ASHA AND JIA KIRKPATRICK
Sisters persuaded cereal giant Kellogg’s to change its palm oil policy to help save orangutans threatened by devastating deforestation.
Like so many people, Asha and Jia had no idea what palm oil was, or how many products it is found in.
But when they learned from a TV documentary that it is used in everything from food to beauty products, and has a devastating impact on the habitats of orangutans, the girls felt they had to do something.
Asha, 13, says: “Watching the documentary made me feel really heartbroken, I didn’t even know what palm oil was before I watched it. Just the fact it was making such a big difference to orangutan habitats with deforestation and our world."
Jia, 11, adds: “It made me very sad to see how loads of orangutans’ habitats are being destroyed due to palm oil.”
Palm oil farming is having a devastating impact on the great apes’ habitat and threatens to wipe them out.
Asha and Jia were particularly concerned to discover palm oil was in their favourite breakfast cereals, made by Kellogg's.
The sisters decided to boycott Kellogg’s products until it changed its palm oil policy and started a petition asking the business to make a commitment to sustainably sourcing palm oil.
Asha and Jia wrote on their change.org petition: “We are sisters and we love orangutans. We were really upset when we saw the numbers being killed and orphaned every year are being increased by companies who want cheap palm oil – and it has to stop now.
“Twenty five orangutans are killed every day due to palm oil and we must take action now. As well as wiping out rainforests and the wildlife that thrives within them, cheap and irresponsible palm oil companies are also killing people. Due to the toxic gases of burnt down trees, around 110 people die a year. An area the size of a football pitch is torn down in Indonesia’s rainforest every 25 seconds - this has to stop!”
The schoolgirls, from Leighton Buzzard, Beds, gathered more than 780,000 signatures and Kellogg’s bosses agreed to meet them in December 2018.
The company promised to launch an inquiry into their palm oil supply chain and discussed the idea of having a rainforest friendly logo for products which do not use palm oil.
Two years on the company has amended its Global Palm Oil Policy, pledging 100% of its palm oil would be sustainably sourced by 2025.