You hear it in the news every now and then – deforestation occurs at alarming rates in far-away countries, and this causes big problems. Sting, Paul Simon, and The Grateful Dead sang to save the rainforest, and yet it’s still being cut down, along with other forests around the world.
You can thankfully be like Sting, Paul and the Dead, and help stop deforestation with your everyday actions as a conscious consumer! But before we go into the how, here’s a little bit of information as motivation.
Where is deforestation happening?
80% of deforestation occurs in countries with Tropical Forests. These nations include Brazil, Congo, Indonesia, Cambodia, and even Australia. Check out this handy map from World Wildlife Fund to understand the main places for deforestation:
Deforestation also occurs in places like the Russian Far East, China, the United States, Canada, Argentina, and other parts of the world. You can see where deforestation occurs around the world on this map from The World Resources Institute: https://goo.gl/ks1UW1
What’s so bad about a little deforestation?!
Clearing forests leads to all sorts of bad outcomes.
People live in forests and rely on them for their livelihoods. Deforestation leads to indigenous people becoming homeless and losing their rights. Would you be cool with someone clearing your house?
Deforestation causes habitat loss and species extinction! The majority of Earth’s species live in forests. Forests are home to amazing creatures that have a right to inhabit Earth. These creatures - including tigers, orangutans, gorillas, elephants, and frogs - as well as fascinating plants live in the forest. Do you want these animals and plants to only exist in zoos or botanic gardens?
Deforestation is the third leading source greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change. 15% of all global emissions derive from deforestation. So those newly intensified storms, nasty heat waves, and droughts you live with are in part from deforestation.
Deforestation impacts drinking water availability and quality. Forests act as water pumps sending moisture into the clouds that later comes down to earth as rain. Additionally, forests, store water and help clean water for drinking in towns and cities, everywhere.
So yeah, deforestation has huge negative outcomes. It’s worth caring about and protecting forests with your everyday decisions.
If Forests are so great why are people cutting down the trees and entire forests?!
Human consumption habits drive deforestation. Every day, you help cut down trees with the swipe of a credit card, and you probably don’t realize it… Here are some of the common household products and ways that you, your friends, and family unwittingly drive deforestation.
Look out there’s an orangutan in your shower! Just kidding, it’s that palm oil (a shampoo ingredient) was produced on land that was orangutan habitat.
You might be walking or sitting on a tiger’s forest, as hardwood is increasingly harvested from Russia’s Far East, where tigers live, to turn into wood floors and furniture.
Each and every paper, single use coffee cup was once a tree, and the coffee within it might have been grown on recently deforested land.
That super soft toilet paper and extra absorbing paper towel are probably from forests that were home to elephants and rare rhinos.
Your love of meat is also a leading cause of deforestation, as the global beef industry is leading the charge to cut forests. On top of that soy production to feed cattle, pigs, and chickens, is another major cause of deforestation.
Crack open a cold one and cut down a tree! Whether you’re drinking a beer or soda from an aluminum can, the global demand for aluminum as well as other metals is creating mines around the world that are a leading cause of deforestation. So recycle that can and save a tree!
Basically, it’s a few global commodity markets and products that cause most deforestation:
Wood for floors, furniture, and even picture frames
Beef as well as feed for the pork, chicken, dairy, and eggs.
Coffee and chocolate.
Rubber for tires.
Palm oil for about half of all consumer goods and cooking oil.
Aluminum and other metals like gold, iron (for steal), and copper.
Paper products like cups, plates, napkins, toilet paper, paper towel, and tissue paper.
This fun video provides a light-hearted look at deforestation for our convenience:
What are companies doing to stop deforestation?
Your favorite companies and their brands have a mixed record on deforestation. According to the NGO “Global Canopy,” 34 of the 500 most influential companies signed pledges to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains. Other companies have pledged to eliminate deforestation from certain ingredients like palm oil, coffee, and others. According to Forest Trends, around 447 companies have made some type of commitment to reduce deforestation.
Yet even with these pledges, companies aren’t doing enough. For instance, Greenpeace recently linked McDonald’s to deforestation in Brazil’s Cerrado forest. A few years ago, Wal-Mart gave up on its pledge to source sustainable wood for its picture frames. The world’s biggest retailer couldn’t even get little picture frames right!!!
Apparently, too many companies put profit before our future and the Planet’s health.
Stop Using your Credit Card as a Chainsaw to Cut Down Trees!
Don’t be depressed by the above, it’s pretty painless for you to stop purchasing products and brands that cause deforestation. Every day, you can turn your small purchases into a force for good and help end deforestation.
Here’s what you do, buy products that have certification that guarantees they were produced without deforestation. Here’s a quick guide:
Wood floors: FSC
Picture frames: FSC
Toilet paper: Recycled or FSC
Coffee: Rainforest Alliance, UTZ, or Bird Friendly
Chocolate: Rainforest Alliance or UTZ
Beef, Chicken, Pork or Soy: RTRS
Most cosmetics, cookies, and snacks: RTRS and RSPO
Metals and cans: Recycled
Use Klerify to know what products and brands have certified ingredients that don’t cause deforestation!
And then use Klerify to tell brands and stores that they need to provide deforestation free products.
Let us know if we’re missing brands at email@example.com.
Do this, and you will get a free concert performance from Sting, Paul Simon, or The Grateful Dead who all appreciate your effort to save the rainforest. Just kidding they won’t play for you, except on Spotify.
We didn't make this up!
Tiger: By Nichollas Harrison (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons