Polar bears, with their snow-colored fur and Arctic sea ice habitats, are a creature so majestic that they have an entire day dedicated to their conservation. Their scientific name,
Ursus maritimus, literally translates to “bear of the sea,” and every Feb. 27, the animals are celebrated with International Polar Bear Day to raise awareness about their vulnerable status. If dour climate change news has got you wondering about ways to help polar bears, we've put together a few ways you can support organizations that help these beautiful creatures.
Conversations about climate change often point to the polar bear as a prime example of a
species suffering from human impact due to their melting habitats. In the last 30 years alone, the Arctic's thickest and oldest ice has diminished by 95 percent, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s yearly Arctic Report Card. Global numbers of polar bears are estimated to decline by roughly 30 percent by the year 2050, the International Union for Conservation of Nature predicts. But even though the statistics look grim, there are ways individuals can chip in to help keep the fluffy white bears around a little longer. Ahead, here are nine ways to help polar bears in honor of International Polar Bear Day. 1 Make Steps Towards a More Sustainable Lifestyle
Recycling, eating less meat, and swapping your regular lightbulbs for energy-saving ones are all ways to
minimize your environmental footprint. While the changes seem minor on an individual scale, if more and more people implement these changes, it can help make a difference (and convince manufacturers to make their products more sustainable). 2 Support Politicians with a Platform that Considers Climate Change Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Research your political representatives' stances when it comes to the environment. Does their platform recognize the effects of climate change? Does the candidate offer policies and changes they'd like to implement when it comes to sustainability and reducing carbon footprints? These are all important questions to consider before you vote in any election, and their outcome can affect climate change on several levels.
Call your representatives to support their work on climate change — or to implore them to do better. 3 Tell Your Friends & Family
Educating people in your circle, whether its friends or that aunt you see once a year, on the impact their lifestyles can have on the environment is a small effort that can have a ripple effect. The more people are aware of the small changes they can make to lead a more eco-friendly lifestyle, the bigger the changes' impact.
4 Take a Pledge Bill Pugliano/Getty Images News/Getty Images Polar Bears International, the organization that started the annual event, has a "Save Our Sea Ice" campaign that you can pledge to keep up with throughout the year. The pledge encourages individual actions towards sustainability, educating others, and partaking in other eco-friendly days like Earth Day (which happens on Apr. 22). You can also donate to the organization here. 5 Do the Thermostat Challenge
thermostat challenge is another brainchild of Polar Bears International, and encourages people to adjust their thermostats at home or in the office to help save energy. Depending on the season, this could involve increasing or decreasing temps by at least two degrees to help reduce energy consumption and the burning of fossil fuels. 6 Adopt a Polar Bear Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Depending on your financial ability, you can provide monthly gifts by "adopting" a polar bear or just donate a small one-time amount to organizations like the
World Wildlife Fund that are dedicated the conservation of animals including polar bears. 7 Learn More About the Animals
Polar Bears International is hosting
a Reddit AMA ("Ask Me Anything") in honor of the day at 1 pm EST on Feb. 27. You can ask the organization's senior director of conservation Geoff York all about the animals and conservation efforts on the platform. 8 Use Your Car Less
Try to carpool, take
public transit, and use green modes of transport like biking when possible in order to reduce your carbon dioxide emissions. 9 Spread the Word on Social Media
You can help share the day's commitment to raising awareness about the animals and spread the word to your followers via social media using hashtags like #InternationalPolarBearDay, #PolarBearDay and #SaveOurSeaIce.
Regardless of where you're at in life, there are myriad ways to get involved and help minimize your environmental footprint. If preservation of the worlds' animal populations isn't taken more seriously, animals like polar bears may one day only exist in museums.