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The other animals with whom we share our planet are in dire need now more than ever given the enormous impact humanity’s had, especially in the last few decades as both our population and consumption have rapidly increased. Public and corporate policy changes are perhaps most critical to stopping the mass extinctions we’re causing, yet each one of us can still make a difference in our daily lives, as well. Here are a few things to think about:

Buy Used

One of the biggest threats wildlife face is our destruction of their homes. That destruction takes place for many reasons, and some are more trivial than others. Growing fruit to feed ourselves is on the more important side of the spectrum, while growing commodities to produce the wide array of consumers goods we likely already have too many of is on the other. The good news: The pre-owned economy is booming, and buying into it generally means you’re using far fewer resources. And buying pre-owned doesn’t mean you need to search out thrift stores, though they’re a great option. If you buy a lot on Amazon, check to see if the item you’re going to order is offered used from them. This will save you money while helping wildlife.

Eat Plant- Based

The elephant in the room–or perhaps the chicken–when it comes to wildlife protection is our meat-centric diet. Greenpeace just issued a report declaring that we need to cut meat consumption in half for climate purposes. The Center for Biological Diversity says that if we want to prevent wildlife extinction, the best thing we can do is eat less meat. And the Union of Concerned Scientists concludes that two of the leading causes of global deforestation are the creation of pasture land for cattle grazing and growing crops to feed animals confined on factory farms. The bottom line: eating lower on the food chain can help lower your impact on wildlife. Want free recipes? Check out www.PlantBasedOnABudget.com.  

Support Women in the Developing World

There are hundreds of millions of women in developing countries who want to have smaller families so they can lift themselves out of poverty and give their kids a better chance in life. Yet they often lack education, access to family planning, and other important resources. Groups like Pathfinder International are helping these women, and they deserve your help.

Use Less Plastic

Did you know that virtually every piece of plastic ever made since the 1950s still exists? In other words, it doesn’t biodegrade, presenting huge threats to wildlife. Especially true for sea creatures, plastic can entrap and strangle animals, preventing them from moving, eating, or breathing. It’s of course better to recycle, but that just kicks the problem down the road since the plastic will still be in existence for millenia. It’s nearly impossible to avoid all plastic (I’m typing this on a plastic keyboard right now, for example), but avoiding single-use plastic (eg, plastic bags and bottles) is a good step.  

Share Your Yard with Wildlife

Rather than mowing your lawn, why not let it grow to provide critical habitat to animals who have nowhere else to find food and shelter? Planting native, pollinator-friendly bushes and other plants is a good way to attract friendly animals and giving your whole family a fun viewing experience. Wouldn’t watching a cute opossum eat ticks in your yard be better than having a barren, boring cut-grass lawn?