With all the issues in the world, sustainability is more important than ever. Climate change is the most significant challenge to achieving sustainable development but with methods and intervention, it is possible to combat climate change and reduce the enhanced greenhouse effect. Even living in rural towns, conserving natural wildlife and important historic sites is beneficial for future generations. 

Many of us think that the little things we do every day have no impact in helping save the environment. But there are a multitude of small changes that can make a difference. 

Overall, one third of all food produced is thrown away each year. Not only does wasting food exacerbate food insecurity, it causes a lot of harm to the environment. There are number of ways food waste affects the environment, one is the wastage of natural resources: fuel, including fertiliser, water and energy. Agriculture alone accounts for 69% of the fresh water used throughout the world, so by wasting food we are wasting fresh water. Numerous countries have a severe water shortage, and with fresh water making up only 1% of the worlds water, conserving freshwater should be taken more seriously so that we can help benefit communities who are in places of water deficit.  

To reduce food waste, energy and water loss, food that isn't eaten needs to be recycled. It can be used as home compost, or recycled to feed livestock in the production process in farming. Furthermore, recycling plastic bags, water bottles and plastic straws have a vast impact because plastic products are not biodegradable – instead they degrade into microplastics. Microplastics are a problem in many ways: they are associated with toxic chemicals which are incorporated into the plastic during manufacturing. When the plastics are burnt, they release the harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. In addition, plastic pollution in our oceans is a widespread and growing environmental problem. The United Nations (UN) Environmental Programme has previously stated that globally 8 million tonnes of plastic are dumped in the ocean every year, proving to be a huge threat in environmental deterioration.  

Living sustainably means that we can protect biodiversity. Deforestation of natural land in rural areas often means that the land becomes non-arable (crops cannot be grown), and can destroy types of plant to such a large extent that they are at risk of extinction. Agriculture can be the cause of this, as wild land is converted into pastures and other land types which are suitable for multiple farming practices. This is due to a high demand for the production of livestock. Subsequently, the loss of forests and woodland in addition to unsustainable farming practices lead to extreme erosion; the land cannot be used to plant trees or crops in the future, and if the soil does recover it can take up to thousands of years for vegetation regrowth. The agricultural sector consumes a lot of fresh water too, so without conservation measures in place, agricultural production and expansion consumes excessive water and degrades water quality. This adversely impacts freshwater systems throughout the world. Although, in recent years, there has been a growing trend in the adoption of conservation agriculture. The approach aims to better maintain soil fertility, cultivate a wider range of plant species and conserve specific areas of pastures and trees that hold importance in limiting the loss of biodiversity. 

At home, you can be sustainable in your daily routine by reducing your consumption of household energy. Not only does this lighten your monthly electricity bills, but it increases energy security, and reduces the pollution that is emitted from non-renewable sources of energy. Turning off the lights, air conditioning, even installing a dual flush (or using a water displacement bag as a more affordable option) into your toilets is shown to significantly reduce the amount of water and energy you waste at home.  

Environmental conservation in small rural towns is often overlooked and is still very important as it does impact biodiversity. Changes in conservation areas can cause multiple negative impacts. An area in Wantage that is being actively conserved is Betjeman Park. Wantage’s historic character is something that draws a lot of people to it. Each month working party volunteers focus on seasonal tasks and maintenance - they work on conserving trees to protect new growth from deer and other animals. They make use of remaining pruning by gathering it together to create stacks, producing habitats for small mammals, amphibians, beetles and invertebrates.  

If conservation areas are neglected, poorly developed or damaged, the area can see a lot of environmental and social decline. Town and city centre conservation areas are often at much more risk of declining, for example the retail economy, swamping an area of historic sites or rural aspects. Villages and rural areas continue to be affected due to housing developments building on greenfield sites, or changes in farming practices. These things can cause conservation sites to be neglected or vacated, and is why sustainable practices are more important than ever.