What has nature ever done for us?

Today marks Earth Day 2024, an international day of action dating back to 1970 that’s widely considered the birth of the modern environmental movement. #EarthDay has become associated with raising awareness of international campaigns on clean air, ending deforestation, reducing carbon emissions and more.

However, as we witness nature loss and the climate crisis escalate—every day feels like #EarthDay. We know that without everyone on board, we can’t turn the tide on the root causes of nature loss and climate impacts. There’s an urgent need for constant campaigning and awareness to ensure that the fundamental interconnectedness of nature is top of the political agenda—making the CAN Bill more vital now than ever before.

That’s why this year we teamed up with Megaphone Creative and the Co-operative Bank to produce our new campaign film Toad Watch: What has nature ever done for us?—in homage to the famous Monty Python comedy sketch—is nature a nice to have? We poke fun at just how often the critical importance of nature to every aspect of our lives (from health to food security) is overlooked.

Although it is critical to reduce emissions and tackle the climate crisis, this can’t be done without also protecting our best ally against climate change: nature. To many voters, protecting nature is a no-brainer, it’s tangible—the places we love. The 2020 covid lockdown demonstrated how important nature is, to our community and our mental health; to many people, nature was a lifeline during these times. I remember just how invigorating it felt watching flowers burst with life in my nearby park: I remember feeling very present with the arrival of spring with a chorus of birdsong: the gratitude for the clean air as I cycled through city streets, and feeling more connected to the local food growers who continued to provide fresh vegetables that formed the social structure of my lockdown evenings—making food for my partner and her sister. These moments were critical reminders of what we often take for granted during our busy lives—the nature around us, which adds colour to our lives, supports our health and connects us to our communities.

When people think of nature, all too often people picture birdwatchers, wildlife programmes about remote places or postcard images of rolling hills, but it is so much more! It’s the air we breathe, the water we drink and swim in, it’s the soil we grow our food in, the beautiful landscapes we look out on in awe, it’s the peatland and trees and other ecosystems which help lock up carbon, the community spaces where we grow food together, it’s the solace from busy lives, it’s the escape we seek, it’s the adventure we crave… the list goes on! Nature is interconnected into everything in our lives whether we live in a hamlet or a large city. The natural world is woven throughout all aspects of policy making too, including transport, health, housing, education, environment, defence and the economy. But when it comes to nature, too often politicians can’t see the wood for the trees. 

The aim of creating our new campaign film is to use comedy to demonstrate that lightbulb moment; for the national conversation to realise that nature shouldn’t be taken for granted. To mobilise for action, we must first care and connect with nature, and all that it takes is to ask: what has nature ever done for us?

This film was made possible by campaign supporter The Co-operative Bank, on the importance of the film and #EarthDay Co-op Bank CEO Nick Slape stated:

“The Co-operative Bank has been a proud ambassador of Zero Hour and the campaign for the Climate and Nature (CAN) Bill since 2021. Protecting our planet is a fundamental part of our unique customer-led Ethical Policy, and a cause that needs support now more than ever.

“We strongly believe that businesses must play their part to enhance biodiversity and work collaboratively to create a healthier planet for all.

“This Earth Day, we are proud to have supported Zero Hour to create the TOADWATCH film, which highlights how every single aspect of our lives is inextricably linked to the natural world and all that it provides for us. For our own sake, and for that of future generations, we encourage changemakers to stand united for nature and back the science-led, people-oriented Climate and Nature Bill.”

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