Environment

12 Ways to Love Our Planet

By Kelly Green
10.02.19

Show Mother Earth some love this Valentine's Day (and all year round) with these simple ideas.

 

Mother Earth has had a bit of a rough time of late - her oceans are awash with single use plastic, wildlife populations are declining at an unprecedented rate, and we have less than 12 years to limit irreversible climate change catastrophe.

So that’s why this Valentine’s Day we think that the planet deserves to be shown a bit of love and kindness!  Even these small changes can help to make a difference, and hopefully they can be the start of new conscious habits and practices beyond February 14th.

Here are some simple ways to spread the love this Valentine’s Day:

1. Volunteer your time to help clean things up 
Litter not only makes our paths, parks and beaches look untidy, it also causes harm to wildlife and the environment - with plastic waste in particular sticking around for years. Help to keep the planet clean by volunteering your time to take part in an organised beach or river clean

You can even clean the waterways of London while stand-up paddle boarding or canoeing - see Paddle & Pick or Plastic Patrol.

If you don’t want to join an organised clean, why not simply take it upon yourself to pick up some litter on your local, beach, or even as you go about your day?  Combine with some exercise by going plogging - the Swedish craze for litter picking while jogging.

2. Dress more consciously
The world’s addiction to fast fashion devastates wildlife and communities around the world - from the pollution caused by intensive cotton farming on people and the planet (remember the dried up Aral Sea in Stacey Dooley Investigates: Fashion’s Dirty Secrets?); to the water used in production of clothes and the hidden plastics released during clothes washing, which make their way back to the sea and into the food chain - the clothes we buy and wear can have a big impact on the world.

To help reduce this impact, choose natural, organic fibres as much as possible and buy clothes that you really love and will keep wearing beyond #30wears from ethical brands.

Read our simple tips on how to adopt a new, more sustainable way to dress

3. Give up single use plastic 
… or at least reduce it.  Documentaries such as Blue Planet II and Drowning in Plastic have highlighted the vast extent of the plastic crisis and the devastating impact single use plastic is having on ocean wildlife.  

There are many simple swaps you can make at home to reduce the amount of  plastic you buy and discard, from carrying a reusable water bottle to buying food in bulk. See Melissa Hemsley’s guide to 10 simple swaps to cut down on plastic and our plastic free beauty swaps

4. Plant a tree
Trees help to clean our air, filter our drinking water, purify our soil and provide habitat to over 80% of the world's terrestrial biodiversity. Forests also provide jobs to over 1.6 billion people worldwide and provide key medicinal ingredients. 

But trees are under threat from climate change, urban development, pollution and attack from tree diseases and pests.

So why not help the planet this Valentine's Day by planting a tree? You can do this by yourself in your back garden, or  joining a National Forest planting event. You can also donate to reforestation projects around the world - see onetreeplanted.org and support the Woodland Trust to help protect trees and woodland.

5. Eat seasonal & local produce
Eating seasonal, local produce helps to reduce the environmental footprint of your food, using less energy (and associated CO2 emissions) for growing and transportation. It also helps to supports the local economy and, as seasonal fruit and vegetables are picked at their natural taste and nutritional peak, quite often tastes better too.

Read our guide to eating seasonally 

6. Reduce your meat intake
Research has found that food production is a major driver of climate change and environmental damage, thanks to greenhouse gases from livestock, agricultural pollution, deforestation to make way for livestock and water shortages caused by farming.  As the world population rises by 2.3 billion people by 2050, these environmental impacts only look set to worsen. 

Last October, scientists warned that to ward off dangerous climate change, we need to eat less meat and replace it with more plant-based foods such as beans and pulses, particularly in nations like the UK & US, where beef consumption needs to be reduced by 90%.

Having at least one meat-free day a week, or a meat-free meal every day can help to make a big difference.  See Meat Free Mondays or One Meal a Day for the Planet for tips and ideas.

Read more about the benefits of eating a more plant-based diet

 

7. Help to save the bees
The global bee population is in trouble, and that means we’re in trouble too. Wild and domestic honey bees perform about 80% of all pollination worldwide, including 70 of the top 100 human food crops supplying 90% of the world’s nutrition. 

Bee numbers are in serious decline. In the UK, we have already lost around 13 species of bees and another 35 are under threat of extinction.  This decline in bees’ diversity and abundance would have serious consequences on how our natural world functions. Bee decline is caused by  a number of factors including drought, habitat destruction, air pollution, global warming - but the biggest cause is the intensification of farming and the use increased use of pesticides.

Help to save the bees this Valentine’s Day by planting some bee friendly plants, such as wildflowers, in your very own bee garden to create a habitat corridor for bees. Create a bee hotel where solitary bees can nest, and create a bee bath out of a small dish or bowl filled with clean water and some pebbles poking out that bees can rest on to take a drink. 

For more ideas, order a bee saver kit from Friends of the Earth.

8. Conserve energy
Simple changes at home, such switching the lights off when you leave the room and replacing your lightbulbs with low energy LED lights can help to conserve energy in the home.  Not only does this help to reduce your household bills, but there’s also a direct correlation between your energy use and the environment.  Consuming less power at home helps to reduce power plant emissions that are emitted when generating electricity, and also helps conserve the earth’s natural resources. 

A few ideas for how to conserve energy:

  • Turn the lights out when you leave a phone
  • Don’t leave appliances on standby – switch them off
  • Open windows instead of using an extractor fan when cooking or showering
  • Pack your freezer and defrost frozen items in the fridge
  • Switch to low energy LED lightbulbs – they use 90% less energy and last a lot longer than regular bulbs
  • Hang wet clothes out to dry rather than using a dryer

Additionally, consider switching to a green energy supplier. There are an increasing number of energy suppliers including Ecotricity, Good Energy, Bulb and Ovo, offering 100% renewable electricity generated from wind turbines, solar panels, and hydro, plus green gas produced by breaking down organic matter such as manure and sewage. 

9. Forgo the car as much as possible
Opt to walk, cycle or use public transport as much as possible to reduce CO2 emissions caused by driving and taking taxis. Of course, this might be easier in big cities where there are more public transport options available and there will always be occasions where you do need to take a car.  Car sharing is a great way to reduce the number of vehicles making the same journey.

10. Save water
Conserve water resources by making simple changes at home such as turning the tap off when brushing your teeth, taking a shower rather than a bath (which use approximately double the amount of water a shower uses) and shortening your aforementioned shower time. 

Check with your water supplier to see if they offer any water saving devices. Thames Water, for example, offer freebies such as showerheads, to save-a-flush devices and inserts for your tap to not only reduce your water bills, but also to lower energy bills from heating less water.

11. Go paperless
Cancel paper bank statements and bills and opt to pay online instead. Not only does this save trees and energy, but it also means you have less waste to get rid of and is much more convenient. 

12. Adopt an endangered animal
Adopt an endangered animal and support the vital work of conservation and wildlife charities that are working to protect species around the world. From elephants, lions, giraffes, to more local wildlife such as badgers, owls and hares, your sponsorship will help to raise money for protecting and creating habitats, fund projects to work with local communities to educate, support and address human-animal conflict, and provide care for rescued animals.

When you adopt an animal, you’ll usually receive an adoption certificate and regular updates on the work being done – making this a great gift idea too.

A few ideas for where to adopt from:
Born Free Foundation
The Wildlife Trusts
WWF
Durrell
Galapagos Conservation Trust
 

For more Valentine's Day inspiration, see our gift ideas.
 

12 Ways to Love Our Planet