10 Things You Can Do to Protect the Rainforest

What can you do to protect the rainforest? It turns out quite a bit, even if you don’t live near one! What we consume, support with time and money, and lend our voices to have far-reaching impacts.

1. Eliminate Deforestation From Your Diet

Many of the foods we eat are grown on lands that have been deforested for grazing and agriculture. For example, beef, soybean, and palm oil are major drivers of deforestation in the Amazon basin. Fortunately, we can limit our contribution to these destructive industries and reduce demand for these products. Choosing sustainably-produced foods and products forces companies to change their practices. Consider reducing your meat intake, or else buy meat from local farms. You don’t have to stop eating meat all at once, and with more people today limiting meat consumption, more meatless choices are widely available! According to one study, annual greenhouse gas emissions would drop by one percent if everyone in the U.S. cut meat consumption by just a quarter.

2. Buy Responsibly Sourced Products

Choosing products that are responsibly sourced or made from recycled materials can go a long way to curbing tropical deforestation. For example, if you seek out jewelry brands that use eco-friendly practices—like recycling gold in their pieces—you’ll be helping push back against gold mining in the Amazon, a leading cause of deforestation and river pollution there. Similarly, logging for threatened woods like mahogany, rosewood, and ebony drives rainforest destruction. Look for alternative, non-tropical hardwood. Use paper products made from recycled pulp, or choose products that have been certified by organizations like the Forest Stewardship Council. On Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, look for sustainably and locally sourced cut flowers. You can also refrain from purchasing products from companies who score poorly in terms of eliminating deforestation from their supply chains. And tell businesses when they’re losing your support: If you feel a company’s business practices are environmentally destructive, send them a letter expressing your concern 

3. Choose Products That Give Back

It’s best to buy less. But when you do buy, choose companies that donate directly to environmental causes. Teadora—which offers a line of skin care products—works with Rainforest Foundation US to protect over 500 square miles of rainforest habitat for endangered species, and to plant more than one million trees in an area that is sacred to the Wapichan people. There are hundreds of companies, specializing in a variety of products, that give back to the environment. Certified B Corporations has narrowed down some of the best, ranging from food and beverages to paper products to cleaning products. Encourage your office or school to do the same, by making a simple switch to a product that gives back! And if you’re a business owner interested in partnering with us and making a difference, reach out to us!

4. Support Indigenous Communities

Indigenous peoples are the best defenders of their territories and science backs this up. Buying artisanal and fair trade products made by Indigenous peoples is an effective way to protect rainforests—but know who to buy from to be sure you are not inadvertently supporting companies that benefit from cultural appropriation. Look into these businesses’ labor practices, and their stance on Indigenous peoples’ rights. Your best bet is to buy directly from Indigenous-owned companies or from services like Ten Thousand Villages, which sells ethically produced products sourced from Indigenous and low-income communities around the world. And the next time you travel, consider visiting communities through ecotourism. Ecotourism gives you an opportunity to learn about other cultures and, as long as the tour is owned and operated by Indigenous people, directly supports their livelihoods. Educate yourself about the historical erasure of Indigenous peoples to better support these communities, and to make informed choices that help empower Indigenous peoples.

5. Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

To stem the climate crisis, action is needed at all levels of society to reduce carbon emissions and promote low-carbon development. While the task seems daunting, there are many things you as an individual can do to reduce your carbon footprint: Drive less, take public transportation, turn down your thermostat (even a couple of degrees makes a big difference!), avoid fast fashion, and avoid unnecessary air travel. Start by calculating your carbon footprint, and consider where you can minimize it. Whatever you cannot reduce, you can mitigate by supporting projects that keep forests standing. Rainforests are extremely efficient at storing carbon, and keeping forests intact is a crucial way to address the climate crisis.

6. Email Your Preferred News Outlet

News outlets help determine what issues are top-of-mind for their readers. By focusing on one topic or another, they drive public discourse and inspire the public to take action. You can encourage your preferred media outlet to cover rainforest news by emailing the editor. Encourage your loved ones to join you in advocating for the protection of rainforests, Indigenous rights, and the climate crisis. When editors know that these issues are significant to their readers, they are more likely to cover them in their articles and reach a broader audience.

7. Inform Yourself and Others

The more people know what is happening to rainforests and the Indigenous communities who protect and rely on them, the more likely they are to support the cause. Learn more about environmental issues and Indigenous peoples’ stories, and tell friends and family why it’s important to you! By sharing on social media, you spread public awareness, and contribute pressure to hold governments and corporations responsible for deforestation—don’t underestimate the power of your voice! Nations and companies around the world are making commitments to protect forests and address the climate crisis. Let’s hold them to their promise. Consider sharing one of Rainforest Foundation US’s posts on social media, or rainforest news from other reputable media outlets. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube, and subscribe to our newsletter for the latest updates.

8. Get Political

Elected officials largely determine the use of governmental funds, and they have a duty to represent your interests. Call, email, or attend your representatives’ public meetings to remind them that according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, protecting rainforests and supporting Indigenous community land management are critical solutions to climate change. Ask them to support low-carbon development agendas that fulfill environmental and social safeguards, including respect for Indigenous peoples’ rights. Demand that they prioritize business policies that incentivize responsible sourcing, fair trade practices, and deforestation-free supply chains. This tool makes it easy to find and contact your U.S. federal representatives. And voting in local elections is one of the best ways to make a change!

9. Volunteer Your Time

The contribution of your personal time and energy can make a big difference. Think you can spare one to two hours per week, or even five to ten? Rainforest Foundation US welcomes volunteers with a range of skills and talents to support our mission. From translations, to editing, to video production, your commitment and time can help us advance our vision of a world where the planet’s majestic rainforests thrive in perpetuity. Find out more about our volunteer opportunities.

10. Host a Fundraiser

Launching your own campaign can spread awareness about rainforest protection and climate action in your community, while raising essential financial support for the cause. Interested, but don’t know where to start? We’ve created an easy way to do this, through inviting donations to Rainforest Foundation US for your birthday or other special occasion (learn where to start here)! Consider organizing a benefit concert, art show, poetry slam, bake sale, or a 5k “run for the rainforest.” The ideas are endless for ways you can make a difference! Your friends and family will feel good that they can support you, and the cause that’s important to you.

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Didier Devers
Chief of Party – USAID Guatemala

Didier has been coordinating the USAID-funded B’atz project since joining Rainforest Foundation US in April 2022. He holds a Master’s in Applied Anthropology and a Bachelor’s in Geography. Before joining the organization, Didier worked for 12 years in Central and South America on issues of transparency, legality, governance, and managing stakeholders’ processes in the environmental sector. Prior to that he worked on similar issues in Central Africa. He speaks French, Spanish, and English, and is based in Guatemala.