Posts Tagged ‘Orangutan’

What Price Fashion–Rainforest Wreckage for Style

1168175_87597514Fashion Week just started in New York–the Mercedes Benz-sponsored high holy days for many, when it is impossible to get a cab or a table at hip eateries (ironic since so many at the forefront of fashion are known for eating so little). In addition to the swirling, whirling, paparazzi flashing chaos of couture celebrations, there is, as with most industries, an underbelly that is less appealing.

Clothing today, its manufacture and materials, is, in many instances, decimating our environment. To make the popular fabrics that drape beautifully and flow effortlessly, including rayon and viscose, is a pretty rough-on-the-world process. Rainforests in Indonesia, Canada, Brazil, and more, are clear cut to make way for “monocrop” plantations. The new monocrop trees are then cut down and their material put through a labor-intensive and highly toxic chemical bath process to create “dissolving pulp” that can then be spun out and woven into cloth. The chemicals used are brutal and high impact, and the destruction of the rainforest ecosphere adds to the loss of endangered species, like threatened orangutans, rhinoceros, and others. 

The fabric created is used by global brands like Gap, Forever 21, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and legions of others. Of course there are plenty of responsible, sustainable replacement options.

The Rainforest Action Network is calling upon the fashion industry, especially now during high profile fashion celebrations and showcases for designers, to find environment-sparing alternatives. They’ve got a petition going to bring attention to the cause and state that “there’s nothing fashionable about rainforest destruction.” Sign here and leaner more about awareness events happening this month with which you may want to participate. Sources report that an average of 137 species of rainforest life form go extinct EVERY DAY! Help curb those numbers with how you spend your clothing dollars, and volunteer to spread the word.


The Power is #InYourPalm to Keep Conflict Palm Oil from Destroying Rainforests

1168175_87597514Orangutans are facing such dire straits these days, and it may very well be because of your peanut butter, crackers, ice cream, breakfast bars, and cookies. We’ve begun to be conditioned about the issues surrounding high fructose corn syrup, but the issues of another rampant packaged food additive, palm oil, are more than just hidden calories. To harvest the palm trees for palm oil, rainforest ecosystems are being clearcut, and that is driving orangutans to the brink of extinction in Borneo and Malaysia. The issue is getting worse, not better, as palm oil is being used to replace trans fats in more and more foods. Desire for better health, however, needn’t decimate other species.

Sign the petition to demand that food companies source palm oil from non-conflcit regions. Read labels (not all palm oil is the bad stuff–look for the term “responsible palm oil.” Believe me, if they use it, they will crow about it on the label!) Even the Girl Scout Cookies making the rounds these days use palm oil–but if enough of us use our buying power and influence to advocate for change…it it attainable. Here’s proof: Mars candy company is ceasing using palm oil from any suppliers involved in the destruction or rainforest and peatland habitats. That is huge action from a huge company…and Kellogg’s is likely to make a similar announcement soon!

You can help save our red relatives, and taking action is simple.

Click below for a video from the Rainforest Action Network


Fourteen Places to Give Back With Charitable Adventure Travel



It has a nice ring to it, charitable adventure travel, and it goes hand-in-hand with eco-tour, travel with purpose, conservation travel, service travel…you know, my favorite descriptors of ways to see the world. Terra Incognita Ecotours specializes in creating opportunities for seeing the world and having a positive impact on the people and places you visit. The ethos of the organization comes from the top down, with founder Ged Caddick. He describes his company, started in 2004, like this: “Terra Incognita isn’t based on profits, like most businesses are. We measure success by how much we’re able to give away – the more the better.”

Those are great words for advertising copy, but how do they work in practice? For Ged’s personal impact, he is active, even serving on boards of directors, with several wildlife charities, like The Gorilla Doctors and EcoHealth Alliance. How, though, do you have an impact when you travel with Terra Incognita? In addition to hiring local staff, sourcing local goods and services, and staying at locally operated lodges…

Belize: Their trips help fund Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center to support Harpy Eagles.

Borneo: fund Eco Health Alliance Borneo on their “Red Ape Encounter” tour.

Brazil South American Savannah: donates to Conservation of Pantanal Ecosystem.

Chilé/Patagonia: funding toward Patagonia conservation projects.

China: help finance Giant Panda protection (trip is focused on Giant Pandas in the wild, not the controversial “sanctuaries” run by the Chinese government)

Costa Rica: donations are made toward Costa Rican Conservation Foundation.

Galapagos: this trip helps fund the Darwin Research Institute.

India: This tiger-focused safari supports the World Wildlife Fund – India.

Kenya and Rwanda: give via travel to The Gorilla Doctors.

Madagascar: donations go to the Simpona organization.

New Zealand: wildlife exploration trips help fund the Tiritiri Matangi conservation project.

Tanzania: travel gives back to the Jane Goodall Institute.

Uganda: Mountain gorillas, chimps, and more, with funding donated to The Gorilla Doctors.

It’s all about making a difference to you, and the places you visit, in a beautiful, symbiotic relationship–as travel should be.


The Borneo Project

Photo: The Borneo Project

About a year and a half ago, a fellow travel writer pal asked me if I could go to Borneo with her. Sadly the timing was awful and impossible for me to negotiate with my job, so I had to pass. I’ve always wished I could have gone. My image of Borneo is pretty much just jungly-foresty green stuff and orangutans. Luckily, plenty of others know more than I (about so many things, really), and some of them have established The Borneo Project. This non-profit “brings international attention and support to community-led efforts to defend forests, sustainable livelihoods, and human rights. We believe that protecting human rights and environmental integrity in Borneo is a critical component of the global movement for a just and peaceful world.


To support indigenous-led campaigns to secure legal land rights, and to support actions and activists to preserve indigenous land rights.

To support communities acting to preserve and conserve local ecosystems.

To support cultural conservation efforts for indigenous and forest-dependent communities in Borneo.

To educate the American public about the importance of Borneo, indigenous rights, and the role of forests in climate change and biodiversity conservation.”

You can get involved from home with The Borneo Project, by showing the film “The Last Nomads” in your home, and using that as a fundraiser. They’ll send you a copy of the movie as well as information about the project and donation envelopes. You hold a private “screening” and get people activated and impassioned…and committed.

Then, let me know how excited you are, and we can book a trip together.