Celebrated annually on June 5, the United Nations hosts World Environment Day to help raise awareness about the environment and invite people around the world to take action to protect our planet and its natural resources. Since its inception in 1974, a different country has hosted the event with a specific theme. This year’s theme is ‘ecosystem restoration’ and focuses on resetting our relationship with nature.
As host of World Environment Day, Pakistan will highlight environmental issues and showcase its initiatives and their role in global efforts. Led by Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Government of Pakistan – in one of the world’s most ambitious afforestation efforts – plans to expand and restore the country’s forests through a 10 Billion Tree Tsunami spread over five years.
The campaign includes restoring mangroves and forest and planting trees in urban settings, including schools, colleges, public parks and green belts. Pakistan has launched an Ecosystem Restoration Fund to support nature-based solutions to climate change and facilitate the transition towards environmentally resilient, ecologically targeted initiatives covering afforestation and biodiversity conservation.
However, anyone worldwide can participate in the celebration to raise awareness about our impact on nature and how we can reset our relationship with the planet. You can sign up on the WED site for updates on official events in your local area, or you can come up with ways that you and your family can celebrate right in your neighbourhood. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Plant native Australian flora for the bees
Bee populations are dwindling worldwide. Ensuring that native Australian bee species have plenty of their favourite flowers and plants on which to feed goes a long way towards helping those populations build back up. These plants include abelias, bottlebrushes, honey myrtle and other native Aussie flowers which you can plant in your backyard. You could also organise a group of keen gardeners to grow native plants in your community or children’s school.
Compost your food waste
Composting is one of the most effective ways that you can help the environment. Food waste makes up almost 40% of the typical domestic rubbish bin, including spoiled fruit and vegetables, the peels, the skins, the outer leaves, the cores, the husks, the seeds—the ‘inedible’ bits. By sending food waste to landfill, Australians generate methane equal to around 6.8 million tonnes of carbonic acid gas. Methane is 30x more potent than your average Co2.
Avoid single-use plastics
Can you go a whole day without buying anything in plastic? It’s a big ask but give yourself a challenge, you might be surprised at how easy you find it! Today could be a great day to check out your local bulk store or farmers market.
Adjust your thermostat
Greenhouse gas emissions occur anytime non-renewable energy is used to heat our houses. One of the top tips for saving CO2 is to turn your thermostat down by 2 degrees C in the winter and up by 2 degrees in the summer. These are temperatures that you won’t even notice but make a massive difference to energy saving.
Try to think about when you will really need the house heating and only turn the heating on when you are in the house. For example, if you’re heading for a trip away for the weekend and it’s the summertime, you could probably knock the heating off while you are away. Likewise, when it comes to your air conditioner, open up your house when the cool change comes in the evening and sleep with a light cotton sheet.
Take part in a beach clean-up.
At least 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year and make up 80% of all marine debris from surface waters to deep-sea sediments. There are various ways that this plastic ends up in our oceans, but one way we can help stop quickly is the amount of plastic that the tide sweeps up from the beach and coastlines.
You can make a difference by joining a beach clean-up organisation in your area or hosting your own! Simply get a group of like-minded eco-enthusiasts together and pick up any rubbish you see on your local beach to make it a safer and more pleasant place to be.
Do you celebrate World Environment Day? How do you mark the occasion? Let us know in the comments below.