Palm oil is widely used as cooking oil by eateries in Singapore. Based on our 2016 survey, more than 90% of local restaurant chains use palm oil and none are haze-free. Switching to haze-free cooking oil is simple. For most eateries, cooking oil makes up a small percentage of overall operating cost. There are a handful local suppliers that sell RSPO certified cooking oil and the price difference is about 10%.
However, many eatery owners are simply unaware that the cooking oil they use causes the haze. Many are even unaware that the “vegetable oil” they use is actually palm oil. Therefore, PM Haze volunteers decide to reach out to eatery owners and raise awareness about the link between the haze and palm oil, and encourage them to switch to haze-free cooking oil. Since May, we have visited about 60 eateries in Little India, Bukit Pasoh, Katong and Fortune Center.
In our fast-paced Singapore, we seldom meddle with other people’s businesses. Culturally we are not very vocal either. Therefore, it takes courage to voice out and pitch our cause. And talking to the owners directly is the most effective way to get our messages across and also to get a response. Nonetheless, we get more courage from the company of fellow volunteers. As we get familiar with the facts and the narrative over time, starting the conversation becomes easier. The subsequent challenge is to reach out on a regular basis.
We always remind ourselves that the person we talk to may know nothing about the palm oil issue and most people want to do good and make a difference. We focus on explaining the causes of the haze. Once eatery owners are convinced that switching to haze-free cooking oil helps to stop the haze, the cost difference is more acceptable.
The success of our message also depends on the openness of the person we talk to. Since we are at the early stage of our #GoHazeFree movement, we don’t try to convert everyone, but to get ‘early adopters’ who truly understand and believe in our cause. Such is the case for IKEA Singapore and the Singapore Zoo which started using haze-free cooking oil since 2016 due to their strong commitment to sustainability.
Do we face rejections? Of course we do. But we choose not to be discouraged and improve the way we pitch instead. Change does not happen overnight. We believe that the movement will grow if more people understand the palm oil issue and become empowered to be part of the solution. We hope more people join our eatery outreach in the coming months and join the fight to #GoHazeFree!
Keen to know more?
– Check out our past eatery outreaches
– Join us for our next outreach!