We are constantly being bombarded with news stories about our natural resources being depleted, plant and animal species going extinct, industrial toxins poisoning our air, water and food and weather catastrophes due to climate instability. It can be overwhelming. But there are a few things that would make a huge difference even if a small portion of the population adopted them. Here are my top three suggestions:
Shop carefully. Only buy from companies whose operations, supply chains and products are not contributing to environmental harm and undue human exploitation (such as child labour). Research, read labels and ask for solid information before making purchases.
Pressure governments and corporations to make environmental protection a key goal. Our current economic system is focused primarily on profit and growth and doesn't take into account the effect of externalities on the environment or human health.
Support organizations on the ground doing conservation work and that are raising awareness and inspiring people to make the planet’s future a priority.
The good news is there's still time if we take action now as individuals, corporations and governments.
I have taken action as an individual. In 2014, I founded the Amazon Rainforest Conservancy (ARC), a registered Canadian charity, after seeing first-hand the destruction occurring in the Amazon rainforest. I had visited the area of Tambopata in Peru where I saw acres and acres of ancient primary trees cut down. I visited the illegal gold mining camps that had sprung up everywhere and were changing the rainforest into a moonscape. I walked on roads slicing through previously remote and inaccessible areas.
When I returned home to Canada I felt an overwhelming responsibility to get involved and do something about the situation. I looked for a Canadian organization doing conservation work in Tambopata and, finding none, decided to start one myself.
ARC currently has over 3,500 acres of pristine intact rainforest in its care. We're the proud protectors of many endangered species such as jaguars, anacondas, tapirs, black caiman and anteaters. We protect hardwood tree species that are being logged to extinction in most parts of the Amazon (due to their economic value).
ARC is a small organization but we’ve come far through intense commitment, practicality and a dash of idealism. Plus we’re all volunteers in Canada – none of
us receive monetary compensation. So we don’t have the executive salaries and overhead of some other conservation groups, which means we direct all donations to protecting land from destruction.
So follow my three suggestions, and contribute to ARC if you can. Any size of donation is appreciated. We issue charitable receipts to Canadians.
Jana Bell is the Founder and President of Amazon Rainforest Conservancy (ARC) a registered Canadian charity doing conservation work in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest. For more information about ARC please visit www.amazonrainforestconservancy.com