Chris Packham shares his tips for making sustainable changes at home

Chris believes it’s our duty to make changes at hope – but also to help other parts of the world (Picture: PinPep/REX)

It’s a chilly morning on London’s South Bank and a whole world away from the lush green jungles that Chris Packham featured in his recent documentaries for National Geographic’s Big Cat Week.

But the environmentalist and presenter, 60, is pointing out the nature all around us – and his boyish enthusiasm is infectious.

‘I’ve seen at least 15 bird species this morning. Peregrine falcons – the fastest birds in the world – nest just over there,’ he says, pointing down the Thames.

‘There are cormorants swimming down here, I even saw an eider duck earlier. There’s loads of wildlife here.’

Packham’s passion for the world around him was sparked as a child when ‘my parents used to scrounge National Geographic magazine off someone who was wealthy enough to buy them’.

But times have changed since he was young and he now believes it is the younger generation that should be leading the fight against climate change.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by ITV/REX/Shutterstock (11869055ax) Megan McCubbin 'This Morning' TV Show, London, UK - 21 Apr 2021

His stepdaughter Megan is a perfect example of the climate-conscious younger generation (Picture: ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

I’m 60 now!’ he says. ‘It’s not about old guys like me. We don’t need another David Attenborough or Bill Oddie – we need hundreds of thousands of voices.’

Megan McCubbin, Packham’s stepdaughter, is a perfect example of the climate-conscious younger generation.

The conservationist joined her stepdad in hosting Springwatch in 2020 and is currently filming a documentary about rhinos in South Africa. But the focus should be on empowering people even younger, Packham says.

‘My stepdaughter is 26 but I’m interested in 16-year-olds having a voice,’ he says. ‘The climate strikes and Fridays For Future marches have been absolutely phenomenal – that’s more inspirational than crusty old conservationists like me saying something.’

Chris is inspired by the ‘phenomenal’ climate strikes and Fridays For Future marches young people have taken part in (Picture: Antonio Masiello/Getty Images)

He hopes that raising awareness of the plight of animals around the world will convince people of all ages to take action themselves.

But despite the popularity of wildlife documentaries, he worries that they don’t always paint the full picture.

‘These animals are not having an entirely cosy time,’ he says.

‘Lions’ range has declined by 90% since the start of the century. You turn on the TV and think lions are very common because they’re always on your TV, romping around and eating buffalo, but in fact human-wildlife conflict is still an issue and people are getting eaten, trophy hunting is a problem, as well as loss of habitat through infrastructure projects and road building.

Wildlife documentaries don’t always show the whole picture of human-wildlife conflict, says Chris (Picture: David Silverman/Getty Images)

‘Africa is not a paradise, it’s just like our country – it’s got roads, it’s got factories, it’s got farmland.’

Many miles away in the UK, it’s hard for people to understand the impact they’re having on these far off places.

‘We are all connected globally – every single time you put something in your mouth, which fortunately many of us are able to do in the UK, we are joined with another part of the world,’ says Packham. ‘So although it seems like a big world, it isn’t really.

‘We need to look after wildlife at home – we’re one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world – but it’s our duty as citizens of planet Earth to look after other parts of the world, perhaps especially when they don’t have the same resources that we do.’

Chris Packham’s tips for helping the planet

At home

‘Our lives should be a constant audit and there are things you could be doing, from your computer keyboard upwards. Where do you get your power from? Is it an eco-friendly renewables company? Are you banking ethically or is your bank investing in rainforest destruction?’

At the shops

‘When you go to the supermarket next time, have a look at where the food comes from – it comes from all over the world. If you buy fruit from Botswana that’s being grown in a fruit plantation that might have once been prime leopard habitat before it was cut down to grow your food.’

In the garden

‘Put out food or put up a nesting box for the birds – they’re struggling in our countryside. Even if you’ve only got a window box, you can put some pots out with some plants that create nectar. You’ll get moths and butterflies and in turn they’ll become food for the birds as well.’

In your community

‘You may think, “What’s my one pot with flowers going to do?” but if you do it and then your neighbour does it and then their neighbour copies them, you’ve got a street full. If you do something and it works – a bird nests in your box, a woodpecker comes to your feeder – brag about it to everyone!’

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During COP26 and beyond, we will be sharing stories, ideas, and advice about one common theme: The climate crisis.

At a time when the weight of environmental issues feels very heavy and overwhelming, our aim is to deliver content that will not only inform and educate but also offer hope and inspiration.

Here are some of our #Just1Change highlights so far:

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