If you have a smartphone, you hold the world in your hands.
With just a few taps you have instant access to answers for any question you could ever want to ask.
You can shop for anything from socks to a new tv from the comfort of your own home. You can even satisfy a late -night pancake or burger craving through food delivery apps or call someone on the other side of the world.
All of this is available to you, right now, without having to leave your home.
We live in a society that has become accustomed to instant gratification, but everything comes at a price.
Most of us focus on the financial cost of getting something we want, but now more than ever we must also consider the cost this way of living is having on the environment.
Deforestation is just one of the many harmful actions that are growing at an alarming rate, with over 11 million hectares of forest cut down already this year. [i]
Agricultural expansion, logging and cattle farming are just some of the practices behind deforestation, with consumer demand for beef, palm oil and timber being some of the main driving factors.
Jane Goodall put it best when she said, “isn’t it peculiar that the most intellectual creature to ever walk the planet is destroying its only home?”
The importance of forests cannot be understated, and there is a reason the Amazon Rainforest is referred to as the lungs of the earth. Trees emit oxygen and store carbon dioxide. Less trees performing this vital function means an increase of carbon emissions, the cause of global warming.
It is therefore cause for alarm knowing that forest degradation alone is responsible for 15% of all greenhouse emissions [ii].
Humans and animals alike all rely on forests. Orangutans, gorillas, Asian elephants and tigers are just some of the many already vulnerable animals whose plight is being made even more difficult with the loss of their habitat.
People have also been affected, with those living in communities near forest areas being forced to work in soy plantations, facing abuse as well as abhorrent working and living conditions.
Deforestation is hurting everyone, humans, the planet, flora and fauna, but the good news is we can do something about it!
Consumers have an immense amount of power, more than you might think.
Here are five ways you can use your power as a consumer to help drive change.
1. Vote with your dollar.
Every dollar you spend casts a vote for the kind of world you want to live in.
I mentioned at the beginning of this post that with smartphones we can find the answers to any questions we want to ask. Take some time to research the products you use and find out whether they really are ethical.
Use your research skills to find more planet friendly alternatives for the products you use from companies that don’t support deforestation or illegal environmental practices.
2: Learn the lingo.
There are 436 different names for palm oil.[iii]
Pre packaged foods such as biscuits and cakes, as well as beauty and haircare products are highly likely to have palm oil in them, but it may not be clearly identified as an ingredient.
Familiarise yourself with the language companies use and make sure the brands you support aren’t contributing to deforestation or to the decline or orangutan populations.
3: Consume less.
It is always going to be better for the environment if we consume less.
Instead of buying brand new things, consider buying second hand or borrowing the item from a friend.
If something breaks try and repair it instead of throwing it away and getting a new one.
Try and limit your usage of single use packaging by saying no to plastic cutlery and bags as well as napkins, take away coffee cups and products with ridiculously excessive plastic packaging.
4: Meat free Mondays.
We know that lots of forest land is cleared to make room for cattle farms to feed our insatiable hunger for meat.
By having a meat free day once a week, you are helping to slow the need for more cattle that will, in turn, reduce the amount of land needed to house them.
This will also allow you to expand your culinary skills in the kitchen by experimenting with new vegetarian or vegan recipes you may not have tried otherwise. You might even discover a new favourite!
5: Support forest organisations.
Thankfully there are many organisations who are working hard to restore our forests and reverse some of the damage.
One such organisation is Greenfleet who have planted over 9.4 million native trees in Australia and New Zealand and as a result have managed to offset over 3.4 million tonnes of carbon.
By planting native biodiverse forests, Greenfleet hope to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality and provide homes for native endangered and vulnerable animals.
If you would like to support Greenfleet, $3 from the sale of each Environmental Cause Cup goes towards helping them continue their amazing work. You can find our cups and information about the causes we support by visiting https://causecups.com.au/products/environment
You can learn more about Greenfleet by visiting https://www.greenfleet.com.au/
Remember, consumers have an enormous amount of power. Make the choice today to use that power for good.