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]