On Endangered Species Day this year (May 19), I was asked by a friend for some quick tips on being more “animal friendly.” There are innumerable things we can all do to protect wildlife and endangered animals around the world, but even though I work for an environmental nonprofit, I sometimes feel overwhelmed with everything I should or could be doing! So in my list I focused on quick changes and easy options that anyone can do, whether you’re a blue collar worker in Oklahoma City or a Wall Street professional.
BE A SMART CONSUMER
1. Next time you purchase something, check to see if there are animals parts or products in it. Do not purchase anything with ivory, rhino horn, whale meat, pangolin scales, or tiger parts in it. There are thousands of other animals I could list here, but these are some big ones.
2. Coffee drinker? Purchase Bird Friendly Certified brands, like Birds & Beans Coffee. These brands are shade grown, involve local communities in the growing, and are certified sustainable. Lots of people are familiar with Rainforest Alliance Certified, and while this is also great, not all certifications are created equal. Do your research, learn more about what goes into a specific certification.
MAKE YOUR BACKYARD ANIMAL FRIENDLY
1. Many species are becoming endangered due to loss of habitat. If you have a backyard, make it animal friendly by allowing trees and shrubs to grow naturally. This way, if a bird or creature loses its home to a new building or parking lot, they’ll have a place to go!
2. Live in a city? Ask your building management if they would consider a roof top habitat. This might require a lot of effort and work, but you never know unless you ask, and change starts with you.
CLEAN UP AND ASK QUESTIONS
1. Garbage on the streets! Pick it up, throw it out, whether it’s yours or not. Thousands of creatures, terrestrial and marine, will gobble it up accidentally thinking it’s food. Quite plainly, this is killing them. We’re feeding garbage– inedible, toxic crap–to animals. Come on, we know better than that. (Fact: Over 8 million TONS of garbage end up in our oceans each year.
2. Stay curious and ask questions. For example: “What can I do to help the beluga whale? It’s my favorite animal. What organizations are working to protect the beluga, maybe I can donate some money to help them in their work.” (Fact: The Environmental Investigation Agency is doing some amazing work to protect belugas and other marine life, consider donating there!) Or, “I really love seafood, but I know a lot of fish are endangered due to overfishing. How can I help?” Download the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch app to show you what’s good!
Alright, team. Get out there and do some good. Save all the animals.