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5 Habits That Hurt Our Forest

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Photo by Matthias Groeneveld [8]

Deforestation is the act of removing forest in order to make spaces or to benefit from the trees. It is only natural that humans use natural resources for growth, development, and personal advantages. However, by constantly taking from nature, humans ignore the fact that there is a limit where nature can no longer regain balance.

In the period of 2018-2019 alone, Indonesia has lost 462,4 thousand hectares out of 94,1 million hectares forest. The number is very jarring compared to the effort of reforestation which is only about 3,1 thousand hectares [1]. When we put together the fact that our forest is one of the most biodiversity-rich ecosystems on earth, deforestation poses a serious threat to the well being of the entire planet.


Read Also: Deforestation in Indonesia: Palm Oil, Biodiversity Loss and Global Warming


Deforestation happens when consumer demands continue to rise, and companies are exploiting forests to fulfill our daily needs. Sustainable manufacturing, consumerism, and lifestyle will result in a greater future for our environment, hence as consumers, need to start paying attention to these bad habits which fuels deforestation:

Disclaimer: This list is not a ranking based on the most damaging things that are harmful to our forest to the least. The things mentioned are written in random order.

1. Eating a meal full of meat

Photo by Annie Spratt [9]

Too much intake of meat, besides threatening your health, also threatens our forest. Animal agriculture takes up massive land areas. In fact, 80% of deforestation in Amazon, Brazil, comes from the exploitation of land for cattle ranches [2]. Recent data in 2019 shows that rainforest deforestation for agriculture is happening at the rate of forty football pitches a minute [3]. Amazon Aid mentions the idea that the exploited land can be reduced if more humans only consume plants instead [4].

Reducing the portion of meat in your plate or eating it only once a week are beneficial for your health and the environment. You can also change your lifestyle to become vegan, and join the fight against deforestation by cutting down meat completely.

2. Using piles of paper

Photo by Daria Obymaha [10]

Paper is a common item we use on a daily basis. Be it blank binder paper, drawing paper, post-it notes, cardboard boxes, or paper bags, they all come from the same source: trees.

Trees provide homes for animals that we need to maintain our ecosystem, which is why deforestation is one of the main causes of biodiversity loss. The rate of which we are cutting trees is not sustainable, therefore the fact that they are a renewable source becomes a moot point. The pulp & paper industry not only contributes massively to deforestation and biodiversity loss but also uses up so much water! [5]

You can use recycled paper and there is a lot of options to choose from. There is the usual recycled material made from used papers, but there are also unique materials such as elephant’s dung! Not to mention that most recycled papers are more aesthetically pleasing with its warm tones.

3. Buying unsustainable products

Photo by Fikri Rasyid [11]

Not many people realize that palm oil is everywhere. It can be found in your chocolate bar, ice cream, lipstick, and even your shampoo. The demands for hygiene products, and boxed foods are high which demands the industry to take more space.

The thing is, palm trees only grow in tropical rainforests and we don’t have much of a rainforest left. One of the biggest factors behind the extinction of Orang Utans in Borneo is the forest exploitation for palm oil plantation [6].

You can start directing your grocery cart to sustainable brands. With the recent rise of sustainable lifestyle, you will not have a hard time finding what you need. It’s one more person to prolong one more tree’s life.

4. Burning household trash

Photo by Lisa Fotios [12]

Waste management is a universal problem, but some people are not very conscious about the impact that they have. Burning your trash is never good in every way possible.

The smoke pollutes the air and our lungs, and most importantly may trigger forest fires in dry season. In 2019, a trash-burning act of a Karangasem local citizen destroyed about one hectare of Belik Lesung Mountain. The strong dry season wind swept the fire flames from the piles of garbage and spread through the area in a matter of minutes [7].

All you have to do is to manage and plan your garbage disposal wisely. The infamous slogan, reduce, reuse, recycle is the still the best option to go.

5. Being a bystander

Photo by Vision Pic [13]

Being silent and passive will not change anything. In the era where speaking out our voice is easiest as ever, making, signing, and sharing petitions about forest issues are just one screen away.

Being passive is another bad habit. Change comes with action and finding impactful events to save our forest is not that hard. For Jakarta citizens, Hutan Itu Indonesia is an organization where you can join events focusing on saving our forest. In one of their yearly program, Kulari ke Hutan, you can adopt a tree for every five meter you run. Talk about getting healthy, individually and environmentally!

These are only five of many bad habits we tend to do on our daily basis. Looking back, we live unsustainable because it is easy to and we have grown accustomed to it. But where there is a will, there is a way.

As long as big unsustainable industries are still making millions from the never-ending demands, our forests will always be at risk. So, let’s be a conscious customer and citizen, spreading this information for more awareness, for the sake of our forest.


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