3 simple ways to make a difference on World Environment Day

Posted on 5 June 2024 By Savanna Douglas

World Environment Day, observed annually on 5 June, is celebrated by millions of individuals and organisations that stand for awareness and action to preserve, protect and nurture the environment. This year, the platform focuses on the planet’s urgent need for land restoration.

World Environment Day found its roots in 1973, introduced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as a global platform for environmental public outreach.

This year, the platform highlights the urgent need for global action in land restoration to preserve the environment, and in turn, our future.

The statistics highlight a grim fate for our environment if we do not take action to make a difference.

As per the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, up to 40% of the planet’s land is degraded, directly affecting half of the world’s population.

Land plays a crucial role in the climate system as its surfaces, such as forests, regulate the planet’s temperature and help to store carbon.

“In the last decade alone, land-based ecosystems absorbed around 30 per cent of the carbon emissions generated by human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels,” reads a recent UN article.

“But our land is under increasing pressure from deforestation, urbanization, industrial development, agricultural expansion and unsustainable farming practices that are undermining its ability to sustain food production, maintain freshwater and forest resources, as well as regulate the climate and air quality.”

Adding to environmental pressure, the number and duration of droughts have increased by 29% since 2000.

Land degradation is brought on by drought, desertification and other extreme weather events that are increasing in frequency and intensity as the planet warms up. The UN urges that without immediate action, droughts may affect over three-quarters of the world’s population by 2050.

This is why World Environment Day has aptly chosen #GenerationRestoration as its theme for 2024.

We don’t have 26 years to change the fate of our environment, it needs to start now. Every individual has the opportunity to make a difference. Often, these efforts are simple and can be quite fun!

Unsplash / Safan

3 Simple Ways to Make a Difference on World Environment Day

If you want to be a part of the change, here are 3 simple ways you can make a difference on World Environment Day (and every day after).

1. Switch to a sustainable water bottle

As per the Global Citizen, the US alone consumes 50 billion plastic water bottles annually. Most of these bottles are not recycled and end up in landfills, oceans and elsewhere, which harms organisms and the environment.

Landfills directly impact land degradation in several harmful ways – they bring bad odours and gases into the environment, and can cause water supply contamination. This sparks a ripple effect, damaging the environment and the habitat of many organisms that help it thrive.

By switching to a water bottle that boasts eco-friendly attributes, such as being compostable, biodegradable, renewable and recyclable, you will reduce your contribution towards landfills.

Unsplash / Bluewater Sweden

2. Shop zero waste at least once a month

This simple way to make an impact on World Environment Day is also your excuse to head to a farmer’s or organic market. Here, you can buy fresh foods and pack them into reusable containers from home. This way, you’ll rule out fresh produce that has been prepackaged in plastic.

Many grocery stores now offer items such as nuts, lentils, coffee beans and other dry goods to be measured and purchased from a bulk container. All you need is a resuable container to top up on the basics.

3. Go for green when travelling

There are many wonderful eco-friendly getaway options available in South Africa, and internationally. The next time you travel, consider your greenest option. Whether it’s a safari camp that recycles its grey water or a hotel that has done away with all single use plastics – take note of your greenest options, and go with them. Do your part in Earth-friendly travel too, by packing smart. Swap your shampoo bottle for a shampoo bar, opt for a bamboo toothbrush instead of a plastic one, and choose an eco-friendly sunscreen instead of harmful sunscreen brands.



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