The Amazon rainforest - also known as 'the lungs of the Earth' - produces 20% of the world's oxygen and absorbs about 2 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. For over three weeks now, the Amazon has been experiencing raging wildfires which show no signs of slowing down. The worst part? These wildfires are primarily man-made. Environmental organizations and researchers say the wildfires blazing in the Brazilian rainforest were set by cattle ranchers and loggers who want to clear and utilize the land, emboldened by the country's pro-business president. The truth is, the Amazon rainforest simply doesn't burn on its own so easily - it is much too humid unlike the dry bushlands of California. Statistics show an 80% increase in the number of fires in Brazil compared to last year. More than half are in the Amazon region, spelling disaster for the local environment and ecology.
So, what can you do about it?
1. Spread the word! Let your voice be heard
Educate your family and friends on the importance of the Amazon on its biodiversity and vital role on the planet. It is the home of 10% of the world's known species and close to one million indigenous people spanning over 305 tribes in Brazil alone. If you live near a Brazilian embassy, show up and express your outrage. We need people and governments around the world to speak up against Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and put pressure on him to stop using Amazon resource extraction as a pillar in his economic agenda. You can also sign the Greenpeace Petition telling the Brazilian government to save the Amazon rainforest and protect the lands of indigenous and traditional communities.
2. Reduce your paper and wood consumptionLogging companies are cutting down some of the most endangered forests on the planet to make wood and paper products used daily such as office paper and toilet paper. Some tricks include always printing double sided and only when necessary, using your own cloth bag at the grocery store and avoiding the use of disposable paper cups and plates. When purchasing paper products, look for products with the highest percentage of recycled content/post-consumer recycled content. You can also choose tree-free paper which is made from agricultural products like waste straw, kenaf, and hemp - not a single tree is cut down for their production! Learn about alternatives such as reclaimed or recycled lumber, composite lumber, and independently certified wood for your next DIY project.
3. Reduce your beef consumption
Reducing your consumption of beef will reduce demand for it, cutting back on pressure to clear more forests for cattle. Rainforest beef is typically found in fast food hamburgers or processed beef products so be mindful about what you consume and hold businesses accountable for their irresponsible sourcing ! Over the last thirty years, the Amazon rainforest has become one of the main cattle ranching regions in the world. With 5 to 8% annual expansion, the growth of cattle herd is still strongly affecting forest resources in this region.
4. Reduce your fossil fuel use
The less fossil fuels used, the less impact climate change will have on the Amazon and other important natural areas. Support and demand renewable energy be part of the grid in your area. Turn off electric appliances when you’re not using them. Choose green energy providers for your household, or ask your provider for available options. Take public transport or ride your bike to work! On our part, we now offer carbon neutral shipping by purchasing carbon offsets and renewable energy credits to verified and certified energy plants.
Here are a few of our favorites...
- The Rainforest Action Network: an effective, hard-hitting organization.
- Gaia Amazonas: supporting indigenous communities and ecosystems.
- Amazon Watch: protecting the rainforest, defending Indigenous rights and working to address climate change.
- Extinction Rebellion: A do-it-together grassroots movement fighting for the planet.