Worldwide, at least 16,306 species are endangered. Did you even know we had even that many species on earth? Unbelievable to imagine that human-related decisions and actions are the TOP reasons most species are endangered.
Here are five ways we can start to undo the damage we’ve caused and set things right for a healthier planet:
1) Avoid palm oil.
Palm oil is in about half of all packaged food products and in many everyday items such as shampoo, detergent, and lipstick. The destruction of rainforests to make way for palm oil plantations has threatened species like tigers, orangutans, and elephants. Palm oil has many aliases, such as sodium dodecyl sulfate, glyceryl stearate, sodium isostearoyl lactylate, elaeis guineensis—the list goes on. Easier than memorizing the 200+ names, search for products that have the RSPO or Green Palm labels on them. These labels mean that they are made with certified sustainable palm oil.
2) Don’t buy products made with wood from rainforests.
Avoid purchasing products made out of merbau, sapele, wenge, ebony, Brazilian mahogany, Burmese teak, and teak in general, as these are all sourced from rainforests that are home to endangered species. Instead, be sure to buy wood with the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification, or with the PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forestry Certification) logo.
3) Recycle your electronics.
Electronic gadgets are made with a mineral called columbite-tantalite that’s mined in an area of the Democratic Democratic Republic of Congo. Kahuzi-Biega National Park is located here, home of the mountain gorilla, whose population has plummeted to 130 as the ground has been cleared for mining operations. Fortunately, the mineral can be recouped when electronics are properly recycled. Check with your local recycling companies for guidelines.
4) Don’t eat unsustainably harvested seafood.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, 61 percent of the world’s commercial marine fish stocks are fully exploited, while 29 percent are overfished. Unwanted bycatch also continues to threaten many marine species. Avoid endangered species like bluefin tuna and North Sea cod, and seek out seafood labeled with the blue MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) logo. The Safina Center offers a helpful guide to which fish species in U.S. waters are endangered, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch has this handy app to help you select sustainable seafood in restaurants and grocery stores.
5) Avoid herbicides and pesticides.
Many herbicides and pesticides are toxic to both plants and animals, not just the pest you’re trying to take down, and accumulate in the soil. Pesticides threaten the survival and recovery of hundreds of federally listed species, such as the polar bear, mountain yellow-legged frog, coho salmon, delta smelt, and loggerhead sea turtle. Refer to PETA’s guide to herbicide and pesticide alternatives. And of course, buy organic fruits and vegetables.