Last summer, I spent a lot of time indoors pouring over all the information I could find to create the soap recipe I could feel good about making and customers could feel great about buying. I looked to local businesses to see what locally produced additions I could put into soap. I researched which oils would be the most moisturizing. I went down the rabbit hole when it came to finding oils that were not only great for the skin but would also follow the "do no harm" principal in our larger world community.
That's when I came upon the issue with palm oil and soap. Palm oil is ubiquitous in so many things we find on the supermarket shelves from soap to cookies to that episode of 'Grace and Frankie' on Netflix where they talk about palm oil in personal lubrication products.
The reason palm oil is such a hot topic is because the production of it is destroying the world's rainforests. When Madison Soap was still very small, I decided to go palm-free all together to ensure I wouldn't be contributing to the devastation of critically endangered species, the eradication of who knows what biodiversity and rising CO2 emissions from the burning of rainforests. As I reflected on the issue more, I realized that to solve a problem is not to ignore it.
Farmers in the Amazon and Sumatra must make a living and are already in the business of palm. In order to make an impact, it is necessary to have organizations that are supporting the well-being palm farmers, educating them in sustainable land practices and preventing the deforestation in order to protect the plants, the people and the animals that inhabit the biodiverse rainforests of our planet.
When I researched deeper into the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm, I discovered that the requirements in order to be a part of this organization were loose at best. Large palm suppliers were simply asked to make a commitment to sustainability and RSPO palm was criticized for being an exercise in "green-washing" (disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image).
That's when I discovered the frog. The frog is the symbol for the Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM seal. To earn this seal, "farms are audited annually against the Sustainable Agriculture Standard for the crop’s production. The standard’s rigorous and detailed environmental, social and economic criteria are designed to prevent deforestation, protect biodiversity and natural resources, deliver financial benefits to farmers, and support the well-being and rights of workers and local communities."
That's when I decided that in Madison Soap Company's rebrand, Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM Palm Oil would be our first ingredient. Look for the seal on every box.