Lilian Min
June 18, 2015 1:15 pm

Here at HelloGiggles, we’re firmly pro-Nutella, but after we heard about French ecology minister Ségolène Royal’s call for a Nutella boycott due to its detrimental effect on the environment, we’d been loathe to indulge in our favorite “definitely not just chocolate” condiment. The culprit in the hazelnut spread is palm oil, the production of which Royal explained was linked to deforestation.

In short: The demand for palm oil means more and more of its trees are being planted and cultivated in areas with other native plant species, wiping them out. By removing these native species, environmental activists and Royal alike argue that palm oil production is taking away from biodiversity, endangering tropical environments and creatures like the orangutan, and contributing to dangerous labor conditions. But is boycotting Nutella really the best way to combat any of those things?

Well, given that palm oil is present in just about every household item you own and is an essentially part of many cooking cultures, not really. According to the World Wildlife Fund, some of the many everyday products that use palm oil include lipstick, ice cream, soap, and shampoo — yet none of those kinds of companies were implicated in Royal’s statement.

And even regarding Nutella’s use of the oil, the company is actually at the forefront of smart palm oil sourcing. According to Time, Nutella’s parent company Ferrero has already publicly underlined that it is already working with sustainable palm oil plantations, meaning that they’re using land that has already been cleared and doesn’t threaten any endangered species.

Your better bet for understanding the environmental effects of palm oil: Get involved with environmental activist groups; research into companies that either harvest palm oil sustainably and safely or forgo its usage at all; if you still really feel bad, make your own hazelnut spread. Given the company’s other controversies, palm oil isn’t going to make or break Nutella consumption.

(Image via Shutterstock.)

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