Install dual-flush toilet conversion kit: Pending
  • Energy: Work-in-Progress
    • Update thermostat programming: COMPLETE
    • Use smart power outlet strips: COMPLETE
    • Use sleep mode for all computers: COMPLETE
    • Install Energy Star certified washer and dryer: COMPLETE
    • Upgrade all remaining lighting to LEDs: Pending
    • Install occupancy sensors in bathrooms: Pending
    • Upgrade to energy-efficient water heater: Pending
  • Waste: Work-in-Progress
    • Establish composting and recycling, including packaging film plastics: COMPLETE
    • Provide reusable shopping bags and $.10 bag credits (stop by the store to get yours!): COMPLETE
    • Track monthly waste stream (recycling, compost, plastics, and trash): Pending