Sustainable Products

Everything we do has an impact – some of it good and some of it less so – and often our favorite things to do, including what we eat and drink, can have a negative impact on people, nature, and the climate.

But that doesn’t mean we must stop living the life we want to live – not at all!

We are more empowered today than ever before to have a real, positive impact on the world by simply being smart about the choices we make.

Fortunately, with increasing global awareness we have better choices every day as leading brands, businesses, and individuals integrate ‘sustainability’ into their production and consumption standards. Sustainability generally refers to practices that improve the health and well-being of people while maintaining, and even enhancing, the long-term viability and resilience of the natural world.

Make your money matter

Sustainable consumption is about the choices we have and being thoughtful about how we make them. Understanding our impact is the first step to making your money matter.

You may have seen labels like Organic, Fair Trade or Forest Stewardship Council certified on some common food and paper items like chocolate, coffee, printer paper, and sugar. These labels and certifications inform us about how the product was made and the impact it had on the environment and the people who produced it. When we choose products with these labels we are doing a few things that enable real, positive change.

First, your purchase directly supports sustainable production practices. Second, we are sending a powerful signal to markets and businesses that we care about how things are made and the people who make them. And third, you are empowering yourself to make sure your choices are having the best impact possible.

I’m connected to rainforests?

Did you know that agriculture and deforestation are responsible for 24% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions? In fact, many of the most common products in our supermarkets can be traced to commodities grown on land cleared of rainforests in the last two decades1. Apart from having many ecosystem, biodiversity and social benefits, forests store carbon and are the world’s most natural climate solution.

When forests are cut down or burned that carbon is released back into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, the most abundant greenhouse gas causing climate change.  By keeping forests standing we help curb climate change.

Companies and individuals have the opportunity to embed their climate footprint in the goods they produce and consume. Sometimes a company cannot fully reduce its emissions in the near term or there isn’t a product that meets your environmental or social standards. In these cases, any organization or individual can support forest projects to help responsibly compensate for, or offset, the unavoidable emissions associated with production and consumption.

Can forest carbon projects really influence our global climate? There are many independent, transparent, and globally recognised standards that verify the scientific rigor of these projects’ climate benefits. Our projects are verified to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity Alliance (CCB). Find out more about these here.

Eating through our forests

The production of some of our favorite foods and beverages we consumer every day are the leading drivers of deforestation: beef, soy, paper and pulp, palm oil, coffee and chocolate:

  • Beef is the leading cause of deforestation. In Latin America, 2.71 million hectares of forest are cleared every year – that’s the size of Massachusetts – for pasture for beef cattle2. Beef production results in an astonishing 52.3 grams of CO2 per calorie of meat – compare that to chicken which produces 0.006 grams of CO2 per calorie3.
  • Just 6% of soybean production ends up in our direct food supply – the rest is used in biodiesel or as animal feed4. So rest assured your tofu cravings are not to blame for deforestation! But there is a strong link between increasing soy production and growing global demand for beef. Reducing or eliminating beef from your diet is a significant action anyone can take today to help reduce emissions.
  • Palm oil is in many familiar products, including cookies, Nutella and shampoo. It comes from trees in Indonesia and Malaysia where peatland forests are being cleared for palm oil plantations. This is particularly hazardous to our climate because peatland soils are special – they store around 20 times more carbon than the forests themselves5. These forests are also home to Orangutans who are now critically endangered due to habitat loss. If you are concerned about palm oil, look for the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil certification as a minimum, an organization of palm oil producers, NGOs, banks, and retailers6.
  • We all know paper comes from trees – and you can look for the Forest Stewardship Council certification on most mainstream paper products. But did you know pulp from trees is used to make fabric for our clothing? 30% of rayon and viscose fabrics are sourced from threatened forests7.
  • Coffee is the most popular drink in the world, unbelievably two billion cups are consumed every day8. It’s not surprising then that it is the second most traded commodity after oil. Coffee thrives in the climates around the equator, in the same ecosystems that are home to the world’s valuable tropical forests. Traditional coffee growing methods used shade-loving strains of the plant, and so were grown within the forest. But a massive increase in demand has driven a shift to a new hybrid coffee plant which requires full sun. This has forced farmers to abandon their traditional farming methods and cut down mass areas of forest. If you are concerned about this issue, look for Rainforest Alliance Certified or coffee you know has been produced sustainably, the way the famer cooperatives do in our projects in Peru.
  • Our increasing hunger for chocolate has fueled intensive cacao (the base ingredient for chocolate) production around the world. The conventional farming techniques used degrades landscapes and, to maintain high yields, farmers are razing rainforest to gain access to more productive soils. The climate impact for the average 80-gram bar of chocolate is 544 grams of CO2; removing deforestation from cacao production halves that footprint9. For some perspective on what those numbers mean, 544 grams of CO2 is equivalent to driving your car a mile and a half!

You have a choice!

You may wonder what, if anything, you can do about it. Making sustainable choices is more important than ever. And it is not necessarily about radical change. We can make individual changes in our lifestyles that add up to a big global impact. Look for Organic, Fair Trade, direct trade, Rainforest Alliance Certified and Forest Stewardship Council certifications and labels to inform your purchases.

We invite you to join us

At Ecosphere+, our projects support and catalyse sustainable land use in Latin America to address the devastating cycle of deforestation locally while creating better choices for all of us globally. Our projects target the drivers of deforestation and then work with the local communities to identify and implement agriculture, forestry, and conservation activities that produce coffee, cacao, beef, cinnamon, rubber, and eco-tourism that works with the forest rather than destroying it.

For example, in Peru, one of the top ten country producers of cacao, our Cordillera Azul and Tambopata projects are transforming degraded forest landscapes through the production of organic, fair trade cacao. Implementing a forest-friendly approach can dramatically reduce the climate footprint of chocolate and we helping local farmers build capacity and invest in this transition.

Find out more about what we do on the ground here. Contact us today to find out how you can support this exciting work.