Did you know that the natural habitat of toucans, which is primarily tropical rain-forest, is being destroyed at an ever-greater pace? 🙁 These beautiful birds, and their feathered, furry and many-legged compatriots are at risk of losing their homes.
In the complicated world of today, it is difficult to find solutions to these problems. For example, the reason why rain-forests are being destroyed is because the precious land the trees grow on are needed for diverse purposes; from slash-and-burn agriculture to palm oil plantations. These establishments are the livelihood of the people who engage in such activities. Prohibiting and criminalising these activities could drive these individuals (who are often very poor) to resort to less salubrious and illegal activities; to help feed their families.
So what can we do? Education is key. It is imperative that governments and NGOs educate the populations that depend on these forests to seek sustainable solutions that will address their financial needs into the long-term. Many rain-forests are also home to indigenous populations, and inspiration could be sought from these peoples. They have lived in harmony with nature for many millennia, and have embraced the forest ecosystem, with all its complexities, and are thus able to thrive and benefit on a mutual basis.
Finally, as consumers in both the developed and developing world, we can be more mindful in our purchases. Many cosmetic companies, for example, ensure that their products are palm-oil free or use palm-oil from certified and/or organic sources. The Rainforest Alliance is an international NGO that supports sustainable agriculture by certifying products that comply with such criteria. Similarly, switching to vegetarian diets and eating locally-sourced produce would minimise your carbon footprint by helping reduce meat imports.
It is also important to remember that solutions to such problems are not always cut-and-dried. The wider context of the economy, society and geo-politics play a huge influence in issues of sustainability. A solution that works in one place may not work elsewhere. Also, long-term solutions are hard to come by. For example, sustainable agricultural practices may be slower and less productive than more carbon-intensive ones.
But, as it has been often cited, we have only one home: Earth; which we share with all other sentient beings around us. We therefore have a moral and ethical responsibility to be invested in the protection of our environment, the conservation of resources, and the fostering of harmony in our communities. It is a long struggle, but it is a worthwhile one. For this Earth is all we have.
In a series of articles to come, I will be discussing the impacts of the fashion industry on sustainability, how major players in the global fashion industry have addressed issues of sustainability (and sometimes failed to do so) and finally what we; as responsible consumers; could do to contribute.
Please share your comments and insights below. I look forward to listening and learning from you.
Image Courtesy of Pixabay.com