Trendy Activism and Acting for the Amazon

I’ve had a draft set aside here about being a trendy activist, and how I found myself promoting sustainability, protecting the planet, and how the slightly more inconvenient but greener options are worth it in the long run.
I don’t know if ‘trendy activist’ is a term, but I feel like that it applied to me and as the days have gone on since drafting that piece, I’ve been very aware of it, and rather ashamed also because I felt like I was talking the talk and baby stepping the walk. I plan to write more on this topic, but whilst the following is so important, I wanted to jump right in and get accessible information out there for those that are interested.

It’s hard isn’t it? Living in a world where such devastation happens to such beauty and to be extreme is the only way to impact. But in a Westernised country, living is something that for most of us doesn’t include extreme activism, protesting, radical movements and bold lifestyle changes. A lot of the time, it can mean promoting that you’re taking your keep cup, tupper-ware and glass water bottle with you to the office. Something that almost being to feel like a brag because it feels like all you can do so you just keep doing it and telling others that it’s a better option too.

We don’t need a handful of people doing it perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly, but still doing it.

To do what we can even if it’s on a smaller scale and when it suits us doesn’t mean we’re just doing it for the attention or praise, it’s just what we can do.
This is no excuse not to be fully aware of what is going on in the extremities of the subject, but if we all do a little, it counts for a lot.

As I’m writing this, the Amazon Rain-forest is burning. It has been for 3 weeks, and until yesterday Western media hadn’t noted a single flame. It was only when the smoke was blown across Brazil and caused a smoke black out at 3pm in São Paulo that the reality of this disaster became realised.

It gets worse.

Not only is the Amazon rain forest experiencing an 84% increase in fires this year alone, reaching fire number 74,000 currently, but it also contributes 20% of the worlds oxygen, is home to 1 million indigenous people and 3 million species. To have this in flames is a global disaster for biodiversity.

Whilst the far-right President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro is being blamed for having relaxed environmental controls on the country too much and prioritising economic gain over the land and rights of those who reside in the forests – people and animals alike – it’s for this mix of poor political reasons that the forest is burning, all for agricultural and farming consumption. The question being raised over and over is; “Where are our billionaires when we need them now?” Funding goes a long way to protecting, spreading awareness and encouraging works to restore any disaster such as this. Notre-Dame had 900m€ /£780m raised to rebuild the magnificent cathedral only 2 days after it went up in flames in April. Three weeks into the fires, where is the financial aid there?

But only when the last tree has been cut, the last fish has been caught and the last stream has been poisoned will we learn we can’t eat money.

Whilst we wait for our world leaders, G7, billionaires and the rest of those in power to step up, roll their sleeves up and put their money where their mouths are there are ways for the rest of us to get involved in the meantime.

When we take a moment to realise and let it sink in that the rainforests are the lungs of the planet and we can not survive without them, we all become trendy activists, jumping on the bandwagon and donating where we can, sharing pictures and hashtags on social media and feeling better about ourselves for ‘speaking up’ and getting involved. And that’s a good start. But now I ask that you put your social medias down, stop #PrayingfortheAmazon and start #ActingfortheAmazon instead. Let’s not preach about our people in power not doing anything when we’re not either. It’s going to take a lot, conscious decisions and unwavering faith that this is the right thing to be doing no matter the cost we’re having in our own say to day. It’s ok to be a trendy activist if that’s the most you can do, but I’m asking you to challenge yourself, as I am to, to take one of the below suggestions and follow it through.

(sorry not sorry)
  • Sponsor or buy an acre of the rainforest.
    Buy doing this, you aid protection in the forest in partnership with the local indigenous communities.
  • Leave a legacy.
    Something that is less addressed when discussing donations, but just as important – leaving a donation in your will. This can be arranged with your solicitor.
  • Reduce or Refuse meat consumption.
    The cattle ranching is one of the main drivers of Amazonian deforestation. I’m not suggesting you go vegan, because I don’t think I could do that yet myself, but let’s encourage #MeatFreeMondays and cut back on beef a significant amount too.
  • Conscious Consumption.
    As I wrote about in my post about palm oil, deforestation is the result of unsustainable and irresponsible palm oil farming. Suppliers are buggers and they don’t always promote just how unfair, and unethical their product is. So wise up, and be smart about what you’re endorsing through your shopping trolley.
  • Educate each other.
    Get savvy with the news, be relevant and open discussion to allow the awareness of the worlds travesties to be heard. You never know how the person you’re talking to may take the information and make a ground breaking (no pun intended) difference. Get it all across the mainstream news, cover social media with it, make it a recurring discussion point. Don’t be ignorant to what’s happening out there.
  • Harness your political power!
    When the time to vote comes along, know what you’re voting for.
    Politics are confusing to everyone, but just research what each leader stands for and how that will affect yourself and the world we live in. You’ll probably find that some leaders won’t even acknowledge the climate emergency.
  • Donate to front line groups
    Groups such as Amazon Frontline and Socioambiental are on the ground and in on the action, actively working to save the families and species that reside in the rainforest.
  • Support long term projects that are reversing deforestation
    Rainforest Alliance who’s logo is widely recognised, WWF, Amazon Conservation Team and a mix of chairties and NGO’s with long term goals to preserving all life in the rainforests.
  • Offsetting
    With more than 88% of deforestation recorded since June 2019, we have a duty to repopulate the earth with trees. That is, if we want to keep breathing fresh air throughout our lifetime.
    An excellent company to do this through is who have a programme set up allowing 1 tonne of carbon to be avoided in Brazil when you pledge a tree in the UK. > This is the link you want!<
    Another really excellent initiative is a search engine app called Ecosia, they plant trees whilst you surf the web! click the >link<, get it added as a chrome extension and download the app too. We have a lot of trees to replant!

If you have more to add to this discussion, or would like a deeper understanding on any of the subjects above, please get in touch. Remember also that you can jump on the #TrendyActivist bandwagon by sharing my post on social media and keep this conversation going!

Editors note:
Since writing this article, there have been millions raised by the billionaires and leaders that I referenced earlier – Leonardo DiCaprio, £5m, G7, £18m and more. However the Brazilian government is now turning down these donations and denying the country aid. This is ongoing and I urge you to continue donating despite this, please keep upto date on this developing story. The Amazon still needs action!