Some are very small micro-volunteering ideas; others are more involved practical tasks to provide homes for wildlife in your garden or local area. Since being outdoors and volunteering are both proven to boost our sense of wellbeing, hopefully they will also help to care for your mental health too.
Care for your local environment
1.Email your local MP. Are you particularly concerned about climate change? Does your blood boil when you see plastic litter on our beaches? It’s very easy to get stuck into tackling the problems faced by the natural world at a small scale and forget about the bigger picture. It’s important to zoom out and take stock sometimes though. One of the best ways to play a part at a bigger scale is to email your local MP to add your voice to the rising tide of concern for the environment, and put pressure on the government to prioritise nature. Contact Anne-Marie Trevelyan at email@example.com to have your say.
2.2 minute beach cleans. It’s remarkable how much cleaner our beaches have become in the last few years, largely thanks to an army of people who pick up litter when they’re out enjoying our landscape. Even a couple of minutes spent picking up litter will add to the overall effort in a surprisingly big way.
3.Borrow litter picking equipment from Coast Care. We can’t run beach cleans at the moment, but if you’d like to tackle the problem in your household or social bubble, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to borrow equipment.
A Coast Care volunteer cleaning one of our beautiful beaches
Eco-friendly lifestyle changes
4.Create your own compost. Composting at home is one of the best things you can do for the environment. It reduces the amount of rubbish going to landfill or incineration, so reduces greenhouse gas emissions. It reduces our reliance on store-bought compost, much of which still contains peat. Composting food and garden waste at home will give you a constant source of nutrient rich food for your garden which will provide food for plants, insects, birds and mammals in your garden. Learn how to get started here.
Volunteer John's newly made compost
5.Buy in-season food. This is a great way to reduce your food miles, and so keep your own carbon emissions to a minimum. www.eattheseasons.co.uk is a really useful website to get ideas.
Make your garden a haven for wildlife
6.Make a reptile hibernaculum. This is a fancy word for an underground chamber which provides shelter from the cold for our native reptiles. They’re especially good near the warmth of a compost heap. Get the instructions here.
7.Make a gravel garden. We need surfaced areas for all sorts of reasons, to park our car on or as a cheaper, low maintenance option for the garden. A gravel garden can be a good option if you still want to provide habitats for wildlife. Find out more here.
8.Make fat cakes for birds. These are especially good as an alternative if you can’t create a wildlife friendly garden. There are lots of easy recipes to follow online, but the National Trust’s is here. There's lots of other ways to feed the birds too, like this tiny feeding table that would be right at home in the local pub beer garden.
Feeding the birds can take all forms
9.Make an insect hotel. So long as your hotel has lots of holes of different sizes for creepy crawlies to use, you can use anything you have to hand, but find the RSPB’s instructions here. It won’t just be insects that benefit either; it could shelter anything from hedgehogs to toads.
10.Make a bird box. There are lots of different designs, depending on who you want to attract. It’s important to do a bit of research first to make sure you live close to the right habitat for your chosen neighbour. Click here for easy to follow instructions for a fairly all-purpose bird box for your garden birds from The Wildlife Trusts.
11.Make a home for Swifts. Be ready for the return of the screaming Swifts in the summer by making a bird box just for them. They have quite specific requirements, but the RSPB have instructions here (as well as a link to buy the finished article).
12.Create a hedgehog highway. Putting a hedgehog-sized hole in your fence allows Hedgehogs to move through. Our habit of fencing or walling in our land is a major problem for these roamers. According to the latest report, hedgehog numbers have fallen by up to 30% in urban areas and 50% in rural areas since the Millennium, so they need all the help we can give.
13.Build a hedgehog hotel. Speaking of our spiny friends, click here to find out how to make a home for hedgehogs to shelter in this winter, as well as other tips to make your garden hedgehog-friendly. Providing food and water over the cold months and checking your bonfires before lighting them are also great ideas.
14.Grow a wildflower patch. Even a small area of wildflowers will attract all sorts of important pollinators. Be sure to use seed with native British species like Cowslip, Parsley, Ox-eye Daisy, Red Clover and Yellow Rattle. Autumn is the best time to sow. Find out how here.
A freshly scythed area, ready for wildflower seed to be sowed
15.Dig a pond. Ponds of all sizes are great for wildlife and are also one of the best ways your garden can remove carbon from the atmosphere. Learn how to make and maintain a pond here.
16.Make a hedge. If you fancy a bigger project (and have the space), hedges have no end of benefits for wildlife. The Royal Horticultural Society have lots of advice on their website for hedges and all sorts of other wildlife friendly planting ideas. There are lots of different types - Project Officer Becky has had a go at dead-hedging in her garden.
Beckys dead hedge
17.Make seed bombs. This is a really easy way to encourage pollinators into your garden, and it’s also a great afternoon activity to do with children. Find out how here.
18.Leave water out for wildlife and float a ball in it during cold weather to prevent it freezing.
19.Help lost butterflies. This time of year butterflies will be looking for a place to hibernate, and they don’t always pick the best spot. If you find a hibernating butterfly in the wrong spot, rather than putting it outside move it to a quiet, cool spot where the temperature will be more consistent but from where they can escape in the spring.
20.Build a log pile. This is really easy, and you can use any spare wood you have lying around. You’ll be amazed how many creatures will move in.
Even a simple log pile can make a huge difference for wildlife
Join a wildlife charity!
21. Northumberland Wildlife Trust, one of our partners, offer a range of membership options. Joining a wildlife charity is a great way to contribute to protecting the environment and you'll get all sorts of goodies in return. Find out more at https://www.nwt.org.uk/support-us/membership.