The pandemic continues to disrupt our routines and wreak havoc in our lives. We’re carrying disinfectant sprays, wearing face masks in public spaces, greeting each other with our elbows and some families have faced the full brunt of COVID-19, with family members losing their lives. While 2020 was an awful year for many in the human species, the planet breathed a little sigh of relief as lockdown restrictions meant a scaling back of high-carbon emitting industries such as transportation and travel.
The ‘reset’ however wasn’t sustained as countries moved to prioritise economic activity and a new plastic problem was created as disposable face masks, gloves and sanitising wipes polluted our streets and waterways.
However, the year of darkness allowed us to cultivate a strain of hope – a stronger one; with the collective human society seemingly looking forward to 2021 with anticipation, positivity and high expectation.
Keen to promote conservation issues and get involved in promoting a healthier and better planet? Here is a list of global environmental events in 2021 to mark in your eco-friendly calendars and planners and use as a guide if you want to participate in more environmental events:
Veganuary (January 1-31)
One way to get involved if you really want to reduce your carbon footprint is to join the Veganuary movement which is observed for the whole of January.
Veganuary started in 2014 by a non-profit organization in UK. This movement has been growing every year, inspiring so many people around the globe to make a change. 2020 was the biggest yet with over 400,000 people joining the challenge. This year, the campaign aims to attract 500,000 participants.
Signing up for the Veganuary challenge is one way to help mitigate climate change or speak up about animal cruelty. You can sign up to the Veganuary challenge here.
Related Post: 10 Easy Plant-Based Meal Ideas If You’re Doing Veganuary
Arbor Day is celebrated on different dates in different countries. For some, such as the US, it’s celebrated in April. In Australia, it’s in June. But first, what in the world is an Arbor Day? It literally means Tree Day. Arbor is defined as a leafy, shady recess formed by trees or shrubs. So how else do we celebrate this global holiday? It is celebrated by planting trees.
Although tree planting festivals have been observed for centuries, Nebraska was the first to observe it as a formal holiday back in 1872. With so many environmental issues such as climate change, deforestation and drought, rewilding and tree planting really should be done every day and not just on Arbor Day.
International Polar Bear Day (February 27)
If you have watched documentaries about the warming Arctic, you will know polar bears are fighting for survival due to melting sea ice due to global warming.
International Polar Bear Day is a global event that is observed on February 27 to bring attention to this issue and help to protect polar bears from becoming extinct.
So what can you do? Vote for government officials who give importance to climate action. At the same time, do whatever it takes on your end to help mitigate the effects of climate change by making sustainable lifestyle choices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as switching to renewable energy, offsetting household carbon emissions and eating less meat as animal agriculture is a high-emitting sector.
World Wetlands Day (February 2)
World Wetlands Day is celebrated every February 2. An estimated 33% of global wetlands has been lost since 2009. This is cause for concern since wetlands is seen as a cornucopia of food sources for different wildlife species. Animals, microbes and plant species form a wetland ecosystem that allow many life forms to thrive.
World Wildlife Day (March 3)
The United Nations World Wildlife Day is celebrated on March 3 and the theme for 2021 is: “Forests and livelihoods: sustaining people and planet” to encourage people to see the connection between the state of our planet’s forests and woodlands and the preservation of the millions of livelihoods that depend directly on them, paying particular attention to the traditional knowledge of the communities who have managed forest ecosystems and its wildlife for centuries.
International Day of Forests (March 21)
We all know how important trees, especially their role of absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen into the air. However, tree clearing and deforestation has been a major environmental issue, accounting for over 10% of global carbon emissions. One big factor contributing to the problem is the expansion of agriculture, which is said to be the root cause of 70% of deforestation.
International Day of Forests which is observed on March 21 annually is celebrated to create awareness of the importance of trees and our forest systems. Without our forests, the effects of climate change would worsen at an accelerated rate affecting the lives of millions across the world. One thing we can do to help resolve deforestation problem is to eat less meat. You become healthier, the planet can start healing, there will be less animal cruelty and we reduce the effects of global warming. Win, win, win.
World Water Day (March 22)
My daughter is learning the importance of water in school. Her class were told about the story of children in Sudan who needed to get up early just so they can start travelling by foot and walk for miles to harvest water. The water is brown so when they reach home after hours of walking, they still have to boil the water so it is much safer for them to use for cooking, drinking, bathing and washing.
Severe drought is one of the effects of climate change. So many others experience water shortage but a lot of us who have access to clean water at a twist of the faucet just forget the importance of conserving it. World Water Day which is observed on March 22 every year brings to light the importance of water, how we can preserve water and help us be more aggressive in taking climate action because without water, there is no life.
Earth Hour (March 27)
Earth Hour will be observed this year on March 27 from 8:30 – 9:30 in the evening. Last year, roughly 190 countries and territories joined in on last year’s Earth Hour event; an event held online thanks to the global pandemic.
An hour of darkness across the globe is a break from using dirty energy produced by fossil fuels. The Earth Hour movement encourages businesses and households to come together and collectively address climate change by switching off those lights.
Earth Day (April 22)
Earth Day is a movement that keeps getting bigger since its inception in 1970. Its mission is to educate more and more people about environmental concerns and for this movement to keep growing to create change and positive action for the people and the planet.
Fashion Revolution (April 19 – 25)
This year marks the 8th year of Fashion Revolution which began in response to the Rana Plaza incident where over 1,000 garment workers were killed in the collapse producing fast, cheap fashion for global retailers and fashion brands.
This movement was launched to encourage everyone to ask who made their clothes and where their clothes are made from and push fashion brands to be more transparent on how their clothes are produced. Fashion Revolution 2021 will be observed on April 19-25.
A healthy ecosystem means abundance of biodiversity. However, in the past 60 years, 60% of the planet’s ecosystem has been destroyed due to human-induced activities.
International Day for Biological Diversity is observed on May 22 each year as a way to encourage people to become actively involved in the reduction of biodiversity loss which can lead to more extinction of life on this planet.
World Environment Day (June 5)
Environmental awareness is the main goal of World Environment Day, observed on June 5 each year. This year’s theme centres on biodiversity. However, June 5 shouldn’t be the only time that will remind you to take care of the environment. Form a daily ritual that allows you to convene with nature and let yourself discover the connection between people and the environment. This will help you begin to understand our responsibility to our land, the waters and each other which benefits our well-being and the health of the planet.
World Oceans Day (June 8)
World Oceans Day aims to raise awareness of our oceans’ role in our existence and show the importance of our oceans in sustaining life on the planet. It is observed on June 8 every year.
World Oceans Day is a call to remind each and everyone of us to say no to plastic and switch to a zero-waste lifestyle to prevent ocean plastic from getting worse and to urge world leaders to protect our blue planet.
Plastic Free July (July 1 – 31)
Plastic Free July began in 2011 and was launched as an answer to the growing plastic problem. This initiative is to encourage everyone to be a part of the solution by forgetting about the disposable culture and get used to carrying reusables to limit the use of single-use plastic such as takeaway coffee cups, food containers, bottled drinks and more.
In 2020, participants who joined the Plastic Free July movement were able to successfully avoid about 900 million kilos of plastic waste.
Clean Up the World Campaign (September 16 – 17)
Clean Up the World Campaign was established in 1993 and is one of the largest community-based environmental programs in the world. This campaign has brought together different groups to serve one purpose and that is to solve environmental issues by cleaning up and conserving the planet.
Due to the global pandemic, huddling in big groups as part of a clean-up project isn’t safe but you can still participate by reducing, reusing and recycling waste in your own homes until local policies allow you to gather again in groups.
World Food Day (October 16)
While World Food Day’s goal is to solve world hunger, observing sustainable dining practices and trying our best to not waste food are just some of the practical ways to celebrate World Food Day and reduce impact on the planet.
The global pandemic has changed how we eat and the hungry are now hungrier than ever. On October 16 for World Food Day, aim to be extra grateful for the food on your table and give gratitude to those who produce it.
World Vegan Day (November 1 – 30)
Aside from Veganuary, World Vegan Day is observed on November. It is a time to educate more people on how every life on the planet benefits the vegan lifestyle. Some people complain how expensive vegan food choices are, however the Vegan Society has come up with a campaign to make vegan lifestyle more accessible to all.
Related Post: World Vegan Month: 10 Practical Tips For Going Vegan
World Soil Day (December 5)
World Soil Day is observed on December 5 every year and it aims to educate us on the importance of soil health and its role in making the planet greener. The solution is right under us all along! Healthy soil has tons of benefits but the one we’re most captivated by is its carbon sequestering abilities; how it helps to reverse the effects of climate change by storing carbon in the ground.
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Cover photo via Papier.