The focus of this year’s World Environment Day is resetting humanity’s relationship with the natural world and fostering a connection to ensure the protection and restoration of ecosystems. To coincide with World Environment Day, the United Nations has also launched its global campaign, Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, an initiative to prevent, halt and reverse ecosystem degradation and protect ecosystems for the benefit of all.
So here are 10 ways you can be part of #GenerationRestoration and heal the planet:
1. Plant trees
A simple yet effective way to restore the natural environment is to plant trees, in your backyard, as part of a restoration project or on a farm (with the owner’s permission of course). The aim is not just to plant a seed or sapling, but to ensure it grows to full maturity so you will need to ensure you choose the right tree species for the right spot so it has the best chance of surviving and thriving. You will also need to consider maintenance and ongoing care as the tree will need to be watered and protected from wildlife if it is to reach maturity.
Rewilding is about letting nature take care of itself to reverse human interference and domestication. This means allowing natural processes and wildlife’s rhythms to “do its thing” to repair damaged ecosystems, restore barren and degraded landscapes and rebuild biodiverse habitats. If you own a farm or acreage, allocate a section for rewilding and watch wildflowers, native plants, birds, insects, bees and other animals return to the area.
3. Volunteer on a restoration project
There are plenty of existing restoration projects already underway and conservation groups are always looking for volunteers so jump online and do a search for one closest to you that you can join. Landcare Australia, a grassroots organisation dedicated to managing environmental issues, seeks volunteers for local chapters across Australia to restore land and improve biodiversity. In the United States, the Sierra Club has chapters in each state which facilitates local restoration projects.
4. Eat less meat
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations animal agriculture accounts for roughly 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gases each year. It also uses 83% of farmland, generates 60% of food-related emissions is one of the primary drivers of deforestation. So help restore ecosystems by eating less meat.
5. Simplify your home
Buying less clothes and household goods means requiring fewer virgin materials and natural resources. Combine this with the power of shopping second-hand, repairing, repurposing, borrowing and reusing and your personal environment impact is greatly reduced – which is a win for the planet.
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6. Support green businesses
From eco-friendly fashion brands specialising in organic cotton essentials to green electricity providers relying on renewables there are plenty of businesses committed to sustainability practices such as eco-friendly and compostable packaging and reducing emissions by purchasing carbon offsets. Patronising and supporting these companies only encourages more businesses to go green.
7. Buy organic
Synthetic pesticides and fertilisers applied on farms degrade the soil and impacts the natural environment by killing insects and bees and polluting waterways. Buying seasonal organic produce from local growers is not only better for the environment, it also encourages more farmers to grow organic further helping the cause of protecting ecosystems and wildlife.
8. Donate to conservation groups
If you don’t have the time to volunteer, donate to conservation organisations and community groups involved in ecosystem restoration that have proven track records to ensure that these efforts produce the outcomes desired.
9. Choose green investments
If you have savings or money to invest, make sure to place these funds in fossil-free investments and banks that are committed to green innovations and invest in sustainability-focussed companies.
10. Join or organise a beach clean-up
If you live near the coast, join a local beach clean-up and if there isn’t one, organise one and share the event details across your community networks and social media. If you don’t have the time or energy to organise an event, you can always just go to the beach and just start picking up plastic trash and other bits you find. You never know, you may inspire other beachgoers to do the same.
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Cover image by Gary Barnes.