Deforestation: To divest or clear of forests or trees. (Source) The concept isn’t shocking — we see the results of it all the time when new houses are built or we’re tossing wood into a firepit. But, to understand the issue of deforestation, we need to understand the scale on which it’s happening. It is estimated that 18-23 million acres of forest are cleared each year. (Sources here and here.) That’s 48 football fields every minute. (Source) Now that perspective gives us pause, right? 20% of the world’s oxygen is produced in the Amazon forest and yet half of the world’s tropical forests have been cleared already. This leads to soil erosion, floods, wildlife extinction, an increase in greenhouse gas emissions and climate imbalance. (Source)
Leading causes of deforestation include agriculture, the production of timber, urbanization and clearing the land for popular products like palm oil.
Not so fun fact: The United States has 5% of the world’s population, but consumes 30% of the world’s paper (using about 700 lbs/year on average). (Source)
You should know: Many rainforests are in poor countries where the money from crops planted after the forests are cleared is sorely needed. But, the forests themselves are critical to many
populations around the world for food, shelter, medicine and more.
HERE’S YOUR 2 MINUTE ACTION PLAN:
Go Paperless. This step can be applied in various ways, so you might not tackle it all at once, but take advantage of opportunities when they arise. For example, when your credit card company offers you the option to go paperless, take it! The average American receives 41lbs of junk mail per year — remove yourself from mailing lists wherever you can. And when you’re making a quick purchase at the store and they reach for a brown bag, tell them you can just carry it out.
Bonus: Another way to save some paper, and therefore trees, is to get creative with your gift wrap! Have some fun wrapping gifts in recycled paper (like the comic section of the newspaper or last year’s calendar pages.)