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, Invest in Our Planet, we’ve asked WWF experts across six 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

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

Robin Naidoo

Lead Scientist, Wildlife Conservation

I am the lead wildlife scientist for WWF, 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.

Here are my favorite green tips:

  1. Explore biodiversity where you live. You don't have to travel far to find interesting plants, trees, flowers, fungi, and animals. Your garden, local park or nearby nature reserve are rich ecosystems filled with species that live alongside us. A great way to learn about and identify native species in your area is by using the Seek app.
  2. 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.
  3. Be an ambassador in your community. Be a champion for the planet and speak out about the importance of sustainability in your own community. Consider becoming a Panda Ambassador, the ultimate next level of engagement for those committed to saving wildlife and the environment while supporting WWF.

Climate

Climate change is altering the trajectory of our planet at an alarming rate. Already we’re seeing the impact of a warming climate, freshwater supplies are shrinking, agricultural yields are dropping, and forests are burning. At WWF, we believe we can fight this threat by continuing to build a safer, healthier, and more resilient future for people and nature, though we can’t do this alone. Achieving this future requires that everyone play a part.

 
Marcene Mitchell

Marcene Mitchell

Senior Vice-President, Climate Change

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 the most vulnerable among 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.

Here are my green tips:

  1. Advocate for action. Get involved locally or speak to federal legislators on policies that promote reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and speed the transition to an economy powered by renewables like wind and solar instead of fossil fuels.
  2. Switch to LEDs. The light-emitting diode (LED) lightbulb is significantly more efficient longer-lasting, and more durable than incandescent or compact fluorescent lightbulbs. LEDs use at least 75% less energy and last up to 25 times longer than incandescent lighting.
  3. Electrify your life. Where possible, opt for products powered by electricity over fossil fuels, such as electric cooktops instead of gas to reduce methane emissions. Choose an electric vehicle or even an electric hybrid for your next car if possible.

Forests

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

Kerry Cesareo

Senior Vice President, Forests

I’ve spent much of my career working to protect forests, including more than 20 years at WWF. During the pandemic, like many of us, I found particular comfort among the trees, which only strengthened my resolve to safeguard our forests. We know what we need to do to protect them, and we have the tools to do so. It’s more important than ever to come together and solve the problems we’ve created. Future generations of people and other forms of life on Earth depend not only on us but on the amazing forests that provide such solace during these trying times.

Here are my favorite 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 prevent illegally deforested products from entering US markets.
  3. Reuse furniture. An alternative to buying new wood furniture bearing the FSC logo is purchasing furniture from thrift shops and antique stores. There are also online sources for resale or free furniture, such as The Freecycle Network™. Reusing furniture can be cost-effective, and you don’t have to worry about supply chain issues. And it’s good for our forests!

Marine Conservation

Our oceans cover 71% of our Earth’s surface and sustain the lives of billions of people. It’s home to spectacular ecosystem and treasured wildlife. Studies show that when ocean ecosystems are resilient, people nearby are more resilient too. At WWF, we are working to secure resilient and productive oceans that support rich biodiversity, food security, and sustainable livelihoods that depend on them.

 
Caroline Tippett

Caroline Tippett

Vice President of Ocean Markets

Coming from a seafood industry background, I always found it inspiring to play a role shaping the industry through my work at WWF. I work closely with multi-national retailers to drive positive change for our oceans and seafood companies can truly transform the way we buy and consume seafood. They have influence over global supply chains, protecting endangered species and productive ecosystems, and opting for nature positive business models that benefit nature and people. It is extremely gratifying to see a growing trend calling for more sustainable and responsible seafood products, shifting industry practices, and greater awareness that a healthy business depends on a healthy ocean.

Here are my favorite green tips:

  1. Buy more sustainable seafood. Help keep our fisheries and fish stocks healthy, and our fish farms more responsibly managed by looking for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) labels on grocery products or restaurant menus. Their blue and green fish logos ensure your fish are more sustainably and more responsibility sourced and can be traced to their fisheries and farms or origin.
  2. Skip unnecessary single-use plastics. About 8 million metric tons of plastic waste end up in our oceans every year. There are already an estimated 150 million metric tons of plastic in our oceans because this problem hasn't been addressed effectively. Non-reusable water bottles, plastic bags, and straws pollute our ocean and can destroy ecosystems and endanger marine life. Consider what items are truly necessary and which can be skipped.
  3. Protect endangered species through your dining choices. As consumers look to restaurants and seafood sellers for healthful, sustainable protein, we all have a responsibility to pay attention to what we eat. Today, there are over 400 known endangered marine species linked to human consumption including shark, real, and bluefin tuna. What you choose to eat matters tremendously. Being mindful of what marine and freshwater species are at risk can help prevent endangering them further, while enjoying seafood responsibly. Learn more about endangered species by consulting our WWF guide here.

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

Alex Nichols-Vinueza

Program Manager, Food Loss and Waste

I’m part of WWF’s food waste team, supporting our work with policy makers and the agricultural, grocery retail, hospitality, and food service sectors. I also lead 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 traipsing around the many parks and lakes around my hometown of Traverse City, Michigan.

Here are my favorite green tips:

  1. Don’t forget about your freezer. Frozen foods can be just as nutritious and stay edible for much longer in the case of highly perishable foods like fruits and vegetables. Moving leftovers to the freezer also helps you store food for months to later use in soups, smoothies, or quick midweek meals, which you might otherwise throw away.
  2. Only buy what you need. Write a grocery list at home before you head to the store, (and use tools like the "Save the Food" Guest-imator before having people over). Keeping food that needs to be eaten first towards the front of your fridge makes that even easier, to quickly check what you already have before buying more.
  3. Ask your representative or organization to co-sponsor the Zero Food Waste Act. If enacted, the Zero Food Waste Food Act would give local, state, and tribal communities grants to invest in composting, food rescue, and other organic waste programs to keep food out of the trash. Today, food is the number one item (by weight) we throw into landfills, which are the third-largest source of methane emissions as a result.

Wildlife Conservation

For 60 years, WWF has worked to find solutions that save the marvelous array of life on our planet. However, the 2020 Global Living Planet Index shows an average 68% fall in monitored populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish between 1970 and 2016. 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.

 
Robin Sawyer© Courtesy of Robin Sawyer

Robin Sawyer

Senior Program Officer, Wildlife

I’ve worked in conservation for more than 17 years. I work with WWF and TRAFFIC to fight wildlife trafficking on many different projects, but much of my work centers on the issues of domestic illegal wildlife trade issues (e.g. ivory trade), the use of wildlife detection dogs in seaports, and the live exotic pet trade in the US. I am so passionate about the work I do and love working at a place that’s full of like-minded people who understand the bigger issues and want to do something to help the planet.

Here are my favorite green tips:

  1. Don’t litter. Litter can harm wildlife and pollute landscapes. Pick up litter when you can and keep our spaces green.
  2. Support the Big Cat Public Safety Act. With 2022 being the Year of the Tiger on the Chinese calendar, we must ensure laws are in place to prevent tigers from ending up in the illegal trade. Currently, 5000 tigers are captive in the US. Supporting this bipartisan legislation will go a long way towards ensuring that the US minimizes its risk of contributing to the illegal trade in tiger parts and products. The bill also helps ensure the welfare of these animals and protects public safety from the threats posed by private ownership of big cats.
  3. Don’t buy illegal wildlife products. Report any suspected illegal wildlife product to the Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online. Become a Cyber Spotter to help keep endangered wildlife products offline