State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

What You Can Do to Protect Biodiversity

you can help protect biodiversity
Photo credit: Christian Ziegler

Biodiversity—the variety of all living organisms including ecosystems, plants, animals, their habitats and genes—is fundamental to life on Earth. We need biodiversity for its invaluable ecosystem services, providing oxygen, food, clean water, fertile soil, medicines, shelter, protection from storms and floods, a stable climate and recreation. Tragically, today biodiversity is disappearing at 1,000 times the normal rate due to human civilization. Individual species are being obliterated by habitat loss and degradation, invasive species, the spread of pollution and disease, climate change and the over exploitation of resources. And because the human population, which has doubled since 1970, is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, the biodiversity crisis will only get worse as more people consume more resources.

What can we as individuals do to help slow the loss of biodiversity?  Since consumption of resources is a root cause of biodiversity loss, we can consume less and be more mindful about what we consume. We need to leverage our purchasing power to help protect biodiversity by consuming products that do not harm the environment. Ecolabels enable consumers to determine which products are green, safe, and environmentally sustainable. But because so many ecolabels have sprung up—in 2010, there were 400 different sustainability certifications available around the world—they can be confusing. Here are some of the most reliable and respected ecolabels to look for.

USDA Organic – The USDA Organic seal, given out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, certifies that raw, fresh and processed products are either 100 percent organic or “organic” (containing 95 percent organically produced ingredients). Organic crops must be raised without conventional pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers, or sewage sludge-based fertilizers. Animals must be fed organic feed, have access to the outdoors, and cannot be given antibiotics or growth hormones. Genetic engineering is prohibited. Generally, all natural (non-synthetic) substances are allowed in organic production and all synthetic substances are prohibited. Personal care and cosmetic products can also be labeled organic if they meet USDA/National Organic Program criteria.

Fair Trade Certified – This label guarantees that farmers and workers that produce products in the developing world are getting a fair deal. It also ensures protection of local ecosystems and promotes sustainable and organic agriculture. Fair Trade certified products include beans and grains, cocoa, coffee, flowers and plants, fruits and vegetables, honey, herbs and spices, nuts and oil seeds, sugar, tea and wine. Apparel, sports balls, and beauty products can also be certified.

Marine Stewardship Council – The MSC is a global organization that   develops standards for sustainable fishing and certifies seafood (from wild capture fisheries only) that comes from sustainable fisheries. At sustainable fisheries, current catches must be maintained at levels that ensure fish populations and their ecosystems remain healthy and productive today and in the future. MSC provides a list of certified sustainable fish for responsible eating.

Green Seal – Established in 1989, Green Seal boasts one of the first environmental certification programs. It uses lifecycle based sustainability standards to certify products, services, and companies that protect the environment and human health. All significant environmental and social impacts are considered, from raw materials extraction through manufacturing to use and disposal. Certified products include cleansers, construction materials, paints, paper, paper towels and tissue, food packaging, and hand soaps. Cleaning services, restaurants and hotels are also certified.

Energy Star – Originally created by the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Energy, Energy Star is now an international standard for energy efficient products. Certified products must perform to consumers’ expectations while providing increased energy efficiency, and if an Energy Star product costs more than a traditional equivalent, consumers must be able to recoup their investment in a reasonable amount of time through energy savings. Energy Star products include appliances (refrigerators, washers, dryers, etc.), computers and electronics, lighting and fans, plumbing, heating and cooling equipment, and building products (windows, doors, roofing, insulation, etc.).

Forest Stewardship CouncilThe FSC promotes the sustainable management of the world’s forests by ensuring that the harvest of forests for timber and non-timber products maintains a forest’s biodiversity, productivity, and ecological processes, and by respecting the rights of and providing incentives to indigenous people to sustain forest resources. In addition to prohibiting the destruction of natural forests, the FSC safeguards endangered species, and bans toxic pesticides and the planting of genetically modified trees. FSC certified products include lumber, paper, printing, packaging, furniture, and other products made from wood.

LEED – The U.S. Green Building Council provides LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for buildings or communities designed and built with environmentally sensitive siting, energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, sustainable materials, improved indoor environmental quality, innovative technology and strategies, and stewardship of resources. It looks at the building lifecycle from design and construction to operations and maintenance, and substantial retrofits. LEED certification applies to commercial real estate, residential homes, schools and hospitals, and even the design or retrofit of neighborhoods.

Rainforest Alliance Certification – The Rainforest Alliance works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior. It offers certification to farms that protect natural ecosystems and endangered species, do not pollute water bodies, prohibit hunting of wild animals except when done by indigenous groups in a controlled manner, ban the use of certain chemicals and genetically modified crops, and protect workers’ rights. As one of the founders of the FSC, it certifies forests and forest products. It also certifies hotels, restaurants and other tourism businesses that meet its environmental, social and economic criteria including the use of clean technologies, waste management and recycling, carbon offsets, biodiversity conservation, cultural preservation, gender equality, and green marketing. The Rainforest Alliance also certifies forestry projects that demonstrate an ability to sequester carbon dioxide and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Certified Wildlife Friendly – The Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network promotes wildlife conservation through certifying products that are linked to conservation actions, and that benefit and involve local individuals and communities living with wildlife. Certified products include alpaca garments, essential oils, chili products, rice, eco-fashion, a community market organization, and a conservation program that helps control bushmeat poaching. Each certified entity is tied to conservation efforts for particular species.

Columbia campus skyline with text Columbia Climate School Class Day 2024 - Congratulations Graduates

Congratulations to our Columbia Climate School MA in Climate & Society Class of 2024! Learn about our May 10 Class Day celebration. #ColumbiaClimate2024

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

69 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
A J Pipkin
13 years ago

Good article!
The Energy Star labeling system is a very good system of identifying household products that are the most energy efficient. It is a shame that these products are tageted by their manufacturers to give them maximum profit margin, which is clearly putting potential customers off from buying them and this results in customers not gaining anything on a supposed return on investment, even after a lengthy time.
Kind regards !

AJ Pipkin

Jaden
Jaden
Reply to  A J Pipkin
2 months ago

I agree

insulating paint
insulating paint
12 years ago

Great article! Yes, there are many things we can do to preserve biodiversity and help our planet. One great way is by finding ways to reduce the energy used to heat and cool our homes.

Pearl Jones
12 years ago

I never really paid much attention to the labels or the variety of the labels. I do have a sadden heart regarding the Rain Forest. I breaks my heart to hear how much de-forestation takes place everyday. I just wish there was some other way to encourage people not to do this.

I know there are a lot of organizations like the Rainforest Alliance that are doing all they can to help. We just need people to stay engaged and remain proactive when it comes to this wonderful natural resource that is so important to our planet.

Thank you for posting this article. I am sure this will benefit many of your readers as much as it has me.

Toddler Table Chair
12 years ago

In my area, people still using plastic bags and non-recycle products. If we can’t educate them to reuse and recycle, we still consume more and more resources. Hope they will realized before the global warming become serious.

LilI
LilI
Reply to  Toddler Table Chair
1 year ago

in my area we are planting fruit

dewatering equipment
11 years ago

Environmental pollution is growing year by year and we are responsible for this. So that, it our duty to control the pollution. We have concern about reuse and recycling of the waste products. We should use Eco friendly and recyclable product.

Tompoo Ngamillah
Tompoo Ngamillah
9 years ago

God work, it heiped me alot in my exams. Big up

Treasured Homes
Treasured Homes
9 years ago

I think education is at the top with anything like this. People aren’t aware of what biodiversity does to for us, so they just assume it’s a word BUT through effective campaigns via social media the younger generations will engage and they’ll learn far more too about what needs to be done to protect it!

Burcea Mihai
8 years ago

The first thing we must do is do educate our kids and talk to our friends about this problem. We can start using eco friendly cleaning products, food that is from natural farm. Choose the products that are not made with chimicals and other toxic mix for environment.

Michael Mbulu
Michael Mbulu
7 years ago

Biodiversity plays a major role in our lives , but mostly in the lives of rural area,settlers without biodiversity the results are high poverty rate, and dependency, thus it is important for every individual to contribute to help maintain and sustain our biodiversity.

Claudette A Mitchel
Claudette A Mitchel
7 years ago

What can be done to mitigate Light glare and light trespass that is expanding with newer infill and development? Nocturnal animals are challenged by thoughtless individuals and developers…..

Claris Barbin
Claris Barbin
6 years ago

I have seen a lot of people in most rural areas wherein I thought they are the ones who preserve the environment better than the ones who live in the Urban.Nevertheless, people in the rural places had been burning lots of plastics in a pit and no one could implement a rule stating how dangerous it could affect in our nature.I am determined to help and encourage these people that instead of burning their trashes there are lots of ways to recycle it and use it for the better and a way to protect our biodiversity.

LilI
LilI
Reply to  Claris Barbin
1 year ago

thats good for the enviroment

Christine Pajes
Christine Pajes
6 years ago

i can do to protect our biodiversity by being a good and responsible person. I thought in the rural areas they are the ones who takes care the environment than the people in the urban areas. They are burning garbages such as plastics that can affect our ozone layer. If i were them instead of burning wastes, i will think of recycling it to become more useful. And it can be a money for them. I will encourage them that instead of burning it and leave it behind, there is a lot of ways to become more useful like recycle them. And use it for the best and it can be one of the things on how we can protect our biodiversity.

jeet
jeet
Reply to  Christine Pajes
3 years ago

plz share dos and donts to conserve
biodiversity

Haly Decano
Haly Decano
6 years ago

To protect our biodiversity is to conserve natural resources. Like the urban areas they are the one who take care of their environment. While the rural areas are not taking care of their environment. They burn plastics and they dont recycle garbages. Instead of that doing that we need to consume electricity and recycle garbages so that we can help protect biodiversity. We must use products that can not harm the environment.

Otte Miriam
Otte Miriam
6 years ago

Also,a stable committee should be set-up that will check some of this companies that are in charge of the things concerning biodiversity. Inorder for them not to use chemicals that are harmful to the environment and contributing to the destruction of biodiversity.

Dwight Smith OnTray
5 years ago

Nice post! It’s really important to teach kids how to care for the environment. We should build up some idea on how both parents and educators can teach kids in a fun way.

cayde
cayde
5 years ago

i love that you are helping other kids learn about our environment.

Hunter
Hunter
5 years ago

if we get rid of to meany forest the animals will die because they have no where to live

cheyeann sewell
cheyeann sewell
5 years ago

if we took over the world how much would animals live in this world

error 404
error 404
Reply to  cheyeann sewell
5 years ago

well us for one because we are mammals which are animals

Ali Al Rubaye
Ali Al Rubaye
5 years ago

Since there is a rapid growth in the human population. We will just keep on destroying habitats and than there wouldn’t be much biodiversity left.

KAMERON
KAMERON
5 years ago

THE FORESTS ARE GETTING DESTROYED

Fatima
Fatima
4 years ago

Yes I agree it’s a good one but I want to know how can technological tools help to prevent or reduce the identified loss of biodiversity?

Jaden
Jaden
4 years ago

I agree that there needs to be something do to help our communities and the world not loos biodiversity. I also think that teaching are youth about ways they harm biodiversity and nature is very important.

will
will
3 years ago

I pledge to recycle, reuse and make better choices!!

chris
chris
3 years ago

we need more biodiversity because it is the keystone to the planets well being .

Logan
Logan
3 years ago

We all play a part in protecting biodiversity. Even the little thing can go a long way.

bryan
bryan
3 years ago

i agree to make the world a better place by recycling

Ayse Hale BUlut
Ayse Hale BUlut
3 years ago

We should stop destroying thousands of species by building apartments in nature. We should stop using unhealthy gas.

east jefferson
east jefferson
3 years ago

The Energy Star labeling system is a very good system of identifying household products that are the most energy efficient. It is a shame that these products are tageted by their manufacturers to give them maximum profit margin, which is clearly putting potential customers off from buying them and this results in customers not gaining anything on a supposed return on investment, even after a lengthy time.
Kind regards !

Brooklyn W.
Brooklyn W.
3 years ago

That was a great article! People should start using more recyclable items because all of that trash is sent to the bottom of the ocean.

akihiro.lj
akihiro.lj
3 years ago

It is amazing how ecolabels are invented. Before, I didn’t really pay attention to those ecolabels since I didn’t know what are those for. But after reading the article, I realized that it is to protect and maintain our biodiversity. It is really important that we preserve our biodiversity because it is what gives us life. Without it, we won’t be able to live and have these materials that we need to survive.

Daryn W
Daryn W
3 years ago

Well written article!! I really enjoyed the paragraph on rainforest alliance. It saddens me very much that deforestation is such a big and recurring problem. I think we used only used recycled things. Get rid of plastic, and go all recycled paper. I al so think we should stop using trees for paper, and wood products. Dead trees are fine but some people use trees that are alive for their wood, and that needs to stop. They want to take down whole forests of trees, but dont want to take the time to grow one.

kenenisa wogair
kenenisa wogair
3 years ago

I try to not used a lot of technology and used of energy consumption as well as water consumption. Maybe one day when I grow I will make a team that assembles and help protect animals habitat

Charlotte Fleet
3 years ago

I love how you mentioned that a great way to conserve biodiversity is to consume less natural resources. I think that it would also be beneficial to invest in a service that’s main focus is to help improve biodiversity in landscapes. Thank you so much for your article about biodiversity, Renee.

Danayla shazier
Danayla shazier
3 years ago

1.I can plant more tress

2.Tell others around me why it is important so they will do the same and or help

3.I will give water to the trees

4. I will clean up the surroundings

5.Stop puting pollution and gas everywhere

Guest
Guest
3 years ago

Our biodiversity is very important and it’s a good thing this blog gives us informative articles. Especially on how we can preserve it. Another great thing about this is we gather information and can be spread by many. This blog is one of the great ways I see to conserve our biodiversity. Lastly, it helps to call out others to be aware about what is happening in our biodiversity.

Henry Okafor
Henry Okafor
3 years ago

well structured and thought through the post, I believe, this will serve as a great guide to many in identifying with the support for biodiversity conservation.

Cameron
Cameron
3 years ago

I love the artical saying that people realize that we are hurting biodiversity and doing something about it

kalen meadows
kalen meadows
3 years ago

This an great article to read!
I think biodiversity is important because it shows us how we are ruining the land for animals and plants if we could stop knocking down trees and ruining plants and animals homes maybe so many animals wouldn’t be going extinct.

marlin i maturano
marlin i maturano
3 years ago

great in bringing a incite to how we can better our foods. i shall try not to pollute any grounds at any costs.

Environment lover
Environment lover
3 years ago

Don’t just go on to leave a thumbs down life is beautiful if we did not have it we would not be here so appropriate your surroundings.

guadalupe madrigal
guadalupe madrigal
3 years ago

living organisms including ecosystem plant animals thier habitats
and genes is fundamental to life and earth we need biodeversity

Destiny A.
Destiny A.
2 years ago

I`ve always been connected to the biodiversity and nature and I understand the affects of human to earth but as us people we could keep our biodiversity by doing stuff that might help because biodiversity helps us in ways that we need to survive and we should help them too.

Elijiah W.M
Elijiah W.M
2 years ago

This article is very informative. It has really showed that there are many things that help to try to preserve our planet.

Hasbula
Hasbula
2 years ago

great article

it contains a lot of information!

Samuel Abutal
Samuel Abutal
2 years ago

I agree to feed the animal with organic foods.

Braylen Westmoreland
Braylen Westmoreland
2 years ago

The Marine Stewardship council is a good organisation because its stopping fish species from dieing out by making a limit to fishing its will help fish and coral reefs from bottom fishing.

Zacary W Clark
Zacary W Clark
2 years ago

Great article

alejandro cardenas
alejandro cardenas
2 years ago

the way we can make a change is by not taking up homes of animals and polluting earth

Beatrice Williams
Beatrice Williams
2 years ago

Good article i love how the author gave multiple points and you backed it up with stats and i agree that we should be more involved in trying to help our planet

Roberto
Roberto
2 years ago

Interesting article! One way humans have affected biodiversity is by their population and by the use of land.