The production of palm oil, a common ingredient found in hundreds of everyday beauty products, is devastating the environment. Commissioned for Vogue, this story is an up-close look at Malaysian Borneo's palm-oil plantations amid the global controversy—and a way to move forward.
A drone photograph of plantation-worker dormitories in Sumatra.
Left: At a Borneo mill, fruit collected from nearby fields awaits processing; Right: Female farm workers hold bags of Canadian potash fertilizer.
An old section of the plantation, just prior to replanting.
A farmhand sprays glyphosate, an herbicide, around the base of oil-palm trees to prevent the growth of weeds.
A backhoe operator attempts to improve the drainage on an old plantation being readied for replanting.
Mothers leave their children at an on-site daycare center while they work, applying fertilizers and spraying defoliants and pesticides. The clothing they are photographed in—protective masks, plastic aprons, and rubber gloves and boots—is now required on the plantation.
Plantation workers load just-harvested clusters of fruit onto a tractor cart.
This story was produced in partnership with the Food & Environment Reporting Network, a nonprofit news organization.
Photographed byReported by:
George SteinmetzJocelyn C. Zuckerman