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November 22 2018 – Cecily Morgan


Bombarding our television screens as soon as the Halloween pumpkins have been binned, Christmas TV adverts have become as much a staple of the festive season as mistletoe and Shakin’ Stevens. Good, bad, or tear-jerking, they hit the headlines every year. However, this year Iceland’s advert has caused a particular stir.

Telling the tale of an orangutan living in a little girl’s bedroom because her rainforest home is being destroyed, the advert depicts the destruction that the palm oil industry is wreaking on the lives of orangutans. Produced in collaboration with Greenpeace, the advert comes just months after Iceland became the first major UK supermarket to ban palm oil from its own-brand food. However, the advert has not yet made it to any television screens after being banned for allegedly breaching political advertising rules.

However, its television ban has provoked a huge backlash from the British public, who want the story of the adorable orangutan to be told and we at Critically Endangered Socks agree, because everyone should know the truth about palm oil.

Founder Dom Desmond says “Banning Iceland's new advert, which spotlights palm oil's impact on Orangutans, is crazy. This message needs to be heard by the world, especially as Illegal logging and palm oil has already destroyed 56% of lowland tropical rainforest in South Borneo, decimating the numbers of the Borneo Orangutan, which are now classed as critically endangered. Big corporations such as Cadbury need to stop using unsustainable palm oil in their products and consumers need to start buying sustainable palm oil, otherwise our closest relatives, the Orangutan, will cease to exist.”

From peanut butter to shampoo, the sinister stuff can be found in an array of everyday items, but few people are aware of its atrocious impacts on the environment. It’s a major factor behind deforestation, with large areas of natural rainforest being converted into palm oil plantations, destroying the habitat of orangutans, and leading to the creature’s classification as a critically endangered species. 

The situation is especially dire in Borneo, where the number of orangutans is believed to have decreased by over 55% in the past twenty years, leaving just 40,000 Bornean orangutans in existence. Thus, instead of merely capitalising on Christmas to make profit, we believe that Iceland’s advert embraces the true meaning of the festive season by shedding light on a creature in need.  

If you want to do your bit for orangutans this Christmas, make an effort to go palm oil-free or buy products which have been made with sustainable palm oil. You could also buy a pair of our Orangutan socks for a loved one. Emblazoned with an embroidered orangutan, profits from the sales of these socks go to the Friends of the National Parks Foundation (FNPF) which works in Borneo to protect orangutans’ habitat. These socks are thus the perfect Christmas gift for anyone who was touched by Iceland’s advert, and are the perfect way to show your friends, family, and the Bornean orangutans some love this festive season.