How Coffee Impacts the Environment and Sloth Endangerment

How Coffee Impacts the Environment and Sloth Endangerment

The endangered species of sloths

Resembling stuffed animals and considered adorable by many, sloths can be seen most commonly in children's movies and documentaries. 

This perception of sloths has led to illegal trading of this magnificent species. While our first instinct may be to cuddle them, sloths are wild animals and aren't meant to be domesticated. Sloth endangerment is a very real problem.

There are six subspecies of sloths in South America and Central America, all of which are endangered and threatened by deforestation and illegal trafficking. 80-90% of the trafficked sloths end up dying in the process. 

Let's talk about some reasons why sloths are endangered: 

  1. Loss of habitat: Sloths are reliant on a continuous rainforest canopy to survive as they can't cover big gaps between trees. In Costa Rica, the number of sloths is already falling, and genetic abnormalities are spreading throughout the population. 
  2. Power line electrocutions: There are more than 3,000 wildlife electrocutions every year in Costa Ricaand half of these animals are sloths. Even if the sloth survives, the limbs have to be amputated, making it incapable of returning to the wild. 
  3. Genetic deformities: Due to the huge number of sloths dying every year, they are frequently being born with birth defects and genetic abnormalities. This is a warning sign that something is seriously wrong with this species and could also result from extensive habitat fragmentation and increasing use of pesticides for agriculture. 
  4. Urban development: When the trees are cut down, sloths have to travel on the ground or use electricity lines. However, sloths need a healthy tropical rainforest to survive, which is only possible by promoting afforestation or building wildlife bridges
  5. Roadkills: Sloths don't have enough energy to cross a road swiftly and safely. Traffic collisions, dog attacks, and other accidents are very common and almost always result in fatalities. 
  6. Tourism and illegal pet trade: Sloths are the biggest victims of wildlife selfie trades and are taken from the wild to appease humans. Most die within 3-6 months of being held captive. 

How does coffee production impact sloths?

Coffee is the world's 2nd most tradable commodity after oil. This means that those who sell end up making more money than those who grow the beans. 

Coffee chain companies often harm the working conditions of the farmers involved. But some of the biggest impacts are on the animals and the environment. 

Traditionally, coffee beans were grown under a shaded canopy of trees. But modern methods need a larger yield and hence can be unsustainable. The canopy, which would've once provided a habitat for flora and fauna, has now been replaced with "sun cultivation" and includes the use of chemical fertilizers and clearing huge farms of land. 

About 2.5 million acres of forest in Central America have been cleared to make coffee, and this deforestation is increasing. These areas are where most of the species of sloths exist. 

What we can do as consumers

As consumers, we must commit to buying certified coffee brands. Look for the fair trade label which certifies that farmers deal directly with retailers and sell their coffee for a worthy price. Fair trade requires transparency when it comes to wages as well. 

Another way to help is to buy rainforest alliance-certified coffee. This focuses on environmental standards and encourages eco-friendly land-use practices. By choosing coffee brands that have these certifications, we can promote ethical coffee production practices and help reduce deforestation.

Our partnership with The Sloth Institute

We at Bean & Bean are committed to protecting sloths from deforestation. As a coffee roaster, we're mindful of where we source our coffee from. We understand the dangers sloths face in terms of deforestation and the consequences of urbanization. Because of this we choose to work with smaller coffee farms that practice ethical farming practices. 

By partnering with The Sloth Institute, 1% of our online sales from coffee beans are donated to help with caring for and tracking sloths affected by such environmental changes

Each month, we symbolically adopt a sloth and help orphaned or injured sloths return to the wild. You too, can make a difference. By choosing us to satisfy your coffee needs, you're taking a step towards rehabilitating and promoting the future of sloths. 

There are many organizations that contribute to recusing slots that you can choose to support. Jeff's Coffee is a prime example as a coffee sourcer from Costa Rica and has partnered with Toucan Rescue Ranch. What was initially a bird rescue sanctuary, they've transformed into a wildlife rescue and provided collars to track sloths when released. By buying their delicious coffee, you'll be supporting their endeavor to rescue the slots. 

Additionally, a donation can also be made to the Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica to promote rainforest conservation awareness and protect the present and future of sloths.