CCFA celebrating Children’s Day 2020

CCFA celebrating Children’s Day 2020

The visions we offer our children shape the future.

[Carl Sagan]

The Declaration of the Rights of the Child, by the UN General Assembly, was announced on November 20, 1959 which is why Children’s Day in celebrated annually on this day.  It is to honour the children of the world – our hope for the future and leaders of tomorrow.

This Children’s Day we’d like to salute all children but particularly the conservation warriors who are helping us build a better future, by taking care of nature and wildlife today.  Most specifically the children of Rwanda who are an important part of a project that we support, alongside Tusk Trust and the Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association (RWCA), that is having a positive impact on protecting the endangered Grey Crowned Cranes.

The Grey Crowned Crane is every bit as majestic as its name suggests. These long-legged birds with their grey bodies, white wings with brown and gold feathers, white cheeks and bright red sacs beneath their chins are one of 15 species of crane.  But, most striking is the spray of stiff golden feathers which forms a crown around their heads.

Unfortunately, their distinctive looks have put them at risk as they are considered status symbols among the wealthy and are being poached, captured and illegally sold.  They are under continuous threat – their eggs and feathers are used for medicinal remedies, breeding grounds are being contaminated by pesticides, fields are being eroded, there’s climate change and also collisions with power lines. This onslaught against the species means the Grey Crowned Crane is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

 

CCFA is proud to be involved with Tusk and RWCA on this project, using a holistic approach, to combat the threats faced by the cranes. Activities include:

  • Raising awareness of the legal and conservation status of cranes
  • Identifying and registering captive cranes, rehabilitating and reintroducing captive cranes

Working with local communities around key areas to reduce poaching

Funding from CCFA and other charities has enabled Tusk and RWCA  to educate, engage and improve the livelihoods of local communities around the Rugezi Marsh and Akagera National Park in Rwanda.

In Rugezi, RWCA has worked with an existing cooperative of ex-poachers, establishing a pig farm as an alternative income source and training them as marsh rangers to assist with law enforcement and crane monitoring.

In Akagera they have enlisted the help of community children. RWCA strongly believes in engaging and involving local communities, to ensure they take ownership of their wildlife and natural places. Part of that work is to inspire children and young people to be the new generation of conservationists.

Schools nearby key crane areas were visited and a conservation comic book distributed to educate around the need to protect Grey Crowned Cranes and their habitats. Over 20 000 school children pledged to protect the cranes and now understand that it’s not okay to take crane eggs or chicks.

Nine environmental youth clubs have been set up in areas nearby Rugezi Marsh and Akagera involving over 600 children. Led by a mentor and with the use of some great resources from the Tusk, children meet every weekend to learn about conservation, Grey Crowned Cranes and take action to protect their local environment.

These children have used their initiative to implement activities in their area:

  • Planting thousands of indigenous trees around the buffer zone of the Marsh, as well as on their family land, which will hopefully become ideal roost trees for Grey Crowned Cranes
  • Learnt about and taken action against erosion
  • Are making biodegradable seedling pots to avoid the use of plastic
  • Cleaned up plastic discarded in their area.

Recently there was word that a Grey Crowned Crane had been poached. The reason it was ‘public knowledge’ was thanks to local children. They sought out the Community Conservation Champion, in the area, to report having seen a crane chick wandering around after it had escaped from a poacher’s house. Thanks to the children’s concern and quick action, the Champion was able to capture the crane chick and reunite it with its parents. The education and involvement of the community has led to an increase in reporting illegal activities.

It is news like this that gives us all – CCFA, Tusk Trust and the RWCA – hope that with children carrying the environmental and conservation torch we can protect our planet and really make a long-term difference ….other successes include:

  • The capture of newly hatched Crowned Crane chicks, on camera, by the team at Umusambi Village, a sanctuary for disabled cranes
  • Implementing a third national crane census which involved teams of staff and volunteers scouring the country to sight cranes as well as an aerial survey over Akagera National Park and Rugezi Marsh. A total of 748 cranes were sighted – up from 487 and 459 in previous years.

The Grey Crowned Crane is still on the endangered list but, with the help of the children of Rwanda and their growing enthusiasm to protect these distinctive birds and their habitat, there is renewed hope that this magnificent and environmentally critical bird will continue to be protected and sightings will grow.  And, perhaps like Kenya, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe where they are protected – by law – Rwanda will follow.

Children aren’t just our future. They’re our present.  [Ricky Martin]

 

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CCFA celebrating Children’s Day 2020

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International Day Of Rural Women – A skills development project to empower communities

International Day Of Rural Women – A skills development project to empower communities

International Day Of Rural Women – A skills development project to empower communities

‘There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women’ [Kofi Annan]

The International Day of Rural Women was established by the United Nations General Assembly to recognise the critical role and contribution of rural and indigenous women, in enhancing rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.  Women’s empowerment is a key factor in the social and economic success of nations. When women succeed, everyone benefits.

At CCFA we work with a number of incredible women, from all walks of life, who are making a positive impact on the environment, on wildlife and the communities in which they live.  On this International Day of Rural Women we’d like to highlight the tenacity, resourcefulness and creativity of a group of women sewers who live in the small town of Kylemore in the Western Cape.

Mascots, masks and now cute Christmas stockings

Two delightful stories intertwine as we start the 71 day count down to 25 December.  The first is the tale of the origin of the Christmas stocking.  It is said the Saint Nicholas, in the spirit of Christmas, threw three bags of gold through an open window on Christmas Eve and one landed in a stocking. When the girls and their father woke up the next morning they found the bags of gold and were, of course, overjoyed.

Another feel good story is that of a group of women in the tiny settlement of Kylemore, in the Western Cape who are sewing for us to ensure a sustained income. Through a partnership with Baby Cuddles, they have been designing and producing our animal mascots. Now they have turned their talents to making Christmas stockings in three different sizes. The stockings represent a trilogy of ‘all things good’ in the spirit of Christmas.

Firstly, by ordering our stockings you will not only be assisting the sewing group, who are sole financial providers, but also their immediate and extended families who rely on this income. It also makes it possible for us give others the opportunity to join the team, learn to sew and produce beautiful items made in South Africa.  Secondly, you will be helping CCFA  raise money for the many projects we support, who are desperately in need of funding. And last but not least, that ‘feel good, fuzzy’ feeling of knowing someone is going to delight in receiving this unique stocking on Christmas morning.

It’s not the first time our team of seamstresses has been asked to adapt their products to ensure there is a continued and sustainable income for them and their families.  Initially they made the CCFA mascots  – beautifully handmade toys, each with an individual character and personality, making them an ideal gift.  Besides the original rhino, the range now includes elephants, gorillas, turtles and Bongos. These are sold at all the Mantis lodges and the profits used to support wildlife, environmental and community projects.

Then as the Covid-19 lockdown closed down tourism they turned their talents into making masks, out of Shweshwe cotton and strictly according to the Department of Health guidelines. They also started sewing bags for the hotels in the Mantis Collection when they opened again.  These contain, amongst other items, sanitisers and will be given to each guest upon arrival.

Now they are excited to be part of the stocking project. Melanie Laing of Baby Cuddles, who has partnered with us in the sewing project says, ‘I am blessed to have been given the opportunity to work with a team of very talented, wonderful women who are always happy and full of smiles, no matter what life throws at them.

‘Four of our sewers are working on this particular project and we are delighted to be starting this soon.  We are so grateful to our guardian angels, CCFA for constantly bringing in new ideas, providing sustainable work for our team and using their network to sell our crafts.’

CCFA is making the Christmas stockings to create work for the team and to raise money for various environmental projects.  The more orders received, the more work generated which means these ladies have higher earning potential and will be able to enjoy a Christmas of their own.

The ladies have made samples and tested the response, which has been very positive – so everyone is raring to go and we’re hoping to complete around 60 stockings a day.  We are also able to be flexible with the design and customize the stockings for corporates and include a company logo.

Orders are via our website and the stockings will be shipped directly from the group of sewers to the client.  We are appealing to corporates to support this initiative. To be a ‘secret Santa’ and to help stimulate employment and financial independence for this group of women and their families, while also contributing towards the work being undertaken by the CCFA.

With only 71 days until Christmas, order your Christmas stockings now, not only will you be helping keep the women of Kylemore employed but also helping raise money for the CCFA projects.

To order online go to https://www.ccfa.africa or email info@ccfa.africa.

Large stocking, around 50cm long

R200

Medium stocking, around 45cm long

R150

Christmas tree decoration size, around 13cm long

R20

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CCFA translocating rhinos for the sustainability of wildlife conservation

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World Rhino Day 2020 – CCFA translocating rhinos for the sustainability of wildlife conservation

 

 

World Rhino Day is celebrated on September 22 every year! This special day provides the opportunity for cause-related organisations, NGOs, zoos and members of the public to celebrate rhinos in their own unique ways.  CCFA would like to use this day to showcase one of our project of which we are extraordinarily proud: The relocation of 5 Eastern black rhinos from the Czech Republic to Rwanda. 

A year ago…

In 2019, five Eastern Black rhinos flew 6 000kms from a safari park in Czech Republic to Akagera National Park in Rwanda, in what was the largest ever transportation of rhinos from Europe to Africa. We are proud that we were part of the team by assisting with funding of the logistics for this successful relocation project.

Why the move?

Transporting rhino on such a long journey is not without its challenges. But, with fewer than 5000 Wild black rhinos and 1 000 Eastern black rhinos currently roaming game parks in Africa and poaching an ongoing problem, it is essential to relocate and rehabilitate rhino from other parts of the world. Not only to supplement the numbers but to develop a new, genetically diverse, rhino population. CCFA endeavours to support projects such as these which contribute to sustainable wildlife conservation.

The project began with the vision of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA)  – to help supplement the rhino populations in secure parks in Africa. The three female and two male rhinos ranging in age from two to nine years old are genetically robust and successful breeders – all under the watchful eye of EAZA’s ex situ programme.

The group

The rhino relocated are a cosmopolitan bunch.  Jasiri, Jasmina and Manny were born in Safari Park Dvûr KráIové (Czech Republic); Olmoti comes from Flamingo Land (United Kingdom) and Mandela is from Ree Park Safari (Denmark).

TLC all the way

Moving rhino is a long process and the famous five took part in sensitization exercises for months prior to their trip to minimize the stress of the journey. They were also accompanied by experienced zookeepers from Safari Park Dvûr KráIové as well as veterinarian Dr. Pete Morkel, a world expert in rhino translocations. The team looked after them during the trip and stayed until they were fully introduced to their final destination in Rwanda.

‘If we don’t have conviction, Rhinos face extinction.’

The first anniversary

A year later – the first anniversary of the big move for the famous five.  It was a long journey, the convoy left the Czech Republic on the 23rd June, 2019. Traveling overnight by air, the rhinos arrived in Rwanda early the following morning to be transported by road to Akagera National Park. After the long journey the rhinos settled in well and started the transition to living in Africa.

Shortly after their arrival they were fitted with transmitters to allow close monitoring of their movements as they adapted to their new environment. They were slowly weaned onto a diet of natural vegetation and gradually allowed to roam in increasingly large enclosures. By the end of the year they had been released into a 2 500 hectare area and continue to be monitored daily by a specialized team of rangers.

Possible romance

Currently, the youngest of the group, a female named Jasiri, spends her time with the young male, Mandela.

Both are browsing naturally for themselves and are in very good condition. The other duo, females Jasmina and Olmoti, stay together feeding mostly on natural browse but they have also been supplemented with pellets and lucerne.

Sadly, the older of the males, Manny, died in February. Despite the best veterinarian advice and being provided the same care and conditions as the other rhinos, Manny did not adapt well.  The team was devastated.

Mandela and Jasiri

Olmoti and Jasmina

Jasmina

Mandela and Jasiri

The future

Despite the terrible loss, it’s important to remember and celebrate the success of such a big move.   Establishing a robust population of this critically endangered and highly vulnerable species is a long term project goal. It will be some time before the four are fully released into the wider park, where they will have the chance of meeting the park’s existing rhinos and contributing to the growth and genetic diversity of this important population.

The rhinos and the team that monitors them, have made important advances and the outlook is very positive. The successes of this project are very much down to the collaboration and care of all involved and their dedication to conserving Eastern black rhino. 

Why rhinos matter

Rhinos have been around for years and play a crucial role within their habitats. They are important grazers, consuming large amounts of vegetation which helps shape the African landscape.  This benefits many other species, including elephant and helps keep a healthy balance within the ecosystem.  Rhinos have also been an important source of income from ecotourism.  They are now critically endangered and protection of black rhinos has been increasingly important, they now thrive in protected sanctuaries.

We look forward to updating you in the future about how the relocated rhino group are thriving and hopefully welcoming a calf or two into the family.

If you would like to get involved or make a donation that will assist us to continue to implement community conservation, we  and the rhinos would be forever grateful.  https://www.ccfa.africa/support/recurring-donations/

 

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World Elephant Day 2020 – Championing the survival and sustainability of elephant populations

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World Elephant Day 2020 – Championing the survival and sustainability of elephant populations

“We admire elephants in part because they demonstrate what we consider the finest human traits: Empathy, self-awareness, and social intelligence. But the way we treat them puts on display the very worst of human behaviour.”

[Graydon Carter]

 

The 12th August – World Elephant Day – may be the day to champion the survival and sustainability of elephant populations, but for many organisations it is a continuous task to ensure that these magnificent creatures are protected.  Physically the largest animal and the closest mammal to dinosaurs, these lumbering animals are minutely sensitive with a highly developed brain and indelible memories.

Elephants are among the most intelligent creatures that share our planet.  They are known as a keystone species, playing an important role in maintaining the biodiversity of the ecosystems in which they live. Here’s how:

  • Their dung is full of seeds from the many plants they eat. These seeds are sown into new grasses bushes and trees, boosting the health of the ecosystem
  • Their dung is also an important and plentiful source of food for a host of different dung beetles
  • They use their feet, trunks and tusks to create holes deep enough to tap into underground water sources. These elephant-made watering holes are then available for other animals to drink from
  • In forests, elephants create clearings by trampling vegetation. These clearings allow more light to reach the forest floor, giving lower-lying plants a better chance to grow. And, because different types of animals reply of different types of plants, this promotes species biodiversity.

But their numbers are declining as a result of poaching (for their ivory), ongoing habitat loss and degradation and conflict with humans.

Elephant conservation programmes are not just about looking after the elephants but also for the plants and animals that depend on them.

This is why the Elephant Conservation and Human Elephant Conflict Mitigation Programme, a collaborative project between CCFA and Tusk, is so important.  It’s an initiative to help create harmony between communities and wildlife – predominantly elephant – in the Kunene region of Namibia.

The project is located in Ombonde People’s Park, home to desert-adapted elephant, black rhino, giraffe, lion and cheetah – all vulnerable or threatened in AfricaThrough the Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation’s (IRDNC) this project aims to prevent  poaching in the area, while enhancing and building on community ownership of wildlife and natural resources. This is an authentic partnership between community conservancies and the government.

Drought is a constant threat that affects basic living standards and survival. It creates social strains such as unemployment, hunger and an increase in human-wildlife conflict scenarios which has been exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19.  Many predators have moved closer to the homesteads, preying on livestock and destroying gardens because they are struggling to source water and food in their own habitats. Similarly, some farmers are encroaching on core wildlife zones in search of better grazing opportunities for their livestock.

We recently donated U$25 000 towards erecting an electric fence around the community’s 14 hectare food garden. In addition to the fence, we have also secured a commitment from the local council to provide water to the conservancy, to ensure the farming project is sustainable and improves the lives of the community.

The easy to assemble and maintain system is being installed by the community and overseen by the IRDNC Human Wildlife Support team. There will be community ownership regarding the upkeep of the property.

Although this practical intervention has addressed one of the major problems faced by the community, ongoing strategic interaction between the IRDNC and surrounding communities will continue in the form of:

  • Identifying community concerns around the encroaching elephant population, to formulate effective actions towards a more peaceful co-existence
  • Creating and maintaining awareness about the negative impact of elephant poaching as well as the economic and environmental benefits of cohabiting peacefully with the elephants
  • Monitoring elephant populations and their movements
  • Gathering data around elephant conflict and determining the cost of any damage to properties and farming livestock to find creative solutions to mitigate these situations
  • Incentivising communities by adding value through tourism, offering training that will enable them to find jobs in the wildlife tourism industry.

A trunkful of memories

In honour of these majestic icons and World Elephant Day let us introduce you to some of our beautifully designed and handcrafted ellie mascots.  All named after the herd saved by the late Lawrence Anthony, an international conservationist, environmentalist, explorer and bestselling author.

ET – Enfant Terrible (terrible child)

This 14 year old female elephant was offered a safe sanctuary by Thula Thula at the request of the Elephant Managers and Owners Association after her entire family had been either shot or sold to the hunting trade. ET had also been promised to a trophy hunter…

ET was deeply traumatised and terrified when she first arrived at Thula Thula and hid in the thick bush for some time.  Lawrence kept ET closely under his watch and tried many tricks and psychology techniques to try coax back her confidence. She was extremely sad and withdrawn and so he gave her the name ‘Enfant Terrible’. Eventually, after not making a sound or trumpet since her arrival, an effect of the trauma she had experienced, ET was taken in by the resident herd.

Lawrence watched in admiration as the local herd of elephants followed him towards the lone elephant and ET come running out to meet them.  Soon she fell into line, second from the back and linked her trunk around the tail of the elephant in front of her. The elephant behind her ‘…was resting his trunk on her back as they moved along. Comforting her. Walt Disney himself could not have scripted a better ending,’ said Lawrence.

Frankie

Frankie’s protective instincts helped draw little orphan ET out of her depression and to this day, the two of them have a very special bond. Known as the ‘feisty aunt’, Frankie is the herd’s self-appointed guardian. Lawrence recalls witnessing her delight in breaking away from the rest of the herd and storming past them at full speed, “head held high and glaring fiercely just for the hell of it.”

Mnumzane

Pronounced nom-zahn meaning “sir” in Zulu. At age 15 & 3 ½ tons he arrived at Thula Thula in a “rage” having witnessed his mother (the herd’s previous matriarch) and baby sister being shot. Despite his youth he instinctively knew that he must protect his herd but Mnumzane had been demoted from crown prince to pariah after his mother’s demise.

And as is the eons old elephant way (as elephant herds are fiercely feminized) once a male approaches puberty he is evicted, cast away from the ‘inner circle’. From that moment on he would spend the majority of his time either alone or on the periphery of the group. In the wild, evicted males would form loosely knit ‘askari‘ bachelor herds under the guidance of a wise old bull. Unfortunately there was no father figure for Mnumzane but he could stand up for himself and both humans and animals alike knew not to mess with him. 

Mandla

Mandla translates to ‘power’ in Zulu and was the name bestowed upon this 23 year old elephant bull following his break-out from the boma with his herd, soon after their initial arrival at Thula Thula Reserve. ‘Mandla’ honours his endurance and tenacity in keeping up with the rest of the herd, despite his young age.

“If elephants didn’t exist, you couldn’t invent one. They belong to a small group of living things so unlikely they challenge credulity and common sense.”

― Lyall Watson

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Youth and the Responsibility of 21st Century ‘Elders’

Parents across the world are in angst over the disruption in education programmes during the COVID 19 pandemic. While a number of online resources are available to the more privileged scholars who have access to computers and internet connections, the greater population of youth find themselves trailing behind in their educational development.

Many schools have reopened and yet the threat of having to close again looms with the rapid and increased spread of the virus. Parents, older siblings and even grandparents have had to step up and support the younger generationals among them in attempts to maintain a base level learning curriculum, while the gap widens between a stable, structured education and one derailed by both time lost, and a reduction in access to resources. In light of this situation, the most valuable way the older generation; young adults, parents and professionals, can support youth is by sharing their knowledge, and teaching outside of the classroom. This seems to be the time for both millenials and baby boomers to step up and support the youth in their communities. Either by suggesting and encouraging smaller, COVID 19 safe study groups between learners or offering to host small skills development workshops.

CCFA believes that skills development is essential to individual growth in terms of self confidence, independence and a positive contribution to society. Through understanding the ripple effect of the positive impact that one individual’s actions can have on a community, society and even the environment, mountains of motivation and desire to invest in people from a young age are formed. Earlier this year, CCFA sponsored 20 youth to complete their Siyazenzela Life and Employability Skills programme through their partner, Wilderness Foundation Africa, because we understand the positive impact that the trainee youths will have on conserving wildlife and wilderness areas in the future, once equipped with both the knowledge and skills to implement change. The top three students from the course were also afforded the opportunity, through CCFA,  to complete the Ulovane Field Guide Training just before lockdown and are now qualified field guides. While the graduates haven’t been able to put their skills to use out in the field over the past few months, we believe that the experiences and knowledge  gained through the course has equipped them to safely and productively navigate their way through the current threats posed by the pandemic.

Anthony Vaaltyn, one of the newly qualified guides remains motivated to continue with his career out in the field, once the game parks have reopened again. He says he has gained more confidence and his desire to work at the best game reserves or parks in South Africa has only strengthened. Anthony feels that now more than ever, he can make a difference through this purposeful work. Both Anthony and fellow scholar Simamkele Majali, have expressed their wishes to help less fortunate youths in their communities, especially women, who they feel should be presented with more opportunities to work as field guides, as there are currently very few women in these roles.

Siyazenzela Life Skills Programme tutor, Ntobeko Ngcala, also feels that the course has equipped the students to better manage the effects of COVID 19 on their personal lives, within their communities and environments. Ntobeko says he’s grateful for the opportunity to “bridge humanity and nature, both for personal growth and ecological restoration purposes.” The course takes students on hiking trails where they come face to face with both the wilderness and one’s own inner nature; relearning self identity, thus developing good relationship building skills and work ethic.

We’d like to propose that as ‘elders’ and professional leaders in our communities, we begin to investigate creative alternative avenues for youth upliftment, growth and skills development, especially while the traditional education systems are being placed under restrictions and stress. Together, may we raise awareness around the need to support future generations and thus the way in which they positively influence society and the preservation of our wildlife and natural resources.

World Environment Day 2020

World Environment Day 2020

Healing The Environment in 2020

World Environment Day calls upon us as inhabitants of Earth, our life sustaining environment, to become more aware of how we interact with and depend on the environment. With this dependence in mind, we might consider the ways in which we can support the sustainability of our environment. Can we develop a more symbiotic relationship with the natural environment? Much the same as that between the Cape Buffalo and the oxpecker.

The theme for world Environment Day 2020 is biodiversity. In the past two years natural habitats around the world have been destroyed by disasters like forest fires in Brazil and Australia, locust infestations across East-Africa and now the global exponential effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each of these unfortunate disasters is the result of an imbalance in nature’s regulating processes; caused by man’s inconsiderate use of natural resources or being partial to unsustainable lifestyle practices. Experts have confirmed that human activity has caused a change in the ocean temperature gradient, causing the ocean circulation pattern to misbehave, thus triggering the strange series of events across East Africa, Australia and the Middle East.

These environmental conditions pose a great threat to biodiversity; the dynamic that enables insects, wildlife and flora to depend on various other species for things like protection, pollination and food. Biodiversity allows for the symbiotic relationships that keep habitats stable and sustainable for the wildlife that live there. Poor biodiversity can lead to the extinction of both plant and animal species. If we adjust our unnatural human habits, we could help prevent untimely forest fires and unnatural locust infestations, which pose a threat to both wildlife and humanity.

CCFA encourages the preservation of biodiversity through its focus on supporting sustainable wildlife and environmental projects. These projects are either centred around wildlife conservation specifically or educating communities on conservation and sustainable lifestyle practices. Carbon offsetting initiatives, community upliftment and empowerment, and environmental awareness are key solutions to the ongoing challenges facing Africa at large, both ecologically and economically, and CCFA remains committed to aiding these solutions.

On World Environment Day 2020 CCFA challenges you

To change an environmentally unfriendly lifestyle habit or adopt a new one that supports the sustainability of our environment. We’d love to hear about the ways you’re cultivating eco-conscious habits in your daily life so we can share your ideas with our community. We’d like to invite you to send us any tips or images relating to environmental awareness that you’ve adopted in your home or work place so we can share them on our social media platforms.

 

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