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Written by: Hailey Spinks
When we opt for paper products over plastic ones, are we always making the most conscientious choice or are we trading one environmental disaster for another? We need to shift away from plastics but is there another choice that doesn’t mean cutting down vital forests or polluting the ocean?
We all use boxes. We all buy clothes. We all use paper. But would we do it differently if we knew that some of Earth’s most ancient, climate critical forests are the materials being used to make them?
Canopy is a Canadian-based organization on a mission to protect the world's forests, species, and climate, and to help advance Indigenous communities' rights.
The history of Canopy Planet
“Why are we making pizza boxes out of endangered trees?” This is the question that Nicole Rycroft, Founder of the solutions-driven NGO, Canopy, set out to answer and find a solution for when she started the organization in 1999. Canopy is dedicated to driving systemic change and disrupting how we think about supply chains and the environment.
Degradation and deforestation of Ancient and Endangered Forests is continuing at an alarming rate all around the world. Ecosystems thousands or millions of years in the making are being logged for the purpose of making boxes and textiles— putting species, communities, and the climate at risk.
Working with over 900 brand partners such as Walmart, H&M, LVMH, Ben & Jerry’s, and Stella McCartney, Canopy works to provide sustainable alternatives and ensure that ancient ecosystems are not at risk in their supply chain processes and increasingly prioritizing low carbon, low impact and circular NextGen alternatives.
The importance of Protecting Forests
When we think of climate change, we think of fossil fuels. We think of cars and pipeline emissions. We think of the aviation industry. But we rarely think about the products that we use everyday that generally come with a hidden price tag. The raw material sourcing of a product represents around 80% of that product’s climate footprint, and most of us are unaware of the environmental origin of the products we are buying and using every day.
Logging of forest ecosystems is key part of the climate problem. If we want to make an immediate and meaningful step towards reducing carbon emissions, we must also look at the fastest and cheapest carbon sequestration systems we have: forests. When we cut down forests, especially forests that have been around for thousands, sometimes millions of years, to make boxes and textiles, we’re ruining ecosystems, releasing carbon back into the atmosphere, decreasing biodiversity, and ultimately contributing heavily to climate change. The price tag is just not worth the product.
Nicole says, “I think supply chains don't necessarily sound very sexy. But when it comes to resolving the climate crisis, they're the hottest ticket on the planet. So much of our impact as individuals and in societies at large, has wound up to be in the way that we produce and consume goods.”
Repurposing textile waste (often landfilled) to create new fabrics and agricultural waste (often burned) to produce packaging (NextGen alternatives) instead of tree fibers are just two ways Canopy is taking the pressure off of forests.
The impact of the Keeling Curve Prize
The ecosystem that the Global Warming Mitigation Project is curating is a go-to reference for us and the Keeling Curve is definitely an organization that we recommend and are proud to be involved with.”
— Nicole Rycroft, Founder and Executive Director, Canopy
Through a blind research into organizations and initiatives focusing on climate and innovation, the Canopy team stumbled across the Keeling Curve Prize. Always looking for philanthropic partners, Canopy was drawn to the mutual boldness between our organization and theirs when it came to real climate solutions. She says, “Risk-taking has to be part of our collective work in this space if we’re really going to drive change at the scale that’s needed. There is this shared sense of boldness in the change we want to create in the world, and overlap in the space we want to change."
Looking to the future
By 2030, Canopy will have galvanized 60 million tons of low-carbon, Next-Gen production into the market, displacing a third of virgin forest fiber that’s currently being used, and enabling the conservation of 90 million hectares of forests globally.
As a Keeling Curve Prize laureate and an impactful innovator in the climate space, Canopy will continue to work with its brand partners and local communities to protect irreplaceable forest ecosystems, stabilize and address climate change and ensure indigenous communities, the rest of humanity, and the species that we share this planet with, can thrive.
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