Is Coconut Oil Bad For The Environment?

When you read about the various health benefits of coconut oil and its various usage, you would never imagine there could be anything hazardous related in any way to this harmless product.

Nowadays, the environmentally sustainable product has become the trend to reduce our ecological footprints and for peaceful coexistence between various species; hence, we should make more environmentally conscious choices for our ecology.

In this blog post, we will discuss the impact of coconut oil on the environment, whether it is harmful or not, how sustainable and biodegradable it is, and whether it is causing deforestation. Let’s get right into it.

Is Coconut Oil Harmful To The Environment?

Coconut has undergone massive growth in the world over the last decade. It has evolved from being an exotic tropical fruit used primarily in sweets and in cuisine occasionally to a product used in a variety of forms as well as in the manufacturing of cosmetics and detergents.

The main issue surrounding the environmental impact of coconut oil is deforestation. They are often compared to palm trees which are also grown in the same tropical region as coconut trees. Though coconut trees are mainly grown on mixed-use plantations, they aren’t associated with the same level of deforestation as palm oil trees.

Coconut trees produce more products such as coconut oil, milk, cream, water and activated charcoal. Coconut trees grow well with other crops and integrate well with the surrounding environment. Whereas the case is different with the palm crops which are usually grown as a single crop in a single area known as monoculture.

Generally, the impact of coconut on our environment is meager. The effect is low because growing coconut does not require pesticides, and the cultivation process requires labor and is done by hand rather than machines. Yet, they aren’t perfect as recent studies have shown that their production can harm the environment.

Is Coconut Oil as Bad For The Environment as Palm Oil?

A palm tree is a tropical plant, and a coconut tree is a type of palm. However, coconut plants thrive in wetter climates in the tropics and subtropics compared to palm trees which thrive in hot, humid climates, particularly on sandy soil.

Although palm oil and coconut oils are derived from plants, their nutritional values differ significantly from other plant-based fats.

As you already know, palm oil is generated from the flesh and kernel of the palm oil tree fruit, while the white meat, or copra, of the coconut fruit, is used to make coconut oil.

Tropical oils, unlike other fats, are semisolid at room temperature, which makes them acceptable substitutes for butter, margarine, and shortening. Generally, these products are accepted by most of us and used in our households, thus increasing their chances of several environmental hazards due to unhealthy use.

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One of the world’s most consumed food oil is palm oil, and it’s highly loved due to its wide range of functions and qualities.

Its high demand over the years has led to deforestation, leading to more danger to already endangered species and affecting the atmosphere with millions of tons of carbon dioxide being emitted into the air during its production, which is a significant concern for climate change.

The disadvantages of palm oil don’t just end there. Palm oil production is also highly unsustainable. So, we are advised to purchase from companies with sustainable healthy practices.

Coconut oil, on the other hand, has been deemed a more viable option compared to palm oil. While both are tropical oil and have various uses, coconut oil has long been beneficial to our environment and health.

Sustainable practice in coconut oil production is debatable because there is no direct answer. Yet, several essential qualities distinguish it better for the environment than palm oil. The initiatives from smaller firms to source ethically have made coconut oil be considered a more sustainable option.

Which is Worse Palm Oil or Coconut Oil?

Now, when we talk about the environmental impact and consequences of both oils, from what we have discussed above, it is safe to say palm oil production is more dangerous to the environment than coconut oil production.

Deforestation is the primary environmental issue linked with these tropical oils; however, studies have shown that coconut is mainly grown on mixed-use plantations while substantial industrial monoculture farms of palm oil can be found.

It is important to note that monoculture disrupts the natural balance of soil by robbing it of nutrients which weakens the immune system of plants that grow on it, therefore leading to deforestation.

Palm oil is typically grown alone on small farmlands because it doesn’t grow well with other plants. Meanwhile, small coconut farms are blended with other crops such as bananas, cocoa, and coffee and have a more natural appearance and ambiance than palm oil plantations.

Although oil palm plants produce more oil than coconut trees, coconuts have more products besides fats, such as coconut milk, cream, water, activated charcoal, and furniture making.

Coconut trees also grow well with other crops such as bananas, coffee, and cocoa, allowing them to blend in more organically with their surroundings, but palm oil trees do not. In addition, coconuts are also hand-harvested rather than using gas-guzzling machinery, as in the case of palm oil.

Cold extraction procedures, which are common in the processing of coconut oil, are more environmentally friendly since they do not require solvents or refinement processes like deodorizing and bleaching, and they use less energy.

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Low-pressure extraction is employed in some procedures, which saves energy while creating sustainable biomass, such as coconut shells and husks that may be used as fuel.

Is Coconut Oil Biodegradable?

Coconut oil is gotten from tropical trees. The production of coconut oil goes through different stages, with each producing an end product that has been found useful individually, leaving little or nothing to waste. Coconut coir, shells, or shafts have also been helpful in many productive ways.

Coconut coir is a natural and renewable resource; it is environmentally friendly. It is excellent for water retention, seedling growth, potting mix creation, pest resistance, and worm bin bedding. Coir decomposes slowly and can persist in the soil for a long time, and helps to retain water in soils that drain too quickly.

On the other hand, coconut shells are used to create furniture and coconut bowls. They are noted for their durability, and some of them are pulverized and used to make coconut shell powder concrete.

If you own a coconut bowl, you can rest assured that it will last a long time and not be damaged by bumps. It will also last years if properly cared for and maintained. You won’t have to worry about tossing your coconut bowl if it cracks or breaks.

Coconut bowls are also biodegradable since they are constructed entirely of natural coconut shells. They will naturally decompose into organic compounds once they’ve been disposed of after use.

Considering utilizing the discarded bowls as compost? It is important to note that coconut shells take months to degrade. Yet, it can be thrown into a compost pile and ultimately disintegrate, even though it will take longer than other compostable things. Therefore, a better method would be to utilize them as biodegradable, environmentally friendly pots.

As a result, coconut bowls are not only created responsibly, but they also play a role in sustainability after they’ve served their purpose. Coconut bowls provide many long-term environmental benefits before, during, and after use.

Is Coconut Sustainable?

As our civilization grows more technologically advanced, it produces increasing waste. The constant exploration of natural resources to meet the ever-increasing demand has led to abundant natural resources being depleted and pollution levels reaching unsustainable levels due to several production methods.

While palm oil has been blamed for deforestation in various parts of the world and the near extinction of orangutans in the previous 20 years, coconut oil has been promoted as the solution we can fully utilize.

However, new research is emerging, reminding us that agriculture in the modern world is never simple. So, regardless of the goods, there is most likely to be an environmental impact that we can only reduce by using responsibly.

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Although we are becoming conscious of our choices and gradually going for products with a more negligible environmental impact, information about the sustainability of many products is sometimes misleading and untrue.

It is best to acknowledge that every product influences the environment, and coconut is no exception. However, when the coconut is produced sustainably, it has a less environmental impact on our environment. So, we should embrace sustainable living, which implies avoiding natural resource usage and depletion.

We should also be concerned about how our products are made and their impact on the natural environment. For instance, by purchasing fair-trade and organic products, you can help to encourage environmental protection.

Does Coconut Oil Causes Deforestation?

There’s no doubt that by now, you may have become a massive fan of coconut oil. Yet, you wonder if the new turn towards coconut oil will negatively impact the environment? It is most likely not to happen because coconuts are more challenging to mass-produce than the palm fruits that yield palm oil.

An average coconut tree takes 10-30 years to reach total growth, yielding about 400 coconuts per year. Almost all of those coconuts are picked by hand because the trees resist cooperating with machinery.

Research shows that approximately 95% of coconut growers are small-holders, unlike palm oil production, owned and controlled by a handful of corporate giants.

In addition to that, to meet the world’s demand for coconut products, the trees are increasingly being grown as monocrops, with government-subsidized fertilizers being used to boost production. One of the best things about coconut oil is its popular rise due to its health benefits in food.

Coconut trees’ slow productivity, poor yields, and lack of significant business investment have prevented the mass deforestation witnessed in palm oil production. Coconut oil, like every other, has its cons also.

Several coconuts farmers are considered poor in the regions where coconut oil is being harvested and produced, and the countries are developing without solid labor practices. However, sustainable companies have taken various initiatives to ensure this issue of labor abuse doesn’t become as rampant as it is in the palm oil industry.

Coconut oil-producing companies have also been very vocal and active in their support for sustainability by recycling waste rather than consuming new natural resources, in addition to campaigning for sustainable farming. Making coconut oil a safer option than palm oil.

Conclusion

Coconut is a good and healthy substitute for palm oil. It has a lesser threat to the sustainability of the environment. Yet, just like the constant demand for palm oil led to the overexploitation of natural resources, coconut oil is also susceptible to this same problem. Hence, we shouldn’t use it for everything but rather diversify.

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.