As the world begins to reopen, holidays, environmental or not, will look a bit different this year. “Nature is healing” memes aside, COVID-19 is causing quite a bit of damage to the planet in the long-term and stirring up many planetary concerns, including increases in single-use plastic waste, reductions of municipal recycling programs, and temporary bans on reusable goods. 

“Nature is healing” memes aside, COVID-19 is causing quite a bit of damage to the planet in the long-term, including single-use plastic waste. Image via World Environment Day.

Now, more than ever, it’s essential we do our part to take care of the planet this World Environment Day, and beyond! First held in 1974 by the United Nations, World Environment Day encourages global awareness and action to address pressing environmental issues. The 2020 theme is “Time For Nature,” an urgent call to protect biodiversity and rethink humanity’s relationship with the natural world.

For our own health, safety, and preservation of a world to get back to, here are some ways you can make a difference (“from home”) this World Environment Day:

Brush up on your wildlife knowledge.

Defined as the variety of life on Earth, biodiversity encompasses over 8 million species of living things (animals, fungi, microorganisms, and plants) and the ecosystems they inhabit (coral reefs, deserts, forests, jungles, oceans and more). 

Red soft coral with polyps extended. Photo by NOAA on Unsplash.

Healthy ecosystems are fundamental to sustaining human life. They are responsible for regulating climate, protecting against the spread of disease, providing fertile soil in which to grow food, purifying the water, filtering the air, and reducing the occurrence of natural disasters. 

This makes it all the more essential to halt the destruction of ecosystems and implement global stewardship of biodiversity. The best way protect nature is to educate yourself. Use this extra time at home to learn more about the various species and habitats that make up our vast planet; World Environment Day has this practical guide for ways different groups can get involved.

Become an expert on local environmental protection.

Learning about biodiversity as a concept is important in theory, and putting your knowledge to practical use can have a huge impact. Explore the native biodiversity that exists in your city and research what your local government is doing to protect wildlife and preserve habitats in the area. 

Check to see if your city is part of the Cities of Nature network. If it isn’t, urge your local representatives to join this initiative to recognize the value of biodiversity in and around cities.  Change starts at home, and while we’re spending a lot of time there, it’s a powerful thing to engage local leaders, especially while social distancing. 

The Value of Nature in Urban Life poster illustrates the many diverse life-supporting and life-enhancing benefits nature provides people in cities. Image by Cities of Nature.

Advocate for nature.

You don’t have to leave your house to call for positive change in your community. Show your support for the protection and restoration of local green spaces by urging your city government to meet the environmental targets they’ve pledged via web, email, and phone.

Honey bees are contribute to approximately one-third of the food we eat, so take the time you have at home to create a habitat for them. Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash.

With the time at home, provide habitat for pollinators and ground-dwelling insects in your garden by planting native plants. Try your hand at growing your own pesticide-free produce in your yard, on your porch or in your window sill. Start an email or social media chain for neighbors on the effects of lawn chemicals on residential critters, and what they can plant to save the bees. 

Be a conscious consumer.

As individuals, we must rethink what we buy and use to become responsible shoppers. Buying fair-trade, sustainably sourced, and recyclable or reusable products prevent pollution and deforestation, which helps to preserve the planet’s species. Take action by leveraging your purchasing power and avoiding products that are potentially harmful to biodiversity. 

Put pressure on your favorite brands to disclose their impact and urge them to limit single-use plastic in their business operations and supply chains. Check to see that the brands you shop are sourcing their raw materials responsibly by looking for certifications like Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC), B Corp or Rainforest Alliance Certified.

The Forest Stewardship Council sets standards for responsible forest management to protect forests for future generations, and creatures like this bat! Photo by Vlad Kutepov on Unsplash

Part of being a conscious consumer also entails taking personal responsibility to ensure your products and packaging don’t end up in the environment. Keep hard-to-recycle items out of landfills with our National Recycling Programs—simply sign up to start recycling! Or, try our all-in-one solutions, Zero Waste Boxes, which are buy one, get one 30% off today with code PLANET30.

Educate others.

Host a virtual workshop or video call to share what you have learned with friends and family. Talk with them about the importance of preventing biodiversity loss and finding nature-based solutions for sustainable change. Many organizers registered their digital event with World Environment Day to be featured on their global map!

Share your message on social media.

Take your advocacy online! Connect and spark conversations with local and national environmental protection organizations. Share links to educational resources and encourage your followers to get involved in protecting species and ecosystems. 

Together we can act #ForNature by sharing the latest updates, stories, news and tips for joining the movement online ! Photo by Tyler Mullins on Unsplash

By making environmental stewardship the cool, sharable, ‘grammable thing to do, you inspire and motivate your network to join the conversation.

How are you celebrating biodiversity this World Environment Day? Tell us in the comments!

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