June 5, 2016
Today, June 5th 2016, marks this year’s World Environment Day (#WED2016), which is currently being hosted in the seventh largest African country, Angola. Differing from that of Earth Day, World Environment Day is specifically focused on calling attention to not only the environment, but mainly, to the issue of environmental sustainability. The theme and slogan of this year’s World Environment Day is “Go Wild for Life”, which emphasizes the importance of preserving the remaining endangered wildlife for future generations. WED2016 also strives to shed light on the tragic repercussions that result from illegal wildlife trading and wildlife crime.
While many of us are aware of the illegal trading of wildlife products, and the horrific abuses associated with such, I feel as though we often times push these issues towards the back of our mind because it is rather foreign to us, and these issues are something we don’t experience first hand, or hear covered in the news on a regular basis. Although we are all aware of the illegal trading of wildlife and wildlife products, I think we often times forget the bigger picture: the illegal wildlife trading market isn’t just an issue that effects the endangered wildlife left on our planet, but it is an important piece of a much larger, much more serious, puzzle. As the website for this year’s World Environment Day highlights:
“The booming illegal trade in wildlife products is eroding Earth’s precious biodiversity, robbing us of our natural heritage and driving whole species to the brink of extinction. The killing and smuggling is also undermining economies and ecosystems, fuelling organized crime, and feeding corruption and insecurity across the globe“.
If you’re still thinking “meh, this stuff isn’t really that important to someone like myself” consider this: how would you feel if you could no longer indulge in some of your favourite foods such as honey, wine, coffee, chocolate, and seafood (to name a few) because of environmental damage that prohibits the production of these goods? Then would this stuff become important to you? NDTV Food wrote an eye-opening article detailing how along with the wildlife, those beloved foods just mentioned, are on a very similar path to extinction due to our own environmental negligence. I don’t know about you, but the thought of no more chocolate is enough to scare me straight!
Despite the designated theme of this year’s World Environment Day, today is not only about waging a war on poachers. It is also about the deforestation crisis, reducing the effects of climate change and global warming, preventing global food shortages, and everything else that falls under the large umbrella of environmental preservation and conservation.
So what can you do to become involved? The answer is LOTS. The three most important ways to get involved are listed below:
1) Spread the Word: The most important thing you can do, begins with spreading the word! Tell your friends, family, co-workers, and fellow classmates and help educate others on important environmental issues they may not know about. You can also dedicate some of your own time to reading up on other environmental issues you are more unfamiliar with. While we may not have the ability to influence government leaders to enforce tougher policies from an individual standpoint, by starting a conversation and becoming engaged in the discussion, you automatically help create and generate a heightened awareness of these issues. The larger the discussion, the more pressure placed on government officials to implement change, and invest in conservation efforts.
2) Get Involved Locally: Another great way to contribute to a greener environment is to get involved at the local level in your own community. For example, make it a point to become familiar with your neighbourhood’s Community Environment Days, to ensure safe recycling and disposal of household items, which helps reduce the amount of unnecessary waste that ends up in landfills. It also doesn’t hurt to stop by your nearest Community Centre, Constituency Office, or sign-up for the newsletter from your City Councillor to find out about the types of events your community is taking part in, and to learn more about how you can help out your local environment (i.e. garbage pick up days).
3) Volunteer: If you have some extra time to donate, volunteering is always an amazing way to give back and help out your community, plus there are a number of fantastic environmental-focused organizations you can join forces with! One example of a great organization in my city is Evergreen. Evergreen is a Canadian charity centered upon restoring public spaces, and their efforts to do so not only help to strengthen local environments, but also help encourage and promote sustainability in the surrounding community.
On a daily basis, you can also adopt a number of habits to help transform your lifestyle into a more green one, and at the bottom of my Earth Day post, you can find a list of Sabatage tips I created to assist you with such. In honour of World Environment Day, I want to take a moment to further elaborate on one tip I mentioned in that post: Food Waste. Many of us are unaware or oblivious to how serious of an issue this really is, and how detrimental food waste is to environmental sustainability. Did you know nearly half of ALL food produced worldwide is wasted? How disturbing is that?! What many people forget to consider when throwing out food, is that they’re not only tossing away the food. Along with the food, they’re also tossing away all the resources that were used to produce the food, and transport the food to wherever they purchased it from. Here are a couple of my own tips, as well as some from the environmental legend we all love David Suzuki, to help cut back on food waste in your household.
Sabatage Tips to Eliminate Household Food Waste:
- Save and ACTUALLY eat your leftovers!
- Make sure you are properly storing all your food in airtight containers.
- Be mindful of the foods you are throwing away on a regular basis, and modify your habits accordingly (i.e. start recording expiry dates, purchase smaller quantities of things you notice you are frequently tossing etc).
- Buy only what you need (aka learn to shop smarter). This may seem like a simple concept, but you would be amazed by how many people do not shop smart. Buying exactly what you need, also helps to cut grocery bill costs. You can kill two birds with one stone by downloading apps, which help you plan out your weekly meals and grocery lists to help avoid this exact issue! (Check out MealBoard Meal and Grocery Planner App).
I hope everyone is having a beautiful World Environment Day today, and remember to appreciate and respect the environment not only today, but always!