By: Kate Bolkin, Community Educator
Earth Day and Arbor Day are upon us and although we love supporting our planet by planting trees, Charlotte’s tree planting season is sadly over by the time these late-April holidays come around. But did you know there are plenty of ways that you can support trees and our environment by just changing your daily habits? In fact, many of our globe’s largest forests thousands of miles away are impacted by the way we live our lives.
We love burgers as much as the next guy, but did you know meat (especially beef) production is one of leading causes of deforestation? Forests are clear cut at alarming rates to make room for grazing cattle and growing soy for feed. Reducing the demand for beef and other land-intensive agricultural products (such as palm oil) will help protect our precious remaining forests. If going vegetarian or vegan is not possible for you, just limiting your meat consumption to the best of your ability is extremely impactful.
When you purchase tree-based products, choose brands that use recycled or ethically sourced paper and lumber. Many products have a “Made from Recycled Paper” logo on them.
When looking for lumber, only buy wood that is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified. This will ensure that the lumber is harvested using best practices and does not come from illegal logging operations.
Although purchasing sustainably-sourced or recycled paper products is great, there are steps you can take before getting to that point that are even better! Reduce the need for paper products altogether by using long-lasting, reusable products instead—like swapping paper towels for washable rags, paper bags for canvas ones, and only print when necessary. If you do need to use paper products, reuse them until it is not possible anymore. When all other options have been exhausted, then recycle.
In Charlotte, we are seeing tens of thousands of trees being removed on private property. And just about everyone has a story of a neighbor, friend, or family member who cut down healthy trees in their yard. It may not seem like much, but talking to to others about the value of trees and urban canopy preservation can go a long way. Even just saving one tree can make a huge impact.
Although individuals’ actions play a significant role in the fate of our forests and urban forests, much of tree preservation, planting, and stewardship is determined by current policy. When tree protection policies are weak, this makes deforestation efforts easier. Knowing where policymakers stand on the issue of trees is important. Do you research and get out there and vote!