Earth Day began on April 22 in 1970 when millions of people took to the streets in protest to take a stand against the negative impacts that 150 years of industrial development was having on our planet. Smog was becoming deadly and evidence was growing that pollution led to developmental delays in children. Biodiversity of the planet was declining as a result of pollutants.
Earth Day is now a global event each year (always on the 22nd of April) and it is believed that more than 1 billion people across 192 countries take part in the largest community focussed day of action in the world. People march, sign petitions, plant trees, clean up their towns and roads.
The theme for Earth Day 2019 is “Protect Our Species”. According to the Earth Day Network, this theme was selected to draw attention to the rapid loss of biodiversity that has been seen across the globe in recent decades. As a lot of you will already know, a vast number of plants and animals are now extinct as a direct result of human actions; poaching, deforestation and climate change. Many others are in decline and are threatened with extinction.
Image: Earth Day Network
It’s time to protect these precious, vulnerable ecosystems to which we have already done so much damage.
What is causing this Extinction process?
- Food: Our reliance on animals for food has become unsustainable. We have overfished our waters and cleared huge swathes of natural habitat for agricultural purposes.
- Illegal Wildlife Trade: Illegal hunting – poaching – and the illegal trade of wildlife products is a major direct threat to the future of many of the world’s most endangered species.
- Habitat loss: habitat destruction and deforestation, habitat fragmentation (for roads and developments), habitat degradation (due to pollutants such as pesticides)
- Climate Change: altering the Earth’s temperatures and weather patterns has a huge impact on plant and animal life.
An example of vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered species. Image: Earth Day Network.
What we can do to Protect Our Species
Here are some ways in which we can reduce our impact on the planet, direct from the Earth Day Network.
Reduce overall consumption
- Choose products that are green, safe and environmentally sustainable
- Buy food locally
- Buy organic and natural products when possible to support an industry that does not use pesticides and other chemicals known to harm wildlife.
Reduce your use of energy and contribution to climate change
- Replace inefficient incandescent light bulbs with efficient LEDs
- Turn off the lights when you leave a room
- Install solar panels on your home
- Use public transport
- Keep your tires properly inflated to get better petrol mileage and emit less carbon
- Walk or ride a bike when possible
- Line dry your clothes instead of using a dryer
- Turn off and unplug electronics you’re not using
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator to save energy
- Reduce your meat consumption to reduce carbon emission froms the livestock industry (or go Vegan! Message us if you’re interested but don’t know where to start)
- Consume less plastic products (made from fossil fuels) to reduce your carbon footprint and waste
Reduce your water consumption
- Turn the tap off when brushing your teeth (this can save several litres of water each time)
- Take a shorter shower and save between 6 and 45 litres per minute
- Switch to a water saving shower head (you’ll also save on your water bill)
- Use environmentally friendly, non-toxic cleaning products or make them at home!
- Reduce or eliminate the use of all pesticides (buy organic when you can)
- Do not use chemical fertilisers
- Properly dispose of all chemical products
- Do not use sunscreen lotions that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate (chemicals that cause harm to marine life and coral reefs).
Prevent Plastic Pollution
- Reduce your consumption of single-use plastics or eliminate them entirely (we have great alternatives here)
- Recycle everything you can
- Participate in clean-ups
- Pick up rubbish when you see it, especially in natural spaces
- Support campaigns to pass local or national legislation to control or ban the use of single-use plastic
Collectively, we can save the planet and its species – we just need to embrace a new way of doing things. We’d love to hear from you below if you’ve got any additional information to share about how we can lower our environmental impact.