Did you know that 80 percent of rainforest destruction is due to agriculture?

What’s more, a lot of the commodities produced on deforested rainforest lands eventually make their way into supermarkets around the world.

It is easy to use your purchasing power to support rainforest-friendly production methods! Check out the TREE Foundation’s Rainforest-Friendly Purchasing Guide to learn more about how you can adopt shopping habits that protect rainforests and the environment.

deforestation in Suriname
Deforestation in Suriname

Quick tips

Below are a few quick tips for shopping rainforest-friendly. Check out the Rainforest-Friendly Purchasing Guide to learn more.

1. Buy local and avoid tropical rainforest products when you can.

Buying local food is good for the climate and supports farmers in your area. And unless you live in the tropics, it does not cause rainforest destruction. Avoid tropical products if you don’t know how or where they were produced. 

2. Shop at farmers markets, co-ops, and health food stores.

These stores offer more local, healthy, and eco-friendly options than supermarkets. If you’re on a budget, know that some supermarket chains are better than others. Check out the full guide to learn more. 

3. Avoid processed foods.

They are terrible for your health and for the planet. They also contain high amounts of palm oil, sugar, corn, and soy often sourced from clear-cut rainforest lands. Cook with wholesome, healthy ingredients instead.

4. Eat a plant based diet.

Meat is very resource-intensive to produce, and most people in high-income countries eat way too much of it. Shift to a plant-based, whole foods diet to improve your health and reduce your environmental impact.

5. Don’t eat beef.

Beef is by far the worst product for tropical rainforests, and much of beef produced in tropical regions like Brazil is exported to the United States. Beef also contributes heavily to climate change—more so than any other food. If you can, seek out alternative protein sources, cut down on your consumption, or switch to local grass-fed beef. 

6. Look for certifications like Rainforest Alliance Certified, Forest Stewardship Council, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), and Bird-Friendly certified coffee.

These certifications are indicators that a product is at least somewhat rainforest-friendly, although some of them have been criticized for intentionally or unintentionally certifying products that have resulted in rainforest destruction. Check out the full guide for more information.

Worst products for rainforests

Below is a list of the products that cause the most tropical deforestation. Try to avoid them if possible or seek out rainforest-friendly versions of them. You can also sign petitions urging major corporations to stop buying products that come from deforested rainforest regions, and you can donate to organizations working to change corporate behavior. 

Read the full guide to learn more about these harmful products and what you can do to make a difference.

1. Beef

Beef causes twice as much deforestation as palm oil, soy, and wood products (the next three biggest drivers) combined. Try to avoid it or cut down on your consumption.

2. Palm Oil

Unsustainable palm oil production is devastating to rainforests in southeast Asia but, when grown responsibly, palm oil is a highly efficient food oil crop that uses less land area than the alternatives. Read the full guide to learn more about the complex issues surrounding palm oil and what you can do to help.

3. Soy

Most soy goes into animal feed, so switching from meat to tofu is actually good for rainforests!

4. Wood products

This includes paper, timber, and other products. Buy products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, recycle and buy recycled, and cut down on unnecessary use.

5. Cocoa 

Look for certifications like Rainforest Alliance to save the unique rainforests of west Africa and other tropical regions. 

6. Coffee

Shade-grown coffee, unlike sun-grown, preserves some forest biodiversity where it is grown by allowing many canopy trees to remain. Look for coffee that is Bird-Friendly certified or Rainforest Alliance certified. 

7. Rubber

Demand for natural rubber has led to widespread deforestation in southeast Asia. Rubber is hard to avoid, but seek out sustainable alternatives for rubber products like tires.

8. Corn

Most corn goes into animal feed or processed foods. Cut down on meat consumption and avoid processed foods to reduce demand for tropical corn.

9. Sugar

Sugarcane contributes to deforestation, especially in Brazil. Buy sugar from sugar beets and cut down on your consumption of sugary drinks and food products.

10. Cocaine

Illegal cocaine production occurs in remote rainforest areas and has a very large deforestation footprint.

11. Gold

Gold mining has devastating impacts on people and the environment wherever it occurs. Avoid it or seek out eco-friendly certified gold. Read more in the full guide.

12. Metals and minerals

Mining creates toxic wastes and results in deforestation and road construction, which usually leads to further deforestation by bringing development. Petition major companies to source responsibly.

13. Oil

Oil extraction often occurs in rainforests and results in many of the same problems as mining with the additional negative impact on climate change. Try to cut down on gasoline and plastic use to make a difference.

Read the TREE Foundation’s Rainforest-Friendly Purchasing Guide to learn more about how you can change your shopping habits and fight for transformational change in our food system. The world’s rainforests need your help!