I’m writing this blog post only a few days after the death of Sudan, the World’s last male northern white rhino. Never has the rate and threat of extinction seemed so real and like many other environmentalists, I'm not feeling particularly positive about the current health of our planet and its ecosystems right now.
‘Although extinction is a natural phenomenon, it occurs at a natural ‘background’ rate of about 1-5 species per year. Scientists now estimate we’re losing species at 1,000 - 10,000 times the background rate. With literally dozens of species going extinct every day’ - Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity Eric Chivian and Aaron Bernstein.
The devastating news of Sudan highlights why we need to act now. Sudan and the northern white rhino is sadly the perfect and unfortunate symbol of a critical tipping point. Although there are hopes to save the species through in vitro fertilisation, some argue that even when Sudan was alive, it was too late for the northern white rhino to successfully re-establish and recover, simply because the gene pool is too small.
Photo credit: Tony Karumba
Let’s not let leave our other species and wider global environmental challenges such as Climate Change, Water Scarcity, Ocean Acidification (to name but a few) to reach similar unrecoverable states.
But how do you begin to tackle such complex issues? Well something that is within your control and influence and also manageable is your own actions. I’m a strong advocate that small actions can collectively make a big difference, and your personal contribution to these issues can start by making a promise for the planet.
Making your promise, is easy, head to the WWF website for some inspiration, maybe your promise will be to refuse plastic cutlery with takeaway food or to eat less meat?
To give you some motivation, here’s a summary of my Promises for the Planet and a little information on how I plan to achieve these promises.
I promise to continue to reduce my waste production
I continue to learn ways in which I can reduce my waste production through the fantastic ‘Zero Waste’ community on Instagram @lizziebombini has been a particularly helpful zero waste guru - check her out! This isn't something you can change overnight so don't expect this promise to be a quick fix. For help meeting this promise, keep an eye out for my #sustainableswapsunday posts where I share easy and simple waste free products and life hacks.
I promise to support local biodiversity and conservation
I’m a member of the Surrey Wildlife Trust and this year once I have completed my training for the London Marathon I promise to spend a day volunteering with the trust to undertake some practical conservation and restoration work in my local area! In the meantime, I know my membership fee supports vital conservation work and habitat management. Are you a member of your local Wildlife Trust?
I promise to offset my Carbon Emissions from my recent trip to Hawaii
I decided upon this promise, when after using the WWF footprint calculator I realised that unsurprisingly travel was my greatest environmental impact. This promise is currently a work in progress as I’m still investigating the best organisation to use. I’m looking to offset approximately 2 tonnes of CO2e from my round trip, if you have any suggestions of reputable offsetting scheme please do let me know!
I hope this has inspired you to make your Promise for the Planet - you only have a few days left until Earth Hour on the 24th March so don’t delay!