Conservation Starters

from WWF Experts

During this year’s Earth Day, April 22, we celebrate the wonders of our planet and everything we can do to help ensure a sustainable future for both people and nature. In honor of this year’s theme, Planet vs. Plastics, we’ve asked WWF experts across eight critical environmental areas to share their favorite Conservation Starters individuals can take to make a positive difference for our planet. These are just the start of the conversation—to engage more with WWF check out additional tips and other ways you can help advance our global conservation mission.


Biodiversity ranges from animals, plants, fungi, and even microorganisms like bacteria that make up our natural world. These species and organisms work together in our ecosystem, and each has a unique role to play to maintain balance and support life. However, as humans continue to put pressure on the planet by using and consuming more resources than ever before, we risk upsetting this balance and losing biodiversity. At WWF, we are working to ease this pressure, identifying threats, and finding innovative solutions in order to rebuild the web of biodiversity that supports our planet.

Robin Naidoo

“I am the Lead Wildlife Scientist for WWF-US, and I’m interested in investigating the ecological and economic issues that impact wildlife conservation. I focus on placing nature at the center of sustainable development and using research, from mapping ecosystem services to monitoring animal migrations, to support a future where species and people coexist. My current interests and research are largely focused on understanding the interaction between biodiversity and people.”
Robin Naidoo, Lead Scientist, Wildlife Conservation

Robin’s green tips

  1. Pledge for our Planet. Our planet is facing major conservation challenges from threats like climate change, deforestation, overfishing, and illegal wildlife trade. But protecting our planet and keeping planetary warming below 1.5°C is not impossible and none of us need to do it alone. Our impact on the planet primarily comes from what we eat, what we buy, how we power our homes, and how we travel from place to place. By signing on to the Pledge for our Planet, you are committing to taking action towards creating lasting solutions that protect the future of nature.
  2. Add native plants, fruits, and vegetables to your garden. Research the flora, fruits, and vegetables that are native to your region and plant a variety of them in your garden or backyard. This will help preserve and enhance the biodiversity in your area, while supporting the local ecosystem.
  3. Halt the spread of invasive species. Non-native species can cause a lot of economic and environmental harm to a given area. You can help stop the introduction and spread of invasive species by making conscious decisions, like ensuring that your boat is cleaned thoroughly before entering it into a new body of water, cleaning your hiking boots before exploring a new area, planting and cultivating native species, not buying illegal wildlife products, and only buying firewood sourced from where you plan to burn it.

Climate Change

Climate change is threatening our communities with more frequent and more powerful storms, more wildfires, more flooding, more droughts, more sea level rise. At WWF, we believe we must fight this threat and build a safer, healthier, and more resilient future for people and nature by transforming our energy systems, our food systems, and by implementing nature-based solutions on a massive scale.

Marcene Mitchell

“As a global citizen, I see the challenge of climate change as an imperative to avoid the worst impacts of a changing environment on our economy, our security and on the most vulnerable amongst us. As a person who believes in the limitless potential of human ingenuity, addressing the climate crisis is an opportunity to innovate, creating more rewarding lifestyles, cleaner and more efficient ways of delivering goods and services and a sustainable relationship with the natural world. As a mother, I recognize that how we respond to this challenge will have a tremendous impact on the well-being of my children and generations to come and want to leave them with a better world.”
Marcene Mitchell, Senior Vice President, Climate Change

Marcene’s green tips

  1. Advocate for action. Speaking up to your government representatives is by far the most critical action people can take in terms of addressing the climate crisis. Local and state governments often make critical decisions about how renewable energy is built out, and Congress and federal agencies play a critical role in funding the energy transition. Also, exercise your right to vote for who makes climate decisions for your community.
  2. Get a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats not only provide the convenience of being able to adjust the heating and cooling systems in a home from anyplace, they allow users to preset the system for peak energy efficiency. More advanced systems will even adjust to provide cost savings during peak energy use or peak pricing. Project Drawdown estimates that if up to 59% of US households were to install smart thermostats by 2050, consumers as a group would save a total of $2.02 trillion on their utility bills over the life of the units.
  3. Reduce your trash volume. Trash ends up in landfills, and according to the USEPA, landfills are responsible for about 16.9 percent of the total of human-caused U.S. methane emissions. Compost your food waste rather than throwing it in the trash. Avoid single use products, especially plastics. Choose reusable bags, cups, storage containers, and other products. Shop at stores, both online and in-person, that minimize the use of packing materials.


Healthy forests are critical to human and planetary health. They regulate and stabilize our climate and are the source of everything from fresh air and clean water to food, fiber, and fuel. Forests are also the greatest library of natural compounds for medicines, and they shield us from diseases. Yet forests remain threatened by unsustainable agriculture, poorly planned infrastructure, and illegal logging, making their future uncertain. That’s why at WWF, we’re dedicated to conserving the world’s most important forests to sustain nature’s diversity, benefit our climate, and support human well-being.

Kerry Cesareo

“You can’t look at a tree and not be hopeful—the sheer impossibility of something so enormous and solid from a minuscule seed. Trees are incredibly determined. They don’t give up—so we shouldn’t either. We know what we need to do to protect forests, and we have the tools to do so. In the era of climate change, it’s more important than ever to come together and solve the problems we’ve created. Future generations depend not only on us but on these amazing forests.”
Kerry Cesareo, Senior Vice President, Forests

Kerry’s green tips

  1. Look for the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) logo. When purchasing wood and paper products, including paper towels, tissues, and toilet paper, look for the FSC logo to know that your product—or even the packaging it’s wrapped in—comes from a responsibly managed forest. Switching to forest-friendly products will help protect wildlife too.
  2. Stand up for forests. Ask your congressional representatives to support the FOREST Act. By doing so, you can help keep products linked to illegal deforestation out of our stores and homes.
  3. Get out into nature. Whether exploring the trees growing on a city street or visiting a local forest or park, connecting with the nature around you will help you understand and share why protecting, conserving, and restoring forests and other vital ecosystems is so important. And while you’re there, you can help forests thrive by collecting trash, especially single-use plastics like water bottles and plastic bags. Don’t forget to clean up after yourself too!


All life needs water. It is the world’s most precious resource, fueling everything from the food you eat, to the cotton you wear, to the energy you depend upon every day. Freshwater also provides habitat for an incredible proportion of the world’s biodiversity: more than 10% of all known animals and about 50% of all known fish species. However, the world’s water is also under threat. Climate change, agriculture, poorly planned infrastructure, pollution, and over-use are not only putting freshwater habitats at risk, but also causing a 84% decline in freshwater species. At WWF, we are working alongside partners to ensure healthy freshwater systems and protect the species that depend on them. Together, we can create a more water-secure, and sustainable future for all.

Michele Thieme

“The freshwater team in WWF-US provides support to river restoration and protection work on the ground in priority basins around the world by bringing science, tools and resources to applied conservation projects. We also advocate for the inclusion of freshwater ecosystems and their ability to support resilience of humans and nature in a changing climate into policy, finance, and corporate water stewardship arenas. As humans, we have the responsibility to advocate for the well-being of freshwater species and the freshwater habitats that we all rely on. Water doesn’t come from the tap – nature is its ultimate source!”
Michele Thieme, Freshwater Vice President and Deputy

Michele’s green tips

  1. Transition your lawn to a native plant garden or add a rain garden to your yard. Even if you only have access to a small piece of outside space, remove any lawn grass (heavy water user!) and instead choose to plant native species, landscape with water-efficient plants, and use eco-friendly fertilizers. Adding a rain garden can also lessen the speed and quantity of storm-water runoff, which negatively impacts the health of local watersheds.
  2. Cut down on your water use. Many cities or states provide free, rebate, or pay-back programs to install low-flush toilets or to convert yards to drought tolerant landscape. Using your dishwasher without heavy rinsing can also significantly reduce your household water use.
  3. Choose Water-Friendly Food: Pick products from farmers who use smart and water-saving methods to grow food. This includes ways like collecting rainwater, drip irrigation, low-water crop rotations, and organic farming. It helps in reducing the overall water used to produce the food we eat.

Reducing Food Waste

At WWF, we are working to ensure we are producing enough food to nourish everyone in the world, while also reducing the environmental footprint of our food systems. Currently, almost half of the food produced in the US is wasted. This means the energy it takes to grow, harvest, transport, package, and dispose is also wasted. We have the chance to decrease our carbon emissions if we limit our food waste, as it’s not just a social or humanitarian concern, but an environmental one.

Alex Nichols-Vinueza

“I support WWF’s food waste team, co-leading our work with policy makers and the agricultural, grocery retail, hospitality, and food service sectors. I help to oversee WWF’s Food Waste Warrior program, which offers grants and hands-on curriculum for schools to learn about and reduce their food waste. My interest in the environment began at a young age, camping and spending time in the many parks and lakes around my hometown of Traverse City, Michigan.”
Alex Nichols-Vinueza, Program Manager, Food Loss and Waste

Alex’s green tips

  1. Start Home Composting: Initiate a home or community composting system to recycle kitchen scraps and organic waste. Composting not only reduces the amount of food waste sent to landfills but also produces nutrient-rich compost that can be used to enhance soil health in your garden or for potted plants. It's a simple and effective way to contribute to a circular and sustainable food system.
  2. Get to know your local farmers. Farmers are facing a difficult time as prices fluctuate and concerns over shortages rise. Farming is vital for our economy and food system. By supporting nearby farmers or your local farmers’ market, people can begin to understand how agriculture can serve as a tool for conservation and food security. And with greater understanding, we can begin to share in the challenge of producing enough food for everyone without impacting our planet.
  3. Remember to trust your senses rather than the date label. Most food is safe to eat longer than we think, especially fresh and canned goods. Most expiration dates have nothing to do with safety and many foods are still safe to eat days, weeks, or months after the “best by”, “sell by”, and “best before” labels. Trust your senses to know when food has gone bad, or you can search the FoodKeeper App to learn more about food freshness and storage options.


Every day plastic is flowing into our natural environment at an unprecedented rate. It’s spreading to every corner of the globe, polluting the air, water, and soil. While plastic can help make our hospital safer, our food last longer, and our packages more efficient to ship, it has no place in nature. At WWF, we are leading the charge to help reimagine how we source, design, dispose of, and reuse the plastic materials communities depend on. We are uniting our global networks of industry leaders, consumers, and policymakers to transform our systems, so the plastics we discard become plastics we use again.

Erin Simon

“Protecting the planet’s natural resources is key to conservation, and packaging plays a vital role in that – that’s why I have spent the past 11 years driving positive change across industries and helping businesses make informed, sustainable material choices for their products. WWF has a vision to reach a world with No Plastic in Nature by 2030, and that starts by taking less from the planet and being smarter about the resources that we do take. To end the plastic pollution crisis, we are going to need everyone on board, from policymakers to industry leaders, from cities to individual consumers, so that the plastics we discard can become plastics we use again.”
Erin Simon, Vice President Plastic Waste + Business

Erin’s green tips

  1. Support public policies that will unlock circular solutions needed to keep plastic out of nature. Tell your lawmakers that you support the UN Global Treaty on Plastic as well as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in the United States. You can also petition your local government to enable better recycling capabilities and initiatives to cut plastic waste in your community.
  2. Learn about local recycling systems. Find out which plastics your town’s recycling system accepts, and just as importantly, which they do not accept so you can be sure to avoid contamination.  
  3. Swap out single-use items. Invest in high-quality reusable items and replace common single-use plastics like bags, cups, water bottles, straws, and utensils – and remember to bring them along whenever you leave the house.

Wildlife Conservation

For 60 years, WWF has worked to find solutions that save the marvelous array of life on our planet. However, the 2022 Global Living Planet Index shows an average 69% fall in monitored populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish between 1970 and 2018. The good news is that WWF has also seen successful wildlife recovery through our work. By protecting wildlife, we are ensuring a better future for our planet.

Danielle Brigida

“For me, wildlife sparks profound curiosity and a deep sense of wonder. I’ve devoted my career to wildlife conservation, and I know that by sharing information about wildlife and ways we can help them, we can serve as a reminder that saving space for wildlife is vital to our planet’s health. Just by considering them in our planning, we can shift the feelings of guilt or frustration around sharing spaces with wildlife, to feelings of appreciation and joy. They are the main characters of our children’s stories, our neighbors, our relatives. Our world’s biodiversity is something to celebrate.”
Danielle Brigida, Wildlife Communications & Strategy Senior Director, Wildlife

Danielle’s green tips

  1. Skip the plastic bag. Plastic bags can cause entanglement for wildlife and negatively impact their habitats and can also be mistaken for food. A floating plastic bag in the ocean may look like a jellyfish or squid, common prey species for sea turtles and whales, respectively. When possible, opt for a reusable bag instead.
  2. Help prevent future pandemics.There are direct links between what we do to nature and the emergence of infectious diseases. Support efforts to shut down high-risk wildlife markets globally and reduce consumer demand for high-risk wildlife products. Send a message to Congress asking them to take the necessary steps to help reduce the chances of future animal-related outbreaks.
  3. Report any suspected illegal wildlife product to the Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online and don’t buy illegal wildlife products. Become a Cyber Spotter to help keep endangered wildlife products offline.