KFC, Pizza Hut, And Taco Bell Cave To The 99 Percent

Special interest groups dominate national politics, Wall Street gets bailouts while Main Street gets taxed, and the little guy never seems to win.

Not Today.

SumOfUs, a global grass roots movement of consumers, investors, and workers, successfully lobbied Yum!Brands to commit to use only deforestation-free palm oil.

Yum!Brands, which owns KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, uses palm-based cooking oil in many of its cooking processes. It’s cheap, healthy, free of trans fat, and used in products around the world.

The problem is, companies who plant palm oil trees are destroying the environment and exploiting local communities in order to make a profit. The trees only grow in wet tropical environments, so in order for them to grow, companies slash and burn through the rain forests destroying habitats for endangered animals like tigers, elephants, and rhinos.

They also steal land from local villages and exploit child labor to grow their trees.

There is a growing movement worldwide to bring attention to the palm oil issue and encourage companies to use only deforestation-free oil.

This month Yum!Brands announced all of its 41,000 restaurants worldwide would only use deforestation-free palm oil by the end of 2017.

The move comes shortly after the Union of Concerned Scientists released a scorecard analyzing top business’s commitment to the environment and their use of deforestation-free palm oil.

Dunkin Brands has also committed to using only deforestation-free palm oil by 2016.

This isn’t the only social responsible move by Yum!Brands of course. The company joined forces with Christine Aguilera in 2014 to “Pass The Red Cup” to end world hunger.

The commitment by Yum!Brands to go deforestation-free is a major win for SumOfUs which circulated a petition online through an email campaign and by use of its Facebook page. One-and-a-half million people signed the petition.

The organization, which boasts more than 5 million members worldwide, is committed to fighting for governments that answer to citizens not corporations, according to its webpage.

They argue for the fair treatment of workers, the rights of communities and individuals, and business models that put people first.

They’re engaged in a number of social responsibility campaigns including engaging in climate change, arguing against GMOs, protecting the honey bees, and fighting for Peruvian farmers.

Now the group has taken aim at Burger King and Tim Horton’s to force them go deforestation-free.

[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]