Are we doing everything we can to aid rainforest conservation? Given that almost 50 percent of land which could support tropical rainforests now lacks it because of human activities, it seems like the answer is a resounding, “No.”
So what can we do on a daily basis to contribute to rainforest conversation?
We should remember that aluminum cans and many other products use bauxite, which is mined from rainforests in the tropics. Unfortunately, bauxite mining doesn’t mean digging a deep cavern like we imagine coal mining.
Bauxite mining strips large areas of land because the bauxite lies close to the surface. That means they dig wide instead of deep to get more bauxite, which destroys even more trees.
The more aluminum we recycle, the less deforestation will occur. Even if we don’t use aluminum ourselves, we can hit the streets and start collecting litter. Learn more from the Aluminum Stewardship Initiative.
Conservation doesn’t mean we all have to live in a yurt (but really, who wouldn’t love that?). If we decide we want a modern home or would like to remodel an existing structure, we should make sure we keep things green. Not only should appliances always be high efficacy, we must ensure we use only responsibly harvested flooring and cabinetry.
Even when you’re shopping for furniture, make sure you’re not buying pieces made from threatened trees like Rosewood, Ebony and Mahogany.
Teach Them Young
It’s imperative that we educate our children and other young ears about protecting the environment.
Kids Saving the Rainforest (KSTR) is a good starting place for projects and ideas to interest children in conservation. Their Adopt a Rainforest Tree program is an easy way for children to start getting involved, especially since it only costs $20 to adopt a tree. The KSTR’s reforestation program has planted nearly 7,000 trees and growing.
Volunteer: Rainforest Vacation
If we have vacation time, we can always double up vacation with conservation. Organizations like Rainforest Concern accept applications to send volunteers to the rainforests of Panama, Costa Rica and Ecuador. Yes, there are options to merely visit the rainforest, but many of these trips can be geared toward donating your time. Expect to work, and work hard.
Say No to Palm Oil
Harvesting palm oil causes widespread deforestation. Palm oil plantations are often touted as a compromise and a way to bring decent jobs to poor areas of the world.
In reality, governments are stealing land from indigenous people and destroying land that communities have depended on for generations. Buy continuing to consume palm oil, we are indirectly contributing to the continuation of these practices.
The World Land Trust works to save threatened habitats. We can buy an acre or give an acre in Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador or Mexico as a gift. The land is turned into nature reserves — and the going rate is less than $150 an acre.
Not everyone has the time or cash to actually leave the country to volunteer. Instead, we can join our favorite conservation program. Organizations like The Nature Conservancy have a wide reach.
When we choose an organization, we must always check to see how they use their funds. The Nature Conservancy is an excellent program with very clear breakdowns on how donations are used.
We already know mass deforestation causes climate change, but it’s also indirectly causing deforestation. As climate change increases around the equator, summers are getting hotter and humidity is decreasing. Rainforests need rain, right?
So what can we do to help? If we live close to work, we should ride a bike or walk. If we live close to coworkers, we can set up a carpool. Even using public transportation will help cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.
Know Our Soy
A decade or two ago many of us gave up beef to help cut back on greenhouse gases. But we have to get your protein somewhere, right? Enter the soybean and the next global problem crop.
This beloved bean, probably second only to coffee, has begun to wipe out entire ecosystems in Brazil. In addition to deforestation, soy farms are threatening indigenous tribes. While quite a bit of soy is used in the livestock food supply, we humans also cause damage.
Donations Instead of Gifts
Is there a birthday, wedding or anniversary in our future? What about a new addition to the family? In lieu of gifts, we can ask friends and family to donate to our favorite conservation fund. As a group, we can all make a financial gift to the environment.
Here are a couple of organizations that directly work to protect the environment:
- The Conservation Fund: 94% of donated money goes toward costs to maintain programs. This fund is one of the highest-rated charities around.
- Earthjustice: This non-profit is a law firm that seriously protects the environment. They make sure environmental laws are followed, and push new laws into place.