Since the late 19th century, the planet’s average surface temperature has warmed by about 1 degree Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit), which might not sound a lot, but this current warming rate hasn’t been seen in the past 10,000 years. As a result, we’re seeing declines in Arctic sea ice and Antarctic ice sheets, rising sea levels, warmer oceans and decreasing snow and glacial coverage. All of these lead to major ongoing extreme weather events like floods, droughts, heatwaves, cyclones, and bushfires – which, in turn, compromise our food security. And while governments and global leaders are slowly committing to making changes, often, these aren’t enough and are not being implemented fast enough.

Here, we look at how World Environment Day on June 5th is helping to promote awareness and inspire action and what you can do as an individual to make a positive contribution to the world around you.


What is World Environment Day?

Led by the United Nations, this is the single biggest day globally, on which over 150 countries and millions of people unite to protect our planet. Since 1973, the day has grown annually to encourage widespread participation, local environmental initiatives, and collaboration between governments, organisations, and businesses. While a big part of World Environment Day is raising awareness of the pressing issues facing our planet, it’s also a crucial vehicle for encouraging concrete actions, fostering a sense of shared responsibility, promoting policy changes, supporting the relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out by the United Nations, and importantly, showcasing success stories to inspire others. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will host the annual event this year, with a focus on land restoration, desertification, and drought resilience.


How can you make a change?

Slowing down the warming of the planet’s surface temperature isn’t something you can tackle single-handedly, but this isn’t an excuse to do nothing. Here are six simple changes you can make to live a more sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle this World Environment Day – many of them come with health benefits, too!


1. Go (a bit) plant-based

Sales Assistant In Bakery Putting Vegan Label

Making the jump from T-bone lover to tofu enthusiast overnight isn’t realistic, but reducing the amount of animal products you consume is. Cutting down on meat (and dairy) consumption means less greenhouse gas emissions and reduced water pollution and land use. Research has shown that a vegan diet reduces these measures by a whopping 75%. There are also plenty of health benefits linked to plant-based eating, so give meatless Mondays a go (here’s a year’s worth of meat-free Monday meals to start you off), or if that’s too much, try a simple swap like dairy-free milk or a meat-free sausage.


2. Rethink your transport

Quit jetting around like Taylor Swift; it’s time to be more mindful about using cars and planes. While we’re not suggesting you make your life hugely inconvenient, swapping the car for a bike or a trip on the bus can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. Think about building this into your current routine; for example, could you bike to work once a week when you don’t have external meetings? Not only will the environment thank you, but you’ll be ticking off your daily exercise and giving your cardiovascular health a welcome boost. Cutting down plane travel can be more difficult, but switching short domestic flights for a train trip is entirely feasible – you’ll often save money, too.


3. Reduce waste and reduce the nasties

Open eco friendly cotton reusable bag

From fast fashion laden with synthetic fibres and environmentally damaging dyes to chemical-filled cleaning products and packaging-heavy, disposable personal care products, there are lots of less-than-sustainable everyday products that we don’t give a second thought. Some of these are super easy switches, like ditching the plastic toothbrush in favour of a bamboo one (both biodegradable and quickly grown) or swapping out shampoo bottles for minimal waste shampoo bars. Others take a little more effort, like making your own eco-friendly beauty or cleaning products and consciously choosing clothing made from natural fibres like organic cotton, linen, wool, bamboo or silk; however, once you get in the swing of it, it won’t feel like a compromise at all.


4. Get your hands in the earth

Happy girl on pumpkin's field with basket of vegetables

Whether you join a community garden or create a veggie patch in your backyard, getting your hands dirty and growing your own produce is rewarding and, oh, so sustainable. Shockingly, the average basket of food you’ll pick up from the supermarket has travelled over 70,000 kilometres to land in your hands. So even if you’re growing a couple of lettuces in a planter box, you’re positively impacting carbon emissions, cutting out packaging, saving money and consuming fresher produce with less pesticide and fertiliser use, too.


5. Smarten up your home

Some simple swaps can make your home more energy efficient and considerably cheaper to run – and best of all, smart products offer a new level of convenience. If you’re building a new home, make it smart with features like lights that automatically turn on or off as you enter or leave a room and smart thermostats that save you on heating and cooling bills. For existing homes, easy swaps like LED light bulbs are a no-brainer, and when you’re upgrading or replacing appliances, prioritise energy efficiency and smart appliances.


6. Get involved

Group of young friends volunteers cleaning beach from plastic garbage

Whether it’s getting behind initiatives as part of World Environment Day (you can register your own or join existing events here), looking for local volunteer opportunities like beach clean-ups, signing petitions, planting trees in your backyard or simply sharing information with friends, family and colleagues, there really is no excuse not to get involved. And if you’re a parent, keep your little ones educated and aware – their voices will be critical for shaping the future in years to come.


Your contribution might feel like a drop in the ocean, but every drop counts!

While it’s easy to think that your small contribution won’t make a difference, the changes you make today will directly impact the world we pass on to our children. And when we’re all moving in the right direction, that’s when real change can happen. So, commit to recognising World Environment Day and making a change now – our planet and our future generations will thank you.


The following advice is of a general nature only and intended as a broad guide. The advice should not be regarded as legal, financial, or real estate advice. You should make your own inquiries and obtain independent professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances before making any legal, financial, or real estate decisions. Click here for full Terms of Use.