Earth Day is a reminder for all of us that we humans, and all animals, depend on a healthy planet to survive. While we have the capacity to damage and destroy the planet and the life that it and the sun sustain, we also have the power to heal wounds and save animals and the land and water. In celebration of Earth Day, I offer some reminders on daily actions we can all take to help out.
1. Eat with a conscience.
Industrialized animal agriculture is a leading contributor to climate change, water depletion, and other environmental problems. As the global relief organization Oxfam points out, "The reality is that it takes massive amounts of land, water, fertilizer, oil, and other resources to produce meat, significantly more than it requires to grow other nutritious and delicious kinds of food." Intensive confinement agriculture is fundamentally inhumane for animals. The cattle industry, which does not use intensive confinement, provides political support for massive predator control programs, resulting in the killing of wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, bears, and other predators. Support high-welfare farming and more sustainable farms. And find plant-based recipes here.
2. Turn your backyard into a humane habitat.
It doesn't matter if it's an apartment balcony, suburban yard, corporate property, place of worship, or community park; you can turn it into habitat for wildlife. Get started with these 13 things. And to further help animals, reduce the amount of pesticide and herbicide you use while shrinking your carbon and water usage footprints.
3. Dispose of plastics carefully.
Plastic waste can hurt wildlife, both on land and in the sea. Land animals can ingest plastic, choking on it. Tons of plastic material also ends up in oceans, cruelly ensnaring marine wildlife or harming them when they eat it. Dispose of plastics carefully, don't flush plastics into the sewer system, use reusable shopping bags, cut six-pack rings to save sea turtles, and slow your boat down to avoid striking and injuring marine mammals.
4. When you take vacations, support wildlife tourism and other eco-tourist-friendly destinations.
Make humane vacation choices to view animals in their natural habitat, supporting with your dollars the protection of parks and animals and all the businesses that depend on them. Kenya, Costa Rica, Nepal, and so many other countries value protected areas and wildlife because tourists flock to see these rich biological resource areas and their wild residents.
5. Don't buy wildlife products.
Avoid products like ivory or activities that may cause the suffering or death of animals. See our Don't Buy Wild guide to learn more. And make sure not to buy fur, since every year more than 100 million animals are killed for their fur on factory farms or by trapping. The production of fur for fashion also imposes significant adverse impacts on both the environment and human health, as detailed in our report, Toxic Fur.
6. Support land conservation through groups like the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust.
Development and other exploitative land uses are causing valuable wildlife habitat to disappear. Landowners who have property that provides such habitat can help protect their land and its wildlife by working with the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust which creates permanent sanctuaries and preserves and enhances the natural habitat.
7. Reduce your pet's paw print.
Your companion animal has an ecological impact just as you do. Purchase earth-friendly and non-toxic products for pets, and deal responsibly with their waste, inside and outside. Don't let dogs go off leash in wilderness areas, and keep cats safe indoors.
8. Educate yourself and others.
Learn more about how your actions can impact the earth and animals. Give a talk in your community and develop outreach programs. Ask friends and others to subscribe to this blog, as an information resource.
9. Register to vote and support public policies to help animals.
The HSUS and the Humane Society Legislative Fund work with state and federal lawmakers to create laws that help reduce animal suffering and improve conditions for animals. On ballot measures, your vote can make a real difference for animals, on issues ranging from cockfighting to puppy mills to intensive confinement of farm animals to ending the trade in elephant ivory. At the federal level, you can help save wolves by opposing legislation to remove the animals from the federal list of protected species. And you can ask your members of Congress to cosponsor the AWARE Act and stop taxpayer-funded abuses of farm animals.
10. Buy cruelty-free products.
Each year, thousands of animals suffer and are killed to test products like shaving cream, mascara, and toothpaste. It is easy to buy cruelty-free products, just consult our animal-friendly shopping tips.