Just like people, animals need homes. But when too many forests are cleared to plant crops and build roads, and too many seabeds are destroyed to gather fish, critters struggle to survive. This is called habitat destruction. Read on to learn how small changes from you can mean big help for wildlife.
Scrap junk mail
Is your house full of mail from places like banks and utility companies? Ask your parents to sign up for online alerts. And make sure to recycle newspapers, magazines, and other paper in your home.
Clean your shoes before going on a hike, especially in a new place. The mud caked in your sneakers may contain seeds of invasive plants, which can push out native plants that keep the ecosystem healthy.
Flush only your own waste and toilet paper—no medicine, cleaning wipes, cotton balls, paint, or pet poo. This trash can eventually travel into the water system and affect the animals that live there.
Your attendance matters! Wildlife refuges, parks, bird sanctuaries, and nature preserves are more likely to receive funding to stay open when more people visit them.
Money makes a difference
Work a lemonade stand, host a bake sale, or sell homemade jewelry to raise funds to protect wildlife and their habitats.
Everything in its place
It’s fun to look for frogs and slugs under logs—but always put the logs back. Rocks, leaves, and tree limbs are homes for lots of tiny animals, so it’s important not to destroy them.
Watch your water
Using too much water from lakes and rivers can affect animals’ habitat. Conserve this resource by taking five minute showers, turning off the faucet when you brush your teeth, and bugging your parents to fix leaky pipes.
Palm oil is often used in products like chocolate, soap, ice cream, bread, cookies, and shampoo. But some rain forests are being destroyed in order to grow the trees that produce palm oil. Try to avoid buying products that use it, or look for a label that confirms the ingredient was grown in a rain-forest friendly way.
People cut down about 15 billion trees every year, some of it to make paper. Save your sheets by using the back, buying recycled paper, and asking your teacher to sometimes switch from printed homework to online assignments.
Farewell to fertilizer
Plant fertilizer can dump extra nutrients into the water system, which might create wildlife-killing algae blooms in the ocean. Local flowers, though, don't need as much fertilizer to help them grow. Encourage your parents to plant them.
Sharing is caring
Habitats are often disrupted to create more stuff for people. So try your best to use less: Visit the local library instead of buying a DVD, share games and toys with friends, and reuse school supplies.
Photo credits: Michael Poliza, National Geographic Creative (gorillas);Republica, Getty Images (boots); Jonathan Irish, National Geographic Creative (park); Martin Fowler, Shutterstock (frog); PICSFIVE, Shutterstock (chocolate); CDuschinger, Shutterstock (flowers)