The Unmask Palm Oil campaign began by complete accident. A group of students from Pakuranga College looking to make their school pantry palm oil free became a national campaign. A campaign with the sole purpose of getting seven letters written into law.
The audit of the pantry hit a rock when these students realised that because palm oil labelling is not mandatory in New Zealand, audits become difficult. The myriad of other ambiguous and generic titles like vegetable oil and vegetable fats, to the downright confusing Sodium Laureth Sulfate meant nearly every company had to be called individually. This took 6 people 2 hours on the phone and we decided this wasn’t right. So this group of students began a campaign called ‘Unmask Palm Oil Demand Labelling’ with a simple mission of: ‘palm oil to be labelled on all products that contain it, within a time frame that is fair on companies yet reflects the urgency of the issue.’
We all know palm oil is the ingredient causing hundreds of thousands of hectares of deforestation, human rights abuses in land grabs, two billion tonnes of carbon emissions and the near extinction of species like the Orangutan. But this campaign is just as much about consumer choice as it is about palm oil. There is a significant group of people who don’t want to consume palm oil, our campaign simply exists to give them the 2 words they need to make it happen. No matter how passionate or oblivious you are about the palm oil industry, palm oil labelling will empower the thousands of passionate palm oil boycotters and leave those that don’t care alone.
Since it’s creation the campaign has gone national, utilising the untapped lobbying potential of schools student councils through the networks that we already have available to us. The Unmask Palm Oil team don’t prescribe to the schools what they have to do but we give each school leader the information and ideas they need to lead a movement in their schools. By getting students involved with the campaigns, petition, presentations, audits and the Facebook page they learn how to speak out against things that they see are wrong in the world, something that no NCEA curriculum could ever teach.
We really believe in this cause and with your help, Simon Bridges will too.