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How to be "Free from palm" - An inspirational chat with 9-year-old founder, Tali Froome

Sometimes it takes the energy and unbridled excitement of a child to show us adults how easy it can be to make a valuable difference to the world, and the way we live.

Today, I had the ultimate pleasure of speaking to 9-year-old Tali Froome who has come up with a fantastic business idea, "Free from palm", that takes the hassle and time out of trying to find sustainable palm-free alternatives for products that may be in your shopping basket. Read on to learn more about her venture, and the motivations behind it.

Sarah: SO, Tali I know that you are a lovely 9-year-old girl who loves playing with her friends, taking the dog for a walk, and over Christmas most people your age would just have been playing on a computer game or staring at the tv or playing with their new toys, but you were doing something a bit different. You were developing an amazing business idea, weren’t you?

Tali: Yes.

Sarah: Now, I’ve read a little bit about what your new business idea is and what you came up with, but can you tell me a little bit about it and what prompted you to put such a fantastic idea together?

Tali: Well, I’m a big fan of orangutans and I have adopted two, Beryl and Nami, and with some people around me who have made their lives more palm oil free, I thought I would, and I came up with a method. So, with a method, and with a few ideas around me, I put it into a business, and with ‘Running Wild’ by Michael Morpurgo, it’s really shown me the world of the forest and the damage that has been done.

Sarah: Ok, so what is so bad about palm oil, why is palm oil bad Tali?

Tali: It’s not palm oil which is bad, it’s just the idea of them wanting to cut down the rainforests for space for it, so they can get money, and that causes damage to the environment and the orangutans and the animals.

Sarah: OK, and what sort of products contain palm oil that it’s good to maybe change?

Tali: Palm oil is in lots of products and it’s not always named palm oil, and that is one of the reasons that my business is helpful. Palm oil can be found in soap, butter, biscuits, gravy, chocolate spread, toothpaste, and hair products, and cereals, so lots of products.

Sarah: There’s loads of products there, and so your business Tali, you take somebodies shopping list, is that right, and look..

Tali: Yes.

Sarah: So, tell me exactly what you do.

Tali: I take their shopping list and they give me where they shop from, and I look on that website and see which ones contain palm oil and if it does, I give them options which they can change to.

Sarah: Ok, that is fantastic. So, you said that it’s not palm oil that’s the problem, it’s how they get the palm oil. So, you said the cutting down trees, how does that affect the orangutans that I know you’re really fond of?

Tali: Well, the orangutans that haven’t been released yet they can’t survive as they’ll have no home when there’s no rainforests and then they’ll be in lots of danger.

Sarah: I see, and I know that you’re going to be donating 20% of the money that you make from putting this vital service out to people, aren’t you? So, can you tell me a bit about the charity that you are going to donate that money to?

Tali: Well, the charity is going to give the money to the Borneo Sanctuary and they’ve brought up so many orangutans with no mothers, and taught them how to survive, and then when they’re ready they’ll be released. That’s where Beryl was, as she’s been released, and Nami is; they are the orangutans I have adopted. So, they are giving money that people have given to the Borneo Sanctuary, so they are a big help to them.

Sarah: That’s fantastic. So, is that something you want to go and do one day, to go and see the orangutans?

Tali: Yes, I really want to see them.

Sarah: I bet. So I know you say you’ve already had one orangutan already released into the wild, I have a question from my son George, he wanted to know if you knew how old the orangutans are when they get released back into the wild?

Tali: Well, they spend until they’re ready. I think Beryl was around eight or nine because she was ready at that age. It all depends on when they’re ready to survive in the forest.

Sarah: To go and look after themselves and to find all their own food.

Tali: Yes.

Sarah: Brilliant, and obviously changing things in people’s shopping lists and buying something different is just a really small little change that we can all make, but do you think that making lots of little, small changes like that will make a big difference to the level of, or amount of, forest getting cut down and to help the orangutans?

Tali: Well if every household gets rid of one item that contained palm oil that would still make a massive difference, so small changes can make a big difference if you have the right mindset.

Sarah: That is fantastic and I agree with you 100%. So Tali, how can people get in touch with you if they are interested in your services, and you helping them to make their life easier, by being more sustainable and changing their food products. How can they get in touch?

Tali: They can send their shopping lists and where they shop from to

Sarah: Fantastic, and will you just then send them back their shopping list with the changes, is that how that works?

Tali: Yes, I’ll send it all back.

Sarah: That’s brilliant, and I think that is an absolutely fantastic business idea that you’ve come up with, and I hope that you have lots of people contact you. You’re making it so easy for people to make their small changes that will hopefully then make this big difference. So, thank you very much.

Tali: Thank you.

I hope you enjoyed reading this conversation as much as I did, having it.

I, for one, will be sending Tali my shopping list to see how I can start to make those little changes that will add up to the big ones.

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