This content is not available in your region

Earth Day: From ditching palm oil to going paperless, here’s how to protect forests

An aerial view of deforestation in Borneo.
An aerial view of deforestation in Borneo.   -   Copyright  Getty Images/RichCarey
By Jos Battle

Jos Battle is CEO of online retailer Ecovibe, which aims to make sustainability the norm in our daily lives and show how eco products are both affordable, effective and accessible. Here, Jos explains the ways in which we can easily minimise deforestation through simple day-to-day habits.

15 billion trees are cut down across the world a year, according to WWF. To put that vast statistic into perspective, it means every two seconds a chunk of forest the size of a football pitch is destroyed.

This is largely due to mass agriculture, urbanisation and construction to keep up with the growing global demand of products and services.

But the Earth’s trees and forests are essential. They are one of the largest storehouses for carbon, and currently, forest loss accounts for 10 per cent of global warming.

Forests are also home to millions of habitats, can help protect soil quality and provide flood defences - to name just a few benefits.

Given these vital services and their natural beauty, how can we help keep more trees standing? Experts have shared some simple tips on how to be forest-friendly in everyday life, from ditching the palm oil to keeping up with recycling.

6. Go paperless to help protect trees

Many businesses now encourage paperless transactions, whether that be getting an email receipt from a retailer, or digital invoices and contracts.

It’s encouraged to choose the paperless option over a physical one to help save paper wastage. These everyday transactions amount to huge amounts of paper each year, and collectively can make a huge impact on saving our forests.

Petmal/Getty Images
Switching to recycled products means less trees need to be cut down.Petmal/Getty Images

5. Buy recycled products, and recycle them too

Recycled products require little to no raw materials to create, meaning that less trees are needed for their manufacturing. If we continue to buy new, natural resources will eventually run out.

It is equally important to recycle where you can so more companies can produce recycled products and give a second life to quality materials.

4. Purchase FSC-certified wood products

Our constant need for wood means that unfortunately the wood farming industry is largely unsustainable, with just 8 per cent of the world’s forests being protected.

By choosing Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood (look out for the FSC label), it ensures the wood used was from a well-managed and protected forest.

3. Eat plant-based a few times a week

TONO BALAGUER/Getty Images
There's a whole spectrum of ways to make more plant-based meals.TONO BALAGUER/Getty Images

Agriculture accounts for 80 per cent of the world’s deforestation activity, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Whilst deforestation occurs for both meat and crop farming, eating a plant-based diet where possible could reduce this figure by at least 14 per cent.

Livestock require huge amounts of land to feast on, and reducing your meat intake where you can collectively contribute to protecting our forests.

2. Avoid products containing palm oil

Palm oil is found in a wide variety of products, from foods to cosmetics. However, production of palm oil is hugely detrimental to the environment. Not only stripping away large acres of forest, but also contributing to greenhouse gases as the land is set on fire to quickly make space for farms.

As a result of this mass clearing, palm oil farming destroys habitats, including those of endangered species, such as the Orangutan and Sumatran rhino.

Be sure to check the ingredients list before purchasing and opt for products without this ingredient.

silentstock639/Getty Images
Ditch the palm oil produce from monocultures.silentstock639/Getty Images

1. Invest in companies who support forest sustainability

Do your research and purchase from companies that are supporting forests. Whether that’s through planting trees with every order (make sure they're legitimate schemes not scams), protecting acres of land from deforestation, or actively campaigning against deforestation.

The more support behind keeping our forests safe, the better.

Following these everyday tips and habits will collectively support our forests and encourage businesses to reduce their overall impact and deforestation levels.