Check the calendar – it’s Earth Month! We’re celebrating Earth Day, officially on April 22, all month long with content celebrating our precious blue planet. As people become increasingly aware of the impacts of our lives on the health of earth’s ecosystems, we want to provide a few easy-to-implement ways for you to adjust your lifestyle to better serve the earth.
1. Reduce Overall Consumption
Fast-fashion, one-click ordering, two-day shipping : anything we could want is at our fingertips in the modern digital age. Convenient as it is for the consumer, this increase in consumption has wreaked havoc on natural resources globally. Before making that next impulse purchase or choosing a single-use item, pause to consider if the impact to the environment is worth it or necessary.
Consumption isn’t just about goods, though – think about energy as something you consume, too. Making simple choices like turning off extra lights, taking shorter showers, or using a more sustainable mode of transportation like walking, biking or public transit have a really big impact in our world!
2. Make Sustainable Food Choices
Did you know that it takes over 1,800 gallons of water to produce once pound of beef? Or that the average meal in the U.S. has traveled roughly 1,500 miles before it gets to your plate? This year, pledge to make more sustainable food choices in a few easy ways:
- Prioritize locally grown or created products. Reduce your carbon footprint by limiting food miles, all while supporting your local economy. The carbon cost of transporting food across the nation and around the world is hidden in modern grocery stores – we’re used to seeing abundant shelves with fresh produce in all seasons. But this isn’t the reality of growing food in most climates. Instead, focus on products locally grown and produced when possible. Joining a local farm co-op or Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program is one option for exploring your local produce scene each season.
- Select products which are conservation minded. Many of our favorite products directly impact wildlife in negative ways. Choose conservation focused options like bird-friendly coffee, certified sustainable seafood, sustainable palm oil, and other biodiversity-focused products. (Pssst – you can find bird safe coffee at our Brandywine Zoo gift shop!)
3. Engage in Citizen Science
There are tons of ways for ordinary people to contribute to scientific research and stay connected to their environment! A few of our favorite citizen science projects are below:
- Horseshoe Crab Spawning Survey – Hosted annually by DNREC’s Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR) in May and June, these surveys give scientists critical data about horseshoe crab populations, spawning habits and ecological factors. Learn more
- Bat Spotters – DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife is closely monitoring bat populations in the state and needs your help with counting surveys or adopting colonies! Learn more.
- Delaware Shorebird Project – DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife is working to mitigate the threat to shorebird populations through research, monitoring, habitat protection and management planning. Citizen scientists work side-by-side with scientists and researchers in the field to collect data, assist with banding operations, data entry and more. Get involved here.
- Seek by iNaturalist – Seek is a mobile app designed to engage everyday people in getting curious about the natural world. Use your phone’s camera to identify things you find from leaves to flowers, bugs to mushrooms. Create your own digital collection and earn badges for different things. Then, scientists and researchers internationally can use the data you collect to support their work. Learn more.
- eBird by Cornell Lab of Ornithology – eBird is a global online database of birding records and activities around the world. The mobile app makes it easy for you to identify and track the types of birds you see and makes your data openly available for researchers and educators globally. Learn more.
4. Nurture Natural Spaces
We all have our favorite natural place, space or park (we happen to have 17 of them!) where we take refuge from – and in – the world. Honor that place and others like it by supporting conservation organizations, conservation legislation and non-profits working to create more of these valuable, one-of-a-kind environments.
Keep wild spaces clean from litter or debris, and keep them wild by limiting infrastructure, introduced species and wildlife interactions. Note: we love a good selfie, but please stop taking them with wildlife. We’d much rather work on habitat restoration than rescuing you from your own misadventure.
5. Do what you can
Every person has their own set of circumstances, abilities, needs and desires to negotiate in this conservation conversation. The best thing that you can do is to do what you can. Do you need a straw or single-use product to live your daily life to its fullest? No problem. Is there a zero-percent chance that you will ever remember to pack your lunch from local products on the daily? Us too – don’t sweat it. Is your schedule too busy to lend a hand to scientists? Don’t worry about it. Does your budget require fast-fashion or other unsustainable options? No big deal.
At the bottom of it all, the earth needs more than any one of us can give alone – but every little bit adds up. So you make the changes you can and keep cheering on others who are, too.