Its time for celebration! Celebration of your planet, our home, our marvelous space ship!
The first Earth Day was a huge peoples movement in 1970 and it has since become the widest spread non-religious day celebrated world wide.
Every year on April 22nd, we celebrate our planet by doing things that benefit our planet, and by paying special attention to the motto of the year. This year, the special topic focuses on the exponential loss of species we have been experiencing over the last few decades.
Save our Species
You may not believe this, but we are currently in a period of mass extinction where more species are going extinct than did during the famous extinction period where all the dinosaurs disappeared.
Most species numbers are dwindling due to habitat loss. Expanding cities, agriculture needing to feed a growing number of increasingly wasteful people, humans modifying habitat to build in places where it is actually too wet or sandy for construction, roads cutting deeper and deeper into untouched nature areas, opening it up for exploitation and the settlers or squatters that follow that opportunity. But also climate change is transforming habitats too fast for all associated species to follow, leading to unstable ecosystems. All of this are reasons for habitat loss.
Many species are threatened by pollution, especially water pollution. This is especially tough for amphibian species, as their life cycle depends on water and their eggs and skin are more permeable than animals of other classes. For example, BPA-leaching plastic waste floating in the water can lead to congenital diseases (aka birth defect) in water dwelling species, often rendering the males infertile.
Another biggie, is poaching and illegal animal trade. By extent, illegal animal trade is right up in there along with drug-, weapon- and human trafficking. It is driven by demand for items required for exotic pets, traditional and superstitious medicines (rhino horn, tiger bones, pangolin scales, turtle eggs) as well as luxury and status symbols like ivory and meat of endangered and there fore hard to come by species.
What can we do about it?
To prevent habitat loss…
…become active in your community, contest proposed building projects in still intact nature around your community, urge city planners to come up with more sustainable ideas for accommodating the rising number of city inhabitants. When you go on vacation, think about which kind of hotel you want to give your money to. The Place with the big garden or the one that flattened a mangrove stand to be right on the beach? Give money to projects like the World Land Trust, who buy intact nature areas and give the stewardship to the indigenous peoples living in those areas. Support projects like the Gold Standard who create sustainable solutions in 3rd world countries, so people do not have to chop down forests for fire wood. Be aware of the footprint of the things you consume: A cow needs way more land than a chicken, a chicken needs more than a carrot. Also, make your home a habitat. Wherever you live, fill your garden, your balcony, your windowsill with native plants. Insect friendly seed mixes are all the rage right now. Or checkout my Bee Friendly Post for more inspiration. If you have power over some land, let it be wild. Replace invasive plant species with native ones, and don’t be too clean. Let the dead tree rot away untouched (maybe help it fall in the right direction if it is threatening to fall on something dear to you), keep mounds of sticks and foliage lying on the ground. Provide access to water. Tell your friends and neighbours why your place looks the way it looks.
To prevent pollution…
Choose body care products that are as natural as possible, or make your own. Most shower gels that promise to “scrub” or “exfoliate” you, do this using micro plastics, which end up in the oceans because the water treatment plants cannot get a hold of them. If it is not the case, the product will most likely have it written on their bottle in big letters that they are using something natural (coconut fiber, coffee grinds, almond something) to scrub you. Chose house cleaning products that are close to nature. There is almost nothing you cannot get rid of or kill with vinegar, baking soda and/ or boiling water. Dispose of oil correctly (usually return to container it was bought in, close lid, special garbage) do not dump it down the sink or toilet. Don’t flush other, non-organic things down the toilet. Buy food that uses minimal chemicals to grow. Minimize your consumption of unnecessary chemical crap (e.g nail polish and -remover). Plant trees. Dispute fracking projects. Promote and buy clean energy. Get angry about things like the lead pollution of Flint, Michigan. If you hunt, or know someone who hunts, promote lead free bullets (save the carrion eating birds and who ever eats what got shot). Do not throw your cigarette butts on the ground. Do not throw any litter on the ground. Pickup after inconsiderate people and kindly remind them that they should be doing this themselves.
To prevent animal trafficking…
…do not buy an exotic pet, get something from the animal shelter that will forever love you for saving it. Do not buy souvenirs made from animal parts. The list of CITES protected species is long and if you do not know what (part of a) species your are bringing home, you could be facing heavy fines or even jail time. Do not buy live animals in exotic counties. Even if it is heartbreaking and you just want to set them free. By paying, you support the market and the animals you just freed, risk being caught again. If you do business with wealthy people who serve you exotic dishes like bush meat (“venison” tends to come from game farms and has my tentative stamp of approval), pangolin, shark fins, totoaba fish bladder, turtle eggs, monkey anything… have the balls to make use of your status as a valued business partner and tell them that you do not approve of eating endangered species as a display of status and refuse.
General Earth Day Celebration Stuff
Ok that was all pretty gloomy and serious. Time to get celebrating!
- Clean up. Do a run around the block, go for a walk in the forest or along the beach and pick up all the trash you find. Feel free to take a picture of your bounty and share it on your social media.
- Plant a Tree. This tree can be a special tree with a special meaning. For example, many people plant trees when a baby is born or when someone dies. Others make a habit of planting a tree every earth day and slowly build a little forest over their life time.
- Love. Go out. Look around you. Wherever you are, there will be nature in some form looking at you. Appreciate it. Take a picture, share it with friends or publicly so that others can also appreciate.
More Earth Day actions:
- Visit the earth day website to see how else you can get involved, year round even. You can help prepare for the big 50th anniversary of earth day, next year in 2020.
- Get people to join. Introduce Earth Day at your school or workplace and make it a yearly event for everyone to go out together and do a gigantic clean up.
- Vote. You have politicl power. Use your vote in vafour of a sustainable, green future.
- Support environmental education. So that more and more people understand and care about the cause.