DEMAND AN END TO POVERTY THIS GENERAL ELECTION
TAKE ACTION
Environment

Protecting bees isn't a trend but proof that nature is for everyone

Sophie Sleeman, 17, from Dorset is an activist with the UK Youth Climate Change Network. She says it’s time to get off the sofa and let the wild back into our lives

Bees. At every climate strike so far, these humble creatures have been waved in the hands of teenagers – on signs, on clothes, in words and on faces. In a world where nature recedes from our visions every day, the bee has stayed with us.

What the resurgence in attention for such a small creature tells us is this: We are longing, yearning, aching to be reunited with the living, breathing, buzzing evidence of the earth. 

But we’re stuck in a story that for years has been accepted as truth. This story labels us ‘human’ and everything else ‘nature’. We’ve divided our landscape into pieces, regimented it into safely controllable chunks, and split the wild from ever reaching us. We live in a society of separation, one where ‘nature’ remains a monoculture, a faraway fantasy available only for the special few. 

There are many environmental problems plaguing this country but one of the deepest sown is this: people are removed from nature. 

In Britain, we relegate ‘nature’ to the national parks and lost places miles from city dwellers. Cities, which are increasingly planned to shift nature into big parks and squeeze it out of smaller areas to make room for roads and real estate. Real estate, which prioritises neatness over wildness, infecting the country with a pandemic of perfect lawns and the pressure to uphold them. 

In Britain, to blame the collapse of the natural world on individuals alone is unfair. We live in a system designed to keep us detached. Our schools weigh children down with the burden of exams, barring them from exploring the woods, wetlands, and lessons of the earth. 

But we – the children – have broken out of this mould of apathy. We’re rediscovering the wild, the deeper natures which sit inside of us. Voices we didn’t know existed bond us together, one striker to another. These voices have arisen from absence – from childhoods spent watching the living world begin to die. 

If the youth strikes provide hope that the natural world is seeing a revival, then what we must do is break down the boundary between us and ‘nature’. We must let the wild in. Let the grasses by the side of the road erupt into bracken and wood. Let our city parks swarm in seas of wildflowers. Let the tiniest bees find sanctuaries in uncut lawns. 

Recent research has proved how effective nature-based solutions will be in achieving carbon negativity, and while this seems like a faraway goal beyond even our hopes for neutral emissions, the principle remains. We must let the natural world heal us, and like our NHS, its healthcare should be available for all. 

The bee has begun such a resurgence. It is universally loved – not a private fantasy available only for mountain men and those blessed with life in the woods. What the bee teaches us is that what should be for everyone is nature. 

Sophie is writing about conservation at onthinkingatfifteen.wordpress.com

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Labour's plan for the climate and nature: The good, the bad and the glaringly absent
Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner announce new grey belt Labour housebuilding plan
General election 2024

Labour's plan for the climate and nature: The good, the bad and the glaringly absent

Water companies paid shareholders £377 for every hour they pumped sewage into seas, study finds
Pollution

Water companies paid shareholders £377 for every hour they pumped sewage into seas, study finds

Billions added to British energy bills due to failure to properly insulate homes, study finds
More insulation for homes is part of the Government's fight against fuel poverty
Energy bills

Billions added to British energy bills due to failure to properly insulate homes, study finds

What is Labour's Great British Energy plan – and will it really bring down bills and ease cost of living?
Keir Starmer addressing a business conference in London, February 2024
Great British Energy

What is Labour's Great British Energy plan – and will it really bring down bills and ease cost of living?

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know