Why Are Rainforests Important?

Day 173 – We lose 40 football fields worth of rainforests every minute. In less than 10 years, there may only be 10% of rainforest left. We have already lost over 9 million acres.

So, why should we care about the rainforests?

  1. Rainforests absorbs carbon dioxide and release the oxygen that we depend on for our survival. The absorption of this CO2 also helps to stabilize the Earth’s climate.
  2. Rainforests help to maintain the world’s water cycle by adding water to the atmosphere through the process of transpiration which creates clouds.
  3. Tropical rainforests contain over 30 million species of plants and animals. That’s half of the Earth’s wildlife and at least two-thirds of its plant species. There’s thousands of species that have not been identified, yet.
  4. Many indigenous people have been living in harmony with the rainforest for thousands of years, depending on it for their food, shelter and medicines. They are often forced to move away from their homes to unfamiliar places, sometimes even being killed in the process.
  5.  it is believed that the Amazonian forests alone store over half of the Earth’s rainwater. Without rainforests continually recycling huge quantities of water, feeding the rivers, lakes and irrigation systems, droughts would become more common, potentially leading to widespread famine and disease.
  6. Soil in the rainforest is very poor in nutrients. What little nutrients it has comes from decaying trees and plants. However, if trees are removed from the forest, the nutrients are removed with it. The unprotected soil is then simply washed away in heavy rains, causing blockages and floods in lowland rivers, while leaving upland rivers dry.
  7. More than 25% of our modern medicines originate from tropical forest plants. However, we have only learned how to use 1% of these amazing plants.

What can we do to help protect the rainforests?

  1. Many rainforest are cleared to make room for cattle. Reducing your beef intake and buying your meat from local farms that use sustainable practices will help.
  2. Choosing products that are responsibly sourced or made from recycled materials can go a long way to curbing tropical deforestation. You can also refrain from purchasing products from companies who score poorly in terms of eliminating deforestation from their supply chains.
  3. It’s best to buy less. But when you do buy, choose companies that donate to environmental causes.There are hundreds of companies – specializing in a variety of products – that give back to the environment. Certified B Corporations has narrowed down some of the best.
  4. Buying artisanal and fair trade products made by indigenous peoples is a unique and effective way to protect rainforests and sustainable livelihoods.
  5. Reduce your carbon footprint. Drive less, take public transportation, turn down your home thermostat (even a couple degrees makes a big difference!), turn off lights and electronics when not in use, and avoid unnecessary air travel, can all help reduce carbon emissions.
  6. Whenever you cannot reduce, you can mitigate by supporting projects that offer carbon emissions reductions by keeping forests standing.
  7. Share what you know. The more people that know what is happening to rainforests and the indigenous communities who rely on them, the more likely they are to join and support the cause.

So, on this World Rainforest Day make a choice to do something to help protect the rainforests.

Tomorrow, an organization that you most likely have not heard about, but has been working hard to keep you safe.

What is Fair Trade?

Day 129 – Today is World Fair Trade Day! So, what is fair trade?

“Fair trade is a global movement made up of a diverse network of producers, companies, consumers, advocates, and organizations putting people and planet first. Based on the simple idea that the products bought and sold every day are connected to the livelihoods of others, fair trade is a way to make a conscious choice for a better world. A choice for Fair Trade Certified™ goods is a choice to support responsible companies, empower farmers, workers, and fishermen, and protect the environment. In other words, it’s a world-changing way of doing business.”FairTradeCertified.org

When you see a product with the Fair Trade Certified seal, you can be sure it meets rigorous social, environmental, and economic standards. That means:

  • Safe working conditions
  • Environmental protection
  • Sustainable livelihoods
  • Community Development Funds

The theme of this year’s World Fair Trade Day is #BuildBackFairer.

“Recovering from the pandemic gives the world a chance not just to build back better, but build back fairer. We cannot simply go back to the old normal. The old normal left millions behind and was destroying our planet. We have now/today the opportunity to reboot our economies so it is equitable and sustainable.” – wfto.com

You can find fair trade products HERE.

So, do your part to support fair trade and help improve the life of hardworking individuals and improve the health of the planet.

Tomorrow, the plastic pickup challenge.

Chocolate: The not so sweet truth

Day 35: I really like chocolate. Milk, dark, white, I pretty much love all kinds. I never really thought about where the chocolate came from and how it was produced. All I knew was that it tasted good and I enjoyed eating it.

Well, this journey to be more friendly to the environment has also taught me to be a more informed consumer. I am becoming more knowledgable and in turn this knowledge has directed my purchases. Now, it’s not happening overnight, but I’m trying to make a conscience effort to change my shopping habits and choose companies and products that are benefiting people and the planet.

So, with Valentine’s Day just 10 days away, I got to thinking about some sweet treats for the kids. I started looking for candy companies that use their businesses for good. While on my search, I came across the 2020 Chocolate Company Scorecard. Mighty Earth, Be Slavery Free, and Green America surveyed the world’s biggest chocolate companies to find out which companies are rising to the challenge of making cocoa sustainable.

“Together we surveyed 13 chocolate companies and 8 cocoa suppliers, examining their policies in six of the most pressing sustainability issues facing the chocolate industry: mandatory due diligence; transparency and traceability; deforestation and climate change; agroforestry; living income policies; and child labor, focusing primarily on child labor monitoring and remediation systems.”  Green America

I was surprised to see some of my favorite chocolate companies had scored rather low. It definitely opened my eyes to some serious issues plaguing the chocolate industry.

See the full chocolate scorecard here.

Though, it will take some major discussion to convince a certain chocolate lover in the house that his preferred candy of choice (peanut M&Ms) is not doing much to promote sustainable work practices or to keep children safe, I will continue to take steps toward making sure the chocolate that we consume is not hurting the planet or the people making it.

So, this Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to seek out companies that are taking these issues seriously and are doing something to improve the situation.

Here are a few suggestions:

Looking forward to trying these sweet treats!
  1. Alter Eco Foods – Every product they make is sourced from farmer-owned coops practicing sustainable agriculture. They are also pioneers in compostable packaging, and have worked with they’re cacao partners to replant the rain forests where their beans are grown.
  2. Theo Chocolate – They pay more for certified fair trade and organic cocoa beans, to ensure farmers receive a living wage. They work directly with farmers in the Norandino Cooperative in Peru and Esco-Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to source amazing Organic & Fair Trade certified cocoa that benefits farmers and the environment.
  3. Unreal – Two friends figured out a way to create the chocolate treats we have grown to love, using fair trade, organic, and sustainable ingredients. I also should mention it has 40% less sugar than leading brands.
  4. Endangered Species Chocolate – They are passionate about bringing authentic chocolate to the marketplace with real, responsibly sourced, health-conscious ingredients and no mysterious sweeteners or additives. Since 2016, ESC has donated over $2.6 million to its Give Back Partners who focus on wildlife conservation.
  5. Beyond Good – They work directly with over 100 cocoa famers in Madagascar. They help them grow premium cocoa and they earn considerably more money for it. They also built a factory near the farmers to eliminate the middlemen. They are also using cocoa agroforestry to help replenish the lush vegetation of Madagascar.
  6. Divine Chocolate – Their business model reflects the belief that producers should earn a share of the profits they help to create. That’s why one of the shareholders of Divine Chocolate is Kuapa Kokoo Farmers’ Union, a co-operative of 100,000 cocoa farmers in Ghana who grow the finest quality cocoa for their everyday and seasonal collections. The farmers’ ownership stake in Divine Chocolate is a first in the Fair trade world.
  7. Tony’s Chocolonely – Over the last few years Tony’s Chocolonely’s has been working on their sourcing principles for slave-free cocoa. This enables cocoa farmers to earn a living income, which will help put an end to illegal child labor on cocoa farms in West Africa.

If you would like to learn about Fair Trade Certified products, click HERE!

So, enjoy your chocolate this Valentine’s Day and know you are helping the planet, along with the hard working people that are making that delicious cocoa product for you.

Tomorrow, 1% might not sound like a lot, but it can make a huge impact.