With a new year ahead many of us have goals and resolutions swirling in our mind. I’ve got a great New Year’s resolution for you! Make a vow to do your part to help wildlife, their habitats, and our beautiful planet Earth.
With so much over consumption, waste, and reducing our natural resources it’s now or never to start giving back. If each one of us does our part to help reduce our ecological footprint, negate the effects of climate change, reduce our waste and consumption, together we can make a difference. Truly!
The following are a few of the many ways you can help wildlife, and save our precious planet.
This one has been drilled into us for decades now, but sadly it’s not enough. We need to do more and kick it up a proverbial notch. Recycling all those plastic water bottles is simply not enough. Don’t get me wrong, yes, continue recycling as much as you can, at home, at work and on the go. But we need to reduce our waste as well. Try buying fresh foods, and foods with no or little packaging.
We should also look closer into reuse. Our society has become such a wasteful one in so many ways. Consider the amount of clothing, household goods – like new furniture, new pillows and new trinkets – and plain old stuff we buy every year. Did you know that the average American throws out 82 pounds of clothing every year! It’s so unnecessary. There are countless organizations and second hand stores that will take your stuff for free. Many of which give back to the community and most importantly keep it out of landfills. Next time you go to purchase the latest trendy boot or jacket, ask yourself – do I really need this? Alas, if you must than think about donating some of your old clothing, or better yet check out your local second hand store for treasures, and at a fraction of the cost.
That’s a hefty word right there, conserve. But we have so many opportunities to conserve. Whether it’s our natural resources like water or energy, we can help do our part to conserve. This could be as easy as sharing car rides to work with co-workers, or taking the bus, or better yet walking to the store instead of driving the five minutes.
Water is still so widely misused. And you might not even be conscious of it. Like brushing your teeth in the morning. Turn the water off while you brush, than turn it on when you need to rinse. Consider not doing laundry as often, wait until you have a large load. Also, think about investing in a rain barrel outside of your house to catch rainwater and use that for washing the car, watering your lawn and plants.
In the winter months try turning your thermostat down, even a couple degrees can make a huge difference. Plus, it helps save money too! Just put on a sweater. And in the summer, far too many households keep their homes too cool, merely for comfort.
Using renewable energy is becoming a more affordable and effective way of running our households. Solar panels, geothermal energy, energy efficient appliances, low flow toilets, and hybrid cars are all readily available and great options.
Whether you’re buying goods at the local farmers market or from local artisans, buying local is not only rewarding but helps reduce emissions. By buying local you’re helping to reduce the emissions expelled by the trucks that carry those goods to your grocery store. Some of those goods come a heck of a long way. When faced with buying fruit and vegetables, check where it’s coming from (usually mentioned on the plaque with the price), and then look for the local equivalent. Sometimes you may have to wait until those goods are in season locally, but think how good you’ll feel.
Now, how does all this help wildlife?
Here are a couple of examples…
Did you know that if all Canadians turned down their thermostat by just two degrees over the winter months, the amount of CO2 emissions saved would be equivalent to taking over 350,000 cars off the roads!
It’s these CO2 emissions that are partly to blame for climate change and the shrinking habitats of the beloved polar bear.
Did you know that there is an element used in our cell phones that comes from a metallic ore mined in the African Congo, and its decimating gorilla habitat?
With the increase in demand for the latest new cell phones we are helping to fuel illegal and irresponsible mining, as well as discarding perfectly good electronics. Consider recycling your old cell phone. By recycling them, the tantalum, that comes from the metallic ore coltan, can be re-used, and in turn helps lessening the demand to mine these valuable metals in the Congo.
Did you know that the illegal trade of wildlife is the fourth most lucrative criminal activity worldwide?
And this goes beyond macaws from South America, reptiles from Africa, it is also happening right here in our backyard. Ontario’s rare turtles like wood turtles, spotted turtles and Blanding’s turtles are valuable to collectors wanting to add to their collections. They are being poached in the wild and sold to collectors and even in pet stores to unsuspecting pet owners. Do your research before purchasing a pet and if you suspect illegal activity notify your local authorities.
Did you know that there has been a 50% decrease in orangutan populations since 1992 due to the deforestation of their rainforest homes to make way for palm oil plantations?
Palm oil is in everything from food to lipstick and even cleaning products. And the demand for it is increasing, and in turn palm oil plantations are spreading across Asia, Africa and South America. WWF reports that around 90% of palm oil comes from a few islands in Malaysia and Indonesia, home to some of the most biodiverse tropical forests on Earth. These plantations are wreaking havoc on the habitat and endangered species, like the orangutan.
Many people would argue to avoid purchasing anything with palm oil in it. But this is can be difficult. A good first step is reducing your use of it, then look for goods made with alternative oils. Most importantly you should educate yourself on companies that are using certified sustainable palm oil. Some include; Kellogg’s, Mars, Walmart, Colgate-Palmolive, Estée Lauder, McDonalds, and Kraft-Heinz. For more information try WWF’s Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard to see how various companies and brands are faring.