April 22 is Earth Day, and if you don’t know that our planet needs us now more than ever, now you know.
Depressing fact alert: wildlife has decreased by 60% over the past four decades, according to a report by the World Wildlife Federation (WWF).
Yes, this is indeed an upsetting reality — one that was vividly illustrated in this heartbreaking scene from Netflix’s new documentary series, Our Planet.
But these harsh realities have been effective in showing how we’ve severely impacted our ecosystems — and are serving as a massive wake up call for many to preserve the planet we live on.
As WWF writes, “We’re the first generation that has a clear picture of the value of nature and the enormous impact we, as humans, have on it. We may also be the last that can act to reverse this damage.”
How can we create a future in which people, wildlife, and nature can all thrive? This is the biggest question of our time, and in the next few decades, we need to do something unprecedented: achieve a sustainable existence on earth.
So how do we do it?
Here are five simple ways you can help reverse wildlife loss and reduce your impact. If we all make an effort to make these changes, we’ll be a lot closer to becoming a species in balance with nature once again.
1. Educate yourself
Commit to learning more about the different risks to wildlife species and their habitats. There are several great resources out there like Our Planet and WWF to help get you started. Being informed also helps you to inspire others to act, by spreading the word about the issues facing different species.
2. Reduce your carbon footprint
Reducing your carbon footprint is an effective way to help keep our forests, wildlife, and oceans healthy and intact. You can calculate your personal consumption footprint, then work to reduce it.
Here are some simples switches you can make:
- Set a programmable thermostat in your house, so you don’t waste energy while your home is empty. By turning it down two degrees in the winter and up two degrees in the summer, you’ll keep almost 880 pounds of carbon dioxide from warming the planet.
- Reduce your meat consumption. If we all opted for a vegetarian diet more often, we would reduce deforestation and our demand for fresh water.
- Recycle. This is one we’ve been taught since we were kiddos, but it’s important to recycle correctly. If you live in BC, log on to Recycle BC to learn what you can recycle and where to bring it.
- Reuse everything! Change your perspective, so you think twice before throwing anything out. Save that glass jar from the landfill, and use it as a cotton swab holder instead. Old dish towels? Use them as rags. Cleaning out your wardrobe? Donate it to a local second-hand shop. Everything counts!
- Reduce single-use plastics. Carry a reusable water bottle with you, put tote bags for groceries in your car (no more plastic bag for each type of vegetable), and consider buying a reusable straw for your daily iced latte.
- Think local. Your last meal may have traveled far and wide to reach your table. Opt for locally grown produce to conserve fuel and reduce pollution.
3. Speak up as a citizen and as a consumer
Signing petitions, sending messages to elected officials, calling representatives, and being a voice for the planet can help to create and support policies that recognize and respect the importance of nature.
Use your voice and choices to encourage businesses and governments to shift to sustainable policies and practices for wildlife, protected areas, and climate change.
4. Volunteer your time
Engage with the conservation community by volunteering your time. WWF Canada and Wildlife Preservation Canada both offer volunteer programs that are a great way to help prevent extinction while making like-minded friends.
Even if you can’t commit to volunteering for an organization, even taking a few minutes out of your daily life can help save the planet. If you see a light left on, turn it off. If you see litter on the ground, pick it up. People across the globe are doing their part to help clean up litter as part of the viral #Trashtag challenge.
If your financial situation allows for donations, consider giving to one of the following conservation organizations. When you donate, you’re helping support research and programs working to protect, manage and restore the environment.
Which actions are you taking to save our planet? We’d love to hear about it — leave us a comment below!