Last week, the world woke up to the reality that the Amazon rainforest was burning at an unprecedented rate. In total, there have been nearly 73,000 fires in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest this year alone, an 80% increase over the same period in 2018. This is especially alarming when you consider that the Amazon alone is responsible for 20% of the oxygen in our atmosphere.
Brazil may seem far away for many, but there are numerous things that you can do to help the Amazon rainforest.
Learn more about what’s happening
Knowing what is happening in the Amazon can help you determine where your help is needed the most. Finding a good source of information with which to educate yourself can be a bit of a challenge. We have found the Indigenous Environmental Network’s Twitter account to be a reliable source of information about the ongoing situation in the Amazon.
Pressure businesses to do the right thing
Putting pressure on businesses, governments, and organizations to do the right thing really does work. In 1999, Home Depot, which is the largest seller of lumber in the world, agreed to phase out the use of old growth wood in its products and lumber following public pressure. This decision followed more than 600 public demonstrations at Home Depot locations in Canada and the United States. Organize with the general public to ask businesses to protect the rainforest.
Choose recycled paper and sustainable woo
Logging is a significant cause of the destruction of old growth forests, including the Amazon rainforest. These trees are cut down to make anything from furniture to toilet paper. But you can reduce the strain on forests by reducing your paper and wood use in general and choosing sustainably harvested and recycled paper products when possible.
Support organizations that benefit the rainforest and rainforest communities
Supporting not for profit organizations that help the Amazon rainforest is a great way to give back to the rainforest. Amazon Watch in particular is an excellent organization. According to their website: “Since 1996, Amazon Watch has protected the rainforest and advanced the rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin. We partner with indigenous and environmental organizations in campaigns for human rights, corporate accountability, and the preservation of the Amazon’s ecological systems.”
Be mindful of meat
How likely is it that meat raised on deforested Amazon pasture lands will end up on your plate? According to the USDA Economic Research Service, 140.9 million pounds of beef was imported into the United States from Brazil in 2018. It is possible that some of that beef was raised on deforested rainforest land. If you don’t eat meat, you don’t contribute to this issue. If you do, try to find locally raised meat. Know where your food is coming from.
Make your voice heard
In the same way that pressure on business works, pressure on your elected officials works as well. Political policies in Brazil have made it possible for the Amazon to suffer so much damage. But political pressure could help put an end to it. Recently, Norway and Germany suspended donations to the Brazilian government’s Amazon Fund after deforestation of the Amazon surged. Putting pressure on Brazil to act will help save the Amazon.
Talk with friends and family
Finally, spreading awareness among your friends and family on social media might be the most important thing you can do. Many are still simply unaware that the Amazon rainforest is in the kind of trouble that it is. So take some time, share articles and news from reputable sources, and talk to people about what’s happening. You can also comment on our Wildfire Relief Instagram post as well. Our planet is burning, the time for action is now.