Forest-Smart Buying Can Lower Your Carbon Footprint

Tropical deforestation is responsible for about 20 percent of total annual global warming emissions, making it second only to fossil fuels in terms of climate impact. Forests play a major role in regulating global temperatures by absorbing heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it in their cell walls. Earth loses more than 18 million acres of forestland every year—an area larger than Ireland—according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The best way to reduce emissions from tropical deforestation is to help ensure these trees are not cut down in the first place. Your purchasing decisions can play a role in this effort:

Wood: When buying wood products, look for labels that indicate the wood comes from sustainably managed forests. There are several forest certification programs in place worldwide. For home improvement projects, you can avoid new wood products altogether by using reclaimed wood for floors and wood-free materials (such as composite resin boards) for other projects.Coffee: Make your daily cup o’ joe using shade-grown coffee beans, which are grown under a forest canopy. In addition to supporting the preservation of forestlands, shade-grown coffee requires less fertilizer and pesticides to grow compared with coffee grown under full sun. A quick Google search can lead you to online coffee retailers if you can’t find any at your local grocery store.

Paper: While most U.S. papers are not made from tropical woods, reducing overall demand for virgin paper can have a global impact. You can support forest-friendly paper by buying paper made from sustainably harvested timber, a high percentage of post-consumer recycled content, or wood-free fibers such as kenaf.

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