Guest blog by Sam Jennings
‘My Daddy is saving rain forests and orangutans!’ says our spirited 4-year-old daughter Isla Boo, to anyone who is interested. And in reality, to many people that are probably not. Bless her, she is a talker, this one. I love to hear the animation in her and Theo’s voices as they talk about their Daddy's new job and feel proud that we have all embraced this change in our lives with passion and enthusiasm as a little family.
Three months ago, Jonathan started a new job with an inspiring, young organisation based in Portland, Oregon, called Health In Harmony. At a time when so many conservation efforts world-wide are struggling to save rain forest, theirs is really doing it. Their mission is help protect Indonesian rain forests and high-value orangutan habitats by engaging community-led solutions for human health and the heath of our planet. (more about Health In Harmony later.)
So, naturally, rain forests have become a big topic of conversation in our house. Funnily, I overhead Theo giving Isla a lecture this evening about wasting toilet paper and how that meant wasting precious trees. It’s been a huge learning curve for me. I wanted to share some of my newfound insights and enthusiasm with you and explain why preserving rain forests should be important to us all.
Ever dreamed about trekking through the Amazon, or hiking in search of orangutans in their natural habitat in Indonesia, or traveling by boat to tiny villages deep in the rain forest in Papua? It’s a dream of mine. Rain forests are home to thousands of species of animals and plants, many of them threatened or in danger of extinction.
Unfortunately, we know about their rapid destruction due to commercial and illegal logging, slash and burn agriculture, and the global beef industry.
As busy moms, there are so many things which demand our time and attention. If you’re like me you might be thinking there’s nothing you can do in your day-to-day here to help protect precious rain forests and orangutans 5,000 miles away. But there are things we can do. And I want to share with you 5 super easy ways you can help preserve the forests of our planet.
Maybe you’ve read or heard about how palm oil production and coffee bean plantations are fast destroying rain forests around the world.
If you’re not already in the know here’s a quick word about palm oil. I know you’re busy, but I do think it’s super important.
‘Palm oil is literally everywhere – in our foods, cosmetics, cleaning products, and fuels. It’s a source of huge profits for multinational corporations, while at the same time destroying the livelihoods of smallholders. Displacement of indigenous peoples, deforestation, and loss of biodiversity are all consequences of our palm oil consumption.’ – Rainforest Rescue
Then there’s coffee, ah the life blood of busy moms. We can’t survive without it, but by simply making a good choice about what coffee we drink we can still indulge – guilt free.
A quick heads up about coffee
Naively I had always assumed that buying fair trade coffee solved most of the ethical issues of drinking it, well it certainly made me feel better. The “fair trade” label aims to make a difference for workers on coffee farms and plantations. To get the fair trade label, coffee producers must prove that they operate honestly, democratically and that they treat workers fairly. However, I now realise that the certification doesn’t encompass the regulation of environmental issues. So, next time you're in the supermarket, trying to navigate the weekly shop while wrangling small people keep an eye out for the Rainforest Alliance certification which emphasizes environmental sustainability. Coffee farms under this label must stay forested, which maintains wildlife habitats and helps decrease erosion.
Why are rain forests so very important? 'Rain forests can be described as the lungs of the planet’ which is a very accurate description of what they do. These super cool forests breath in carbon monoxide and in return provide us with sweet pure oxygen. Rain forests are rockstars, regulating air, water, climate and even disease. Truth is we need them.
As moms, most of our actions are motivated by our desire and our commitment to our children growing up happy and healthy with the ability to enjoy a beautiful healthy planet and be protected from the effects of global warming. Unfortunately, the effects of global warming can already be seen with devastating effect in some areas around the world. For example, the current East African drought crisis. As moms and fellow citizens, it pains us to see the horrific images of children suffering because of lack of food and water, fellow women and moms fighting for their lives and those of their children. It’s easy to feel helpless. It’s easy to try and not think about it, but many of us do feel compelled to help, and just aren’t quite sure how. The destruction of the rain forest is one of the important causes of climate change, so by tackling rain forest destruction and therefore global warming, future disasters can be prevented. So, let’s be proactive.
Fellow Mamas/women/citizens, I know you’re busy. Your time is precious as is your energy, but let’s help save human and orangutan babies, and protect these incredible structures which are key to the health of the planet, and our own children.
Here are 5 ways you can make a difference and help save the world's rain forests
1) Say no to deforestation
Palm oil, found in half of all processed foods in the US, and many common household products is a key contributor to rainforest deforestation! Read your food and product labels carefully and refuse to buy products with palm oil or insist on sustainable alternatives. (Rainforest Foundation US)
2) Purchase only responsibly-sourced products
Choose your coffee wisely. Look for the Rainforest Alliance certification.
3) Make small changes to your lifestyle
Start by taking baby steps in a positive direction: limit new purchases, bike to school or to work, try to buy food in bulk (which reduces garbage), eat locally-produced foods by shopping at farmer’s markets, recycle as much as you can, etc.
4) Share the love on social media
How does this help? The more people that know what is happening to rain forests and the indigenous communities who rely on them, the more help they are likely to receive! If you don’t have the means to donate, spreading the love and message on social media can help to protect our forests and reduce climate change. So next time you're cruising through your Facebook or Instagram feed why not give a share to a thought- and action-provoking post. Knowledge helps! Speaking out helps!
If you do have the means I just happen to know a very worthy recipient of your donation: Health In Harmony
This little team with its big dedication are really achieving impressive results. Several years ago, through detailed discussions (radical listening) with the local populations surrounding a rain forest national park in Borneo, they identified that for many families, cutting down and selling trees was the only way to be able to pay for their health care. Many families are forced to make impossible choices between short-term survival and future well-being. Because their choices impact the rain forest and the climate, these choices impact us all. Health In Harmony helps these families find alternative means to afford health care rather than illegal logging, To learn more about them, see their TED talk here.
Let’s do this Mamas, let’s help to save rainforests, let’s help save the planet.
Thanks for popping in,
Originally posted on Sam's blog, Little Green Lives.