What Can I Do?

7 steps you can take to help save the Amazon and the world's rainforests, from the Rainforest Action Network.

1) Reduce your paper and wood consumption.

Logging companies are cutting down some of the most endangered forests on the planet to make wood and paper products such as office paper, phone books, toilet paper, window trim, lawn furniture, and 2 x 4's. Over seventy-eight percent of the Earth's original old growth forests have already been logged or degraded.
You can help reduce the pressure on our remaining forests by taking simple steps to reduce your own wood and paper use. For example, use both sides of each piece of paper, use your own cloth bags at the grocery store, use cloth napkins and towels, and avoid disposable paper plates and cups.

When purchasing paper products, choose products with the highest percentage of recycled content -post-consumer recycled content is the best. Choose tree-free paper alternatives if possible. Tree-free paper is made from agricultural products like waste straw, kenaf, and hemp, so not a single tree is cut down for its production!

If you are building a house or adding on to your home, utilize wood efficient building techniques and avoid old growth wood products. Learn about alternatives such as reclaimed or recycled lumber, composite lumber, and independently certified wood.

2) Reduce your oil consumption.

The burning of oil, gas, and coal is the primary cause of climate change, a trend that is threatening the stability of the global climate. Scientists have predicted that if we stay on our current path, global temperatures will rise between 2 and 9 Fahrenheit in the next century -a warming rate faster than any occurring in the last ten thousand years. In addition, oil exploration projects lead to toxic pollution and massive deforestation, posing a threat to pristine ecosystems and indigenous cultures worldwide.

You can help alleviate oil's impact on the environment by reducing your own oil and gas consumption. The next time you purchase a car, choose one that gets good gas mileage and avoid gas guzzling sports utility vehicles. If you drive somewhere regularly, start a carpool. Whenever possible, leave your car at home and instead walk, ride your bike, or take local mass transportation. Support funding for mass transportation and bike lanes -options that will serve our transportation needs and our planet much better in the long run than an ever-expanding maze of roads and highways!

3) Reduce your beef consumption.

Rainforest beef is typically found in fast food hamburgers or processed beef products. In both 1993 and 1994 the U. S. imported over 200 million pounds of fresh and frozen beef from Central American countries. Two-thirds of these countries' rainforests have been cleared, in part to raise cattle whose meat is exported to profit the U. S. food industry. When it enters the U. S. the beef is not labeled with its country of origin, so there is no way to trace it to its source. Reducing your consumption of beef will reduce demand for it, cutting back on pressure to clear more forests for cattle. For more information on the connection between beef and the environment, contact Earthsave International, 1509 Seabright Avenue, Suite B1, Santa Cruz, CA 95062; 1-800-362-3648; www.earthsave.org.

4) Hold businesses accountable.

Corporations need to know that the public will hold them accountable for business practices that are socially or environmentally destructive. If you feel that a company's business practices are environmentally irresponsible, send the company a letter expressing your concern, or organize a boycott of the company. Below you'll find information about two companies that you can write to today to help protect the Earth's forests. To learn more about these companies, please visit our website at www.ran.org.

a. Boise sells wood products from the world's most endangered forests, including the tropical rainforests of the Amazon and Southeast Asia and the temperate rainforests of Chile. Boise is also the country's largest logger of U. S. public lands. Please ask Boise to phase out its logging and distribution of old growth wood. Write to George Harad, Chairman &CEO, Boise Corporation, 1111 West Jefferson Street, PO Box 50, Boise, ID 83728.

b. Citigroup is a key financial player in many of the world's most destructive projects, including construction of the Chad/Cameroon oil pipeline in Africa, the replacement of orangutan habitat with palm plantations in Indonesia, and the logging of California's Headwaters Forest. If you have a Citibank credit card, cut it up! Mail the cut up card back to Citibank in your next bill statement, and let them know why you no longer want to be a customer. If you are not a Citigroup customer, let them know that you will never be a customer unless they change their business practices. Call Citigroup at 1-800-456-4277 or write to Mr. Sandy Weill, Chairman and CEO, Citigroup, 153 East 53rd Street, New York, New York 10043.

5) Invest in rainforest communities.

RAN's Protect-an-Acre Program was created to protect the world's rainforests and to support the rights of rainforest communities. The Protect-an-Acre Program is an alternative to "buy-an-acre" programs, which tend to ignore the fact that there are often people who depend on the forest and have lived in the forest sustainably for centuries. Protect-an-Acre provides funding to help forest peoples gain legal recognition of their territories, develop locally-based alternative economic initiatives, and resist destructive practices such as logging and fossil fuel development. For information about how you can support the Protect-an-Acre program, visit the Protect-an-Acre section of our website.

6) Support the grassroots.

In 1999, Home Depot, the single largest retailer of lumber in the world, agreed to phase out its sales of old growth wood. This victory was a direct result of the hard work of grassroots activists, who staged more than six hundred demonstrations at Home Depot stores across the U. S. and Canada. You can play a critical role in future victories by joining or starting a Grassroots Action Group in your area! Contact RAN's Grassroots Coordinator at 415-398-4404 or organize@ran.org for help in finding a local group or advice on starting your own group. Equally important, help protect the forests in your region by getting involved with a local forest preservation group.

7) Support Rainforest Action Network.

Rainforest Action Network is an effective, hard-hitting organization. In 1985, RAN launched a nationwide boycott of Burger King, which was importing cheap beef from tropical rainforest countries. Two years later, Burger King canceled thirty-five million dollars worth of beef contracts and agreed to stop importing beef from the rainforest. RAN then led a global consumer boycott against Mitsubishi, which resulted in Mitsubishi Motor Sales America and Mitsubishi Electric America committing to unprecedented environmental reviews of their business activities. Most recently, as a result of a two year campaign led by RAN, the nation's top home improvement etailers and largest home builders agreed to phase out the sale and use of wood from the Earth's endangered forests. None of these victories would have been possible without the support of our members. To join RAN, please call us at (415) 398-4404.

Information aquired from Rainforest Action Network