. Text, photos, and stories are my own.
As a child of the nineties and early aughts, I was saturated in environmentalism.
From Fern Gully to Animal Planet documentaries to political conversations on climate change, it was impossible not to know something about earth’s dire state, and our responsibility to protect and restore it.
I’m sure I watched hundreds of nature documentaries growing up, but the topic I came back to again and again was the rainforest. Simply put, it was enchanting, and as a young kid with an active imagination, who wouldn’t be mesmerized by tales of jaguars, river dolphins, toothy piranha, poisonous frogs, sloths, monkeys, not to mention the vast mystery of life bustling beneath the canopy on the dark forest floor? While other kids were playing Oregon Trail, I was busy playing Amazon Trail (no, I never finished – spear hunting for fish is hard!).
Honestly, I’m still enchanted.
I’ve watched Planet Earth and David Attenborough. I’ve seen Naked & Afraid and read about Victorian orchid hunting expeditions in the rainforests of South America. I’ve even visited the rainforest of the Pacific Northwest. But it’s not just me. It’s clear that, as a culture, we keep coming back to the rainforest. Why is that?
This is mere speculation, but I think some of it has to do with its unapologetic alive-ness.
Teeming with thousands of species of animal, insect, and plant. Revealing at once the fragility and forthrightness of our small, mortal lives. Rainforests – and really, forests in general – are natural cathedrals, wide enough to hold our wonder, enclosed enough to recall the comfort of the womb. I might sound like I’ve lost it, but I really feel this way in the forest, and I bet if you quiet yourself for a few minutes in the woods, you’ll understand what I’m saying.
The Work of Rainforest Alliance
It’s not just rainforests: the goal of the Rainforest Alliance is to sustain and replenish earth’s forest ecosystems through accountable, strategic, global initiatives that work to address the key factors behind deforestation and soil depletion.
Did you know that
123,000 acres of forest is lost
daily across the globe due to the timber industry, development, and plant and animal agriculture?
Forests are vital not just because hundreds of thousands of species depend on them for their survival…
25% of the earth’s population relies on forests to provide sustenance and agricultural jobs
70 million indigenous people live off of the bounty provided by forests
70% of the global poor are negatively impacted by soil degradation and deforestation
Trees are the greatest absorber of carbon after the ocean
By sustaining micro-climates, forests regulate “ocean currents, wind patterns, and rainfall“
Quite frankly, we can’t survive without thriving forests. It’s time to make them a priority before it’s too late.
Agriculture is responsible for 80% of deforestation, so it’s important that we understand how individual and collective demand for certain goods, like coffee and beef for instance, makes us complicit.
Three Easy Ways to Contribute to Thriving Forests
Take an “everything in moderation” approach
with nonessential foods like chocolate, coffee, and meat to reduce your overall carbon footprint and decrease demand for deforestation.
When buying “unavoidable” paper goods
– like toilet paper for instance – look for an indication of sustainable forestry practices or the use of recycled paper.
, and farming policies, that are sustainable and work to re-enrich soil over time.
When these things are not possible, or when the path is a bit murkier, it’s helpful to know that Rainforest Alliance has their own certification to help consumers navigate which goods are actively helping rather than harming earth’s forests and its dependent communities.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably noticed the
Rainforest Alliance Certified
symbol on everyday groceries like coffee, chocolate, even Tetrapak (those coated paper containers used for almond milk and chai). I’ve always assumed this meant
, but I hadn’t looked into it in any detail.
Rainforest Certified products that bear the green frog label must meet several standards that protect for biodiversity, safe pesticide use, natural resource conservation, human flourishing, and a commitment to continuing improvement. This ensures that the daily organizational work of Rainforest Alliance is complemented by farming techniques and processes that reinforce sustainable and ethical practices.
You can join up in a very accessible way!
Until September 23rd, Rainforest Alliance is doing a #followthefrog giveaway in which they’ll share the myriad ways their programs are working to save the planet. Here are the rules…
Enter the contest by answering how you incorporate sustainability into your own daily lives, in relation to each day’s sustainability topic. Follow @RainforestAlliance and tag two friends with your answers. You only need to answer under one of the weeks’ posts to be entered. There will be one winner each week (two in total). Entry deadlines are September 16th and September 23rd.
Learn more on the
Rainforest Alliance Instagram page
. If you don’t use Instagram, you can participate by joining the
30-Day Sustainability Challenge on their website
Forests matter to me because flourishing matters. A verdant earth full of people who have the security and health to see the big picture and change things for the better is what paradise looks like in my view. And initiatives like the ones provided by Rainforest Alliance, among many other good organizations filled with good people, are one way to get there.
Learn more from Rainforest Alliance:
Leah Wise is the founder of StyleWise Blog. She has been writing, speaking, and consulting on sustainable fashion, the fair trade and secondhand supply chain, and digital marketing for over ten years. An Episcopal priest, Leah holds a B.A. in Religion from Florida State University and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. When not working, you can find her looking for treasures at the thrift store.