Despite what many people believe, deforestation is still prevalent in today’s society and they play a more significant part than what they are led to acknowledge.  Along with buying habits, government policies can affect the way countries address deforestation and how to minimize it.

Firstly, what is deforestation? Deforestation is commonly known as the clearing, destroying, or emptying of trees through intentional or natural means. Deforestation could occur in any densely occupied forest but is most abundant in the Amazon rainforest. Due to consumer demand, companies clear more forest land to meet the necessary supply. For example, demand for forest products such as computer paper, coffee filters, and hardwood flooring gave companies an excuse to increase their clearing of forests. Citizens in richer countries like China play a detrimental role in deforestation worldwide, not just in their own counties. As the population grows, the demand for palm oil, meat, and wood increases leading to more deforestation practices. 

So what are good practices to consider when buying products? Citizens can make a difference in the fight to stop and lessen deforestation by making knowledgeable choices daily. When at supermarkets, try buying products that could be reused repeatedly and avoiding single-use products. Reduce your paper use when you can. This practice is sustainable and could lessen the demand for tree products. Recycling also plays a big part in reducing the need for trees. You'd be making a difference even by recycling 10% of your paper usage. With your recycled materials, recycled products are put onto the market. These products help lessen the strain on the demand for timber. By shopping for recycled products, you could knowingly help the environment. Other eco-friendly developments include buying products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This company helps identify and support sustainable and legal companies that produce the product you're buying.

Though practicing the aforementioned behaviors is sustainable for our environment, many Americans cannot afford the products that would lessen tree demand, or they simply don't have access to them. Most companies that produce tree-free materials to replace commonly used items are more expensive than the latter. Famous companies such as Cloud Paper, which makes bamboo toilet paper, tend to be expensive with all their products across the board. Sourcing more sustainable substances is more costly than regular tree resources. Average customers cannot put the money aside to buy non-tree toilet paper. Another tree-free paper company called Bluecat Paper explains to consumers that their prices are hiked because of the inaccessibility of paper-making machines that can process non-tree substances. Due to this, prices must be increased to meet production costs. Making sustainability affordable is a major goal that we all must work toward.

Getting government and industry regulation, such as financial incentives to help push companies to go green, could help countries in the long term. The EU has taken the first steps in facilitating the change to greener practices. Things such as the EU Green Deal and Climate Law have been passed to move towards carbon neutrality for the world's top two emission producers, US and China. At a global level, this advancement is a good step in the direction of combating dangerous levels of deforestation, but what about at a country level? There are many approaches state and country governments can take to help companies go green such as financing measures and policy interventions. One great example is green taxes which target harmful environmental activities or companies that do not meet the standards in certification for energy performance, emissions, and pollutants.

Throughout Americans' lives, the choices they make shopping-wise have a big impact on the environment. Making conscious choices in shopping is the first step in making a greener earth. 

This post was written by United 4 Social Change's editorial intern, Genelle M. 

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