As the world population grows and demand for resources does too, it’s important that we each take small steps to reduce our environmental footprint. This process can definitely feel a little overwhelming — we all have budgets and time constraints to adhere to, and it’s easy for life to get so busy that priorities are adjusted.
At BuyGreen, we’re trying to uncomplicate sustainability for the average consumer. Buying our products, which each meet our rigorous green standards, is a great step in the right direction, but we also want to help educate the general public — we’re all still learning, and we want to learn with our customers to ensure a more aware and considerate world!
One such learning curve deals with deforestation, a problem that affects our wildlife, landscapes, air quality and global temperatures.
Why Forests are Great
The original environmental advocates were dubbed “tree huggers” for a reason.
Trees benefit our communities in a variety of ways, many of which actually help to neutralize humanity’s impact on the earth. For example, trees absorb carbon dioxide and heat-trap other greenhouse gases that human activities omit. In one year, an acre of mature trees “absorbs the same amount of CO2 produced when you drive your car 26,000 miles,” according to Tree People. Photosynthesis then enables trees, like most other plants, to turn this carbon dioxide into oxygen, effectively reducing CO2 levels in addition to renewing oxygen levels in the atmosphere. It seems trees are one of nature’s best methods of stabilizing the environment and combating climate change.
Science aside, trees also provide practical benefits to communities all around the world: they provide shade, which reduces average temperatures and energy consumption; they muffle city sounds and improve the look of landscapes, in addition to providing habitats for wildlife; and they prevent soil erosion on hillsides.
Deforestation: 502,000 Sq. Miles Between 1990 and 2006
With so many natural benefits, the value of trees in our communities seems fairly obvious, especially since forests cover about 30 percent of the planet’s land mass. Deforestation, however, continues to be a problem. According to National Geographic, a combination of “farming, grazing of livestock, mining and drilling” account for more than half of all deforestation. Palm oil production also poses problems, accounting for about 8% of the world’s deforestation between 1990 and 2008.
Most deforestation happens because the logs are used in industries like those specified above. In the case of palm oil, however, forests are actually burned down to make way for oil-producing palm trees, a surprisingly sustainable and quick-growing crop. For this reason and many others, it’s important to know where exactly your ingredients are coming from.
No matter how deforestation happens, the process destroys habitats, upsetting the balance of ecosystems and threatening the livelihood of native species like orangutans, Sumatran tigers and many exotic bird species. Most of these forests require at least 65 years to regenerate, but growth is often slower because it’s difficult for trees and other plants to grow in disrupted soil.
What Can We Do?
For a problem so massive, it’s easy to feel like you can’t make a difference — but that’s simply not true! There are large-scale preservation efforts in place, which consumers can support by donating to nonprofit groups like Forest Stewardship Council or the Rainforest Alliance.
Consumers can also help by picking sustainably sourced products. Bamboo products are typically green because bamboo — a rapid-growing, adaptable grass that requires no pesticides or irrigation to grow — is a renewable resource. To put it in perspective, most species of bamboo mature in three to five years, meaning bamboo grows over 1,000 times as fast as oak and most other hardwoods. This makes bamboo typically less expensive to produce, in addition to being naturally antibacterial and water-resistant.
You can find bamboo in a variety of applications — everything from dinnerware to diapers to flooring. Even companies in the skateboarding industry, one of the leading contributors to maple deforestation, have begun using bamboo to make high-performing decks. Companies and consumers alike are starting to choose bamboo over other plant-based materials, effectively lowering demand for hardwoods and slowing deforestation.
Buying Bamboo Smart
Good intentions can still sometimes produce limited results, however — like most green products, it’s important to know where your bamboo items are coming from. Look for certified products, like those from Bamboo Studio, that have the accreditation to back up their production methods and sourced materials. Fabric from bamboo, like bamboo rayon, is especially tricky because harmful chemicals are sometimes used in manufacturing. It’s all about awareness when buying!
As always, it’s crucial to research companies and their products before purchasing. On BuyGreen, we’ve done the research for you — you can buy from us with ease, confident that your purchase is actually making a difference.