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What Household Products Contribute to Global Deforestation?

Updated on October 9, 2012
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Global deforestation is the single most important contributor to global warming and its effects. 16 million hectares of forest land are lost each year due to deforestation and it is also contributing to widespread biodiversity loss. Don't think that you are powerless to do anything about this problem. There are products on your local store shelves that have contributed to global deforestation. Educate yourself and make informed choices the next time you go shopping.

The Toilet Paper Connection

According to this 2012 report by the World Wildlife Federation, two brands of toilet paper, Paseo and Livi, use paper sourced from Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) which is responsible for more forest destruction in Sumatra than any other company. Forest destruction in Sumatra is threatening tiger and elephant populations. Take action now:

  • Avoid Paseo and Livi products until the companies stop using paper from APP
  • Purchase only 100% recycled products or ones that are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified

Tropical Hardwoods

The harvesting of these specific types of wood are very harmful to tropical rainforests:

  • Mahogany
  • Tropical plywood (may be called lauan or meranti)
  • Teak
  • IpĂȘ (Brazilian walnut)
  • Greenheart
  • Ekki
  • Ramin
  • Wenge
  • Cocobolo
  • Zebrawood
  • Padauk
  • Jatoba (Brazilian cherry)
  • Nyatoh

These are all mostly high value lumber and can be used for furniture, doors, coffins, boardwalks, decks, plywood, and flooring. Some, like lauan, are imported as inexpensive plywood and can be found used in paneling, cabinets, furniture interiors and backing, tractor trailers, subflooring and doorskins. You can even find tropical hardwood used in handles for tools and pencils.

What you can do:

Only buy woods that are identified as domestic or second growth. The following domestic hardwoods or plywoods are acceptable to buy: pine, spruce, maple, beech, and birch. Avoid any tools made with wood unless you can identify them as oak, ash or hickory. Buy used wood furniture; if you are buying tropical hardwoods, make sure they are independently certified (SmartWoodTM); these are fine to buy.

Beef

One of the largest causes of deforestation around the world is conversion of rainforest to grazing land for cattle. The United States imports a large amount of this meat which is incorporated into various processed food products. The source of the beef is in turn hard to source in these types of products.

What you can do:

Avoid buying foods that use processed beef, including hot dogs, hamburgers, and dog and cat food.

Bananas

As of this time, all fresh bananas that you purchase in the US were grown in a way that has been detrimental to the rainforests. Forest land is cleared each day to use for banana plantations. Banana farming is responsible for worker oppression and degradation of the land.

What you can do:

Buy locally grown fruit instead of bananas. If you must buy bananas, buy organic.

Coffee

Coffee production is responsible for the conversion of rainforest land to high-yield monocultures instead of sustainable "shade-grown" varieties. These high-yield varieties require full sun which causes destruction of forests and higher use of chemicals.

What you can do:

Only buy shade-grown and organic coffee and co-op grown. Look for coffee with labels like Equal Exchange, Thanksgiving Coffee, Frontier Coffee, and Organic Coffee Company.

Chocolate

Large amounts of land are being converted to cocoa plantations which use chemicals that are causing cancer in farm workers.

What you can do:

Only buy organic chocolate.


Paper

Rainforest land is also being converted to tree farms using non-native species of trees. The biodiversity of these areas is threatened and much of the wood is exported which is causing the loss of jobs. Most of the paper produced is for office paper.

What you can do:

Recycle everything. Avoid disposable paper products. Buy products with recycled content.

Aluminum

Aluminum mining and conversion to finished products requires an enormous amounts of energy. Mining operations in Central and South America are damming rainforest rivers which is flooding and destroying forest land and wiping out plant and animal species.

What you can do:

Avoid buying aluminum. If you do use it, recycle it as it is completely recyclable and requires only 5% of the energy to recycle as it originally took to make it from ore.

Gold

Gold mining and processing has been responsible for the wipe out of indigenous cultures worldwide (including the native americans in the US). Many rainforest rivers have been poisoned by leakage of cyanide or other chemicals from gold processing plants.

What you can do:

Do not buy gold; consider selling what you have.

Oil

Large amounts of rainforest land in these countries have been contaminated by oil drilling operations: Bolivia, Ecuador, Indonesia, and Nigeria. In many instances, the oil companies have not made efforts to clean up the mess that they left from these operations.

What you can do:

Ride you bike, carpool, and use mass transit. Also use recycled products and buy used items, both of which saves energy.

Steel

The world's largest iron mine in Brazil, Carajas, uses the surrounding forests to power the plant. The mine will continue to consume forest land as long as it is in operation.

What you can do:

Recycle all metal materials, including car parts. Look for metal recycling companies in your area.

About the Author

Kristy Rose is concerned about global warming and hopes that more people will be aware of the products they are buying and their environmental impact. She is also passionate about writing, especially on Hubpages. If you want to join the Hubpages community, START HERE and you can publish your first article today!

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      This is one of those articles, and I've written quite a few of them, that makes people very uneasy....because they know you are right but you are asking them to change their buying habits. :)

      Having said that, you are absolutely correct and bravo to you for writing this important message.

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 4 years ago from Indonesia

      This is an interesting, useful hub to make people have more attention and concern to deforestation. Coal mining and palm oil plantation also cause severe deforestation and need strict control in their operation.

      Thank you for writing and sharing this hub.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I really like the way you designed your content to post the fact and then the solution immediately following. Great idea. I am sharing this with my class as we are discussing sustainability. Voted way up.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I was told to buy "Fair Trade Coffee." Does that still qualify?

    • simplysmartmom profile image
      Author

      simplysmartmom 4 years ago from North Carolina

      aviannovice - The fair-trade label means that the coffee growers were given a fair wage/compensation for the product; I don't believe it guarantees that the coffee is shade-grown. I would look for products that have both the fair-trade and shade-grown labels. Hope this helps!

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 4 years ago

      very interesting and informational. i would have never thought that so many products could lead to deforestation. thanks. voted up.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Informative! And we just use these products so liberally. Thanks for sharing!! Passing around!

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