We have all seen images on Instagram of the Amazon rainforest burning. If you are like me, you looked at a few inferno pictures with a nagging sense of dread and guilt that we really should be doing something and then scrolled on to the next (more lighthearted) image in your regular feed. I think that is a typical and normal response. At the end of the day, there is a sense of helplessness when it comes to raging fires. Most of us can’t do anything to put the fires out. Most of us do not understand the full implications of the Amazonian rainforest destruction, and even if we did, the vastness of the problem is overwhelming. The insignificance of our individual effort is emotionally exhaustive in comparison to the large-scale destruction.
Yesterday, I decided that as an individual I may have a smaller impact, but as an organization, we could affect larger-scale, positive change. So at Sunday Riley, we now have a three-tier action plan:
- We will support and match our Sunday Riley client and employee donations to save and support the Amazon rainforest and its indigenous communities;
- As a Company, we will partner with Trees For Houston to volunteer locally and plant trees;
- As an editorial platform, the Sunday Edit will briefly explain what is happening in the Amazon and what we can all do about it.
Let’s start there:
What is on fire and why?
The Amazon rainforest spans across multiple countries in South America. The fires are devastating Amazon rainforest land that is primarily in Brazil, although the rainforest in Bolivia and Peru are also on fire. The Amazon rain forest holds 10 percent of the planet’s biodiversity, meaning 1 in 10 species on this planet is found within this rainforest.
Humans are largely to blame for the Amazon fires. Many of these fires were purposefully set ablaze for several reasons, including development encouraged by the current Brazilian government and illegally clearing land for farming and ranching. In addition, the Amazon has experienced recent dry spells, which makes it more vulnerable to fire. NASA had detected more than 73,000 fires in the Amazon in 2019 to date, but nothing as destructive as the raging wildfires this August.
Why is the Amazon rainforest fire a problem?
Oxygen, Carbon Dioxide and Climate Change.
It is said that the Amazon rainforest produces 20 percent of the world’s breathable oxygen, earning it the heavyweight title, “The Earth’s Lungs.”
The Amazon is also a critical player in protecting us from climate change. NASA estimates that carbon dioxide levels are higher now than they’ve been in the last 400,000 years, due to everyday activities like the burning of fossil fuels (think gas-guzzling cars, planes and trucks). Carbon dioxide is a heat-trapping gas, which increases the overall temperature of the planet if not properly balanced in our environment. The thick greenery of the Amazon absorbs the increasing levels of carbon dioxide from the air and converts it to oxygen in a process known as photosynthesis. Without the Earth’s lungs, we get hit with a double whammy. Not only do we lose our carbon dioxide filter, but we lose an oxygen generator for our planet.
What will the teams at Sunday Riley Modern Skincare and the Sunday Edit do to help?
The more and more I look into situations related to climate change, the more I feel a positive sense of collective consciousness replacing the nagging sense of dread. As solitary and divided individuals, we are overwhelmingly powerless to affect large scale change. But when large quantities of individuals amass together as a conscious community, our magnitude and strength multiply. Our power lies in adding up our small, individual contributions. Together those individual streams of power become a lightning bolt of change. As a teacher once told me, anyone can break a twig. It is almost impossible to break a bundle of twigs.
For the next two weeks, Sunday Riley will match client and employee donations until we can’t afford to do so. To qualify, donations can only be made to the following Amazon charities, and you must provide proof that you are a Sunday Riley user and/or Sunday Edit reader (do not worry, you do not have to purchase anything to participate!). The charities are listed alphabetically:
To get your donation matched by Sunday Riley:
- Simply donate to any of the above charities. We will match a maximum of $500 per person or organization.
- Email the official donation confirmation to email@example.com
- Make sure you are signed up to our email list (for either Sunday Riley or the Sunday Edit) so that we can confirm you are a client and/or reader.
- We will confirm your email address and match your donation.
What are other ways we can help today?
Unfortunately, we can’t get into the Amazon to put out the blazes. That can only be done on a national or local level. But there are things we can do.
We can donate to registered charities that are helping to support the indigenous communities of the Amazon and their land rights, as well as supporting and educating farmers near rainforest land in sustainable practices.
We can participate in planting trees on a local level. As a Company, Sunday Riley is partnering with Trees for Houston to plant trees in our local community. We are also donating the cost of the trees, maintenance and watering. Stay tuned to see this covered on our social channels!
We can buy products produced in farms near the Amazon, like coffee, that are Rainforest Alliance Certified.
Cows (and the beef industry) are major contributors to greenhouse gasses. This might be the moment to add in Meatless Mondays to your weekly diet.
We can support cleaner, environmentally friendlier forms of energy like solar and wind power (and products).
On a corporate level, we can have cleaner processes and practices. At Sunday Riley, we are currently B Corp Pending, which means that we have made a commitment to managing our manufacturing waste and conserving energy every step of the way. This should be the norm, not an elective.
We can become educated on U.S. investment firms and companies which are actively encouraging and profiting off of Amazonian deforestation for the purposes of oil drilling, mining and agribusiness.
We can read and share information in order to raise collective awareness.