Sure, governments can create laws to stop deforestation, but what can you do to save the rainforest? It turns out quite a bit.
1. Eliminate Deforestation From Your Diet
It may not be well known, but many of the foods we eat are grown on deforested lands. For example, beef, soybean, and palm oil are main drivers of deforestation in the Amazon basin. Fortunately, we can limit our contribution to these destructive industries. Reduce your meat intake, and buy your meat from local farms that use sustainable practices. Check your food product labels for soy or palm oil ingredients, and buy alternatives when possible. Choosing sustainably produced foods and products forces companies to change their practices.
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, mining for precious metals is a leading cause of deforestation and river pollution in the Amazon. Ask your jeweler if they use recycled gold and other recycled metals in their pieces. Similarly, logging for threatened woods – like Mahogany, Rosewood, and Ebony – drives rainforest destruction. Avoid products made from tropical hardwoods, like guitars and furniture. Use paper products made from recycled pulp, or choose products that have been certified by organizations like the Forest Stewardship Council. You can also refrain from purchasing products from companies who score poorly in terms of eliminating deforestation from their supply chains.
3. Choose Products That Give Back
It’s best to buy less. But when you do buy, choose companies that donate to environmental causes. Teadora, which offers a line of skin care products, works with Rainforest Foundation US to protect 141k hectares of rainforest habitat for multiple endangered species, and to plant more than 1 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.
4. Support Indigenous Communities
Buying artisanal and fair trade products made by indigenous peoples is a unique and effective way to protect rainforests and sustainable livelihoods. Know who to buy from to be sure you are not inadvertently supporting companies that benefit from cultural appropriation. Your best bet is to buy from indigenous-owned companies or from services like Ten Thousand Villages, which sells ethically-produced products sourced directly from indigenous and low-income communities around the world. Next time you travel, consider visiting communities through ecotourism. Ecotourism gives you an opportunity to learn about new cultures and directly supports indigenous peoples.
5. Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
To stem the climate crisis, action is needed by 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 home thermostat (even a couple degrees makes a big difference!), turn off lights and electronics when not in use, and avoid unnecessary air travel.
Whatever you cannot reduce, you can mitigate by supporting projects that offer carbon emissions reductions by keeping forests standing. Rainforests are extremely efficient at storing carbon, and keeping forests standing can offer up to a third of the climate solutions. Project Wren, a Rainforest Foundation US partner, offers a range of on-the-ground carbon-reducing grassroots projects, and you can even directly sponsor RFUS local partners in Peru by electing to support the project Tech-Enabled Rainforest Protection.
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. Ask your friends and family to also send a quick message; the more editors hear that rainforest protection is important to their readers, the more likely they are to write about it in their publication and spread the word to a larger audience.
7. Share Rainforest News on Social Media
The more people know what is happening to rainforests and the indigenous communities who rely on them, the more likely they are to join and support the cause. Consider sharing on social media one of Rainforest Foundation US’s stories or other rainforest news from reputable media outlets. And don’t forget to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, Youtube and Instagram, and subscribe to our newsletter for the latest! By sharing on social media, you add pressure to hold governments and corporations responsible for deforestation – don’t underestimate the power of your voice! Today, nations around the world are making commitments to protect forests and address the climate crisis – let’s hold them to their promise.
8. Contact Your Elected Representatives
Elected officials directly influence government priorities and allocation of funds, and they have a duty to represent the interests of their electorate. 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.
9. Volunteer Your Time
The contribution of your personal time and energy can make a big difference. Think you can spare 1-2 hours per week, or even 5-10? 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 raise awareness on rainforest protection and climate action in your community, while raising essential financial support for the cause. Interested, but don’t know where to start? Consider organizing a benefit concert, an art show or poetry slam, or a fireside talk on rainforests. Or try your hand at a bake sale, a 5k “run for the rainforest,” or invite donations to Rainforest Foundation US for your birthday by hosting a Facebook fundraiser.
Support Our Work
Rainforest Foundation US is tackling the major challenges of our day: deforestation, the climate crisis, and human rights violations. Your donation moves us one step closer to creating a more sustainable and just future.