New Year's Resolutions for Nature

Wednesday, January 1, 2020
An entire decade has come and gone before our eyes, and boy did it go out with a bang. 2019 was unarguably the year we received a harsh wake-up call to the reality of the climate crisis that is facing the planet. And while it may be difficult to talk about, these conversations are imperative in order to bring about real, positive change in the world. Each one of our daily actions have an impact on the environment, and it is our duty as stewards of the Earth to make a conscious effort to ensure that that impact is as positive as humanly possible. Let's kick off 2020 by reviewing simple resolutions we can make to help nature rebound to it's former beauty.

Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) male feeding his chicks

1. Take care of the birds
We were hit with staggering reports this year of the rapid decline in bird populations all across North America. Since 1970, we have lost nearly three billion birds. That's 1 in every 4 birds - gone. This harrowing news hit home for many, and was a fierce wake-up call to take immediate action to help our avian friends. Thanks to the report released by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, we now have an outline of 7 Simple Actions we can take in our own homes to help bring birds back. Those actions are: Make Windows Safer, Keep Cats Indoors, Use Native Plants, Avoid Pesticides, Drink Shade-Grown Coffee, Use Less Plastic, and Do Citizen Science (like Project FeederWatch which is happening now!). Something that is a tremendous benefit to the birds that many of us already practice is providing a year-round supply of food & fresh water. In order to ensure we are helping rather than harming, it is of the utmost importance to keep feeders and baths clean to avoid bacteria growth and the spread of harmful diseases. Click here to learn more about how you can help bring birds back!

2. Say no to fast fashion
Have you heard the term "fast fashion"? Fast fashion can be described as inexpensive, trendy clothing that is designed to be made as quickly, and cheaply as possible. Meaning that garments are made to last until the next trend hits the shelves - which in some cases is as little as a few short weeks! Fast fashion clothing is typically made from cheap textiles such as polyester, which shed plastic microfibers in to the environment. Each time we wash these fabrics they release hundreds of thousands of synthetic fibers in our washing machines, which then make their way to wastewater treatment plants where up to 40% of them end up in rivers, lakes, and oceans. Research on fish in the Great Lakes has shown that wild caught specimens were filled with synthetic fibers, some of which were weaving their way in to the gastrointestinal tract. Fast fashion makes up a large sum of clothes that are available (and affordable) to the average person, but there are brands fighting to change this wasteful trend of mass-produced, cheaply made clothing. One brand that's taken the "green" spotlight in recent years is the Canadian-born company, tentree. tentree creates many of their items from sustainable materials such as hemp, organic cotton, and TENCEL which is a wood pulp fiber used in their signature TreeBlend material. Not only do they use eco-friendly fabrics to create their stylish products, but for every item purchased, tentree plants 10 trees (get it?) in one of their planting project zones which are located in several countries including Canada, Madagascar, Nepal, and more. Win-win for us and the planet!

Honeybee drinking nectar and gathering pollen from dandelion
3. Unmaintain your yard
Most of us have been taught that our lawns should be covered in blankets of lush green grass, and free from weeds, fallen leaves, and insects. We all also have a strong dislike for mowing the lawn or raking leaves.. so why do it? Numerous studies have shown that insect populations have plummeted in recent years largely due to habitat loss and pesticide use, both of which are caused by having "perfectly manicured" lawns. Not to mention, the use of gas-powered machines like lawn mowers pump out more carbon emissions than gas-powered vehicles in the same amount of time used. It's time to revolutionize the way we view our yards, and learn to do less when it comes to lawn maintenance. By cutting down on cut grass space, avoiding pesticides, and lessening lawn mower & leaf blower use in our yards, we can help our native flora & fauna species thrive once again. But being lazy about our lawn care doesn't mean we have to have boring or "messy" yards, there are several native wildflowers (yes, even dandelions!), bushes, trees, and grasses that can help achieve a beautiful and ecologically beneficial yard space that provides joy and nourishment to humans and wildlife alike. For more information on how to re-wild your yard, click here.

2. Ditch single-use plastics
Currently, less than 10% of plastic waste in Canada gets recycled. The Canadian government has announced a plan to ban single-use plastics as early as 2021, but why wait? It's time we take a refresher on 'Reduce - Reuse - Recycle' and put reduce at the top of our list. Making the switch to reusables and biodegradables has never been easier with the thousands of widely available eco-friendly products to replace common single-use plastic items such as straws, cutlery, and food wraps. Here at Wild Birds Unlimited Barrie, we carry a wide variety of green products to help you minimize plastic pollution including Abeego beeswax food wraps, stainless steel straws, dryer balls, and more.

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) feeding from hand

Whatever your resolutions are for 2020, let us embark on this new journey with nature in mind & help make this beautiful planet of ours a safe and healthy one for all who inhabit it.

Happy New Year!
- Shayna

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