International Day of Forests or International Forest Day is observed on March 21st every year, since 2012. The intention is to raise awareness and express gratitude for the importance of forests across the globe. On Forest day, countries are encouraged to look at the micro and macro-level activities that help reinforce forests and their ecosystems.
This is a globally recognized celebration by the United Nations Forum on Forests and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. They work together with local governments, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, and other relevant organizations within the field.
Here are some important facts to note:
- Forests are home to over 80% of global terrestrial biodiversity and more than 60,000 tree species.
- More than 1.6 billion human beings directly depend on food, shelter, energy, medication, and income sourced from forests.
- As of 2020, the planet is losing roughly 10 million hectares of forest annually. This is the equivalent of losing flora that can be spread across the country of Iceland every year.
This International Forest Day 2022 would be a great time to stock how the businesses, brands, or companies you patronize, produce their goods and services. This is also a great time to introduce sustainable consumption practices and help keep our planet looking green and healthy for as long as possible.
According to UMass Lowell, ‘Sustainable Production is the creation of goods and services using processes and systems that are: Non-polluting, conserving of energy and natural resources, economically viable, and safe and healthful for workers, communities, and consumers.‘
This ensures minimal negative impact on the surrounding environment and encourages preserving energy and resources. When we look at the number of resources offered by forests that we are consuming without sustainability in mind, it becomes transparent why we are losing a significant percentage of our flora.
In light of International Forest Day, keep this three-part approach in mind – prepare, measure, improve whenever looking at a business providing a sustainable product or service. Here’s how you should conduct the assessment to make your business more sustainable.
Businesses looking to pivot into better practices to support sustainability and introduce better techniques around maintaining our natural resources, need to understand their business from a grassroots level. This process begins with:
1. Understand The Business Impact And Set Priorities
This would be a great time to put together a team focussed solely on ensuring that sustainable practices and goals are met. Companies are encouraged to understand their environmental impact and decide where efforts can be realigned at this step. This will help create a blueprint for your plan of action.
2. Compile Practical Performance Indicators
To understand how to make improvements, businesses must identify how they consider their organization a success. So, it is critical to ensure information is collected around introducing continuous improvement. This proves that even as the business develops and activities change, sustainability is still considered a big factor.
After deciphering how the business works, it is critical to understand how materials are procured and how they are transformed into the finished product. If this process is using up too many non-renewable resources or is damaging the surrounding environment, leading to our diminishing forests, we must take different actions:
1. Identify The Inputs Needed
The business must comprehensively identify all raw materials used across the manufacturing process to create output, and any tools procured for the same must also be assessed. The objective is to determine how all components of the desired outcome affect the environment and the best way to introduce changes.
2. Consider The Process
As you are able to identify the components contributing to the end product or service, look at how the business activities affect the environment. Understand how efficiently goods are produced and the side-effects of the production process in terms of energy consumption, greenhouse emissions, noise pollution, and water usage.
3. Conduct An Evaluation
With a solid comprehension of what the business is trying to achieve and the process to achieve the same, the sustainability team can help put together factors that negatively impact the environment as a result of day-to-day activities.
The team can identify areas where it can streamline energy consumption, introduce better methods to recycle products, and ensure the minimized development and cautious disposal of hazardous substances to truly understand how sustainable the product can be.
With the business able to identify areas of improvement, they can make more environment-friendly approaches to conduct their activities:
1. Assess The Results
Now that you’ve understood the scope for better practices and introduced more efficient and effective production methods, the sustainability team can assess the impact of these changes.
The team must ensure the organization can conduct business as needed. These new changes only enhance output quality and help create an overall better Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance or ESG rating for the organization.
2. Improve The Performance
Sustainable practices enhance organizational values and activities. Start the process again and create better action plans with more robust results.
This can be done as frequently as the organization is comfortable conducting change. Transitions can often be expensive and time as well as resource-consuming, and confusing to the team. Try to ensure the first set of new practices is implemented with no kinks.
The new practices will allow the business to get more comfortable with running differently and encourage employees to identify areas of improvement that can be built or fixed accordingly.
This process is not meant to be an overnight change. While every business operates differently, some companies may take a few months and others a few weeks. Therefore, it is essential not to rush, and to cautiously create a stable foundation for future growth and development.
Additionally, this process has proven quite lucrative financially and in terms of reputation, when introduced firmly. Businesses that consider ESG factors are more likely to see long-term success and receive better investments. Especially when the market trends are moving towards sustainability and consumers are choosing more consciously, companies must figure out ways to operate sustainably.
Another way to contribute to the planet on International Forest Day is to introduce better purchasing and consumption practices. Consider for a moment:
- Over 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted every year, that is one third of the world’s food consumption.
- More than 2.3 billion people (or 30 percent of the global population) lacked year-round access to adequate food.
- On current trends, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World estimates that Sustainable Development Goal 2 (Zero Hunger by 2030) will be missed by a margin of nearly 660 million people.
These vital statistics showcase a callous disregard for the seeming abundance of resources the planet provides to us.
While we may not be consuming directly from forests, our actions can hamper its growth and natural development. Creating a well-balanced ecosystem for forests to thrive requires dedication towards minimizing litter, single-use products, carbon footprint, and supporting businesses that encourage more conscious practices. If we don’t start changing right now, there will be nothing left for future generations to thrive on.
Here’s how to encourage better consumption sustainability patterns:
- Purchase goods that lasts longer. We are spoilt for choice as soon as we enter any vending space. So instead of giving in to the instinct to accumulate irresponsibly, pick your items wisely and invest for the long haul.
- On the subject of long-term use, take any products vigorously displaying wear and tear or breaks to a professional for repair or to be upcycled. This helps extend the life of the product.
- Introduce sustainable waste management practices into your daily life like composting at home. This could be at home, at school, or at the office. Look at what you generate waste-wise and introduce methods to avoid this from turning into landfills, polluting our forests, and floating through our oceans.
- Shop from organizations that showcase transparency and advocate for sustainable practices. If sustainable organizations can take the majority market share, other organizations will create sustainable methods.
- Understand the impact that current consumption patterns have on the Earth. Information around why sustainability is necessary should be circulated in a manner palatable to your friends, family, and peers. Educating one more person about the importance of sustainably contributes to keeping our forests alive longer.
Consumers today, are aware of the damaging effects of unsustainable practices but are also torn between this premise and convenience.
So This International Forest Day, Be The Change
On this International Day of Forests, why not take a group of people to your closest forest and plant some trees. Do some research to understand what grows indigenously and source a few seeds. Perhaps walk everyone through the importance of forests, how they help keep our world oxygenated, the multiple uses of trees, and how critical they are to building safe homes for our wildlife. Practice your narrative, reinforce your story with facts, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to share this information.
For International Forest Day 2022, be the spark that ignites the movement of change. If you can identify better sustainability practice prospects, respectfully share this information with business owners and decision-makers. The state of the world and our forests is truly in our hands. If we continue on this path of neglect, we’re sure to destroy the natural wonder and beauty our home planet has been kind enough to offer us. The change starts with you!