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Palm Oil

Palm Oil is an edible vegetable oil found in many everyday foods, and is obtained from the palm fruit of the African oil palm tree. The production of palm oil has attracted interest from environmental activists due to the large areas of rainforest that are removed and burned each year to grow oil palm plantations. This forest removal has resulted in loss of natural habitat for the orangutan, which is an endangered species.  There is concern that continued deforestation for palm oil production will lead to the extinction of the orangutan.  Certified organic palm oil is available from approved sustainable forests in Columbia, which is produced with no loss to the orangutan habitat. 


Parabens are a common preservative used in cosmetics products such as shampoo, makeup, shaving gel, moisturiser, toothpaste and deodorant.  They are also used as preservatives in pharmaceutical products, and as food additives.  There are concerns over the use of parabens, due to their association with some types of cancer.  There are currently no regulations or warnings relating to the use of parabens in products. 

Passive Solar

The term passive solar refers to using or capturing the sun’s energy without any external power for the purpose of heating water, and heating and cooling living spaces.

Passive Solar Design

Passive solar design is a key sustainable building technique that allows sunlight to enter a building in winter to provide heating, and screens out sunlight for summer cooling.  This type of building design can significantly reduce the amount of energy required to heat and cool a building. 


Permaculture refers to the practice of gardening and farming in a natural way that avoids the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers.  Permaculture techniques include mixed planting, mulching, composting, beneficial insects and bugs.  The aim of permaculture is to create sustainable communities and agricultural systems that work with, rather than against nature.


The term pest refers to organisms that are harmful to the environment and agriculture such as insects, mites, rodents (mice and rats), nematodes (worms), fungus, weeds or other plant diseases.


A pesticide is a substance or mixture that can be applied to the natural environment, agricultural crops, homes and urban areas to kill pests that are perceived to be harmful to plants, animals or food.  Pesticides help to increase food production for humans, but are also responsible for environmentally-damaging pollution and contamination, and pose a potential health hazard to humans and other animals.

Persistent pesticides are particularly hazardous as they do not break down chemically or they decompose very slowly and remain in the environment after the growing season, remaining toxic to fish, animals, and humans for many years. 

Pesticide free - Sustainability Credential

Pesticide free is a sustainability credential that an Across the Fence trader might claim. Pesticide free traders use no synthetic herbicides, insecticides or fungicides in the growing of their produce. Be aware that synthetic fertilizers or genetically modified plants or seeds may still be used, however other natural methods like companion planting are used to control pests.


Petrolatum, derived from petroleum, acts like a barrier preventing the skin from breathing. Petrolatum is found in many hair care and skin care products.

The European Union classifies petrolatum a carcinogen and restricts is use in cosmetics. 

Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum Jelly is found in a large amount of skin care products that treat dry skin to nappy rash.

Petroleum Jelly is a derivative of oil refining. Petroleum Jelly can be found in different grades of purity, meaning it can be difficult to tell how non-toxic any petroleum jelly based skincare products really are. 


Phosphates are the naturally occurring form of phosphorus, which is mined for use in agriculture or industry.  Phosphates are used in a range of applications including steel production, pyrotechnics, pesticides, toothpaste and detergents.  Increased phosphate concentrations on the environment can raise the growth of phosphate-dependent organisms, such as algae and duckweed.


Photosynthesis refers to the process where plants, algae and bacteria transform the sun’s energy into plant food (sugars) using water, carbon dioxide and chlorophyll.  Nearly all life on earth depends on photosynthesis as a source of energy.

Photovoltaic (PV)

Photovoltaic (PV) refers to the use of photovoltaic panels or solar cells that capture the sun’s rays and convert it directly into solar electricity.  Photovoltaic systems are used in homes and buildings to produce clean, usable electricity. 


Phthalates are chemical substances that are used as a plasticiser, which are added to plastic products during the manufacturing process to improve the flexibility, transparency and durability of products.  Products with phthalates include vinyl products, cosmetics, fragrances, floors, toys, food wraps, and medical products.

Phthalates have been found to be a moderately persistent environmental poison and may cause a range of health issues such as endocrine disruption, increased risk of birth defects and hormone changes in baby boys, increased risk of reproductive problems and hormone changes in men, and are suspected as having causal links to increasing breast cancer rates.

Planet Conservation - Sustainability Standard

Planet Conservation is a sustainability standard that an trader might claim.

These traders are involved either in the actual business of  conservation preservation, guarding and protecting biodiversity, the environment and natural resources or in a business which respects and who's practices are committed to conserving the planet's natural resources like eco tourism.

Planned Obsolescence

Planned obsolescence refers to the practice of a manufactured item being ‘made to break’ or becomes unfashionable after a certain amount of time. Designers carefully plan obsolescence into their products to ensure that once the product breaks or fails, the consumer will continue to support the brand or product, generally as they need to replace the item or feel social pressure to purchase a newer model.

Plug-In Hybrid

A plug-in hybrid or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), refers vehicles that are outfitted with a rechargeable battery or another power source that can be recharged by connecting a plug to an external power source such as an electric vehicle charging point. Most plug-in hybrid vehicles refer to passenger cars, however plug-in hybrid vans, trucks, buses, trains, motorcycles, and military vehicles are also available.

Point Source

A point source of pollution refers to a stationary location or single, identifiable source from which pollutants are discharged directly into the environment such as pipes, ditches, factories, smokestacks or ships. 


A pollutant is any substance, especially human-made, that adversely affects the environment where it is introduced.  Pollutants may cause short-term or long-term damage to human and animal health, and ecosystems.


Pollution refers to the direct or indirect release of substances into the environment that causes contamination of air, water, or soil by materials that can damage an ecosystem, or organisms living in that ecosystem.


Polyculture refers to the agricultural process of using multiple crops in the same land area to imitate the diversity of natural ecosystems, and avoiding large stands of single crops (monoculture).  This process generally requires more labour than monoculture and includes crop rotation, multi-cropping, intercropping, companion planting, alley cropping and use of beneficial weeds.  Advantages of polyculture include less plant susceptibility to disease, increased yields, less pesticide use, greater variety of crops, and increased local biodiversity.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a widely-used tough, plastic used in products such as pipes, packaging, flooring, clothing, upholstery, cling film, and wall paper as a softener or rubber replacement.  PVC is associated with a range of environmental issues including the release of hydrochloric acid when burned, chemical leaching into the environment, and links with chronic health conditions including brain cancer.

Precautionary Principle

The precautionary principle, or precautionary approach, is essentially a ‘just in case’ approach to sustainability.  It generally means if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the environment or human health, protective measures must be implemented. These protections can be relaxed only if further scientific findings emerge that provide sound evidence that no harm will result.


Precycling refers to the practice of being conscious about your consumption habits, and to avoid purchasing items that will end up in the waste stream of a home or business.

Prescribed Burning

Prescribed burning or controlled burning refers to the deliberate act of implementing surface fires in forests during the cooler months to reduce fuel buildup, and to decrease the likelihood of larger, more destructive fires.  In Australia, prescribed burning can encourage the growth of new grassland plants, stimulate reproduction and cause the seed pods of some plant species to open allowing for germination.

Protected Areas

Protected areas are designated ecosystems that are under special protection from any form of environmental degradation because of their recognised natural, ecological or cultural values.  These protected areas are essential for conserving biodiversity, maintaining functioning natural ecosystems, providing refuge for species, and to protect many threatened or endangered species from becoming extinct.