Environ­mental protec­tion: Small steps with a large effect

Many people who carry out small changes are able to achieve an enormous effect. In our blog article you can learn more about small steps to take in order to make the world a better place.

David
David
Nature
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"If I'm the only one who tries to change something, it won't have any effect." Wrong! Many people who take care of small changes can have a big impact together! Learn more about easy steps to make a difference in the world.

Our animal world is drastically reduced. Since 2007 we've lost over 6,200 rhinos to poachers; 40,000 elephants are killed every year; the pangolin population is wiped out (if you ask yourself now what a pangolin is, google it: it's a fantastic creature). At the moment, almost 8,000 predators are kept in captivity, but not for conservation purposes; the oceans are filling with plastic; forests are disappearing and species are dying before we have even discovered them. All this is very depressing, but for a large part of the population it is easier to focus on seemingly more important things. Let the environmentalists save the planet in the meantime.

Wrong. There are thousands of dedicated environmentalists fighting for our planet, celebrities asking their fans for help, royals speaking out for our cause and yet we still have difficulties...
But there is still hope. Here are some simple ways you can make a difference. Some are obvious, others less.

Do not buy products of endangered species

Ivory, coral, tortoise shell, bones and fur are not acceptable. Wearing Shahtoosh is now a taboo as it has led to the decline of the Tibetan antelope. Imagine what Baobab Shampoo could mean for the future of the majestic baobab tree.

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Think of the presumably bloody origin of the new display decorated with ivory carvings. Militia groups and other armed groups such as Janjaweed and LRA, responsible for the widespread insecurity and bloodshed, have been suspected of brutally killing elephants and illegally trading ivory.

Easy: do not buy products of endangered species

Think about it before going to the circus.

Ask yourself things like: Where do these animals come from? What cruelties have they endured and will they endure in the future when I buy these circus tickets? They certainly didn't walk out of the jungle and into the cages voluntarily.

Easy: Don't go to the circus when wild animals are part of the show.
Less easy: explain the reasons to your children.

Do not buy in pet stores that sell exotic animals

By directly supporting pet stores that sell wild animals, you are likely to indirectly support poaching and illegal pet trading. And while we're at it... You're stirring up more animal crimes, leading to international terrorism and destabilizing weak democracies. Illegal trade in wild animals is the 5th most lucrative criminal trade in the world. To put it in simple words – parrots, canaries, finches, nymph parakeets, lovebirds, budgies, macaws, grey parrots (to name but a few) are exotic animals. It's very simple: don't buy them.

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Let's take the popular grey parrot as an example: We all love this bird because it looks pretty and entertains us and can say our names. The grey parrot is close to extinction in the wilderness, mainly because of the international animal trade. Their journey to the pet trade probably consisted of being stuffed in a cage, bag or water bottle and being smuggled through customs by a criminal. About one in six birds survives the journey across the border, which means that 83% of these birds die on the way to your bird cage. Poachers plan to do this and catch four times as many to make up for the death rate.

And anyway, why keep a bird in a cage? Birds have wings and should be able to use them. Your friends and children will see your bird and want to have one. Your bird is a kind of demand booster.

Easy: Don't buy your pet food from a pet shop that sells exotics.
Less easy: Don't buy this parrot you wanted so badly.
Difficult: Take your bird to an official sanctuary, where it will have the opportunity to spread its wings and not tempt other people to buy. You don't let him down but offer him a better life and help save an endangered species.

Stay away from places that offer interactions with wild animals.

Keywords to watch out for are "encounter", "interact", "pet", "go for a walk" and "feed".

Cats of prey

A young lion or cheetah that you cuddle with will not be released into the wild again. When it is fully grown, it is not released back into nature. Don't let them tell you anything else. There is a 90% chance (although statistics are impossible, as it is done illegally) that a lion cub will be shot in an enclosure by a hunter. These lions are raised in captivity to be shot. 800 - 1000 lions are shot every year in South Africa. 10 of these hunts (maximum) are legal. Stroking the young = gate hunting. If you are not convinced yet, www.bloodlions.org is a good start.

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"From petting the young, the lion is taken for a walk as it gets older, which is another bad step as it obviously becomes easier to hunt them because they are used to humans. They are fed from the rear of a vehicle, so when they see a vehicle driving into their enclosure, their immediate reaction is to seek out this human interaction because they think there is food," says Abrahamson.

These kittens are only there because there is a market for them: because this experience is paid for. It is a business, not a protection center, because protection centers do not offer such interactions.

Easy: Delete all selfies you have with wild animals.
Less easy: Do not visit places that offer caressing of young animals or other interactions with wild animals.
Less easy: Get smart and watch Blood Lions.

Elephants

Be careful with apparent "protection centres", because they do not offer elephant rides.

"In Myanmar, domesticated elephants are used to lure wild animals into pits, where older, protective herd members are often killed, while the more valuable young ones are taken along. The young elephants are brought to Thai-Myanmar border areas and then get mentally broken and prepared for their training before being sold to the tourism industry in Thailand, where they have to work in tourist camps or hotels." - 2014 TRAFFIC Report

Easy: Don't ride elephants.
Easy: Do not stay in accommodation that offers elephant rides.

Do not spread unethical media

Think before sharing a photo or video of a "sweet baby animal" interacting with humans. With this post you spread the seed further: people see it and want it too.

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If you're unsure, research the mail and get smart. A good example is a Plumploris post that has gone virally: the animal has its arms in the air and seems to enjoy its belly being petted; it's pretty sweet. However, this is not the case. It holds its arms up as it panics and tries to protect itself by collecting poison from glands in its elbow.

Easy: Don't spread unethical media, no matter how sweet they may be.

Save the seas

You think dolphins and turtles are cool? Plastic in the oceans now surpasses marine animals by a factor of six. Don't be lazy and use less plastic, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year. These finally end up on garbage dumps, in seas, rivers and parks, where they choke, strangle and starve wild animals.

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"Wherever there is fishing, there is by-catch – the occasional capture of non-target species such as dolphins, sea turtles and seabirds. Every day, miles of nets and cords are released into the oceans. Modern fishing equipment, often invisible and very strong, is very efficient at catching the desired species and anything else that crosses its path. An amazing amount of sea creatures, such as turtles, dolphins and juveniles, are brought up with the catch and then thrown overboard dead or dying." - WWF

Easy: Do not use straws.
Less easy: Remember to take a reusable bag with you before you go shopping.
Hard (at the beginning): Don't buy pike from the supermarket. Eat sustainably caught fish.
Hard: The next time you eat in a restaurant, ask the waiter/manager if the fish they serve was caught sustainably.
Easy: visit wwfsassi.co.za – print the guide and attach it to your fridge.

Avoid products with microbeads

Microbeads can be found in soaps, peelings, toothpaste, cosmetics, household cleaners and more. They are made of plastic and end up in the seas, where these poisoned little beads are consumed by fish and other marine animals. The smallest plastic particles are picked up and retained by filter feeders such as mussels. Belgian toxicologist Colin Janssen (University of Ghent) has found that on average every gram of mussel meat contains a plastic particle.

Easy: Don't buy products that contain microbeads.

Meat-free Monday

The amount of carbon dioxide equivalent produced for a veggie burger is just over 200 g, whereas for a single beef burger it is almost 6000 g. Worse still, every second an area the size of a football field in the Amazon is cleared to produce 250 beef burgers.

The Amazon rainforest is home to more plants and animals than any other terrestrial ecosystem on the planet; about 30% of all species live here. In addition to their intrinsic value as living organisms, these species have a potential value in the form of cures for disease, food for nearly 1 million people, and assistance in mitigating the worst effects of climate change. It is assumed that the trees in the Amazon absorb about 250 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. This forest is important for our climate.


Easy: Put in a meat-free day a week.
Less easy: four times a week.

Palm oil

Easy: Google it.
Lightweight: Read the labels on food packaging.
Less easy: Become aware of the scale of the palm oil problem.

Save water

Easy: Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth (you'd be surprised, as usual).
Easy: Put one bucket in the shower and one in the sink and use this water to water the flowers.
Easy: Turn off the shower while you wash your hair.
Less easy: Place a rainwater tank.

Save electricity

Easy: Don't fill the kettle for just one cup of tea.
Easy: Turn down the temperature control on your water heater.

Recycle. Reuse

Easy: Recycling is easy once you've started. You'll wonder why it took you so long.
Easy: Use your yoghurt pots again instead of buying new plastic containers.

Support an organization

Donate a small monthly amount to an environmental organization. It doesn't have to be much. For example, consider what you would spend on a six-pack of beer or a bottle of wine and donate the appropriate amount.

Easy: Create a standing order.
Less easy: Decide which organization you want to support.

Final thoughts

We are sure that one day we will look back as a species and ask ourselves how we could believe that our way of life would be sustainable. Future generations will be frightened. Change isn't easy unless you try.

When all your Facebook friends read this post and make even small changes in their lifestyle, imagine the influence we could have together. If each of your friends would do the same and go on and on, we might even be able to save our earth.

Get involved – tell others.
Commit yourself more – follow all the "steps".

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