From composting to switching toothbrush – 25 little things you can do to save the planet

WILDLIFE populations have fallen by more than two thirds in less than 50 years – and humans are to blame.

We have sent the natural world into freefall by ploughing through plastic, over-fishing our seas and destroying forests globally.


Animal numbers around the world have plunged 68 per cent since 1970, according to conservation charity WWF’s Living Planet report.

African elephants in Tanzania, leatherback turtles in Indonesia, and Britain’s bees, partridges and puffins are all under threat.

Experts warn wildlife is being destroyed at a rate never seen before. But there are some simple switches that could make all the difference to the environment.

From cutting strings on your discarded face masks to choosing the right soap, Alice Fuller explains how you can do your bit to protect animals.

1. BEFORE throwing away your disposable face masks, cut the strings off. Birds and other creatures get caught up in the loops, which can strangle them. Even better, buy a pack of reusable masks — one for each day of the week.

2. Cut up the plastic rings from multipacks of beer. Wildlife can choke on them if they end up in oceans as they are invisible in water.

3. Switch to a bamboo toothbrush.  On average we go through four toothbrushes every 12 months, so 200million end up in landfill and the ocean every year. A bamboo toothbrush takes about six months to biodegrade and they can even be disposed of in a compost bin.

4. Use an eco-friendly soap and washing-up liquid. The chemicals you use at home can wash into the sea, rivers and lakes, killing plants and animals. Look for bio-degradable products without phosphates that come in recyclable packaging.

5. Eat more plants. You may not be ready to go completely vegan, but eating more fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes will help. The livestock industry alone generates almost 15 per cent of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions, and animal farming requires huge amounts of space and water.

6. Choose your sun cream carefully. Chemicals in some suncreams can damage coral reefs and pollute oceans. Avoid any with oxybenzone and octinoxate and look for brands which are labelled “reef friendly”.

7. Use paper-based or bamboo cotton buds instead of plastic. They decompose quicker and can be composted at home, which will stop animals mistaking them for food.

8. Plant a bee garden and build a log pile house. Woodlice, earwigs, beetles and other insects will love it – and so will the kids.

9. Swap your plastic bottles and single-use coffee cups for reusable ones. This reduces plastic pollution and protects animals and their natural habitats.

10. Participate in a coastal clean-up. Help keep our beaches clean of rubbish to stop sea turtles and other marine life being seriously injured or killed.

11. Check if items in your home can be recycled before throwing them away. A lot more can be recycled than many people realise, including coat hangers, lightbulbs, inhalers, bicycles, clothes, shoes and tennis balls. The more we recycle, the less ends up in landfill.

12. Look out for the “sustainable” logo when buying fish. A blue tick on labels means the Marine Stewardship Council has awarded the fishery sustainable status. It helps prevent over-fishing and protects the marine environment.

13. Clean your walking boots before heading out on a hike somewhere new. The mud caked on your shoes could contain seeds of invasive plants which can disrupt native ecosystems.

14. Start composting at home. It is the most environmentally-friendly way of dealing with kitchen and garden waste such as vegetable ends, grass clippings and wood chips. But avoid adding meat, dairy, oil and diseased plants.

15. Avoid products that use palm oil. Rainforests are being destroyed to produce it for everything from chocolate to shampoo which is harming already endangered species such as the orangutan.

16. Avoid taking selfies with animals abroad. Elephant rides and petting baby tigers may seem like fun, but many have been snatched from the wild and live in poor conditions.

17. Use rechargeable batteries. Single-use batteries end up in landfills and the acid is extremely damaging to soil and wildlife.

18. Join a bird count. Take part in the RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch and observe the birds in your garden or local park. It helps the charity monitor trends, understand how birds are doing and spot problems to put right.

19. Donate your leftover paint. Give old tins to friends or drop them off at a local centre to prevent the chemical and toxic waste ending up in nature.

20. Adopt an elephant or other endangered species. From as little as £3 a month you can help fund conservation work which protects habitats and reduces poaching.

21. Donate to a wildlife conservation charity. There are hundreds to choose from — so find one in your local area or one which supports your favourite animal.

22. Sign up to a wonky food box. Stop unusually shaped fresh fruit and veg from going to waste with companies including Oddbox, Morrisons and wonkyvegboxes.co.uk. It saves food waste and it’s cheaper.

23. Volunteer at an animal sanctuary. Sign up to help out at a local wildlife centre or, if living abroad, help protect endangered species and conserve natural habitats.

24. Switch your gas boiler to a biomass one. It will cut down carbon emissions – and as long as plants are growing, there will always be fuel.

25. Opt for an eco-friendly car. Electric and hybrid vehicles have lower emissions making streets less polluted for pedestrians, cyclists and city wildlife.

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