The recent oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico proves once more the vulnerability of our planet. Immediate, short-term effects are already happening: birds and marine animals severely contaminated from contact with the crude oil, livelihoods of the people living in the coastal areas in jeopardy, and oil prices rising, putting the fragile global economic recovery at risk. Moreover, the long-term damage of the oil spill is likely to contribute further to the loss of habitat and subsequently to increase the number of threatened species. Destruction and environmental degradation are some of the reasons why natural disasters are becoming more frequent and more harmful , thus adding to global challenges both in environmental and economic terms.
Overall, it looks like the world we live in has truly become a messed-up place and often it is hard to see HOW to save our future. So how are we going to make sure our children will inhabit a planet where they can enjoy natural beauty and produce enough food to survive and live healthy? Personally, I think it is us citizens, who have to take responsibility for our everyday choices and who have to take action if we want to achieve sustainable changes.
World Environment Day on 5 June 2010 is an opportunity for each of us to celebrate nature and start contributing to the global efforts through individual actions. If you want to make a personal contribution to save biodiversity and lower CO2-emissions, here are some suggestions for lifestyle-changes that could make you feel better about our future:
- Eat local
Most of us know that eating fresh and organically produced food is crucial for a healthy diet. In fact, there is also an important environmental aspect to nutrition as some of the fruits, vegetables and other fresh products travel huge distances in order to reach our table. So-called ‘ locavores’ try to eat only products that have been produced within certain radius (e.g. 100 km, depending on the geographic conditions) of their hometown, supporting local business and organic farming in their region. Benefits for the environment include reduced emissions and less fuel costs from shorter transport ways. Why not try and eat locally produced food on World Environment Day this year?
- Join a guerilla gardening initiative
Guerilla gardeners believe that a garden can be created just about everywhere around us: along roads, on rooftops, empty lots, whatever small place you can find. It is a fun and somehow unconventional way to contribute to the creation of green spaces and to the preservation of biodiversity through greening of otherwise unused areas with plants and vegetables. You will find some useful tips on to start your own gardening initiative here.
- Dress appropriately
You can save a lot of money and energy by wearing more or less (depending on the outdoor temperature) in your home and in the office. No need to sit around in a t-shirt if it is freezing outside. Go get some woolen sweater if the temperatures are cold; if you live in a warmer area, turn down the air-condition and enjoy wearing short sleeves. Worried about the dress code? Some governments actively promote a ‘cool biz’ policy to encourage less formal clothes in summer. A small personal effort like this can make a difference and help to save energy and money.
For more useful everyday tips, check out this link. Any individual actions are backed by efforts on the international level. UNEP, UNCBD and other organizations are working towards sustainable policies and international agreements to preserve global biodiversity. If you want to find out more how to participate in World Environment Day, visit this website. For more information about what policies are in place and what your government has done, click here.