7 Things You Can Do Right Now to Help Save the Amazon Rainforest

Victor Moriyama/Getty Images
Victor Moriyama/Getty Images

You’ve likely heard at least one alarming news report about how Brazil’s Amazon rainforest is burning at a catastrophic rate. As emotionally devastating as it may be to see the lush, beautiful landscape ablaze, it also poses a threat to the future of Earth overall. As CNN reports, the Amazon rainforest—the largest in the world—has been called the planet’s lungs because it generates about 20 percent of the oxygen in the atmosphere.

If the situation continues to worsen, the Amazon could transform into a dry savannah, driving away forest wildlife and annihilating the vegetation on which our planet relies so heavily for oxygen. In that case, the Amazon might even begin to emit carbon—the main culprit behind global warming.

As normal people with standard garden hoses thousands of miles away from the fires, it can be frustrating to feel like there’s nothing we can do. But there are still plenty of ways you can help save the rainforest—check out some ideas below, suggested by Fast Company.

1. Protect an acre of the rainforest by donating to the Rainforest Action Network.

The Rainforest Action Network works with grassroots organizations and forest communities to help establish sustainable environmental practices and combat destructive industrial activities throughout the rainforest. The lowest suggested donation to protect an acre is $25, but there’s also an option to enter a custom amount if you want to donate more or less.

2. Help buy land in the rainforest by donating to the Rainforest Trust.

The Rainforest Trust purchases sections of rainforests all over the world and then partners with conservationists on projects to preserve specific habitats, communities, and species. Among other things, they’re currently fundraising to save indigenous lands in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest—you can donate here.

3. Find sustainable rainforest products through the Rainforest Alliance.

The Rainforest Alliance’s cute green frog symbol denotes that certain forest and farm products sourced from rainforests are environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable. You can search here to find out what’s Rainforest Alliance Certified. You can also donate to their Brazilian Amazon conservation fund here.

4. “Adopt” a sloth from the World Wildlife Fund.

Sloths are one of the many animals threatened by deforestation and other habitat loss at the hands of humans in the Amazon rainforest. With your symbolic adoption, you can help the World Wildlife Fund cut down on industrialization and restore conditions that allow for sloths and other species to flourish and contribute to a healthy, oxygen-generating ecosystem.

5. Sign the Greenpeace petition to urge the Brazilian government to protect the rainforest.

Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro has faced backlash for championing industry over preservation in the Amazon rainforest, a strategy that many believe has exacerbated the conditions that have created the forest fires. If you’d like to add your name to the list of those who want the Brazilian government to do more to protect the rainforest, you can sign the Greenpeace petition here.

6. Support indigenous communities by donating to Amazon Watch.

A lesser-known but equally important method of preserving the rainforest is to build up indigenous communities whose knowledge, cultures, and traditional practices already protect their environment. Amazon Watch works with indigenous partners to expand their sustainable practices and defend their rights against industrial corporations who threaten their autonomy. You can donate to the cause here.

7. Eat less beef.

Maybe you’ve heard the loud whispers about how eating less meat can help save the environment, but you might not have realized its specific connection to the Amazon rainforest. As CNN reports, many of the Amazon forest fires started out as smaller fires set by farmers to clear away grazing land for their cattle. Brazil is the world’s largest beef exporter, so it’s up to us to decrease the demand for rainforest-raised beef.

[h/t Fast Company]

Watch: Rare ‘Ice Volcanoes’ Are Erupting on a Michigan Beach

ehrlif, iStock via Getty Images
ehrlif, iStock via Getty Images

Winter weather leads to all sorts of strange phenomena, from thundersnow to ice tsunamis. But these "ice volcanoes" recently documented on the shores of Lake Michigan are spectacular enough to impress even lifelong veterans of Great Lakes winters.

As News 18 reports, the Grand Rapids, Michigan, department of the National Weather Service shared images of the icy eruptions to its Facebook and Twitter pages on Sunday, February 16. They show geysers of water bursting forth from the tops of snowy mounds on Oval Beach. The scene looks like a bizarre version of a volcano spewing lava, but it's actually the natural result of the lake's tides.

CW50 Detroit reports no one is completely sure how these ice volcanoes form. But Live Science says ice shelves along the coast stop the waves of Lake Michigan from reaching the shore. As the tides move under the ice sheet, pressure builds, and with nowhere else to go, water breaks the ice and spurts through the opening. The water from each eruption freezes when it settles on the ice above the surface, and the ice layers build upon each other to form a cone shape. This is similar to how real volcanoes form, only instead of layers of water freezing into ice, it's molten lava hardening into rock.

There's no seismic activity going on when these ice volcanoes erupt: It's simply the lake's natural tide persisting in spite of freezing temperatures. But, like real volcanoes, they can be dangerous. The ice mounds are hollow and more fragile than the surrounding ice, so onlookers should appreciate them from afar. You can view the phenomenon from the safety of your home by watching the video below.

[h/t News 18]

These Eco-Friendly Bags Are Organic and Break Down in 18 Months or Less

A-Zero
A-Zero

If you’re looking to cut down on the amount of single-use plastics in your life, then reach for these fully compostable organic bags.

The A-Zero bags (which are available on Kickstarter here) may look a lot like their plastic counterparts, but they’re actually made from vegetable starch. According to the campaign, these totes are 100 percent organic, are harmless to nature, and can break down in a matter of 18 months—unlike plastic bags, which take hundreds of years. Each bag also features unique designs created by different artists from all over the world.

When it comes to sizes, you have a few different options. The smallest bag, ideal for snacks and sandwiches, is leak-proof and freezer-friendly, and can even be used in the microwave. A-Zero also makes leak-proof trash bags, grocery bags that can hold up to 18 pounds of food, and a refillable bag dispenser that can hold 20 or more grocery bags and can clip onto a backpack or purse.

You might be thinking that you already have a reusable tote at home, but unfortunately, these also have a detrimental effects on the environment. A 2011 British government study [PDF] estimated that with all the water and energy it takes to create a cotton bag, each one has a carbon footprint of 598.6 pounds of CO2, compared to a plastic bag’s 3.48 pounds.

With $22,522 raised, A-Zero bags already surpassed its original $8000 goal. But you can still help bring the project to life and get your own eco-friendly bags by heading here. Pledge tiers start at $29, and the campaign will be live until April 11.

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