Indonesia's exports of palm oil destroys habitat, including homes of Sumatra tigers.

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Until recently, I had little idea what palm oil is and why some people consider it one of the most controversial ingredients found in nearly half of our supermarket products.

But when I found out why people were upset, I was moved to take action.

The Southeast Asian country of Indonesia is the world's biggest exporter of palm oil, which has been both a blessing and a curse. It's a massive industry, providing income for thousands of workers, but palm oil is also the largest driver of the mass destruction of Indonesia's rainforests.

The consequences of this destruction are significant: the loss of biodiversity, conflicts with communities who depend on the forest for their own livelihoods, and increasing emissions of greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

Forests are home to countless species. There are as few as 400 Sumatran tigers left in Indonesia, and their time on earth is running out. Greenpeace has released research showing that the expansion of oil palm and pulpwood plantations was responsible for nearly two-thirds of the destruction of Sumatran tiger habitat from 2009 to 2011.

Sumatran tigers, forced to flee from the destruction of their homes, also find themselves in direct contact with humans. Many are killed or maimed as local residents try to protect themselves from the scared animals.

The decline of Sumatran tigers is a measure of the loss of rainforest, biodiversity and also climate stability. If the tigers disappear, then we are facing an environmental tragedy.

If you eat chocolate, wash your hair or your clothes, there's a good chance you are being made a part of this cycle of destruction. And not by choice.

Palm oil can and must make a genuine contribution to Indonesia and its people. And part of the solution rests with global brands that make the products we consume daily.

Palm oil that result from forest destruction is traded around the world. But together we can say enough is enough. It's time big brands guarantee you and me that forest destruction is not a part of their products.

We are all a part of the future, and together we can ensure these magnificent animals are. too.

Joaquin Phoenix is an award-winning actor, best known for his roles in Gladiator, Walk the Line, and most recently Her.

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