Forests are the lungs of the planet. These ecosystems, which have evolved over millions of years, are home to a beautiful diversity of plants and animals. But in many ways, we literally have forests to thank for each breath we take.
The health of our planet (and our own survival) is directly linked to the health of our forests. Forests and rainforests capture and store (predominantly human-made) carbon dioxide, and release oxygen into the atmosphere in return.
If you’re wondering how you can show the rainforests some love on this World Rainforest Day, we map out a few ways.
Put an end to deforestation
Forests do a great job of storing carbon. When they’re cut down, the carbon is simply released back into the environment. At the same time, removing trees from these ecosystems ends their potential to absorb more carbon from the atmosphere in the future. Because of this, deforestation alone accounts for nearly 15% of carbon emissions globally, making it a major contributor to climate change.
So, if forests are such a vital part of our own survival, why are humans cutting them down at alarming rates? There are a lot of reasons for large-scale deforestation—like clearing land for farming and ranching, cutting trees for firewood and paper production, and converting lumber into furniture. The efforts of individuals, from reducing how much meat you eat or committing to purchasing only sustainably-sourced paper products, are important in this fight. But to make a major impact on climate change we need systemic shifts in action.
There’s some good news though, on the global scale—at the end of 2021, more than 100 world leaders (whose nations contain around 85% of the world’s forests) promised to end and reverse deforestation by 2030. This declaration, signed during COP26, is the first of its kind to tackle the climate crisis at such a large scale.
Despite having signed on to this high-level agreement, forests still need protecting. That’s why Lemonade insurance has partnered with American Forests to push forward their important work—like supporting efforts to fight climate change and social inequities. To date, Lemonade has planted over 100,000 trees with American Forests.
Reduce harmful emissions
Beyond deforestation, there are other major contributors to climate change—like the fossil fuel and transportation industries.
Emissions from fossil fuels put extra pressure on forests and rainforests to clean the air we breathe. So, now it’s more important than ever to hold your representatives and favorite brands accountable to divest from the fossil fuel industry.
For example, as of 2018, the 40 largest U.S. insurers held over $450 billion in coal, oil, gas, and electric utility stocks and bonds. This staggering statistic isn’t meant to scare you, but rather to show the room for major, and urgent, changes for the better. Before Lemonade, no other US insurance company had publicly forsworn investment in fossil fuels.
This is an important first step, but it’s only the beginning. That’s why Lemonade, along other private sector partners, are calling on the business community to demand that fellow insurers stop both underwriting and investing in fossil fuels. You can join the fight by calling on your favorite brands to commit to sustainable business practices and sign on to encourage US insurers to divest from the fossil fuel industry.
Offset your carbon footprint
Among economic sectors, transportation is the biggest producer of CO2 emissions globally. In 2019, it made up 29% of emissions. Almost half of that number came from cars alone. The Union of Concerned Scientists has stated that personal cars are a major contributor to climate change, with cars and trucks jointly contributing about 20% of all emissions in the US. These emissions in the atmosphere lead to climate change, which destroys our planet— including its precious forests.
When we launched Lemonade car insurance, we knew we’d need to create an experience that could help mend some of the damage that the automotive industry causes. With a Lemonade Car policy, we plant trees together with our non-profit partner to help clean up emissions from the miles you drive. We also offer low-mileage discounts, and reward you with extra savings if you drive a hybrid or electric car.
Also, through the Giveback program, the Lemonade community has already donated $528,031.77 to 12 environmental causes since 2017, and we only plan to grow the positive impact. These donations are converted into action—like 218,778 trees planted, 9,132 animal habitats restored, and 625 youth climate activists sponsored.
It’s true that no amount of reforestation efforts will be enough to cancel emissions. It is still essential to preserve the world’s existing forests, in addition to peatlands and other natural carbon stores.
There are so many ways you can raise a collective voice to encourage—or demand—that all levels of government and the private-sector do their part to stop deforestation and move away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible. It’s really a matter of choosing a method that works best for your time, energy, and interests. Together we can help preserve our precious ecosystems, especially our priceless forests and rainforests, for a better future.