Who's Behind Say No to Palm Oil?

THOMAS KING
Director & Founder

Thomas is a 20-year-old campaigner & speaker from Melbourne, Australia, who has been recognised as one of Australia’s most accomplished young change-makers. His life changed in 2010 at age 13 when he witnessed footage of a young, malnourished orangutan dragging her body through a scene of endless forest destruction. This was the first time Thomas was exposed to the impacts of unsustainable palm oil development. 

After realising he and everybody around him was unknowingly contributing to this destruction by purchasing products containing unsustainable palm oil, Thomas dedicated himself to raising awareness about the issue. Upon realising that there was a lack of resources on palm oil for consumers, Thomas created SayNotoPalmOil.com, a platform that has developed significantly overtime and now reaches half a million visitors annually from 200 countries.

Thomas began volunteering his weekends to support organisations like The Orangutan Project, where he helped raise tens-of-thousands of dollars for wildlife conservation in South-East Asia. He also travelled to the island of Borneo to witness the issue firsthand and support those working on the frontline. By 2013, Thomas had been named Youth Advocate of the Year for Zoos Victoria's ‘Fighting Extinction’ program and Junior Green Hero at the inaugural Green Lifestyle Awards.

Thomas continued trailblazing in various other causes, taking on positions within organisations like Oaktree, the Jane Goodall Institute Australia and the youth division of the United Nations as an advocate in environmental preservation, animal protection and poverty eradication.

Since 2010, Thomas has lived with indigenous communities in the Bornean jungle to further develop conservation projects; helped lead a campaign that raised 1.6 million dollars to alleviate extreme poverty; spoken to a crowd of thousands on the steps of parliament about the atrocities of live animal export; produced an award-winning short film on social change; represented Australian youth in a climate change documentary in the Arctic for IMAX and the 2015 UN Climate Summit; he’s even volunteered as a journalist at the London Olympic Games to report on athletes from developing nations so that their families at home could track their performance.

Thomas was named 2014 VCE Leader of the Year and Victoria’s Young Australian of the Year for 2015. Now 19, he is a speaker, campaigner and writer, having presented at events like TEDxMelbourne and written for publications such as the Huffington Post Australia. Thomas also works in youth outreach at Animals Australia - the country's leading animal protection organisation. It's his belief that "no matter your age of level of qualification, we all have the ability to create a profound impact." 

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MOLLY O'RAY
Director of Research & Communications


Molly was born and raised in Ottawa, Canada and is a recent honours graduate of Environment, Sustainability & Society, and International Development Studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Molly has been passionate about forest conservation, the climate movement, social justice, and primate conservation since a young age, and in recent years, has jumped at opportunities to work in these fields. 

Molly was absorbed by the issue of palm oil following the successful 2010 Greenpeace campaign against Nestle. She became involved in the field through DeforestACTION in February 2011, working to raise awareness about the issue and rally support for conservation work being carried out on the ground in Borneo. Molly helped further project efforts to develop a rescue and rehabilitation site for orangutans in Kalimantan and support local communities to protect their forest from palm oil development. It was through these projects that Molly first began working with Thomas King. 

Molly has since worked on rainforest conservation in Alaska with the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council and has most recently taken more of a direct role in forest and primate conservation in Panama as the Site Manager and Primate Rehabilitation Internship Programs Coordinator at Alouatta Sanctuary. Somehow Molly also finds time to fulfil her role as the Director of Research and Communications for SayNotoPalmOil.com! 

Molly aims to use her passion and five years of research and experience to raise awareness about palm oil and help consumers take steps towards living deforestation-free. Molly can speak and write comfortably in French, as well as comfortably in Spanish (almost!) … so you can contact SayNotoPalmOil.com in either of those languages, she always welcomes the practice!

If you would like to get in touch, please refer to the contact details on the FAQs page.


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What's Our Purpose?

Say No to Palm Oil was formed in 2010 with the aim of educating consumers about the palm oil crisis and providing them with ways in which they can help. The site has developed significantly in this time and now serves to provide individuals with simple actions they can take to reduce their consumption of conflict-palm oil, make their voices heard and give a little to support those working on the frontline. 

MISSION: to empower consumers with the information, tools and resources necessary to help them put an end to the social and environmental impacts of conflict-palm oil and be part of the solution.

VISION: to have awareness of conflict-palm oil increase significantly amongst the general public and thus bring about positive change in consumer behaviour to benefit the forests, wildlife and people of Borneo, Sumatra and other affected areas. 

Our Stance

While a large proportion of palm oil production causes a great deal of harm, the oil itself is not bad and in some respects has positive attributes. For example, palm oil yields significantly more oil per hectare than other vegetable oil crops. It is for this reason that avoiding all palm oil is not the answer, and focusing on growing the crop using more ethical and sustainable methods is a viable solution to part of this complex issue. However in contrast, trusting all companies that claim to source sustainable palm oil, which has proven to be relatively unreliable in recent years, is not necessarily the answer either. This is why we believe a balanced, holistic approach is necessary.

We think that consumers should focus on cutting down unnecessary consumption in general, thus removing some palm oil and other vegetable oils from their lifestyle. With products that are unavoidable, individuals can find alternatives that are either palm oil-free and instead use vegetable oil from a sustainable source, or contain genuinely certified sustainable palm oil. Consumers can also try making more of their own food and products, which is a brilliant way to live more sustainably.

We have developed a program called the "28 Day Palm Oil Challenge" to guide people through how they can make small lifestyle changes just like these and ultimately lead more sustainable, ethical and healthful lifestyles. See Take the Challenge for more info. 

Photos

Mongabay

Mongbay.com is one of the world's most popular environmental science and conservation news sites. The site aims to raise interest in wildlife and wildlands while promoting awareness of environmental issues.

Rhett Butler, Founder & Director of Mongabay.com, has generously allowed us to use his incredible photographs from his travels to Borneo and Sumatra throughout our website. To view more of Rhett's photographs, click here, and to support Mongabay and their ongoing efforts to preserve our planet's natural beauty, click here.

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