New Year’s Conservalutions
It’s about to be 2019, so you know what that means – New Year’s Resolutions! You’re probably resolving to hit the gym more, eat less chocolate and more vegetables, etc. Those are great resolutions, but maybe this year you could make resolutions that will help the world around you as well as yourself – Conservalutions!
All year long we’ve been talking about the simple things you can do in your everyday lives to help animals and ecosystems near and far, and here’s a list of 10 you can pick from (or just pick all 10) for you to Consolve to do in 2019.
1. Say farewell to plastic straws
Hopefully, one day we’ll be able to go to a restaurant and order a drink without a straw being forced on us every time, but at the moment, it’s going to take some effort to dodge those pesky straws. Did you know the U.S. produces 500 million straws every day? Our population is currently 325.7 million! Most of these straws are used once and then discarded (they can’t be recycled), and the majority of these straws eventually will end up in our rivers and oceans. It may sometimes feel uncomfortable to turn down a straw, but just think of it like saving a sea turtle or whale every time. If you still have anxiety around drinking directly out of cups, buy your own metal, reusable straws (you can find them on Amazon) instead of adding to the plastic in our oceans by using five straws a day.
2. Cut back on single-use plastics
And while you’re at it, try to cut down on all single-use plastics like coffee cup lids, plastic utensils, etc. Americans are really good at not recycling, so we discard about 30 million tons of plastic every year. Be the change in 2019! Buy refillable water bottles, buy one of those reusable coffee cups (pretty sure you get a discount at Starbucks), and carry around some real metal utensils. Or, at least, if you’re getting your food to go, don’t get any plastic wrapped plasticware to take home with you. Hopefully you have some silverware at home. If not, Consolve to buy some silverware!
3. Download the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Palm Oil App
Now that you’re saving the world from plastic, let’s turn to animals. The palm oil crisis is a constant threat to critically endangered animals like tigers and orangutans, but by being a savvy shopper, you can support companies that use sustainable palm oil practices while avoiding the companies that destroy rainforests and endangered animal habitats. For an easy Conservalution, download the app and see which of your favorite products uses sustainable palm oil and which ones you might want to skip buying at the store.
4. Download the Monterey Bay Aquarium Sustainable Seafood App
If you’re a fishy person, check out the Sustainable Seafood App developed by Monterey Bay Aquarium. Much like products made with palm oil, fish are farmed and caught using sustainable and unsustainable practices. Some of the unsustainable practices can destroy seafloor habitats, lead to the deaths of by-caught animals (unwanted/unintended caught animals) and spread diseases. Using the app, you can see how fish were caught and whether that species of fish has a healthy population or if it is becoming more endangered.
5. Meatless Mondays
Do you need to eat meat every day? If the answer is no, try going meatless on Mondays in 2019. The livestock industry is growing and growing as the demand for more meat grows with the rising populations, and in the process, more and more land is being converted into livestock land. At this point, 40 percent of all terrestrial land is devoted to livestock. The problem is that it isn’t unoccupied land that’s being converted to fields; it’s rainforests filled with thousands of incredible and endangered species. By lowering the demand for meat just a little, we are helping slow down the rate that ecosystems are being destroyed around the world.
6. Recycle old phones and electronic devices
Maybe Santa is bringing you a new phone this year! If so, then you can recycle your old phone! Cell phones and other electronic devices contain a mineral called coltan, which makes the battery work, so it’s important. Unfortunately, coltan is primarily mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is right in the middle of critically endangered gorilla habitats. It’s a complicated situation over there, but simply, the more mines, the fewer gorillas. You can reduce the demand for coltan by finding your old phones new homes or taking them to a place that can properly recycle them. Join us at the Super Bowl LII Recycling Rally on January 19. Zoo Atlanta has teamed up with the National Football League, Verizon and the Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee for a Super Bowl project that helps to protect animal habitats and preserve the natural environment
7. Save the bees (and other pollinators)!
If you haven’t heard, bee populations are taking a hit. Because of habitat loss, invasive pests, disease, pesticide and climate change, of the 4,300 species of bees in North America alone, more than 50 percent are in decline while 25 percent are now listed as threatened or endangered. You can help the local bees by planting a variety of native flowering plants in your garden (or a pot on your porch) and limit your use of pesticides. By giving bees, butterflies and other pollinators a healthy source of food, their colonies will thrive and they can continue to do their jobs.
8. Watch for wildlife-trafficking on social media
Because we aren’t superheroes, it’s difficult to fight issues like wildlife trafficking head-on. If there’s one thing we can do, though, it’s being careful what we share on social media. You might see a “cute” video of an exotic animal like a slow loris or other small primate being treated like a pet, but that’s not a pet, that’s wildlife trafficking. If you see a friend of a friend take a selfie sitting with a tiger cub, that’s not a normal behavior for a tiger cub, that’s wildlife trafficking. Instead of liking and sharing these posts and unknowingly supporting illegal wildlife trafficking groups, inform your friends about what is really going on, or, if they aren’t really your friends, you can always just … unfriend them.
9. Research your next pet
If you’re looking for a real pet in 2019 like a cat or a dog, be sure to do your research first! Many times, pets are bought or adopted impulsively, and the long-term isn’t quite considered. Dogs and cats will require daily attention and exercise, will need medicine for fleas and potentially other medical issues later in life, and of course, plenty of food and toys. It can get pretty expensive! Then there are other animals like tortoises and birds that can live for decades. Decades! When you adopt a parrot, it’s a decision that you could literally live with the rest of your life. So be sure you are ready to commit to a pet and make sure you don’t end up abandoning it at a shelter because you made a poor decision. (And please do not consider a wild animal as a “pet.”)
10. Reduce your carbon footprint
Last, but not least, is an all-encompassing Conservalution. You can reduce your carbon footprint in many different ways, but consider some of these simple ones for 2019. Turn off the light whenever you leave a room unoccupied, unplug electronics not being used, buy energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs, wash your clothes with cold water, find a green commuting option (or a carpool group) and do any of the other Conservalutions listed above. Anything you can do to conserve energy, reduce plastic use and reduce the demand for products to conserve endangered habitats will make the world a better place. We hope you have a wonderful 2019 powered by conservation!