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Only One Earth 

Did you know that nearly 80% of the world’s wastewater is discharged to oceans and rivers without treatment? Every three seconds, the world loses enough forest to cover an entire football pitch and over the last century, we have destroyed half of our wetlands. We have been exploiting our planet’s ecosystems carelessly without knowing how it will negatively impact us in the future. The emergence of COVID-19 has shown us all just how disastrous the consequences of ecosystem loss can be by shrinking the area of natural habitat for flora and fauna, humans have created an ideal condition for pathogens including the COVID-19 virus to spread.

As we mark World Environment Day on June 5th, we need to pay more attention to the warnings from our planet. The theme for World Environment Day 2021 is ‘Ecosystem Restoration. The term ecosystem restoration refers to assisting in the recovery of ecosystems that have been destroyed and preserving the ecosystems that are still intact. This can range from growing trees, lifestyle changes, rewilding gardens, and cleaning up rivers and coasts.

Every day we make choices in our lives that affect the environment - from what we eat to the mode of transportation we use, there is a lot we can do to conserve the environment. There are three pathways you can adopt to improve the well-being of those around you and the environment.

  1. Take Action: This includes volunteering for an existing organization that helps the environment, switching to environmentally friendly products, planting more indigenous plants or trees in your garden and so much more.
  2. Smart Choices: Around 2,600 fewer plastic bottles are required if at least 50 people switched to a flask or a reusable bottle. These are small changes that bring about a big difference in the environment.
  3. Inspire Others: Create an online campaign to increase awareness and share the steps others can adopt to conserve the environment, encourage one another to plant more trees, create fun activities such as making cloth bags with old and worn-out clothes and so on.

Studies conducted by experts have revealed that students are at the forefront in wanting to make an impact in conserving the environment. A study conducted by The Student Housing Company revealed the lengths students aged between 16-25 were willing to go to protect the planet.

The results revealed that to minimise their environmental impact, around two-thirds of students recycle (68%) and actively reduce their food waste (63%), while around a third reduce water use (38%), meat consumption (36%) and refuse to purchase fast fashion (32%).

Another interesting finding was that a company’s position on sustainability would impact whether students would work for them according to half of those questioned, and 59% stated that a political party’s stance on sustainability would impact how they vote.

Be it through making subtle changes to the daily lifestyle or by taking direct action to support environmental or sustainability causes (23%), it is evident that students are acutely aware of the knock-on effects of their actions on the planet.