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Environment

11 practical steps you can take to help the natural world

Earth Day, the annual call to arms to create a plan of action for our planet, seems a good time to put things into perspective

The earth’s atmosphere is heating up. Global warming is going to spur an increasing number of extreme weather events. Mass internal migration is likely in some countries as people flee climates that are just too hot. Time is running out.

Bold promises have been made by world leaders. Boris Johnson has committed the UK to slashing carbon emissions by  78 per cent by 2035 when compared to 1990 levels.

And President Joe Biden has said the US will also step up ahead of the landmark COP26 meeting of global climate leaders in Glasgow this November with a pledge to half emissions by 2030.

Earth Day, the annual call to arms to create a plan of action for our planet, seems a good time to put things into perspective. It’s also a reminder to appreciate and celebrate the beauty of the natural world.

Here are 11 practical things you can do to help the fight against the climate crisis and help nature right now.

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Green up your cash

The Big Issue’s RORA correspondent Laura Whateley has all the information you need to take control of where your money is invested and reduce your impact on the planet.

This includes understanding where your money is invested now, talking with your employer about a greener pension, thinking about what ‘ethical’ or‘environmental’ means to you and finding out how to switch to a greener bank account. Dive into the top tips here.

Take some advice from Greta Thunberg. There’s no time to lose

In an exclusive interview with The Big Issue, environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg says: “Stop focusing on dates and numbers and targets in the future and come to terms with the idea that we have to act now.

“It is the emissions we are emitting right now, the carbon dioxide budgets being used right now, that matter most. So the time to cut them is now. If we don’t tackle that, these distant targets won’t mean very much.”

Save the birds

You can make a difference to the lives of hundreds of millions of birds this Earth Day. The Better Chicken Commitment is a global initiative to protect the rights of animals we eat – but no British supermarket except Waitrose and Marks & Spencer has signed up so far. Encourage more to do so by adding your name and make shopping choices which ensure better animal welfare.

Improve your neighbourhood for wildlife

Make a home for the wildlife on your doorstep. Hang bird feeders, plant wildflowers or create a pond. If you’re a young person, engage other kids in nature by starting a club at school or connect with like-minded people on social media.

Don’t forget the trees

The Great Green Wall movement is an attempt to restore 8,000km of forest across Africa to stop the advance of the Sahara.

Chris Packham, The Big Issue’s guest editor for its Earth Day special, says: “People in the Sahel are living with the devastating effects of our global climate crisis. Temperatures are rising, land is becoming infertile and the desert is spreading south, like a wave in slow motion.”

Remember that climate change is also a class issue

According to senior lecturer in environmental management Karen Bell, we need to tackle the problem of social inequality if we are going to succeed in our climate coals.

Learn more about the environmental progress pushed through by working-class campaigns and marginalised voices. The recent film Radium Girls is a good place to start, looking at a female-led workplace environmental struggle in the United States.

Stay informed

Learn from what recent history has taught us. It’s no longer acceptable to wait until there’s a problem to solve before taking action. We as human beings need to learn to trust the data, the modelling and the scientists and start taking action before we hit a point of crisis. When the writing’s on the wall, read it and act on it.

Take part in events

The City Nature Challenge encourages people to document their local wildlife and runs from April 30-May 3. You download an app, go out and take pictures of wild plants and animals then upload them.

Make your voice heard

You can get involved at the grassroots level and lobby, nationally and locally, this Earth Day and beyond. Elections across the UK are just around the corner so register to vote, press candidates on their environmental pledges and hold them to their vows.

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Protect your mental health

The environmental emergency can be a lot to handle and young people, in particular, can suffer from climate anxiety. Green spaces and nature can help ease the pressure, especially during the trying times of the pandemic.

Even if you don’t have a garden, you can bring nature inside with flowers or potted plants. You can also check the National Allotment Society or Social Farms & Gardens websites where you can get together to tend gardens or grow food with others in your community.

Another tip is to establish a routine to take a walk in local green spaces. Join a local walking group or ramblers club for motivation

If you are struggling to cope with your mental health call the Samaritans on 116123 and speak to trained volunteer service to help you in a crisis, or text SHOUT to 85258

Pick up a magazine

The Big Issue’s mammoth 64-page Earth Day special guest-edited by Chris Packham is packed with information and tips on how you can do your bit to save the planet, including .

But The Big Issue regularly covers important environmental stories, including explainers to give you the facts. Why not start with these?

Get your copy of The Big Issue from your local vendor in England and Wales right now. Vendors in Scotland are still unable to return to their pitches due to Covid-19 restrictions. You can still support vendors through The Big Issue Shop or subscribe to get the magazine every week. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

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