“The environment is everything that isn’t me,” Albert Einstein once said. The air, the sea, the wildlife, the forests and fields and cities — everything must share the same planet.

This week is One World Week, a time when people across the planet are encouraged to help build a more peaceful, inclusive, sustainable world. This year it is celebrating its 40th birthday with the theme: “The world is changing — how about us?”

Unfortunately, the environment is not always changing for the better. Wildlife numbers have more than halved since 1970. In the same time, 270,000 square miles of the Amazon rainforest has disappeared; up to nine million tonnes of plastic have poured into the oceans; and the human population has doubled. Although air pollution has decreased, the World Health Organisation still lists it as the greatest environmental threat to human life.

Earlier this year, a study by the Global Footprint Network found that, to keep up current levels of consumption, we would need 1.7 Earths.

Luckily, there are things you can do, such as reducing plastic use, saving electricity and using public transport. You can also go to the One World Week website to find events in your local area.

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See the affect that humans are having on the planet in this slideshow from the environmental categories of the 2017 World Press Photo Contest.


  1. As a class, brainstorm ways that you and your school could help the environment.
  2. Choose one of the ideas and make a poster or video encouraging your fellow students to take part.
  3. Pick an environmental issue that you care about in your local area. Write a letter to your MP about things that you think should be changed.