For the last 50 years, the 22nd of April has been celebrated as Earth Day. The purpose of this day is to raise environmental awareness across the planet for all living beings. This year's theme is a call for climate action - and I think it's safe to say this couldn't be timelier! More on Earth Day here.
In honour of Earth Day, I wanted to share with you a photo of yours truly and a little friend from 1999.
Back when this photo was taken, I had just finished high school and had decided to take some time out before going to Wales to study Zoology. I spent 6 months in Costa Rica working in a wildlife rehabilitation centre, as well as working as a "midwife" on the beach with the enormous and prehistoric leatherback turtle.
My work in Costa Rica was, in my mind back then, one of my first steps of "saving the world". Because, yes, when you're twenty and so full of hope, you think you can save the world overnight, all by your lonesome! And here I am with Antonio the Sloth; his name paying homage to Antonio Banderas who had just made it big with the movie Zorro around that time, and Antonio (the Sloth) had a "Zorro mask" over his eyes (an obvious connection, right?).
Antonio was a juvenile 3-toed sloth who had a problem with his forelegs and couldn't hang in trees properly and therefore he couldn't survive in the wild. It was my job to take him for daily walks and help him hang on tree branches, which he usually could only do for a few seconds at a time. After his time at the rehabilitation centre he went on to live in the famous sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica, and it is my understanding that he lived the rest of his days there.
This was an amazing time for me and I was extremely privileged to be able to work so closely with the wildlife in Costa Rica. I even felt that I was possibly making the teeniest tiniest bit of a difference. However, I also saw first-hand how much more complicated it is to "save the planet". Poaching, illegal wildlife trade and loss of habitat, such as for palm oil plantations, were already back then a huge problem and have only grown since.
Now back to 2020. I am still working on "saving the world" but in a different way. Having worked with wild animals and in environmental protection - I also have a master's degree in Science Communication, so just think of me as a female version of David Attenborough and Steve Irwin (!) - I now mainly work as a holistic health and wellness coach. I help my clients find better balance in their life and, working closely together, I help them develop a personalised plan of action, with an emphasis on plant-based eating, yoga, meditation and mindfulness. (Check out these services here and get in touch if you fancy.)
We don't all have to be zoologists or environmental scientists. Together we can take strides in making the planet a better place.
We can find better balance in our everyday lives in harmony with nature and the environment.
By being more mindful and more conscious about our consumption, we directly and indirectly help the planet.
By doing something as simple as changing our diet and cutting out meat and dairy (or at least reducing that consumption), we can massively reduce our negative impact on the planet. (I recommend this comprehensive article for more information on the subject: "Avoiding meat and dairy is 'single biggest way' to reduce your impact on Earth".)
By going back to "basics" and taking a long hard look at our modern agriculture, we can help prevent something like the COVID-19 pandemic or another zoonosis - an infectious disease caused by a pathogen that has jumped from non-human animals to humans - ever happening again. (I recommend this article for more information about the impact modern agriculture is having on our planet: "The Pandemic is Not a Natural Disaster".)
Of course none of us is perfect and things aren't black or white. But together we can take steps in the right direction, steps that add up to a better, more balanced, and more harmonious planet.
Are you with me? Shall we save the planet together?