Green Tips Earth Day Edition: Protecting Biodiversity
Green Tips | April 19, 2019
The first Earth Day celebration happened on April 22, 1970 when around 20 million people across the US engaged in massive protests against environmental degradation. Since then, April 22nd has become known as a day when people from all over the world unite to tackle the most pressing environmental challenges.
The theme of this year’s Earth Day is Protect our Species. Our world is currently in the midst of the largest species extinction in the last 60 million years, which is 1,000 to 10,000 times more than the normal rate. These widespread reductions in plant and wildlife populations are a direct consequence of human activities that have significantly altered natural habitats. Estimates suggest that humans have impacted 83% of Earth’s land surface.
New York State is home to approximately 150 fish and wildlife species considered to be endangered (learn more about them here). To do your part to protect these species and their habitats, check out our special Earth Day edition of Green Tips: Protecting Biodiversity.
First, what is biodiversity? According to National Geographic, “biodiversity refers to all the different kinds of living organisms within a given area. Biodiversity includes plants, animals, fungi, and other living things.” So, the more species that go extinct, the less biodiversity we have. And, as scientists, researchers, and advocates across the globe agree, biodiversity is important, for our health and the health of the planet. Here’s a short list of what you can do today to protect biodiversity.
- Support the fight against climate change:
- Use less energy – Avoid driving and flying whenever possible (walk, bike, and use public transit when you can) and remember to unplug appliances and chargers when not in use. Check out more energy efficiency tips here.
- Consume less meat – Americans consumed more than 220 pounds of meat per person in 2018. This massive industry contributes significantly to our energy usage and researchers agree that cutting back on meat is one of the biggest ways individuals can help save the planet.
- Beat pollution:
- Leave no trace – When you’re enjoying the outdoors this spring and summer, make sure to take all of your trash with you. Avoid going off-trail and making contact with the wildlife. Look but don’t touch!
- Get informed about your products – Toxic chemicals from our cleaning products and different industrial processes contaminate our soils and waterways. Properly dispose of all chemical products such as medicines, paints, solvents etc. Also avoid using sunscreen lotions that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, chemicals believed to cause harm to marine life and coral reefs. Learn more about smart products using the Environmental Working Group’s guides.
- Start at home:
- Avoid fertilizer and pesticides – Fertilizer provides nutrients to plants, which helps them grow and thrive. However, over-fertilizing can kill plants and can find its way into streams and lakes, which feed algae and can lead to toxic algal blooms, which kill fish and other wildlife. Look for phosphorus-free fertilizer. Pesticides may seem like a quick and easy option to get rid of garden pests, but they can cause serious harm to our families’ health and get into our waterways. Avoid infestations from the outset and don’t use items that contain synthetic pesticides. Check out this guide for more info.
- Plant a pollinator-friendly garden – Create a habitat right in your yard by planting native trees, flowers, and shrubs. You’ll be rewarded all summer long with beautiful colors and butterfly and bird-watching opportunities.
- Get involved:
- Volunteer in protecting the wildlife – Get out for a river or park clean-up this summer. Not only will you be spending time outside, you’ll be making a difference and restoring crucial habitats for plants and animals to thrive. Participate in I Love My Park Day on May 4th.
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© 2017 New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund. All rights reserved.