Act NowHere is a list of simple, yet powerful, actions you can take to make a positive impact on rainforests for World Rainforest Day 2020. Share with us how you help save the rainforests on social media with #WorldRainforestDay.
1. Learn About the Rainforest
Remember to take a moment to appreciate the 50 million indigenous “guardians of the forest” who fight to protect this precious resource for us all. The United Nations has officially recognized the vital role that indigenous people play in fighting deforestation and preserving biodiversity. Unfortunately, world governments have failed to protect Indigenous lands from logging, mining, ranching, oil exploration, and other harmful activities. Hundreds of Indigenous environmental and human rights activists have been murdered for speaking out against the industries that threaten their land and way of life.
Watch this video to learn more about how Indigenous activists risk their lives to protect the rainforest and continue to grow your rainforest knowledge by watching these other award-winning films.
2. Donate to Rainforest Protectors
There’s no better way to help the rainforest than by donating directly to the cause. Take action this World Rainforest Day by donating to one or more of our many World Rainforest Day partners who work around the world on a diverse array of issues. Your contribution will be put to work conserving wildlife, fighting deforestation, empowering Indigenous communities, developing sustainable economies, and educating people around the world about the importance of protecting rainforests.
Regardless of where you choose to donate, your generosity will help ensure that the “lungs of the Earth” remain healthy and productive while continuing to provide vital benefits to people worldwide. The rainforest can’t be saved without you!
3. Eat more plants, less meat
Despite the common belief that logging is the main culprit in the decline of rainforests, beef production is by far the largest cause of tropical deforestation in the Amazon. Approximately 2.71 million hectares, an area roughly the size of Massachusetts, of tropical rainforest are destroyed every year in Latin America, especially in Brazil, to convert forest to ranchland.
Additionally, more rainforest is being converted to soybean plantations, much of which goes to feed the growing cattle population. These processes emit a significant amount of CO2, and the once-forested region loses its capacity to act as a carbon sink. Even worse, cattle release large amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas 30 times more powerful as carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere.
Brazil and other Latin American nations export beef worldwide (including to the US), meaning that beef consumed around the world contributes to deforestation. The bottom line is this: More beef means fewer rainforests.
You don’t have to make a drastic change in your diet to make a difference. When possible, swap out beef for plant protein or for leaner proteins like chicken or seafood. Having just one less meal containing beef per week is an easy sacrifice to make for rainforests and our climate. On this World Rainforest Day, commit to eating less beef knowing that it will help to slow the pace of global deforestation. Learn more about the beef industry’s impact on rainforests, and share what you know with the beef-eaters in your life to multiply your impact.
4. Shop for rainforest-friendly products
In our globalized society, it can be hard to know if the products we consume are sustainably and ethically-made. See below for ways you can shop smart.
Pass on Unsustainable Palm Oil
Palm oil is an extremely versatile product used in a variety of every-day cosmetics, cleaning products, and food items. Palm oil production is the leading cause of deforestation in tropical Southeast Asia. The number of palm oil plantations in the region has doubled in the last 10 years to meet growing global demand, and slash-and-burn production causes widespread wildfires, which threatens biodiversity by destroying habitats of key species such as orangutans, tigers, rhinoceros, and elephants. Additionally, the burning land releases an extremely dangerous haze into the air that leads to severe human health problems and causes fatalities throughout the region.
Palm oil is difficult to avoid entirely, but you can address this problem by shopping smart. When possible, look for products with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) or Green Palm logo. These products must meet strict sustainability criteria to minimize the negative impacts of palm oil production. Products that bear the Orangutan Alliance and Certified Palm Oil Free logos do not use palm oil in their products.
Look for Rainforest Alliance Certified Products
When it comes to being rainforest-conscious, one of the best ways to know whether your consumption is environmentally and economically sustainable is by purchasing products with the Rainforest Alliance Certification, a little green frog logo. Coffee, tea, fruit, and paper are among the most common products to be certified. Visit Rainforest Alliance to learn more about the strict environmental and social standards that must be met to earn a certification and view a list of products and companies that have been certified.
Buy Rainforest-Conscious Coffee and Chocolate
The growing worldwide demand for coffee and cacao has driven farmers to expand their plantations, often at the expense of the rainforest. There are, however, steps coffee and chocolate-lovers can take to source their favorite products to minimize its impact on the rainforest. Start by looking for coffee and chocolate that are certified as:
- Fair Trade
- USDA Organic
- Shade-grown coffee and chocolate minimize deforestation and have higher levels of biodiversity, erosion control and pollination potential. A great example of rainforests and agriculture coexisting.
5. Travel sustainably
Be an Eco-Tourist
If you ever have the opportunity to travel to a rainforest, seize the opportunity. Rainforests are enchanting places and visiting one can captivate your imagination and alter your perspective on our place in the ecosystem. When managed sustainably, tourism in the rainforest can help protect biodiverse and sensitive land, provide reliable income to forest communities, and educate travelers about the importance of conservation. When managed unsustainably, tourism can devastate fragile ecosystems through infrastructure construction, produce large amounts of waste, and pollute water sources. Travel smart by searching extensively for the most sustainable accommodations. Be vigilant: Any hotel or lodge is free to use the term “ecotourism” when in reality, some are much more sustainable than others. Some organizations and tourism bureaus partner with the United Nations’ Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism, but it is important to look more deeply into which destinations do the most to protect the rainforest and benefit local communities. Check out this list for the top 100 ecotourism destinations from Ecuador to Indonesia.
Reduce your Carbon Footprint
By absorbing carbon dioxide emissions from human activity, rainforests play a crucial role in mitigating the effects of climate change. Despite covering only 2% of our planet, tropical rainforests absorb 1.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.
One way in which you can ease the burden on rainforests to absorb carbon is by reducing your transportation carbon footprint. If you’re buying a new car, consider going electric. It helps keep carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and you get to park in EV-designated parking spots. Want to reduce your impact of taking long-distance flights? Carbon offsets can be purchased through numerous organizations, but make sure to educate yourself about which offsets are most effective and which meet your specific needs.
Not flying anytime soon? Even simple actions such as carpooling, walking or biking to school or work can make an impact. Protecting rainforests is one of our best hopes at mitigating the effects of climate change, so do what you can to help keep emissions down and trees up!
6. Hold Leaders and Corporations Accountable
Call out politicians, corporations, and business leaders who refuse to take action to protect the rainforest. Advocate for environmental progress at the local, national and corporate levels by speaking your mind and getting the word out. Change starts with the people: the time to act is now.
7. Spread the Word
- Use #WorldRainforestDay and share why rainforests matter to you
- Follow us on Twitter: @Rainforest_Day
- Follow us on Instagram: @worldrainforestday
- Like our Facebook page: @worldrainforestday
Our vision is to get World Rainforest Day, June 22nd, recognized as an official United Nations Day. The United Nations recognizes official days for jazz, tuna, and bicycles, but believe it or not, has no official rainforest day! Spread the word on social media and contact your local and national government officials about why you think rainforests deserve to have their own day. Remember to include #WorldRainforestDay in your post.