This article originally appeared on AndresManuelOlivaresMiranda.org on Oct. 5, 2017.
Animal conservation is a cause just about anybody can get behind. Who doesn’t love the idea of saving our furry, feathery, and even scaly friends! Sadly, for those who truly wish to help, it can be difficult to find an avenue in which to make a difference. Unlike a lot causes out there, there aren’t many big non-profits or nationally publicized events. Don’t worry though, as we are here to help you learn how you can help endangered animals whether they make their home in the oceans, mountains, deserts or skies.
There are quite a few ways to support animal conservation through making simple changes to your daily life. Number one is recycling of course! A lot of trash that could be recycled ends up in our oceans. According to the U.N. Environment Programme, plastic waste causes $13 billion in damage every year to our ocean-dwelling animals. Trash is effectively ruining their homes, and much of that damage could be avoided if we make a concerted effort to reuse, recycle and generally reduce our footprint.
Another really easy way to further conservation efforts is to pay attention to what you eat. As the world’s population rapidly increases, the populations of many animals are decreasing due to overfishing and overhunting. Overfishing is an especially pressing issue as many countries rely on their fishing industries and are reluctant to regulate their fishing as long as the endangered animal is in demand. By choosing not to eat certain species, you are sending a message to the fishing industry—the message of conservation.
We humans are impacting the oceans in incredible ways, so here’s another ocean-related tip: stop using products with microbeads. Yes, they exfoliate well. Yes, they feel good in soap. But, they also make their way into the ocean, where they poison the animals that live there. There are plenty of great products that don’t use microbeads, so be on the lookout for those next time you’re at the store.
Finally, here’s a fun one. Go to your local zoo or aquarium! Zoos and aquariums are not only a great way to learn about our animal friends, but they also happen to be some of the largest contributors to conservation efforts. Zoos and aquariums in the U.S. alone contribute an average of $160 million annually to conservation efforts around the world making visiting a zoo or aquarium one of those instances where you can have your cake, and eat it too.