When you hear the word ‘Rainforest’, what comes to your mind? Well, the first few things that come to our mind are tall trees, wild animals, colorful birds, and many varieties of reptiles, insects, and worms. The beauty of nature and the balance of a complex ecosystem inside a rainforest is amazing.
Of all the rainforests in the world, the Amazon rainforest is the largest one, generating nearly 20% of the total Oxygen and absorbing over 2 billion tonnes of Carbon dioxide each year. Hence, the health of this rainforest is critical to the health of our planet.
In recent years, this diverse ecosystem is in danger due to large scale deforestation and human activity. Fires were always there in rainforests, but the number of fires has increased dramatically because of reckless human actions; there were 80,000 fires in 2019 itself.
It seems intimidating to fix a problem of this scale at an individual level. Since every action counts, here are a few things we can do to protect this beautiful home of millions of species?
- Cut down the use of paper: Rainforests are a big source for the wood required to make paper. Think of all the places where we use paper - office supplies, paper towels, toilet paper, paper disposables. If we can try to cut down their usage and look for alternatives, it will put less commercial pressure on these forests. Try to go for recycled paper or tree-free paper whenever you can.
- Cut down the use of ‘new’ wood: Not just for paper, rainforests are also a great source of wood required for building houses and furniture. Large areas of the rainforest are burnt to get access to the interiors and for felling trees. Try to look for reclaimed lumber, or recycled lumber, or Rainforest safe products whenever possible.
- Cut down beef intake: You may be surprised that cattle grazing is one of the biggest drivers of deforestation in Amazon rainforests. Most of the beef found in fast food joints in the US comes from the South American markets. The rainforests are a great source of pasture to raise cattle. Sometimes land is cleared to do agriculture and grow a crop that acts as a feed for the cattle. Hence, reducing your beef intake will reduce the demand for beef, thereby reducing the impact on these forests.
- Cut down the use of oil: The consumption of oils leads to global warming which affects the environment and many species. It’s high time to start thinking more consciously about carpool, bike ride, and walking to reduce our oil usage. Most plastics are also made from oil so reducing our plastic consumption will also reduce oil consumption. In addition, the very process of extracting oil leads to toxic pollution and massive deforestation.
- Challenge the status quo: As a consumer, we have the power to change by choosing what we buy and where we buy from. We can stop buying from companies that contribute to the downfall of rainforests. We can also increase awareness of this important issue through social media so more and more people know about this.
- Support Organizations: Some organizations are doing great work to preserve the Amazon rainforest. One way to support them is by providing financial support. Here are few organizations you can donate or create fundraisers to save the Amazon - Amazon Watch, Amazon Conservation Team, Rainforest Action Network, Rainforest Trust
September 5 is the global day of Action for the Amazon Rainforest. Hope you find these tips useful. Tell us in the comments if you have any other ideas!