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6 Solutions to Deforestation – and What You Can Do

solutions to deforestation
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / FotoshopTofs

To slow down the effects of climate change, and to help sustain biodiversity, precious resources, and forests, solutions to deforestation are very critical.

The effects of deforestation permeate crucial spheres of life such as climate change, water security, wildlife, biodiversity, and the welfare of indigenous communities. Thus, it is difficult to overstate the importance of slowing down or halting deforestation altogether. 

Concentrating on the effects of climate change issues such as deforestation can often feel overwhelming; however, it’s important to be proactive about what we can do on a personal level to help slow down irreversible environmental damage. It’s important to remember that individual choice – which can turn into collective change – can make meaningful differences and equally help you feel empowered. Read on to learn about solutions to stop deforestation and what practices you can incorporate into your daily life. 

1. Reduce Consumption and Practice Sustainable Consumption

Reducing consumption is beneficial for our planet's health in general, and will directly reduce the demand for resources forests are typically destroyed for.
Reducing consumption is beneficial for our planet's health in general, and will directly reduce the demand for resources forests are typically destroyed for.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / MariaGullestrup)

At our current rate of consumption, humanity is depleting resources 1.7 times faster than the Earth can regenerate. If the world’s entire population had the same consumption habits as Americans, we would need the resources of 5 Earths. Furthermore, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an estimated one-third of all food produced each year is wasted or lost. How can we manage this disconnect in overproduction to use resources more responsibly? 

If humanity were able to transition to sustainable practices and lower consumption in general, it would be possible to decrease our consumption rates and thus, reduce deforestation. The first step in working towards this goal is to reduce overall consumption to decrease demand for food production, which will in turn decrease deforestation. 

This can be done in small steps every day: 

  • Go to the grocery store with a list and only buy what you need. 
  • Organize your week with meal prep.
  • Eat your leftovers. 
  • Know how to use fruits and vegetables that are going bad.
  • Storing food wisely.
  • Learn how to reuse vegetable scraps
  • Support local food producers. 
  • Donate food that might have otherwise been wasted.

For more, make sure to read: Food Waste: 10 Pro Tips for Reducing Food Waste.

2. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle to Lower the Demand for Logging

Forestry products or timber is the third largest driver of deforestation and is primarily used for paper products.
Forestry products or timber is the third largest driver of deforestation and is primarily used for paper products.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Skitterphoto)

Most of us have heard it many times before, but it doesn’t hurt to hear a reminder. Another solution to deforestation is to incorporate practices of reducing, reusing, and recycling, regarding paper products. After reducing your own consumption as much as possible, reusing products until they are no longer usable and then recycling them are crucial everyday habits that will make a difference if we collectively implement them.

Here are some easy tips to help you get started:

  1. Print paper double-sided.
  2. Try to find second-hand options before buying brand new notebooks or pencils
  3. Take paperless notes. 
  4. Recycle responsibly based on your local recycling guidelines. 
  5. Seek out products made from recycled material whenever possible. 

Using recycled products can both reduce landfill waste and lower the demand for wood products. When you absolutely have to purchase something new, check for a label that says “made from recycled paper.” This can be found on many commonly used products like books, paper bags, egg cartons, toilet paper, etc. This practice will help lower the demand for cutting more trees and timber. It will also reduce the amount of waste entering landfills as we help increase the demand for recycled products as opposed to newly produced paper products.  

To delve deeper, read: 9 Paper-Saving Tips You Can Easily Implement.

3. Solutions to Deforestation: Source Second-Hand Furniture Instead of Buying New Pieces

Stores like IKEA have come to dominate furniture sales in many regions of the world, but it's time we end the chain of fast and cheaply produced furniture that is no longer made to last more than a few years.
Stores like IKEA have come to dominate furniture sales in many regions of the world, but it's time we end the chain of fast and cheaply produced furniture that is no longer made to last more than a few years.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / StockSnap)

Another tactic to stop deforestation is to seek out secondhand and vintage furniture. When you’re in need of a new piece of furniture, find vintage and second-hand pieces instead of going to cheap or convenient stores like IKEA and Walmart. You can often find sturdier, higher-quality pieces at affordable prices when thrifting, though this usually requires more time and effort in finding the right piece and transporting it once you find it. 

The accessibility of contemporary and attractive pieces at IKEA has enabled the multinational corporation to be successful, but it contributes to unnecessary overconsumption. It’s also important to reduce demand for places like IKEA because they have been tied to illegal logging practices. Thus, not only does IKEA enable unsustainable production practices that assist in the inevitable depletion of the Earth’s resources, it directly enables illegal logging, which is responsible for significant negative economic, environmental, and social implications. 

Second-hand furniture may be in need of a bit of refurbishing or touching up, but it will be rewarding to find a unique piece and to personally contribute to putting a stop to deforestation. If you can’t find suitable second-hand furniture, seek out locally made items, and pieces that have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)(More on this below).

4. When You Consume, Seek Out Certified Sustainability Products

This practice can be applied to fruits and vegetables, coffee, teas, clothing, wood products, and more.
This practice can be applied to fruits and vegetables, coffee, teas, clothing, wood products, and more.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / IsaacFryxelius)

It might seem daunting to transition from the average or high consumer lifestyles we are accustomed to. But practicing some of these solutions to end deforestation doesn’t necessarily mean we have to end all unnecessary consumption immediately (we are human after all). Another step we can take is to seek out certified sustainability products when purchasing items such as coffee, furniture, fruits and vegetables, teas, cooking oils, clothing, and more.

Navigating various sustainability certifications can be complicated and requires a guide of its own, but after some practice, it can feel like second nature. Sustainability labels have different meanings depending on the products, but in general, they aim to protect forests, indigenous people, and the climate, contributing to the fight to stop deforestation altogether.

Regarding logging, which has a direct effect on deforestation, you can make sure to only buy furniture and other wood pieces that have been sustainably certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Currently, the FSC ensures the best global standard in forest management and provides a system for other parties to work towards responsible forest management. 

5. How to Stop Deforestation: Use Electronic Devices Responsibly

We can help end the fast-paced cycles of consumption by finding ways to make our electronic devices last as long as possible.
We can help end the fast-paced cycles of consumption by finding ways to make our electronic devices last as long as possible.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / MichaelGaida)

Using electronic devices responsibly is another easy way to help stop deforestation. The mining of minerals for electronics such as laptops, smartphones, and cars is a big contributor to deforestation. Using electronics more responsibly can be done by trying to fix your devices when it seems as though they are no longer usable, and recycling them when the time comes to get rid of them.

If we manage our electronic use better by taking care of our devices and repairing them when possible instead of rushing to get the latest version of whatever it is we think we need, we can contribute to decreasing the demand for mining minerals, which often takes place in priceless rainforests and on indigenous land. In turn, this will eventually contribute to decreasing the ‘need’ for deforestation.

6. Reduce or Stop Eating Meat and Dairy (Especially Beef)

The most important change you can make to help stop deforestation is to practice a plant-based diet as much as possible.
The most important change you can make to help stop deforestation is to practice a plant-based diet as much as possible.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / matthiasboeckel)

The practices listed so far are all important in the fight to stop deforestation, but there is one key change that would have an even greater impact as a solution to deforestation: decreasing (or stopping) meat and dairy consumption

Meat, specifically beef, and dairy production are directly tied to deforestation as three-quarters of deforestation is driven by agriculture and staggeringly, beef production is responsible for 41% of deforestation. 

Moreover, the production of meat and dairy products requires much larger areas of land in comparison to plant-based farming. Beef production specifically contributes five times more greenhouse gas emissions, requires 11 times as much water, and 28 times more land than, pork, chicken, dairy, and eggs. In comparison to crops such as wheat and rice, the difference is even more drastic: beef requires 160 times more land.

Cattle production contributes to deforestation and directly contributes to environmental damage. For example, beef production often requires the burning of forests, the degradation of land and soil, air and water pollution, loss of habitat and biodiversity, and contributes to methane pollution. 

Animal agriculture is the largest land-use system on Earth and therefore the top driver of deforestation. Plant-based diets require far less land for food production and would not only help deforestation but could counteract climate change in promoting large-scale reforestation and re-wilding. A plant-based shift is an imperative solution in ending climate change and the deforestation crises. 

If you find a plant-based diet difficult to follow, it is still imperative to reduce consumption of meat and dairy products, giving special attention to cutting back on beef. 

Choosing a lifestyle where we practice conscious sustainability can also help us feel better on an individual level and alleviate our anxiety regarding climate change. Instead of feeling powerless in a world where money and corruption seem to drive our fate, allow yourself to feel empowered by putting these solutions to deforestation into practice.

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