The 22nd April 2021 is Earth Day – the day we celebrate our beautiful planet, and come together to do all we can to protect it. The day is all about highlighting, focussing and connecting our efforts to address the global problems we face, like pollution, climate change and habitat loss.
2021 is also the 30th Anniversary of Roots & Shoots, a movement started by Dr Jane Goodall to empower young people to make a real change, to help us care for animals, people and the planet.
Connect the Change focuses on making a difference for our planet by fighting plastic pollution, for people by growing understanding ourselves and each other, and for other animals, particularly our pollinator friends and keystone species! By taking action for people, other animals, and the environment we share, young Roots & Shoots changemakers are showing that being bold, kind, and good for all really can change the world!
What you can do
There are lots of ways you can get involved and do your part, from doing some of our amazing (and free) online activities to joining other groups and organisations in some of their activities. By working together, we make a bigger difference.
And of course celebrating your achievements, encouraging and inspiring others to join, and sharing what you’ve done is also very important, so don’t forget to pop up a report here on the Roots & Shoots website, talk about it in your local community or school, and share videos, stories and images on social media using the hashtags #ConnectTheChange#growingtogether #rootsandshoots30 #hopeactchange and don’t forget to mention us so we can spread the word – @JaneGoodallUK!
BUT what we’d really love you to do is follow our plan that focusses on a different topic and way to make a difference every over the course of 8 weeks. You can do as much or as little as you like, because every action, no matter how small, makes a different and every action is worth celebrating!
Plastic pollution is a problem all around the world, from the chemical used to make it to the physical harm it causes wildlife in the environment.
Single-use plastics are extra-harmful to the environment. They require limited resources to create, like water and petroleum, which is harmful to the environment. It’s also not possible to recycle many single-use plastic products.
The first step is to REDUCE the amount of single-use plastic you use in day-to-day life and switch to REUSABLE items instead, like water bottles and cups.
So the next step is to observe and record what single use plastic you use, when you use it and where. What happens to it afterwards? Where does it come from? What is it for?
And finally, can you cut down or even go without using single use plastic for a few days? How about a whole week?
Now, lets make this bigger! You’ve learned about how YOU use single use plastic – where else is it used, by whom, and what difference could you make by inspiring and joining together with others?
Based on your research and observation, can you identify one element that your community or group could address? Maybe your local sports club is using a lot of plastic bottles, or school has plastic cup lids for drinks perhaps.
Where do you see plastic being used in your community?
What kind of litter do you see?
Are there resources missing or unnecessary materials?
What could you do to address this in a helpful way?
Who in your community could help?
Then take action! Start a campaign, encourage your school or local business to make a swap to a more sustainable material, or how about organising a local litter pick?
Weeks 3 to 6 – People: Heritage and storytelling
“What you have to do is get into the heart. And how do you get into the heart? With stories.”
Dr Jane Goodall
Stories are a powerful too for engaging and inspiring people. Storytelling is a major component of what makes a great leader. Sharing your story is a way of sharing your identity, passions and motivation and it can be an amazing way of communicating who you are, why you are so passionate about what you do, and this in turn can encourage people to join you in your mission.
Storytelling is also about sharing connections, heritage, history and acknowledging the people who came before you and what they’ve done. We are all part of a long history – a long story – that makes us who we are, and that’s placed firmly within the environment we live in. These stories are intertwined and can’t be separated. By acknowledging and sharing these stories, we can reconnect with nature, and help others reconnect too.
The first step is getting to know your own story. Knowing your heritage and family history could be the perfect inspiration for finding the right project for you. It’s also important to understand the history of where you live, so your project can benefit the community.
Research your family history, your heritage and the story of the land you live on. Did your family always live here, or have they come from other places. Have your ancestors moved from other countries? What kind of work did they do? Is the place that you live different to how it was in the past? If it’s a town, how has that town changed over time? And are there any other people in your family or from your area who’s story you identify with?
Now you know more about your heritage and the history of the community you live in, it’s time to start a project! What would help people? Perhaps there is a retirement home where people would benefit from more interaction with younger people? Maybe there could be some information on important environmental activists who are from the area?
Now its time to think about other voices, other perspectives and other experiences. It can be easy to forget that our experiences and how we go through the world might not be the same for other people, and the more diverse experiences and stories we hear about, the more we can all learn – it benefits everyon!
So for this section, it’s time to start thinking about the voices you might not hear from in your day-to-day life, then take action to learn more about the stories of others.
To start with, look at things like books, tv shows, movies, YouTube videos and social media accounts – the types of media you see regularly. How diverse are they? What kind of representation is missing? How does it feel when you don’t see your own identity represented anywhere? Think about why it’s important to hear different stories from people with different experiences to you, and how could you help share their stories or raise their voices?
Now it’s time to create a project. However you choose to do it, this project should share your own personal story and increase the visibility of an identify that feels underrepresented to you – so you could record a video or write it down or draw a comic, for example. Another great idea is to develop a project that allows lots of different people to share their experiences – how about making a short video where lots of different people talk about what nature means to them?
Weeks 7 & 8 – Animals: Pollinators and migratory species
They’re easy to overlook, but pollinators play a crucial role on our planet. Plants rely on animals and insects for pollination to make seeds and fruit so they can reproduce. Without pollinators, and migratory species, both dispersing seeds around the planet, the plant life cycle – which nearly every single living thing on Earth, including ourselves, relies on for life – would be broken.
Step one is all about getting to know your local pollinators. Bees are a great place to start – they’re a crucial insect for pollination and are also under threat! But they aren’t the only insect or animal that pollinates plants. Do some research online and see if you can find some others. Another great way to identify pollinators is to spend some time in a garden, forest of meadow, and see if you can observe the insects and animals that appear to be pollinating the plants. Record what you see, what plants they go to, and how many there are. Are there any endangered in your area?
Step two is all about helping your local pollinators! One great way is to make a bee hotel, that will give them somewhere safe to live (did you know that not all bees live in hives?!). You can buy these online if you prefer, but they’re also easy to make – check out our bee friendly garden activity.
Now lets look at butterflies – did you know they were a pollinator too? Beautiful butterflies go from flower to flower drinking nectar, like bees, and like bees they also collect pollen on their wings, body and legs so when they visit the next flower, they pollinate it.
Many butterflies are at risk due to habitat decline, and some of them are fussy eaters – they, and the caterpillars they come from, only like certain plants. If those plants aren’t there, the butterflies can’t survive.
For this week, research the butterflies that live in your area. You can look online, and we’d also recommend sitting out or going for a walk and seeing what you can spot. Once you’ve identified the butterflies in your area, have a look to see what kind of plants and flowers they like. Then, you can see if you can encourage more of those plants to grow.
You could do this by buying and sewing patches of land with those plants in your garden or window box. You could also see if your school or local park would allow for some patches of wildflowers to grow – the more areas of wildflowers the better for butterflies (and other pollinators too!).
Final step – celebrate!
Celebrating your achievements is very important. Whatever you’ve done, no matter how small or big, you’ve made a positive change and you’ve helped the planet, so well done.
D0n’t forget to share your success with us so we can cheer you on too!