If you want to know about conservation, you must learn about ants.
This was the lesson I learned from E.O. Wilson in his amazing, wonderful, and optimistic book, The Future of Life. And yes. I said optimistic. And while this is not a word most often used in the same context as conservation (or, really, any environmental discussion), we’re going to go there today. Because while conservation has some crazy wild (and sometimes scary) facts, it also has so much hope, good work, and phenomenal people that are working to make conservation a reality.
And today you can become a conservation warrior.
How many of you have seen A Bug’s Life? If you have, you know the importance of ants in any ecology. No, it’s not because they get the circus act flea and save the colony from the grasshoppers (spoiler alert!). It’s because ants are integral to caring for the environment and nurturing it. They are, in fact, the quintessential farmers – not just because they grow crops, but because they also aerate the soil (we call that tilling), they carry seeds from one place to another (we call that sowing), and they clean up the environment by eating up all the excess (we call that “added value products”).
Indeed, it’s possible that we would have a good bit more conservation in our world if we all had a bit more farmer in us. Farmers are some of the best conservationists because they are so close to the land – so much so that there is a thriving Farmer Conservation Alliance.
And that takes us to today’s project.
No, we’re not going to ask you to give up the city (or suburbia) life and buy a farm (although…small scale farming is arguably the solution to many of our problems). But we are asking you to do one project, at home, that will be a huge win for the world’s ants, for your own personal green space, and for the conservation movement as a whole.
We call that living The Spark Life.
And now you get to be a part of it.
One of our core principles here at Aina is that we don’t just talk about issues, we give you meaningful, hands-on action you can take to change the world, today. We’re giving you this fantastic project to help environmental conservation with one of Aina’s Accredited Nonprofits. And if conservation isn’t your Spark (have you heard of the Spark Life?), or if this project doesn’t ring quite true to you, be sure to email us so we can help. Because empowering women to change the world is what we do here at Aina, and we’re here to help you.
Before we get to today’s project, let’s talk a few fast facts on Conservation so you can wow your friends at the next dinner party (and understand why this project is so important).
YOUR ISSUE: Conservation
One of my favorite conservation facts is that conservation, in and of itself, helps stop global warming. As I’ve said before, global warming is alternatively both my spark and my vocation, so I’m a big fan of any projects related to it. Conservation is SUCH a huge issue, so to help you have some facts on hand, here’s an easy infographic:
Did you know that the 1.5% of the Earth’s land holds 44% of our plant species (and yep, those land areas are in the tropics)? And that, according to National Geographic, “after looking at just 19 trees in Panama, scientists found 1,200 different species of beetles—80 percent of them unknown to science at the time”? Not only that, but biodiversity and conservation is SO IMPORTANT to our economy – the Great Barrier Reef in Australia produces $6 billion to that nation’s economy – and 2/3 of it is already gone due to global warming. Conservation is still such an important issue worldwide, because the nature of our biosphere means that conservation in one area affects everyone around the globe.
Between 1994 and 2003 the world collectively spent $14.4 billion on conservation. And guess what? It worked. During that time our biodiversity decline slowed by 29 percent. And we need to keep up this good work! Conservation is defined as “the act of consuming natural resources responsibly and carefully so they will be available in the long-term.” So basically that means it’s the “reduce, reuse, recycle” part of the environmental song. And that is just what this project – and our partner organization – is all about.
YOUR ORGANIZATION: The Marine Mammal Center
Ok ladies, it’s time to stop being morose and start dancing with joy. Because the fantastic news is that you can do something about it, right now, from home. Yep, you – because we are SO not fans of doom and gloom here at Aina.
We are women of action. And we’re out to save this world.
Enter this project – and the fantastic organization of The Marine Mammal Center.
Started in 1975, the Marine Mammal Center is guided and inspired by a shared vision of a healthy ocean for marine mammals and humans alike. Their mission is to advance global ocean conservation through marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation, scientific research, and education. They do this by focusing on three core areas. By rescuing marine animals, many of whom have been hurt or are in trouble because of human activity, they respond responsibly to fix the issues we as a species have created. Secondly, they recognize and promote the interdependence of our biosphere. Because 70% of the area of Earth is covered by oceans, what happens in the oceans has a huge impact on our species as well. Finally, they work to expand the knowledge base around the world about conservation and what we can do to help.
Since 1975, The Marine Mammal Center has rescued and treated over 20,000 animals. Each year their education and involvement programs reach over 30,000 adults and children (that’s amazing!). Not only that, but they are scrappy and get the work done with the fewest resources (one of our big requirements for partner organizations) – every year they have over 1,200 volunteers helping them with their work. They are so very awesome – and you can help them too. Keep reading for one way to get involved, and find more ways to be involved with The Marine Mammal Center here.
→One Five Gallon Bucket
→A Drill and Medium-Sized Bits
→A Trash Can or Stainless Steel Compost Bin
→”Brown Materials” – i.e. Cardboard, Newspaper, Straw, etc
→”Green Materials” – i.e. all of your organic food waste!
Step 1: Construction
Make your easy compost bin! Get the step-by-step instructions from our featured maker, Jess at The Faithful Farmwife. This is such a fantastic, super fun, and really easy project to make – perfect to do with kiddos. Even better – for less than $50 and 45 minutes of work, you will be conserving SO MUCH food waste – making our landfills that much smaller. Pat yourself on the back, my friend :).
Are you more of the uber-crafty type and want to get your hands dirty? Check out this tutorial from Backyard Feast on how to build the ultimate composter (it’s really not that complicated!). BOTH of these composters are fantastic and will get the job done on upping your conservation game.
Step 2: Get Connected
Whenever a woman asks us how they can start helping the world in their specific issue of interest, we always tell them to start with a known organization. The Marine Mammal Center is a great, Aina-Accredited organization to start with if you are interested in conservation. Read up on what they do and see if they fit you. Find out who is on Their Board of Directors, and check them out on Linkedin. Do you have any kind of connection to them? If so, reach out. If not, reach out! Open that dialogue, you’d be surprised to see where it takes you. If the Marine Mammal Center isn’t your cup of tea or you don’t know where to start, contact us!! We are here to help, and we know how to get you where you want to go.
Step 3: Get Involved
The Marine Mammal Center, not only helps save our marine environment, but they also have a HUGE range of activities that you can do, from home, to get involved. This list ranges from becoming a member to taking an active part in their advocacy campaign. Because we know that the world only changes in community, this ability to get involved is one of our must-haves for accredited partner organizations. Just one of the reasons we love them.
You can see some of our other projects with them – like Meatless Mondays! – or you can check out the whole gamut of involvement projects here. No matter what, you should send them an email and let them know that you want to be more involved with what they’re doing – they are worth your world-changing time!
Step 4: Step Up Your Game
Is all of this slightly intimidating? If so, contact us at Aina and we’ll help you down this path! As we’ve worked in this field for over 15 years, we know how daunting it can be. Believe us, we have few tricks up our sleeves to get you, as we like to call it, Living the Spark Life. We don’t want you to have to reinvent the wheel, because we’ve made all of the mistakes out there. We’d love to chat and shine light onto Your Spark.
Do you love this conservation project and want more action to take just like it? We have more fantastic conservation projects for you!
→Meatless Mondays is perfect for making conservation an easy, weekly habit in your everyday life.
→Breathing Forests is a fantastic project for to help stop global warming. This is perfect for those with younger children and green thumbs.
→Powerful Pedals is a fantastic global climate change project for teenagers and workout fanatics.
And we have SO MANY MORE!! Be sure to check out all of our Crafting for Charity eBooks – they are a great one-stop-shop to help you find the perfect project for you.
GET CONNECTED TO AINA
Carmen Westbrook is the CEO and co-founder of Aina Giving, a female-led company that transforms women into world changers. Join the movement of DIY World Change and get our accredited projects, leadership coaching, and nonprofit consulting – Contact Us and tell us how you want to change the world. We’ll help you get there.