What can I do as an individual to protect biodiversity?

While large scale changes in behaviour, policies and measures that protect biodiversity will be essential, individuals have a vital part to play. Reducing consumption patterns can start at an individual level through conscious choices about the food we eat, products we buy and services we use. 

Tackling the biodiversity crisis will require cooperation at all levels of society, from intergovernmental agreements down to local community action. Individuals can play their part in creating the institutions and electing leaders who can help to safeguard biodiversity. Reconnecting with nature and encouraging others to do the same can help people to learn more about local ecosystems, respect them and treasure them.

Consumers can have an impact through what they buy and use in their day to day lives. Certain products such as cotton have a disproportionate effect on biodiversity. There is also overconsumption of high environmental footprint meat, especially beef, in many parts of the world. Those with savings and pensions can chose to invest in ways that promote rather than harm biodiversity.

Reducing what we waste and throw away can play a part in lowering pollution levels and the over exploitation of natural resources. Huge amounts of food is wasted and by repairing rather than replacing electrical items, and getting more use out of the clothes we already own, consumers can have a positive effect on biodiversity that could also save us money. Delivering information to consumers about the environmental impact of products is another option. New rules introduced in 2021 in the EU requires manufacturers of electrical goods such as fridges, washing machines and televisions to make them easier to repair - the "right to repair“.

Spending more time in nature can help improve our relationship with it and attach greater value to the habitats around us. Educating children about wildlife and local ecosystems can help to make our connection to the natural world clearer and bring about long-term behavioural changes in future generations.

Individuals can make a difference – some of the things you can do include:

  • Supporting political action committed to protecting and restoring biodiversity
  • Supporting institutions that promote the protection and restoration of biodiversity
  • Support local and regional projects aimed at tackling biodiversity loss
  • Buying fewer products and making sure the products you do buy minimise the impact on biodiversity
  • Investing in ways that promote biodiversity
  • Reducing waste of consumer goods: food, clothes, electrical appliances, etc
  • Recycling
  • Educating children about biodiversity, ecosystems and the threats they face and the opportunities to restore them.

For more on this issue visit: Behaviours for conserving biodiversity | Royal Society; The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review | Royal Society; Why efforts to address climate change through nature-based solutions must support both biodiversity and people | Royal Society; Consumption patterns and biodiversity | Royal Society