What are the environmental impacts of the production of coconut oil? Can you also include the links used?

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megamind-616 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Products made from coconut (oils, water, butter) have become increasingly popular in the diets of Americans.

Coconut comes from Asian and South American countries. Therefore, one of the environmental concerns with coconut production is transportation. To ship coconut to America requires the burning of fossil fuels of ships or planes. These fossil fuels are burned and emitted into the atmosphere (contributing to the greenhouse effect and global warming) or the oceans (affecting the natural habitat of marine life). 

Additionally, the coconut oil must be packaged. The chosen materials for packaging such a product are either glass or plastic. Neither product decomposes easily. Thus, if people do not recycle, such packaging can contribute to our landfills. 

The farming of coconuts is also a concern. Native plants must be removed in order to plant more coconut trees. Not only does this decrease the biodiversity of an area (and harm the natural habitats of the wildlife in those areas), but it can also lead to erosion.

Cutting down native plants can also strip the soil of nutrients, which most farmers try to replace with chemical fertilizers. The farmers also use the chemical fertilizer keep pests away from the plants. However, such fertilizers can become toxic to an environment. For example, if fertilizers run off into a nearby water source, they can initiate an algae bloom. Algae blooms rob the aquatic life of oxygen and may result in the death of such organisms. 

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