These days a trip to the zoo is as much about education, conservation and strategic reproduction than it is about a fun day out. Indeed, I wasn’t more than half an hour into my family outing when I was  (metaphorically) slapped in the  face with the palm oil issue.  I stopped, I listened, I thought and came away feeling a little bleugh.   Not because I disagree with the palm-oil-plantations-are-runining-the-forest-ecosystem argument (because I do agree) but because I felt that the take-home-message gleaned from the zoo presentation would lead to mis-placed activism.

When it comes to saving the planet we (us guys with lots of stuff, space, money, choices, gadgets and free time) have one important choice to make when we go shopping and that choice is NOT about opting for the brand with no palm oil, it is about re-evaluating our need to buy in the first place.  Palm oil plantations are growing because we want more stuff – more biscuits, chocolate, cosmetics, household cleaning products, fast food and lollies. The truth is that we don’t NEED any of those things and the inconvenient truth (to coin a phrase) is that swapping from a palm derived product to some other feedstock may end up worsening the plight of our planet as palm is a very efficient crop.

So, the message that the zoo should have sent us home with is that if we want to protect our planets eco-diversity then we should buy less, recycle more and generally try to tread a little more lightly wherever we go but I guess that just doesn’t cut it when pitched next to a cuddly baby Orang Utan.