World Environment Day – celebrated on 5 June – is the UN’s flagship annual campaign that aims to raise awareness of worldwide environmental issues of all kinds – from marine pollution to overpopulation, and global warming.
Last year’s event focused on biodiversity in a bid to combat the accelerating loss of species and degradation of the natural world. This year's theme is ecosystem restoration (or #GenerationRestoration on social media), in a bid to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide.
Healthy ecosystems are fundamental for human existence, since they deliver vital services to humanity – providing food, helping to regulate climate, and filtering our air and water to mitigate the impacts of natural disasters and help protect us against the spread of disease.
The recent unprecedented bushfires in Brazil, the United States and Australia, the swarms of locusts ravaging crops in the Horn of Africa, the destruction of coral reefs in Australia, and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic all prove that this year’s theme is all the more pertinent.
The UN's statistics show that one million plant and animal species are threatened with extinction, and nature's current rate of decline is unparalleled. But the good news is that we can help to reverse the trends of ecosystem loss by reimagining our relationship with nature and acting now.
There are numerous ways you can also help with preventing, halting and reserving the degradation of ecosystems, and sustaining a healthy planet. From educating yourself on the effects of climate change and making small lifestyle changes to increasing the biodiversity in your garden, here's how you can do your bit and be part of #GenerationRestoration.
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WWF panda rpet foldaway bag
The statistics regarding our single-use plastic consumption are worrying – by 2050 there could be more plastic, by weight, than fish in our seas. And with scientists estimating that 8 million metric tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans each year, we must stop using single-use plastic bags. Instead, invest in a reusable, foldaway shopping bag that you can use time and time again. The great thing about this one is that you're not just saving four plastic bottles, you will also be supporting WWF – one of the world's leading conservation charities that helps to transform the future of the world’s wildlife, rivers, forests and seas – as 100 per cent of all proceeds are donated back to the charity.
Buy now £4.00, WWF
Black + Blum stainless steel lunch box
Another way to reduce your plastic consumption is by using reusable containers, be that for transporting lunch or keeping last night’s dinner fresh to reduce food waste. This Black + Blum lunch box took the top spot in our guide to the best lunchboxes, with our writer noting that it’s high quality and the fact it’s oven and freezer safe, and surprisingly lightweight. A real winner.
Buy now £31.95, Black-blum.com
'The Bee Book' by Charlotte Milner, published by Dorling Kindersley Ltd
Education and change starts with teaching kids, and this book is a great way to introduce children to the concept of conservation and biodiversity. The Bee Book will teach your little ones everything from the importance of bees to why they’re declining and what you can do to help. Suitable for children aged three and above.
Buy now £12.99, Waterstones.com
Anthropologie small bee block
On the topic of bees, we know that their numbers are depleting rapidly due to drought, habitat destruction, air pollution, global warming and the intensification of farming and increased use of pesticides. As pollinators, they play a large part in every aspect of the ecosystem and are vital to biodiversity. In a bid to save the bees, create your own bee hotel or buy this one from Anthropologie and provide a place for solitary bees to nest in your garden.
Buy now £18.00, Anthropologie.com
Sophie Conran for Burgon and Ball ceramic pear bird feeder
Forty per cent of the world’s bird species are in decline, and one in eight is threatened with global extinction. Birds are an intricate component of key ecosystems, such as forests and the marine environment. Attract them into your garden with this bird feeder, and fill it with a mixture of grains, nuts and seeds (£9.99, Amazon.co.uk) that they will love.
Buy now £13.95, Hartsofstur.com
Abel and Cole small fruit and veg box
Organic farming helps to create healthy living soil that is more resistant to drought, floods and consequently the impacts of climate change. Similarly, farmland provides essential habitat for wild plants, which offsets the loss of biodiversity. Supporting local, organic food producers is a great way to help, and Abel & Cole’s fruit and veg boxes are a favourite. A certified B-Corp, its commitment to supporting British farmers and prioritising the environment is at the heart of the company’s ethos. Not only does eating locally sourced food help farmers, but it also reduces your carbon emission – offsetting the average 1,500 air miles it takes for fresh food to get onto your plate.
Buy now £14.25, Abelandcole.co.uk
MUD Jeans relax rose jean
The fashion industry is a major contributor to global carbon emissions, pollution, water contamination and mass extinction, along with many other elements that hinder a healthy planet. With the EU textile industry generating an estimated 9.35 million tons of waste per year, we suggest buying from brands that do things more ethically. While ethical fashion does cost more, this does reflect the true cost of using materials that are less damaging to the environment, safer factories, and high eco-credentials.
A firm favourite in our IndyBest round-up of sustainable denim brands, MUD Jeans saves 92 per cent water, 62 per cent CO2 and uses 47 per cent less land (to grow cotton) for each pair of jeans made. It also gives customers the option to rent a pair of jeans with its lease scheme for £6.82 per month. Circular fashion at its best.
Buy now £110.30, Mudjeans.eu
Togetherband goal 13 climate action
In 2015, the UN established the 17 global goals for sustainable development, on World Earth Day 2019, the #Togetherband campaign was launched by Bottletop in associated with the UN, and other key organisations, with the aim of spreading worldwide awareness of the sustainable development goals. This green brand signifies goal 13, and is all about taking climate action – you can do this by simply making sure you are recycling, using public transport where possible and even switching to a more eco-friendly energy supplier. These bracelets are handmade by skilled artisans in Nepal from 100 per cent recycled plastic rope, and 100 per cent of proceeds from each purchase goes to spreading the word about the global goals and funding lifechanging projects to build a better future for all. Each pack contains two bands, wear one and share one.
Buy now £35.00, Togetherband.org
'The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis' by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, published by Bonnier Books Ltd
Written by Christian Figueres, former UN executive secretary for climate change and Tom Rivett-Carnax, a senior political strategist for the Paris Agreement – this book explains how we must approach the climate crisis, as well as the need for urgent action. Empowering in its practical approach, while also remaining optimistic, this should be on everyone’s reading list if you want to learn more about the effects of climate change.
Buy now £10.99, Blackwells.co.uk
TedEd earth school
Educating you or your children on the impacts our everyday activities and movements have on the environment is an important step to ignite change. Initiated by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and TedEd, earth school teaches everything from animals and global warming to underwater farms. Quest 12 explores the importance of biodiversity and is well worth the watch.
Buy now £0.00, TedEd
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Want to learn more about the crisis? Read these climate emergency books