Thinking about big changes for 2017? Why not make New Years resolutions that are good for you and the planet with these 5 rainforest-friendly ideas!
1. Become and Advocate for the Amazon
Learning why the Amazon is important is the first step towards taking action to protect it. Every day the Amazon rainforest gives us a tremendous amount of resources- the oxygen we breathe, 20% of the planet's fresh water, billions of trees to regulate our climate, and countless plants with medicinal properties. Learn about the beauty and wonder of the lungs of our planet on our Amazon fast facts page then share what you've learned with your friends and family so they can become advocates for the Amazon too!
2. Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
2016 is a year unlike any other in human history- it's the warmest year on record since record keeping began 135 years ago. 2017 is expected to be even warmer. Global climate change isn't a future problem anymore. It's happening here and now. Record heat, rising sea levels, and more extreme weather are the Earth's way of telling us that we're in trouble and the time to act on climate is NOW.
One of the most effective things you can do to help fight climate change is to reduce your carbon footprint. Making simple lifestyle changes can add up to a make big impact on cutting carbon. If just 5% of New Yorkers commuting by private car or taxi switched to biking to work, they could save 150 million pounds of CO2 emissions per year, equivalent to the amount reduced by planting a forest 1.3 times the size of Manhattan.
3. Be a Conscious Consumer
Have you ever wondered what helps keep the prices of certain goods so low? Often it's the hidden costs behind them- labor and environmental costs. We can all do our part in making better choices when it comes to consumption by taking into account the impacts that our purchases have on people and the planet we live on. We often don't know what natural resources are used to make our goods or where exactly they come from. Being a conscious consumer means informed decision making to create responsible purchasing.
Take for example your morning cup of coffee. Goods such as coffee, chocolate, tea, and cut flowers, which are readily available and easy to find throughout the world, form important parts of the economy in developing countries where the goods are produced. According to NOAA, over 27 million acres of the world's farmland is dedicated to coffee cultivation, with Brazil consistently ranking number one in coffee exports. As a country that holds nearly 2/3 of the Amazon rainforest, a hidden cost of cheap coffee is deforestation and the subsequent loss of biodiversity as traditional shade growing techniques are abandoned in favor of coffee grown in the sun to increase yield. Another hidden cost? Falling coffee prices can be devastating for the over 25 million households in coffee-producing countries who see less and less of a share in the world coffee market.
4. Say No to Dirty Gold
Do you know where your gold comes from? Chances are it could be from an illegal mine in the Peruvian Amazon. Due to instability in the global market place in recent years, the price of gold has risen to its highest historical levels. When the price of gold is high, miners who normally wouldn't extract gold in marginal areas are able to do so without economic losses. In the Amazon, this results in rampant artisanal mining at the base of the Andes where millions of years of sedimentary runoff have accumulated small deposits of gold.
The Madre de Dios region of Peru, a biodiversity hotspot, is considered a 'low-governance' area so the environmental impact of mining is not regulated. Large landscapes are deforested, existing vegetation and trees are burned, and dangerous quantities of mercury are released into the environment. Artisanal and small-scale gold mining is now seen in 70 countries and is the number one release of mercury worldwide.
The difficulty with certifying gold jewelry as environmental friendly is that most gold is refined at large plants that do not distinguish between sources. This operational process makes it very difficult for jewelry retailers to determine where the gold was mined or what practices were used.
A solution for more environmentally friendly gold jewelry? Look for recycled gold. Recycled gold jewelry is made from melted down from scrap metal, dental materials and unwanted jewelry. Although the original source of recycled gold may have been produced through toxic mining practices, buying recycled gold decreases the demand for additional gold extraction.
5. Support Conservation Efforts
The Amazon rainforest is at a tipping point. Fortunately, there is something you can do. When you support the work of the Amazon Aid Foundation, you're supporting a climate resilient future where the Amazon stays standing. Through our transparent solutions, you can protect an acre of the Peruvian Amazon or adopt a tree in areas affected by illegal gold mining by assisting our partners on the ground- a team of dedicated scientists and local communities. Learn how you can start your own Acre Care or Reforestation campaign today.