The arrival of the New Year comes with the stressful question: What are your new year’s resolutions? Often the answer is the same each year, as is the habit of breaking them before the end of January: exercise more, eat less, quit smoking, save money and get organised.
But with climate change and habitat loss becoming increasingly urgent, perhaps 2017 is the year for environment resolutions. To help inspire you, we have put together a list of ways to get more involved with the natural world and reduce your carbon emissions. Fingers crossed we keep them this year…
Be more wild
The wild is bursting with wonders and curiosities ripe for exploration, and what could better inspire us to be mindful of the environment than enjoying the windows of the natural world we have close to home? The effect of the natural world on human health is the subject of scientific study; spending time outdoors, walking or running, can improve energy and combat anxiety, fatigue and depression.
The UK has lots of beautiful reserves run by organisations like the Wildlife Trusts, the RSPB, National Trust and Natural England, and most of these organisations have plenty of volunteering opportunities and outreach programmes to get involved with. You could start with one of WLT partner The Conservation Volunteers 'Action Team' Days; they even have one in our Kites Hill Reserve on 10 January 2016!
If you are still seeking inspiration for wild endeavours, consider taking part in 30 Days Wild, an initiative set up by the Wildlife Trusts to encourage you to indulge in a Random Act of Wildness each day with plenty of ideas to choose from.
Balance your carbon
Thinking about journeying further than your local patch for your Random Acts of Wildness? Consider your carbon footprint before making a trip - could you take a bicycle or public transport? Car sharing on your way to work is also a great way to cut down on your personal emissions.
Measuring your carbon impact is the first step to becoming Carbon Balanced, which is a programme run by WLT to help individuals and companies offset carbon emissions. The second step is to reduce those emissions as far as possible. Once avoidable emissions have been eliminated, the programme enables the offsetting of residual greenhouse gas emissions through the protection and restoration of carbon-rich wildlife habitats in the tropics.
Think about your food
A natural step from reducing your carbon footprint is considering your carbon foodprint. Studies have suggested that the food industry could account for around a quarter of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.
Vegetarians and vegans have the lowest carbon foodprints, but you can lower your foodprint without taking too drastic measures, and knowing what foods have the greatest carbon emissions is the first step. Sourcing local produce immediately cuts down on food miles, as does reducing food waste by buying only what you know you will eat, keeping on top of expiry dates and storing/freezing leftovers.
Introducing a meat-free day to your week is another way to cut down your emissions, and cutting red meats down to occasional treats will have the biggest impact, as lamb and beef have much higher carbon footprints than poultry and fish.
Revolutions in renewable energy, important decisions in environment policy, climate change research… There is a lot going on in the environment sector, and it is important to stay informed.
For wildlife and conservation news, we recommend subscribing to Mongabay.com or BBC Wildlife magazine. Mother Earth News describes itself as ‘The original guide to living wisely’ with plenty of ideas on how to live a sustainable lifestyle. Other good sources of environment news include Treehugger.com, Guardian Environment and the Environment News Network.
Make a difference
Fundraising is an excellent way to motivate yourself to test your limits and do something amazing. 2016 was a great year for WLT fundraisers; from marathon cycling and running achievements, to climbing mountains and skydiving, the team at WLT have been very impressed by the commitment of supporters willing to raise money for conservation on their adventures.
Fundraisers bring more to charitable work than just funds. By showing their enthusiasm for the cause and involving friends and family, they act as ambassadors for the work of NGOs, and WLT is always indebted for their support.
Become a Friend of WLT
El Oro Parakeets of Ecuadorian cloud forest; Mountain Tapirs of Peruvian Paramo; Blue-throated Macaws of Bolivian forest islands; Caucasian Leopards in the Caucasus Mountains and Yellow Cardinals in Argentinian Patagonia.These are some of the endangered species and habitats which were protected in 2016 thanks to the commitment of WLT Friends donating regularly to the Action Fund.
For as little as £5 per month, you can become a WLT Friend and help us save some of the most threatened wildlife habitats on the planet in 2017.