The 5th of June is World Environment Day – a global event by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the biggest international day for the environment. The UNEP website contains plenty of information on the event, including ways for people around the world to participate in protecting the environment and bringing awareness to environmental issues that affect all of us.
The world's most vulnerable communities are often the most impacted by the environmental crises. Children, the elderly, those that are impoverished or displaced by war, as well as endangered animals and their delicate ecosystems… they are dying as a result of climate change, biodiversity loss, and the pollution and waste from unsustainable consumption.
The goal is to transform our economies and societies to be more inclusive, fair, and harmonising with nature rather than causing more harm. Governments, financial institutions and industries bear a responsibility for sustainable progress on a large scale, but individuals can be drivers of change through their support of governments and businesses. We can support institutions that are working towards making sustainable living the default option. Those with power can make changes, and we must continue to demand it.
The #OnlyOneEarth Practical Guide outlines some of the transformative actions that organisations and people can take. Here are some of the points that you might find useful, if you plan to take action on World Environment Day (or any other day!):
Action in Your Community
Support leaders with clear commitments and/or a track record of action on environmental emergencies.
Start a petition, organise a debate or call a demonstration to encourage your government to join the net-zero coalition, live up to or increase their ecosystem restoration commitments and get in line with the Paris Agreement.
Ask your town council, employer, school, or university to set ambitious sustainability targets, and take part in efforts to make and monitor progress.
Spread your knowledge about environmental issues with friends, family and your wider community, in public discussions and on social media.
Join a local organisation that advances sustainability and campaigns for systemic change.
Take a look at the Community Organizing Toolkit to learn how you can get your town, club, school, or faith group active for ecosystem restoration.
Encourage your faith groups to join UNEP’s Faith for Earth Initiative to work alongside other inter-religious and inter-faith groups in the fight against environmental degradation.
Support initiatives in your community groups that promote sustainable living, like offering healthy, plant-rich meals to your community during events and observances, or encouraging your members of your community to walk, cycle and use public transport.
Transfer your accounts to a sustainable bank and invest in stocks and bonds issued by renewable energy firms or manufacturers of green products.
Avoid businesses that support deforestation, water pollution, fossil fuels, or resource over-exploitation.
Buy products and services with a low environmental footprint, and only buy items that you really need.
Buy items that are made to last and that can then be recycled or repurposed.
Buy products that support ecosystems and local communities.
Action at Home
Try to reduce foods that require more natural resources, especially water, to produce (meat uses more than plants or pulses), or fruits and vegetables that aren’t in season or are imported over long distances.
Use efficient heating and cooling systems, and avoid over-heating or over-cooling your home if possible.
Insulate your home and push for insulation in your workplace.
Turn off lights and electronics when not in use, and use appliances with high energy-efficiency ratings.
Do more walking or cycling to cut vehicle pollution and road congestion, and to encourage governments to re-design infrastructure to focus less on cars.
Opt for public and shared transport instead of driving.
Explore nearby holiday destinations, your local ecosystems or how far you can go by train, bus and bike.
Consider spending more time and resources on experiences that add value to your life without leaving a heavy environmental footprint, e.g. cultural events, team sports, a course to learn new skills, or volunteering for an ecosystem restoration initiative.
If we can all choose one thing to do differently in support of World Environment Day, we will be making the positive impact that this event aims for. What will you be doing? Are there any items on the list that you hadn't thought of? Are there any important ones that we have missed? There is a lot more included in the #OnlyOneEarth Practical Guide, and it is a good read if you are interested in learning more. You can also visit the World Environment Day website to register your action and be part of the movement.
For Novel Notes, Environment Day is every day. It is a business that was built with a focus on environmentalism from the ground up, sustainable and adaptable production, local recycled materials and collaboration with other small ethical businesses. We support eco-conscious creatives and provide ethical products and services to people who want to do good in the world. Read on, or get in touch to find out more.
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