Small changes, big differences- How you can get involved.

As it’s starting to get warmer, many bats are slowly coming out of hibernation meaning we all need to make sure we are doing everything we can to reduce light pollution. My previous blogs have briefly mentioned ways in which you can help protect our bats. So, I thought it would be a good idea to summarise all the things you can do in one blog so you can refer back to it whenever needed!

What can you do at home? Reducing light pollution coming from your home is a great place to start! There’s so many small and simple changes you can make, which can make a big difference! Firstly (and probably the most obvious), is to turn off your lights when you’re not using them. It’s such an easy habit to leave a room without pressing the switch, but through creating prompts to put by your lights or getting someone to remind you, you can start to change that (free printout templates are available via the campaign Facebook page). Another way to reduce the light spilling from your home is to dim the lights (if possible) to reduce the intensity of it, plus who doesn’t love a bit of mood lighting?! Changing your actual light bulb can benefit bats and other wildlife too. Using a light which doesn’t emit UV (or has a UV-blocking filter), as well as having a ‘warm’ colour temperature (ideally under 2700 K) can be really beneficial. Light-emitting Diodes (LEDs) are a great solution for this and are becoming increasingly popular, they also have a much lower wattage than other bulb types, which is great for reducing light’s intensity and saving money!

Photo credit: Geza Farka/ Shuttercock

Even the most bat-friendly lights can still spill out of your windows and contribute to a ‘sky glow’. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you close your curtains at night (when bats are out and the light’s glare is brightest). Choosing thick curtains or blackout blinds are most preferable as this massively limits how much light actually spills out of your windows.

Outdoor security and garden lighting can cause big problems for bats as they attract insects and spill into bat habitats more easily. Minimising your outdoor lighting can be really beneficial through using the suggested light bulbs and considering whether all of them are actually needed. Using candles can be a great idea if you want to keep the aesthetics whilst massively reducing your impact. It may be that switching outside lights off isn’t an option, in which case making sure they are facing downwards and away from any vegetation (especially where roosts are suspected) is vital! Directing light downwards can also be achieved through installing accessories to your light fittings such as hoods or baffles. If you use security lights, making sure they are fitted with a motion-sensor and timer (around 1 minute) can keep you feeling safe without having to keep your lights on all night. Planting dense vegetation or a solid fence/wall around your garden can help to limit the light spilling out.

Fighting light pollution and conserving bats doesn’t just need to happen within your home! There’s loads of opportunities to get involved such as joining your local bat monitoring group to survey and identify bats within your area. You can also encourage your community to join in through starting conversations with your family and friends about the impacts of light pollution on bats (you’d be surprised how willing people are to help)! Sharing your knowledge with others through creating leaflets and posters to put up around your area can also engage a much larger group of people.

Photo credit: Bat Conservation Trust

Developing people’s awareness of the issue is so important when driving change but we also need support from our local businesses and council. Contacting them to address the issue and ask what they are doing to help will bring the problem to their attention. Suggesting actions such as altering their security and streetlighting regimes, as well as developing dark corridors for bats, can help target specific issues. If enough people do this, they are more likely to prioritise these concerns and bring about change!

I hope reading this has sparked some ideas about how you can help and allowed you to realise a variety of things you can do. Making small changes to the way we use lights around our homes can have such a big difference to bats. Light pollution has a huge impact on so much wildlife yet can be easily reduced, we just need to know how!

Next week I’ll be covering how your efforts in bat conservation can benefit yourselves, which will hopefully encourage you to continue to the fight to turn off the light!

You can access information on this issue and find out how to help by following Blinded by the Night’s Facebook and Instagram pages. If you have any questions about the campaign or would like to get involved, please contact me via email at Beth2.Gerrard@live.uwe.ac.uk.

How to get involved:

Facebook: Blinded by the Night @blindedbythenightbristol

Instagram: @blindedbythenight_bats