Category Archives: Nature’s Home

Earth Day 2020: a healthy environment, a human right?

Early morning view of field and woods with dew on the sunlit grass
Early morning dew on Earth Day 2020

I hope you are feeling inspired by Earth Day. If we can all do just one thing today to show some love to our beleaguered planet, that will be a whole lot of love Earth will receive today 🙂

One simple thing I just did was to support the petition by the CEO of BirdLife International, Patricia Zurita, to mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. She has written to the Secretary General of the UN António Guterres, urging the UN to include the right to a healthy natural environment in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes the fundamental human rights that must be protected globally. It is time to recognise that the right to a healthy natural environment is essential for the survival of humanity.”

CEO of BirdLife International, Patricia Zurita
A new human right: The right to a healthy natural environment

I know during this Covid-19 lockdown, I am far from being the only one who is feeling fortunate that I have a beautiful natural environment right on my doorstep. As the human species, we rely on the natural world so much, including for our own well-being and I think it is so important to recognise this. If we can make it a human right to have a healthy natural environment, this is another clear demonstration of its importance and it can be a line in the sand as we seek to protect and restore our natural environments, in our own localities but on a global scale.

If you too would like to support BirdLife International’s petition, you can find it here.

For a fun activity for Earth Day, do try your hand at today’s Google doodle, celebrating the importance of bees 🙂

Enjoy your Earth Day!

Peggy

Earth Day 2020 and good news about plastic

Daisies and Dandelions flowering on a grassy field on a sunny spring day
Daisies and Dandelions on a sunny day

Yes, this is a photo of daisies and dandelions, not plastic … but they looked so sunny and cheerful and beautiful on this bit of Earth right outside my front door and I just felt they captured the positive ‘living zing’ spirit I wanted to share with you today.

On Wednesday 22 April 2020 we celebrate 50 years of Earth Day. In my 2020 Vision post in early January, I anticipated this year’s Earth Day and all of the marvelous get-togethers there’d be for this auspicious occasion. Coronavirus may have prevented in-person gatherings, but that hasn’t stopped massive plans for a digital Earth Day. As the Earth Day website proudly says

“On April 22, we’re flooding the world with hope, optimism and action. Will you join us?”

WordPress too is joining in with Earth Day Live , which is a 3-day livestream of global climate action in support of this very special place we all call home. You can register to tune in to this massive live event from 22 – 24 April with activists, celebrities, musicians, and all kinds of marvelous stuff. On WordPress you can add the Earth Day Live banner to your site to show your support too.

Talking of our precious planet and marvelous stuff, I have some good news about plastic! Nearly every story we read about plastic is telling us how our over-use and thoughtlessness with this clever material have harmed wildlife and polluted our oceans. So, I was intrigued to read how a company called Carbios has developed a new and fast way of recycling plastic bottles.

An enzyme has been discovered that can break down plastic bottles into their chemical components, enabling them to be recycled into new high quality plastic. Amazingly, a tonne of waste plastic bottles was able to be degraded by 90% in just 10 hours. Carbios are now working with a biotechnology company called Novozymes and they are hoping to have their new plastic recycling enzyme commercially available by 2024.

If you are a gardener, like me, you will also be fascinated to know that this amazing enzyme was first discovered in a compost heap. Making garden compost is a magical transformation in itself, but this latest scientific advance promises to be a significant breakthrough in recycling plastic. It won’t mean our battle against plastic is won, but it could be a very useful step in the right direction.

Looking inside a compost bin half filled with decaying plants and vegetable waste with several snails and slugs looking in on the contents
Looking inside a Compost Bin

Staying with my theme of plastic, our local council newsletter this week was sharing how council library staff are doing their bit in the battle against Covid-19 by using their 3-D printers to produce plastic safety visors for our hospital and care workers as they toil heroically to save lives. In the midst of this crisis, we are seeing all kinds of people pulling together and doing their bit to help others. Anyone who has the equipment and skills to print these safety visors can contact the library service and volunteer to help produce this vital equipment for our front-line workers to protect them in the fight against coronavirus.

Nowadays, we have become used to so often seeing plastic in a negative light, I think its current essential use in Personal Protective Equipment for those on the front-line in the Covid-19 crisis shows just how important this material can be. To me, our over-use of plastic is, in a way, similar to our over-use of antibiotics. They are both substances with life-saving abilities, yet their over-use is a huge threat not only to our human lives but to the natural world too. On the eve of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, it doesn’t seem too dramatic to claim that reducing our ubiquitous use of these life-saving substances is so important for the future of life on Earth.

Looking after our Earth is no small responsibility, but I have a good feeling that there are plenty of us who are conditional optimists and prepared to do our bit to make sure the Earth’s future is positive.

Happy Earth Day to you all!

Now I’m off to plant up some shrub cuttings …

Peggy

A Peaceful Easter

Sunrise over wooded valley with pink tinges to the lavender grey sky as it meets the hills on the horizon
Easter sunrise 2020

The morning was cool and peaceful as I was looking out over our valley on today’s Easter sunrise. The strangeness of life in recent weeks has pervaded every part of human life, yet in some curious ways, it seems to have passed by the natural world: Nature has continued on her merry little way.

Our cultivated Spring flowers and flowering shrubs brighten our yards and gardens. The field outside my door is dotted with wild flowers – dandelions and daisies, with cow parsley and lady’s smock popping up along the margin. This year, these wild flowers won’t meet an untimely demise under the the local council’s mowing machines, as that service is one of many that has been suspended for the time being. Grass-cutting will for now only take place for safety reasons, near road junctions.

Easter flowers for 2020. Jug of daffodils and spring leaves
Easter flowers – Daffodils and Spring leaves

In the UK, we are now at that point in the year where the early Spring dawn is host to that incredible natural phenomenon, the dawn chorus. This morning, I was enjoying the glorious birdsong music of our neighbourhood bird choristers at 5.30am. If you are not naturally an early riser, it can still be a treat to the ears to listen in on your local feathered choir at some point between mid-April and late May. Whilst dedicated enthusiasts will not be able to join in public woodland events to experience the dawn chorus this year, even in urban areas you can tune in to your local dawn chorus simply by opening your bedroom window or standing at your back door. It is such an amazing sound. I am working on finding a way to share this with you.

For many of us, being able to connect with the natural world on our doorsteps is a huge relief, particularly this year with the very necessary coronavirus lockdowns. Nature really is a natural tonic for our mental health.

I hope you too are able to spend some peaceful moments with Nature. Stay safe in these strange times.

Peggy

Nature’s home: The Big Garden Bird Watch 2020

Screenshot of the results page for my Big Garden Bird Watch 2020
My 2020 RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch results

Last weekend was the RSPB’s Big Garden Bird Watch weekend. About half a million of us spend one hour recording the highest number of each species we see in our gardens. This annual survey is now in its 41st year and provides a citizen science snapshot of the range of species and the levels of populations of the birds visiting our gardens across the UK.

Our Big Garden Bird Watch results were a little on the minimalist side this year. House Sparrow 4; Starling 2; Jackdaw 2.

I was pleased to see House Sparrow topping the BGBW charts as I was submitting my results online afterwards. It was good to see our starlings during our hour’s observation too.

As someone who has been a keen birdwatcher since I was a child, I have to keep reminding myself that both of these species, the house sparrow and the starling, are red-listed these days. That means they are Birds of Conservation Concern here in the UK, where the species population has reduced by 50% in the last 25 years.

‘Our’ house sparrows nest in the roof and we were delighted to see them raise two broods of youngsters during last spring and summer. The starlings nest in a nearby roof but always drop by on winter days to feed in our backyard.

So whilst I didn’t record many birds, of the ones I did see, two species are much rarer than we’d like. Our homes and gardens really do play a significant role in providing nesting sites and food sources for birds and many other creatures.

Peggy