Earth Day is held on the 22nd of April each year, with the theme for 2021 being ‘Restore the Earth’. Earth Day was created to not only spread awareness on environmental issues but to also encourage communities to come together and carry out litter picks, plant trees or just appreciate the nature around us. With the current climate crisis and more animals becoming endangered day by day, it is crucial that as individuals we do what we can to make a difference and help our environment where we can.
Here are 5 things we can all do to be more environmentally friendly:
1. Support Our Pollinators
Bees and other pollinators are in decline due to climate change, loss of habitat and decreased numbers of flowering plants. We take them for granted, but they are crucial to healthy food supplies and helping plants to grow. Bees visit flowers to collect nectar and pollen. This is used as food and to pollinate flowers and crops. To encourage them into your garden, try to plant a wide diversity of colourful pollen-rich plants and flowers, making your garden pretty too!
2. Create Hedgehog Highways
In Britain, hedgehogs are now classified as vulnerable to extinction and are on Britain’s IUCN Red List. Urban hedgehogs have experienced a 30% decline in numbers, and rural hedgehogs a 50% decline since the year 2000. Hedgehog’s movement patterns are interrupted as natural green space becomes fragmented by roads, buildings, and impenetrable fencing. This impacts mating, food foraging and nesting. Hedgehog highways are 13cm gaps in fencing panels allowing hedgehogs to pass through, creating unfragmented habitat. By mirroring their natural habitat, hedgehogs should be able to thrive.
3. Use Public Transport, Walk or Cycle
By choosing to use public transport, walking or cycling, over personal vehicles you are helping to reduce global carbon emissions. Greenhouse gases contribute to global warming, the gradual warming of our planet through the breakdown of the ozone layer. These greenhouse gases also lower the quality of the air that we breathe in every-day. Many cities have managed to reduce their CO2 emissions by up to 50% by reducing and limiting the flow of private cars.
4. Swap Single-Use Products for Re-useable Ones
Over 300 million tonnes of plastic are produced each year, with 40% of this for manufacturing single-use plastic products such as shopping bags, cups, and straws. More than 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in oceans every year, the majority of this being single-use plastic waste. Animals often mistake plastic waste for food, such as in sea turtles who mistake shopping bags for jellyfish. They also can become entangled within the plastic, not only causing injury but often death due to malnutrition and exhaustion. By switching to re-useable products, less plastic will need to be produced each year, which will save energy and again lower greenhouse gas emissions. It will also prevent plastic waste from making it into the oceans and impacting land mammals too. There are alternatives to most products, including coffee cups, makeup pads and even kitchen products such as biodegradable cling film.
5. Avoid Using Pesticides and Chemicals in the Garden
Pesticides are poisonous, and although do the job in removing garden pests, also harm other animals too. They decrease the soil quality and biodiversity, which is needed for plants to grow. The decreased soil quality would also reduce the number of earthworms in the soil, which removes a food source for birds and hedgehogs. Pesticides on plants can also damage monarch butterfly eggs that are laid on them, preventing them from hatching. To be able to avoid using pesticides, choose plants well-adapted to our climate, as they are usually bred and selected to be insect and disease resistance. Many non-toxic products have also been successful in discouraging slugs such as powdered seaweed.
To find out more about Earth Day 2021, visit: https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-2021/
For more ways to get involved, follow some of these student-led Instagram pages too:
- Oxford Brookes Hedgehog Friendly Campus: obu_hedgehogcampus
- Brookes Environmental: brookes_environmental
- Oxford Brookes Sustainability Society: societysustainability
Oxford Brookes’ Hedgehog Friendly Campus Team are running covid-safe litter picks from 12-12:45pm from Tuesday 4th May to Friday the 7th May. We will cover all areas around Headington Campus. Follow our Instagram page @obu_hedgehogcampus to keep up to date!
You can also contact us on email@example.com
Written by Caitlin Green, Animal Biology and Conservation student and member of the Hedgehog Friendly Campus team at Brookes