Today is World Environment Day 2020 and, this year, it feels more prevalent than ever.
Lockdown has reignited our love of the great outdoors – whether that's been through going on more regular walks to stretch our legs; taking in the local park to get out the house; basking in one of the warmest Mays on record; or simply by appreciating how beautiful this spring has been – blossom, sunshine, butterflies, bees and all.
We've also fallen back in love with our gardens. ONS stats have reported that 42% of Brits have turned to gardening as a way of coping with lockdown. Seed companies have seen huge spikes in sales, too, and the RHS online gardening pages have welcomed record visitor numbers.
For all of this, the environment has thanked us in return.
The skies have been proven to be a deeper shade of blue thanks to decreased air travel; animals have been reclaiming land that is normally overrun by humans; richer wildlife has returned to canals, rivers and oceans thanks to fewer boats and tourists; and birds have sung louder and more unabashed every morning, without having to compete with traffic.
So today is the perfect day to prioritise the environment. Be grateful for it, nurture it and thank it for hosting us with one of the practical tips below...
But don't just pay homage today, treat the environment in a way that will make it possible for your grandchildren to enjoy it in the same way you do, every day.
7 ways to pay homage to the environment today
1. Pledge to change one thing in your lifestyle
It might be to cut your food waste by half, it might be to preserve water by taking shorter showers, it might be to buy a bird feeder – however big or small, change has to start somewhere. Do Nation make if really easy for you to make an environmental pledge and, if it's officially written down, you're more likely to stick to it. Visit their website and choose your pledge.
2. Stop and listen
Go to your local green space – be it the woods, a field, a park or your garden – and purposefully observe what's going on. Sit down and be still and quiet for 20 minutes so you can take in the sounds, sights, movements, textures and colours around you. It might sound simple but going back to basics starts a strong foundation of understanding. And you'll feel relaxed afterwards, too.
3. Add a wildlife-attracting element to your garden
A hedgehog house, a bird feeder, a wildlife camera, a pollinator – there are so many ways to enrich the species variety in your garden. Or simply choose a section of your lawn and pledge not to mow it or weed it – let it go wild, plant some wildflower seeds and watch it become a thriving habitat.
4. Count how many bits of plastic you use today
Start with the most obvious offenders in the kitchen and bathroom. How many pieces of single-use or non-recyclable plastic will you come into contact with today? Note them down and then decide which one would be the easiest to cut out.
Perhaps it's your plastic milk carton – does a local farm deliver in glass bottles instead? Perhaps it's plastic-wrapped fruit and veg – can you buy loose from now on? It doesn't take long for a new routine to become habit.
Read our editor approved plastic swaps here.
5. Make a nature wand with children
A great way to connect children to nature, especially while homeschooling, is by making a nature wand. Laura Brand shows us how below:
6. Make a donation
What environmental issue chimes with you the most? Is it plastic pollution? Deforestation? Clean water? Wildlife protection? Put your money where your heart is with one of the below:
- Water Aid (water and sanitation)
- Surfers Against Sewage (plastic and pollution)
- Friends of the Earth (protecting the natural world)
- WWF (deforestation)
- Greenpeace (climate change)
7. Put the Big Butterfly Count in your diary
It will run from 17th July to 9th August and is vital for us to learn more about the welfare of our butterfly community. It's a lovely activity to do as a family, too. All you need to do is get comfortable in an outdoor space and count how many, and what type, of butterflies you see. Sign up here.
8. Read up
Here's a reading list for today that you might find helpful:
- Carbon offsetting: Does it work?
- Eat 50% less meat, dairy and sugar if you want to help reduce climate change, scientists say
- 5 clothes swapping apps and websites to trade your second-hand items
- 5 of the worst energy-guzzling household appliances
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