Bars of wafer hidden beneath a layer of sweet, smooth and silky chocolate. As it enters your mouth, the chocolate melts, which is followed by a subtle crunch of the wafer. Can you guess what I’m talking about? KitKat. It may be a delicious, mouth-watering snack to have, but do you know what it really does to the world you’re living in?

KitKat, along with some other Nestlé products, contains palm oil. Not only is palm oil unhealthy, but it also damages the environment, destroying many habitats.

What is palm oil?

Palm oil is a type of edible vegetable oil that comes from palm fruit, found on African oil palm trees. Oil palms were originally from Western Africa, but can grow wherever heat and rainfall are abundant. Today, palm oil is grown throughout Africa, Asia, North America and South America, and 85% of all palm oil is produced and exported globally from Indonesia and Malaysia.

How does it harm the environment?

Orang-utans live entirely in trees and the reason why they are endangered can be summed up with two words: habitat loss. This is mainly due to products being made with palm oil, as many trees are cut down to collect the palm fruit used to make the oil. This pushes many species to extinction and findings show that if nothing changes, species like orang-utans will become extinct within the next five to ten years, and Sumatran tigers in less than three years.

Anna Wood, when asked if she was shocked to hear about this, answered, "It shocked me as I didn't realise that such innocent creatures were being killed just so we can have a snack. I'm sure we can find a different solution to making things that we like to eat."

What can be done to stop usage of palm oil?

As a consumer, you can help reduce your contribution to deforestation by making some simple  lifestyles changes. You should avoid buying products that contain palm oil, which tends to be most pre-packaged snack foods. As well as this, choose products with clearly labelled oils, such as '100% sunflower oil, corn oil, olive oil, coconut oil, or canola oil'. As a citizen, you can 'use your voice' and state your opinion about deforestation for palm oil development and help to pressure companies, manufacturers and the government to take serious action. You can also volunteer and support organisations that help protect the environment and the world we live in e.g. Greenpeace.

Stop destroying rainforests. Say no to palm oil.