Deforestation: 7 Things We Can Do To Stop It

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deforestation
Deforestation in El Nido, Palawan - Philippines

Half of the world’s rainforests have already been lost in a century [1] and we keep losing rainforests at a rate of 30 football pitches a minute [2]. Welcome to the world of unpleasant facts. These numbers are horrifying. Can we do something to stop deforestation before it’s too late? Turns out, we can. Let’s take a look at the problem of deforestation from a practical perspective and let’s go over 7 steps each of us can take in the fight for our forests.

1. Use less paper

The average American uses seven trees a year in paper, wood, and other products made from trees.

So reduce your paper use whenever you can. Don’t print out emails or documents until you really have to. Try to do things electronically whenever it’s possible. Try creating a “NO ADS” label on your (physical) mailbox. This way, you will play a role in reducing the demand for paper.

2. Recycle paper and cardboard

The average household throws away 13,000 separate pieces of paper each year, mostly packaging and junk mail.

It is hard to avoid using paper altogether, but what you can do is recycle paper instead of throwing it away together with other unrecycled junk. Get a trash can just for paper, throw all paper garbage there, and have the paper trash recycled.

3. Use recycled products

Books, paper nags, egg packaging or toilet paper can have a “Made from recycled paper” label. When shopping next time, be sure to look for such products because by buying them, you are helping the forests big time.

4. Support organizations fighting deforestation

A number of international and locally-focused organizations work hard to protect forests from deforestation and apply sustainable forestry practices. Examples for organization you can support:

  1. World Wildlife Fund – www
  2. Rainforest Action Network – www
  3. Rainforest Alliance – www
  4. Conservation International – www

5. Don’t buy products containing palm oil

With 66 million tons annually, palm oil is the most commonly produced vegetable oil. It is used as a biofuel and is contained in a myriad of supermarket products. At the same time, palm oil production is one of the main causes of tropical rainforest destruction around the world, which is responsible for carbon emissions and climate change. Palm oil is not only bad for the climate, due to removing of their habitat, endangered species such as orangutans are being pushed closer to extinction.

Did you know that palm oil is used in 1 half of all supermarket products? Palm oil can be found in biscuits and margarine, frozen pizzas, as well as body creams, soaps, makeup, candles and detergents. Carefully take a look at labels and always try to choose a product that contains no palm oil.

However, replacing palm oil can be tricky. If you cannot replace the products you buy with products without any palm oil, consider at least buying products with a sustainable palm oil certificate such as RSPO.

6. Replace beef with more ecological foods

Why beef? In our earlier article on the ecology of meats, we revealed some shocking facts about beef, including its enormous land use. Huge amounts of forests are cleared each year, especially in Brazil, for the growing of cattle feed or for cattle grazing. Just briefly, let’s go over the numbers again:

Food TypesLand Use (m2year per 100g protein)
Lamb and mutton185
Beef164
Cheese41
Pork11
Poultry7.1
Eggs5.7
Farmed fish3.7
Groundnuts3.5
Peas3.4
Tofu2.2

The second-worst place in land use belongs to beef, with its land use being 15 times worse than that of pork and nearly 20 times worse than that of poultry. And now the worst number: compared to tofu, beef uses 74 times more land. Seventy-four times! With that number in mind, if you care at least a little bit about our forests, replacing beef with tofu once in a while seems like a no-brainer decision.

Some may argue that a lot of the cleared land in Brazil is used to grow soybeans, out of which tofu, tempeh and soy milk are made. However, the fact is, 93% of the soy consumed by Europeans is in the form of animal feed fed to animals used to produce meat and dairy. (Source: WWF – see the end of the article.) In other words, only 7% of the soy consumed by Europeans is eaten by them directly in the form of soy foods like tofu, tempeh or soy milk, meaning that the meat and dairy industry is at blame here.

7. Consider going vegan, vegetarian or at least flexitarian

Now, beef is not the only meat that uses a lot of land. Pork, poultry and eggs still use much more land than nuts, peas and tofu, the staple vegan meals. The good news is, nobody says you need to go full vegan (no animal products) or vegetarian (no meat but dairy and eggs allowed) in one month to play a role in saving our forests. There is the so-called flexitarian diet.

On a flexitarian diet, your don’t ditch meat completely, you just eat it less often, and a few times a month you eat vegetarian or vegan. It’s better to keep some structure, for instance, the Meatless Monday campaign recommends people skipping meat every Monday.

It would be very nice of you to try eating flexitarian at least once. Every skipped beef hamburger counts and helps save our forests. What about vegan burgers, have you tried one already? Companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods produce very tasty burger patties completely from plants. So why don’t you eat a vegan burger on Monday instead of a beef one? Try it out, it will be very helpful, thank you.

Sources:

[1] RainforestConcern.org: Why are rainforests being destroyed?

[2] Independent: Enough rainforest to fill 30 football pitches destroyed every minute

[3] Wikipedia: Environmental impacts of meat production

[4] WWF: Hidden Soy – http://hiddensoy.panda.org/

[5] Rainforest-Rescue.org: Palm oil – deforestation for everyday products

[6] GreenTumble.com: 15 Strategies How to Reduce and Prevent Deforestation

[7] University of Southern Indiana: Paper Recycling Facts

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