Countering deforestation

Degree of effort: low – Level of impact: medium

Tasks:

  • Think about changing your search engine, e.g. to ecosia
  • ONLY use recycling paper (for writing, toilets, tissues, …)
  • Avoid (non-RSPO-certified) palm oil
  • Challenge: Convince your employer or organization to use recycling paper

Background:

This video shows impressively how every four seconds an area the size of a soccer field of forest is burned down. Often, the forest is not even destroyed for using the wood, but for clearing the space for farming and plantations. Very prominent examples are soy bean fields, palm oil plantations and grazing areas for cattle.

This can be reduced, e.g. by eating less beef and choosing palm oil free products (mainly in food and cosmetics). But there are also other – simple ways – to help sustain forests and plant new trees…

My experience:

I have been using all kinds of recycling paper for years now. Recycling toilet paper, tissues and writing paper are sold in almost all stores. These products have various advantages to virgin paper: No trees are cut down, less emissions occur and less water and electricity are needed to produce them. In my opinion, the quality nowadays is so high that the softness is comparable to virgin fiber and most products are not even brownish anymore. e.g. https://www.ways2gogreenblog.com/2011/09/28/5-benefits-of-recycling-paper/

At a fair I also encoutered that ‘Viva con agua’, a German brand which usually sells water and donates profits from each bottle to water projects in poorer countries, started to sell recycling toilet paper as well. Similar to the concept with their water bottles, they donate around 20ct per toilet paper package they sell, in this case for hygiene/toilet projects. You can see their brands in the header photo. https://www.vivaconagua.org/home

Some time ago, I started to use other search engines than Google for safety reasons (like Startpage). To be precise: Most of them are based on the Google results, but put an additional layer of data protection on top. After a while, though, I got to know about ‘ecosia’: https://www.ecosia.org/. They use Bing and/or Yahoo results and add own algorithms. All search engines get money, when you click on advertisements in the results. But ecosia uses most of these earnings to donate for tree protection and reforestation. So everyone can just add ecosia as a standard search engine to one’s browser and help plant trees by only doing your normal search routines. ecosia

Of course, there is lots of criticism around, e.g. https://www.zeit.de/digital/internet/2010-06/ecosia-suchmaschine-oekologisch-klima/komplettansicht. This article basically says that ecosia helps the conscience of consumers more than the environment. I think that it does not harm me to use it and even if only some trees are protected by my searches, it is better than nothing. Obviously, this should not stop anyone to do more. I only see it as a small add-on.

What do you think about this concept? In what ways do you help to reduce deforestation?

2 thoughts on “Countering deforestation

  1. Franzi:)

    Hey Cathérine! Maybe I best write in English to keep with your official blog language, sorry in advance for mistakes. This is not mainly about the recent article, but rather a general question/ suggestion. I am departing on a long distance flights in a few weeks, and as “compensation”, I try to live a little more sustainable, like avoiding meat, packages, … . Now, when I do this, there is always one big struggle: It is so much more expensive when I buy sustainable products. Take cereals: I bought some in the bulk ware store and paid about 4€, whereas the same amount would cost me about 70 cents in a supermarket. Simple “don’t” rules (like don’t eat meat) are cheap, of course, but there are some things you just have to get. I am totalyl aware that sustainablity has it’s price. But with my current income, I simply can’t do it on a long term. So here is my suggestion: when you ever grow out of ideas, could you write an article about “sustainablity on a budget” or something like this? I guess that would be interesting for quite a few readers!

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    1. Thanks a lot for your comment and suggestion, Franzi! I will definitely keep that in mind for a later post, it is a very good idea 🙂 You are right that some things are more expensive, when you buy a sustainable version (bio costs more than conventional). Sometimes it is possible to refocus costs, like buying a piece of clothing, that you do not urgently need, less or secondhand, and use the money for food. In other occasions the sustainable option is less costly, though, like washing clothes with chestnuts instead of powder or washing your hair with rye flour. I will come up with some ways to be sustainable on a budget and I am curious to see what solutions you can find for yourself.

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