Did you know that 20% of the Earth’s oxygen comes from the Amazon rainforest? The Amazon is currently suffering from widespread fires and according to Yahoo News 20% of the rainforest is already gone (although that number includes deforestation from previous years as well). What that means roughly is that the air we are breathing already contains about 4% less oxygen than it did prior to the deforestation of the Amazon.
What the Numbers Mean
What does this mean for all of us who like breathing air? Don’t panic, we’re technically ok, though it’s not great news. Each breath we take consists of about 20% oxygen (yes, we realize that’s the third time we’ve said “20%” and, no, none of them are a typo). The lowest amount of oxygen we require to survive is a concentration of 19.5% oxygen. What that means is that if we lost the entire Amazon rainforest, we’d be down to approximately a concentration of 19.6% oxygen. When you factor in the amount of carbon dioxide released as well, our survivability would absolutely be in question.
The loss of even another small portion of the Amazon – bringing the total loss to 25 or even 30% – would result in other devestating worldwide changes as well such as weather patterns and the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as forests like the Amazon act as a storage facility for CO2 according to NBC News. There is also the issue of the smoke produced from the fires contributing to more pollution of the air, as well as the polluting by-products that could be produced in the future if the land is used for agriculture (i.e. methane-producing livestock) rather than growing back wild.
What Can Be Done?
So as a concerned citizen of the world, someone who enjoys breathing oxygen at our optimal percentage, what can be done?
First, you can sign the petition available at Change.org. That only takes a moment. The Brazilian government has already fight against the fires due to the strong support shown for this issue from the world, so every single signature absolutely helps.
Another option is to donate to various organizations that are working to give aid to this situation.
- Rainforest Alliance (100% of donations to this organization through Instagram are being used to fight the fires on the front lines.)
- Earth Alliance (100% of donations to this organization will go directly to protecting the Amazon)
- International Conservation Fund of Canada
- World Wildlife Fund
Check out the rest of this article for a lot more ideas on how you can help as well.
The above actions can directly impact the situation in the Amazon. However, this isn’t just an issue that you have to get involved with from a distance. There is also a call to action for everyone around the world, in every small town and big city: “#EmptyTheGardenCenters
In most large garden centers you will find a section in the back of droopy yellowing plants marked for clearance. These are plants that haven’t found a home yet, and therefore haven’t gotten the care they need to survive. But those reduced price plants can still be saved, and all the younger beautiful plants in the garden center will eventually make their way to the clearance section if they don’t find homes either. If every garden center was emptied, millions of extra plants would find homes where they could produce more oxygen and clean the air for all of us.
How Plants Benefit Homes
Having potted plants in your home is an excellent way to improve your own air quality as well. Many parts of our homes, normal things like furniture and kitchen cabinets, are constantly undergoing a process called “off-gassing” in which they release various gases into the air space slowly over time. One such gas commonly found in homes is formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. Having plants will specifically reduce some of these gases.
There are some plants that are exceptionally equipt for removing these home gases that NASA has identified, which includes:
- Boston fern
- Peace Lily
- English Ivy
- Mothers-in-law Tongue
- And more.
Although the above plants have been studied and are known to be helpful for specific chemicals in the home, any plant will contribute toward improving the airspace of your environment and the environment for us all.
Plants at Your Own Home
If there is any room in your lawn to plant a tree, shrub, a row of flowers, anything, please help in the movement to #BreatheForBrazil! Gift plants to a couple friends as well, and be sure to tell them about this too. Or, you can even start growing plants from seeds if you prefer. Most garden centers have a large selection of seeds available that can be cleared out as well. Why not plant some cucumber vines along your fence line or some strawberries next to your mailbox for the mailman to enjoy.
For those with low amounts of sunlight indoors, special lights called “grow lights” can be purchased and some, such as the GrowLED, can even be added directly to planter pots. Another option is an Aerogarden for an all-inclusive system that allows you to grow herbs or lettuce or vegetables like peppers and tomatoes right on your counter. There are so many options to incorporate more plants into your home. If the 4 million people who signed the petition to stop the fires each added two more plants to their own home environment, that would be 8 million extra plants with homes! That would certainly make a big difference towards #REforestation of the Earth.
Getting More Trees Planted
There are many other ways that you can get involved with increasing the number of plants around the world.
One easy way is to use the Ecosia web browser. Planting trees is so important to them as a company that about 100% of their profits are specifically donated to the cause. According to their site, just 45 browser searches is enough to plant one tree! There is a ticker that can be seen on their home screen as well that boasts over 65 million trees have been planted from their company alone. Ecosia also offers a selection of shirts that boasts the donation of 20 tress for every sale.
A number of companies also plant trees for every sale that they recieve and many are for items that we all need to buy anyway, such as clothing or shoes. Here is a list of several that we know about:
- TenTree (A clothing company that plants 10 tress for every sale.)
- Good Seeds Apparel (A children’s clothing company that plants a tree for each sale.)
- Nikin (A clothing company that plants a tree for every sale.)
- 337 Brand (A clothing company that plants a tree for each sale.)
- Ecosia (Each shirt or sweatshirt sold by this company plants 20 trees.)
- Mineralogy (A jewelry company that plants a tree for every item that is purchased.)
- WeWOOD (A watch company specializing in wooden watches that plants a tree for every sale.)
- Kuma (A sunglass company that plant’s a tree for every pair sold.)
- Tree Tribe (A company with a selection of products including hats, wallets, water bottles and clothing that plants a tree for every sale.)
- Joolz (A company that makes baby strollers and plants a tree for every stroller sold.)
- Barenaturals (A UK candle company that plants ten trees for every candle that is sold.)
- Woodchuck USA (An American company with a variety of wood-enspired items such as journals, keychains and flasks that plants a tree for each item sold with over 1.8 million trees planted already.)
- Prestige Decanters (A company with a variety of bar-inspired wares that will plant a tree for every decanter sold.)
- Greenbar Distillery (An liquor company that plants a tree for each bottle of their product that is sold, over 800 thousand trees so far.)
- Trinity Oaks (A wine company that plants a tree for every bottle sold.)
Organizations That Plant Trees
There are a number of organizations working to plant trees that welcome donations as well. Although you can personally donate to each of these organizations, one of the easiest ways to donate at no cost to yourself is to choose one of these organizations for your Amazon Smile charity. Amazon donates a portion of each purchase you make to the charity of your choice, simply by entering their website from Smile.Amazon.com, which they say they hope will help to spread awareness of the program through word of mouth.
One organization in particular that is working specifically in the Amason is Conservation International. Their project has been working for years to reforest the Amazon with a goal of 73 million new trees planted by 2023 and not just any trees, but their plan utilizes the local communities of the Amazon to gather seeds from the forest, which will then be mixed and spread over an area to allow the reforestation to occur as naturally as possible with the strongest seeds surviving.
However, there are many other organizations working to plant trees around the world in areas that also need aid.
Share the pictures of your plants and garden centers with us on social media (@HowToCleanStuff) and we will share as many as we can! Be sure to use the hashtags as well: #EmptyTheGardenCenters and #BreatheForBrazil
For more information, check out our IgTV video (@HowToCleanStuff) of the trip to our own local garden center.
A massive thank you to everyone who has already gotten involved with this issue!! Together, we can make a difference!