How to Take Action to Preserve Nature

Four Methods:Conserving Your Local EnvironmentJoining With OthersReducing Your Carbon FootprintChoosing to Eat Sustainably

Being concerned about the environment can feel overwhelming, but there are actions that you can take to help preserve the natural world. Start by finding ways to protect the landbase and waterways in your own community and neighborhood. It's also important to reduce your own carbon footprint and make sustainable eating choices. You can maximize your actions by raising awareness of local environmental challenges among your friends and family, or joining with other activists to push for policies that protect nature.

Method 1
Conserving Your Local Environment

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    Stop mowing your lawn. The grasses and weeds will go to seed, and offer haven for insects and birds. Wildflowers will bloom, providing nourishment for bees. When you maintain a standard grass lawn, you’re depriving these creatures of their natural environment.[1]
    • You might wish to set aside part of your lawn to leave unmown, or you might decide to mow paths through longer grassy areas.
    • Be prepared to share your reasons with your neighbors, who might at first not realize the benefits of long grass.
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    Participate in beach or river cleanup. When people litter, their trash often makes its way to our local waterways, destroying the natural homesites of birds, fish and other waterland creatures. Help out by joining with others in beach or riverside cleanup events.[2]
    • If there’s not a cleanup in your area, consider creating one. All you’ll need are trash bags, rubber gloves, and a team of like-minded volunteers.
    • You can select any lake, river, creek, swamp, marsh, beach, or wetland you prefer to help clean.
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    Stop using pesticides. Pesticides, despite the name, don’t actually solve pest problems. Rather than spraying toxic pesticides that are dangerous to humans, pets, fish and birds, the best solution is to alter the garden environment in a way that causes the pests to leave.[3]
    • Try using beneficial insects that can control the pest population, or natural pesticides which have been developed to make the plant taste bad to the pest.
    • Pesticides include insecticides, herbicides, biocides, fungicides, and nematicides.
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    Plant native trees and shrubs. By planting trees and shrubs that are native to your area, you’ll be working with the local ecosystem rather than against it. Check with your local nursery, or with your state’s cooperative extension agency, to learn more about the particular varieties of native plants that might thrive on your property.[4]
    • Planting native plants helps with water conservation. Once established, little or no irrigation should be needed for most well-placed native plants.
    • You’ll be increasing the local biodiversity, establishing native pollinator and songbird habitats in your yard.
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    Catch your rainwater. A ½ inch of rain on a 1000 sq. foot roof produces about 280 gallons of water that you can then use to irrigate your garden, and clean items around your home. Most people use a rain barrel to save their rainwater until it’s used for irrigation. You can put a rain barrel directly beneath your gutter, or you can install a diverter that pulls water from your water drainage system.[5]
    • Rainwater isn’t safe for drinking; it should only be used for irrigation and cleaning purposes.
    • Saving your rainwater helps protect nature by preventing stormwater runoff from carrying trash, nutrients, and other pollution to your local lakes and streams.
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    Plant flowers that bees will like. Small, diverse plantings that bloom for multiple seasons will help support your local bee population. There are many reasons that bees are vital to your local ecosystem, including pollination of fruit trees and food crops.[6]
    • Examples of favorites among bees include borage, cleome, cosmos, “bee-balm” or monarda, verbena and zinnia.
    • Herbs that bees frequent include rosemary, thyme, mint, basil, and all kinds of sage or salvia.

Method 2
Joining With Others

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    Join an environmental activist organization. You can maximize the impact of your action by joining together with others who want to preserve nature. Being a part of an activist organization will help you keep abreast of any environmental legislation, or changes in legal threats to natural environments.[7]
    • Be aware that there are organizations with environmental-sounding names that actually work to dismantle legal protection for natural space. Research the organization thoroughly before getting involved with action.
    • For example, The Center for Whale Research does research on Orca whales in the Pacific Northwest, but the Institute for Cetacean Research is a front group for Japanese whaling concerns.
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    Spend time volunteering. Most communities have nonprofit environmental organizations that rely on volunteer help in order to do their work. Look in your local area for organizations that are doing the kind of work to preserve nature that you expect.[8]
    • Internships and international opportunities are also available to those who are able to travel.
    • You might find that your volunteer work leads to new actions and opportunities. Even if it starts with stapling flyers or doing data entry, your actions will help support protection of the environment.
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    Raise awareness of threats to nature. Make sure you share news about the threats to the environment, both inside and outside your community. Follow social media campaigns, and share their posts. Write letters to local newspapers and community blogs. Consider joining in with rallies and protest marches if you’re able.[9]
    • Connect with other activists on social media.
    • Share information through videos, photographs and facts. Create online polls that are quick to share with friends to collect information.
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    Sign or create a petition in response to a particular threat. While research is unclear on the legislative impacts of signing a petition, petitions often serve to raise awareness of particular issues and to draw interest. There are a variety of online organizations that make it very easy to create and share your own petition.[10]
    • It might help to know that research shows that people who sign online petitions are actually more likely than those who sign paper petitions to follow up with other forms of activism.
    • Follow up your petition with real-life action, such as calls to law-makers, organize a march, and talk to your friends about doing the same.

Method 3
Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

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    Conserve water in your home. Wait until you’ve got a full load of clothes before running the washing machine. Don’t turn on the dishwasher until it’s full, and allow your dishes to air dry rather than automatically drying.[11] By minimizing the amount of drinkable water you use for other purposes, you’re helping to protect your local water resources which are jeopardized in many areas.
    • Taking shorter showers, or turning off the water while you lather up, will save water. Set a timer if you need to.
    • Use water-conserving faucets, shower heads and toilets. Turn the faucet off while you brush your teeth or shave.
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    Turn off unnecessary lights. When you leave a room, make sure the lights are off. Having lights set on a timer may help you reduce the time they’re left on. If you use lights outdoors, make sure they’re motion sensitive so that they don’t get left on.[12]
    • Use natural lighting whenever possible, and consider installing skylights or light tunnels to light darker areas of the house.
    • Switch to energy efficient lightbulbs. Using less electricity translates to fewer greenhouse gases being discharged into the environment from your energy company.
    • Unplug chargers when they’re not in use. Chargers for your electronic devices are constant energy users, even when your device is unplugged.
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    Use biodegradable cleaning products. Remember that whatever goes down your drains will eventually end up in your local streams and creeks. Using biodegradable, or biocompatible, products will have less impact on the local wildlife.[13]
    • Usually biodegradable products will list this information on their labels. Look for this designation.
    • Avoid ingredients that are “antibacterial” or “antibiotic” as these will negatively impact the ecosystem.
    • Also avoid scented products, bleach, boron/borax, chlorine bleach, or ingredients with the word sodium in them, such as sodium hypochlorite.
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    Consider your transportation options. Before you fly, consider the option of driving. If you can drive, consider carpooling, or taking a train or public transportation. If you’re in the habit of driving or flying, you may be using unnecessary fossil fuels and negatively impacting the environment.[14]
    • If you’re going to fly, try to fly non-stop, as this will use less fuel.
    • Consider walking anyplace less than a mile away. Try biking to nearby destinations. Look into telecommuting into work occasionally to conserve energy.
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    Reduce the carbon footprint of your home. Conserve energy in your home by providing weatherstripping and caulking all windows, insulating your ceilings and floors. Purchase appliances that are energy-efficient; look for the “energy-star” designation.[15]
    • Use a programmable thermostat to conserve energy when you’re less active.
    • Make sure your heating and cooling systems are well-maintained and operated efficiently.

Method 4
Choosing to Eat Sustainably

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    Make sure the food you’re eating is grown sustainably. Eating sustainably means eating foods that support both your own good health and the sustainability of the environment. If you’re eating seafood, make sure that it’s not at risk of being overfished, or farmed in a way that’s damaging the environment.[16]
    • Try to buy from local growers whenever possible. Local farmers are usually invested in employing sustainable farm practices.
    • Read the labels on your food products. If you don’t recognize more than ⅓ of the words found there, look for something less processed.
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    Eat lower on the food chain. This means eat less beef (high on the food chain) and more roots, vegetables, and fruits. Smaller fish, being lower on the food chain, are usually better than larger fish. Plant-based foods require still less energy to produce. Shifting to a more plant-based style of eating will slow the deforestation that meat production requires.[17]
    • Healthy diet guidelines encourage at least 50% of your daily diet consist of fruits and vegetables.
    • If you do eat meat, treat it as a condiment rather than a main dish. Be aware that factory-farmed meat is produced in ways that contribute to greenhouse gases and environmental degradation.
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    Look for food that’s grown locally. You’ll avoid the energy required to transport products from far away. In addition, getting to know your local food producers will help you how your food was grown and harvested.[18]
    • Most fresh fish must be transported by air, if it’s not local. Even out-of-season frozen fish will be more sustainable than fresh fish flown in.[19]
    • As the nutritional value of food diminishes with time, eating locally grown food increases the amount of nutrition you’ll receive.[20]
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    Buy from trusted retailers. Many international food growers use unregulated or under-regulated environmental practices. American grown products, while not always perfect, are usually farmed with more sustainable practices. Take the time to research products you purchase regularly.[21]
    • Good retailers will be well-informed on the way their sellers practice sustainability.
    • Knowing more about your farmers and food sources through your retailers can help support local business, which are invested in protecting and preserving the environment.

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Categories: Animal Welfare Activism | Environmental Awareness