As the raging wildfires continue to blacken skies across the Amazon region, enraged commentators have had little to say about what actions people can take beyond retweeting. There are actionable measures that we can all take right now to fight deforestation of the planet’s lungs, so that our impact does not just end with a post share or an instagram story.
1) Boycott Brazilian Beef, Especially If You Are In Hong Kong or China
People are eating more meat, and beef in particular, which is driving global demand for animal agriculture. Because of this demand for beef, Brazil has become home to one of the world’s largest cattle ranching communities, and the single largest exporter of beef and poultry – and farmers keep pushing deeper into the Amazon basin in order to make room for profitable pastures. As cows have to be fed, ranchers also have to start fires in order to grow soy crops, a massive portion of which goes to feeding cattle.
“The livestock and agriculture sectors do not exist in isolation from each other. Rather, they are linked in two primary ways: they act as mutual enablers to access land within the Amazon, and they support each other chains integrated value chains,” said the WWF.
While there has been international action taken by some countries, such as Finland who has called for the European Union to possibly ban Brazilian beef imports, the real onus lies in the Hong Kong and Chinese market, which is collectively responsible for 44% of total Brazilian beef exports. Through boycotting Brazilian beef, you are directly challenging the forest-clearing activities of animal livestock farmers. When the demand for beef goes down, the need for Amazonian deforestation goes down.
2) Boycott Meat Products Altogether
While some might choose to boycott Brazilian meat products until credible action has been taken by the Bolsonaro administration, there is good reason to simply opt out of all meat products. In the long term, eliminating the intake of meat would not only challenge the main source of deforestation all around the world, but would also tackle our current biodiversity crisis, land and soil erosion, water pollution and reduce carbon emissions.
In addition, going veggie could counter companies responsible for deforestation that have been simultaneously linked to modern day slavery and grave human rights abuses. Probably a good idea to ditch the beef burger for a plant-based patty!
3) Sign A Petition To Stop Cargill
One such company is Cargill, a giant in the agriculture business. As the world’s largest trader in agricultural commodities such as palm oil, soy, meat and cocoa, the corporation is responsible for environmental degradation as well as human rights violations. In a report by NGO Mighty Earth, Cargill was named as a key driver of a number of the world’s most pressing issues, from destroying Amazonian for soy and beef production, polluting air and water, Indonesian deforestation for palm oil, contributing to global warming, displacing Indigenous peoples and communities and the use of child labour in cocoa farms.
Currently, there is an online petition by the Rainforest Rescue, which calls to action global food companies to drop Cargill as a supplier. Some of these companies include McDonald’s, Burger King, Walmart and Unilever. While a serious offender of putting profits before ethics, individual consumers would find it difficult to avoid the wide-ranging products linked to the company. But Cargill’s corporate customers can cut their ties with the company to pressure for change. We, as individuals, can sign the petition calling for these demands to be met!
4) Sign A Petition To Urge For Action From Bolsonaro
Greenpeace has launched a petition to save the Amazon from deforestation practices, protect Indigenous peoples and communities, calling on Bolsonaro’s government to take action now. There are also a range of other petitions on Change.org that similarly call for the Bolsonaro administration to take action, or other governments to put pressure through raising tariffs on or banning Brazilian products. One lawyer from Rio Branco, Gabriel Santos, has garnered almost 3 million signatures demanding an investigation into the Amazonian wildfires. Adding your name to these petitions can make a difference, no matter how small.
5) Make The Switch To Ecosia
Ecosia is a global internet search engine that plants a tree for every 45 searches run on their site. Founded in 2009, the German certified B Corporation uses donates large sums of its profits to fund reforestation projects around the world to fight deforestation, global warming, biodiversity loss, climate change and supporting local communities. In addition to operating in a carbon neutral fashion through being solar energy powered, the company is also a safer search engine for those concerned about privacy and security.
6) Double-check Before You Buy
It is worth checking that all the products you buy are not contributing to the destruction of rainforests. One of the most useful resources to do this is by visiting the Rainforest Alliance’s page for a list of certified rainforest-safe products. Their little green frog is a symbol for environmental, social and economic sustainability and can be found on a range of products around the world, from teas and coffees to musical instruments, paper stationery supplies and sporting goods.
7) Donate To A Reforestation Organisation
Organisations such as the Rainforest Action Network and the Rainforest Trust work tirelessly to protect acres of the Amazonian rainforest from illegal activities and help monitor reforestation efforts. The WWF works to protect species inhabiting the Amazon and other rainforests in the world, and also runs volunteering opportunities that you can help participating in. You can also support the Amazon Watch, a group dedicated to monitoring rainforest activities, defending vulnerable Indigenous communities and providing credible information to the global network.
8) Start A Community Campaign
The most original form of action! Grassroots campaigning, getting the word out on the ground, contacting your local officials and politicians – these are all steps we can take away from the screen to get people working to save the rainforests from further destruction and fight climate change.
Lead image courtesy of Sky News.