We’ve all been there, sitting in front of a screen, reading the latest scary articles and reports about climate change and deforestation, and trying to figure out what to do in the midst of what feels like environmental doom.
It’s a feeling we know well as members of an international environmental organization dedicated to protecting our planet’s rainforests. But we also know that there is still hope.
Why do we say this? Because it’s true that the answers to a better future—and the blueprint to get there—already exist. We know what we need to do, now, and there is still a small window of opportunity for us to implement the individual and collective solutions that will help our forests and our planet.
In honor of Earth Month, we’re highlighting solutions we can implement in our daily lives, our families, and our cities to work together for the healthy planet we all envision.
To those wondering why a rainforest conservation organization would put out a list of actions that primarily address climate change, rest assured that addressing climate change is also an excellent way to address rainforest conservation. That’s because rainforests and climate are two sides of the same coin. They are deeply intertwined and connected in more ways than we can imagine. Curious? Learn more here.
What are some of the solutions we can implement as individuals, and as a society?
Individual actions, when adopted by an ever-growing number of people, can truly make a difference when it comes to mitigating the worst effects of climate change.
- By learning more about climate change, its causes, and its effects, we can contribute to innovative solutions that will benefit both people and the planet.
- Staying informed, and sharing what you know with others, can help raise awareness, build consensus, and bring this critical topic to the attention of those who have the power to make an impact.
Making lifestyle changes:
We can all contribute to helping industries become less wasteful and reduce the impact they have on the planet, just through the lifestyle choices we make every day.
- Buying second-hand clothes, hosting or attending clothes swaps, or sharing hand-me-downs with friends and family can reduce waste can help make an impact on the fashion industry, which contributes greatly to greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution.
- Buying fewer new items from big stores, and instead seeking items like furniture and home goods in secondhand stores, exchange groups and yard sales, is also a great way to contribute to decreasing unnecessary waste.
- Reusing, recycling, and upcycling products that you already own to extend their life, especially single-use products like food containers or plastic bags, can also help reduce our individual impact on waste generation.
- Going for products that have biodegradable packaging, less packaging, or no packaging at all is another great way to contribute.
- Buying in bulk and from local farmers is also a great way to contribute not only to reducing emissions, but also to building food security and supporting local communities.
Reducing our individual carbon footprint:
There are many ways we can all contribute to reducing our carbon footprint on a daily basis.
- Biking, walking, taking public transportation, carpooling, and flying less can decrease our individual carbon footprint by decreasing our day-to-day emissions.
- Using less energy to power our devices and house appliances, using energy-saving devices, or choosing renewable energy sources can also be beneficial to mitigating our individual impact on the environment.
Being mindful of our food choices:
Some foods contribute more emissions than others, so reducing their consumption can greatly benefit the planet.
- Choosing products made with certified sustainable palm oil, eating a plant-rich diet, reducing food waste, composting, and eating local are all great ways to cut your indirect footprint.
- Other alternatives include using less water and using cleaning and personal hygiene products that are environmentally friendly.
Voting and volunteering:
A huge part of our impact comes from the decisions we make when electing our leaders.
- Being an informed voter, actively participating in your community, letting government officials know that you expect action from them, and keeping them accountable can help have a positive impact on both your community and the planet.
- Volunteering at local or online NGOs and government programs is another great way to make a difference.
Although individuals make up the collective, we must also focus on systemic changes on a much larger scale in order to effectively peak our emissions before 2025. These are changes to our fundamental systems and practices that will change the tide on climate change on the required global level. Addressing climate change takes all of us.
Improving our energy sources:
Implementing the technologies and strategies to phase out fossil fuels and replace them with renewable energies is one of the main collective actions we need to implement. Improving political leadership, governance, and corporate responsibility will help make this transition faster.
Another one of the main actions we need to embrace is widespread, effective forest protection, especially in the tropics, since these ecosystems are essential for carbon sequestration and the cooling of our planet. This must go hand in hand with improving indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ governance and rights. Effective forest protection and management should also come with the creation of protected areas and better land management plans and practices. We also need to protect other ecosystems that function as carbon sinks, like peatlands and wetlands.
Women and education:
Women and girls are both those most impacted by climate change and those who can have the most impact on climate solutions if the gender gap is closed. Enhancing the rights and well-being of women and girls starts with empowering them, closing the gender gap, providing access to family planning, and making education accessible to everyone. These are just a few of the major steps we need to take to both mitigate current effects of climate change and prevent future ones.
A lot of our emissions come from cities, so making better use of these environments is key when it comes to tackling climate change. Improving urban design to make cities more walkable and bicycle-friendly, adopting better public transportation networks, using more renewable energy sources for transportation, and decreasing excess consumption of fossil fuels for flights and cargo are all great ways to reduce our collective footprint.
The way we produce food is flawed in many ways. From wasteful systems to pesticides, fertilizers, and deforestation, there’s a lot to get done in this field. Collective actions include Implementing sustainable food systems, adopting practices like agroforestry and agroecology, and curbing deforestation. Adopting better techniques and behaviors can transform agriculture from a source of carbon emissions into a model for carbon sequestration.
Building and Materials:
Redesigning and imagining new materials that have longer life cycles can greatly impact another industry that is known for its high emissions: the construction industry. Designing and building sustainable constructions, implementing circular economy models, and reducing waste are all ways to transform this industry.
Bringing It All Together
By working individually and collectively, and by keeping each other accountable, we can all still achieve a more sustainable future.
At Rainforest Partnership we are constantly working towards this goal by addressing one of the most pressing solutions to climate change: the conservation of our planet’s most valuable tropical rainforests, which store and sequester vast amounts of carbon, cool our planet, and provide clean water to millions of people. Become part of this movement to preserve our planet’s rainforests by following us on Instagram. We invite you to share what you’re doing with us and others. Together we can achieve the planet we envision.
To learn more about our work and support our projects, you can also go to https://www.rainforestpartnership.org/projects. Let’s work together for a better future.