It is hard to find any good news on the state of the world’s wildlife and environment these days. Alarming facts abound on biodiversity loss, environmental degradation, and climate change. We are losing species at alarming rates – 1,000 to 10,000 times faster than at any other time in human history. It is predicted that we are heading for a sixth mass extinction, and unlike the mass extinction events of the past, the current extinction crisis is one for which a single species – ours – is totally responsible. This is a depressing fact.
Thankfully, there is some good news. Unlike history’s past mass extinctions, this one can be stopped. We have the opportunity, and some would say, the responsibility to prevent it.
The pandemic has made the link between the environmental crisis and human health very clear. For many, this has highlighted that we cannot return to ‘business as usual’ after the pandemic. We must make changes, however small and insignificant they may seem, to take care of the planet that we all call home.
Here is a few simple tips on how we could all be a little more eco-friendly.
1. BE A RESPONSIBLE CONSUMER
You have the purchasing power to make sure your money is going towards a positive future.
While the benefits of plastic products are indisputable, plastic now plays a central role within a culture of waste and disposable living, which poses a significant threat to the environment and our health. Despite increasing public awareness in recent years, as a result of sustained media coverage, a significant drop in global plastic pollution is yet to happen.
Purchasing fewer products that contain plastics and microplastics is critical. Try to cut out single-use items such as plastic bags, bottles, and coffee cups. Only 20% of single-use plastic bottles are recycled each year. Those that don’t get recycled end up in landfill or the environment such as our rivers and oceans. Of course, avoiding plastic products altogether is often unrealistic. Instead, keep an eye out for alternative products that are made using recycled plastics – these are becoming more and more common.
A simple yet effective way to help us consider the items that we buy, use and dispose of is the 4 R's:
Refuse – We all have the choice to refuse wasteful and polluting products such as single-use plastics.
Reduce – To use less, we must purchase less.
Reuse – We should also consider what we can reuse instead of throwing it away.
Recycle – Recycling is the process of turning waste into new materials, which saves energy and resources instead of creating brand new products. Make sure you check with your local council on which items are recyclable in your area.
Check food and cosmetic packaging labels for palm oil that isn’t sustainably produced. The palm oil industry destroys forests on an epic scale, removing the habitat of already endangered species such as the Orangutan and Sumatran rhino.
Food production is a leading driver in wildlife extinction. What we eat contributes to around a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions and is responsible for almost 60% of biodiversity loss! Try to avoid wasting food and water and cut down on the amount of meat and fish you eat from your diet.
2. REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT
Burning fossil fuels for electricity and transport such as cars and aviation are the biggest source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the UK. The increasing amount of this greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is directly contributing to the warming of our planet. Reducing our carbon footprint is critical to tackling climate change. You can achieve this by increasing your use of public transport, walk or bike wherever you can, carpool whenever possible, or choose to offset your carbon footprint.
Also, reduce the amount of energy that you use and remember to switch off lights and electrical items.
3. SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL WILDLIFE
Even the smallest gardens can be havens for wildlife. Planting pollinators such as wildflowers are not only great for attracting bees, butterflies, beetles, and birds to your garden, but it can also be a fun and educational activity for the kids.
You can create your own compost from grass clippings and veg peelings that would otherwise go to waste. You can buy special bins that keep it all neat and tidy, but all you really need to create an eco-friendly garden is a space in the garden that's out of the way. As for the compost, add your cut grass, fruit and veg scraps, prunings, newspaper and cardboard and let nature take its course.
Plastic accounts for 64% of all rubbish found on UK beaches and this litter is often ingested by marine wildlife or can lead to entanglement. So get your self down to your local beach or join a community beach clean-up event near you.
Share your love of nature with those around you, encourage your family and friends to take part in outdoor activities and see the value and beauty of wildlife.
From what we buy and where we buy it from to getting outside more, we can all do more to be more conscious about how we live our everyday life.
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