UN Day for Biodiversity: If consumers are not given tools to ‘go green’, then the climate is doomed

Biodiversity loss threatens one million animals and plants with extinction. But as we celebrate the UN’s International Day for Biodiversity (May 22) we are greeted by a silver lining: Consumers are waking up. There is an ‘eco-awakening,’ where environmental consciousness and consumerism are inextricably linked. However, going green can be tricky. Faced with a lack of transparency, consumers are often unable to make the right choices, but new technologies and certification schemes may offer transformative solutions.

After the events of 2020, consumers made one thing clear: They want a more sustainable world. In the EU, 93% of people consider biodiversity a ‘very serious’ problem, reflecting a change in consumption patterns. For example, a recent report done by Future Market Insights discovered the organic skincare market is expected to grow 8.1% in the next decade as people use the experiences of Covid, climate change, and increasing health problems to influence purchases.

Yet, as more consumers transition to ‘eco-friendly’ choices there is a risk of companies marketing unsustainable products as sustainable in order to meet demand.

Recently, there was consumer backlash against products containing palm oil—which many do not realize can be sustainably sourced–leading to boycotts and many companies replacing palm oil with soybean oil. However, soy needs almost eight times more land than palm oil and is connected to decreased bird diversity in the Amazon, home to the most rare and endangered species, where deforestation has risen to a 12 year high.  

The issue with consumer-led change is, in order for it to be successful, it has to be based on accurate information which brands can support through transparency and accountability. Studies show that eco-labels and certification schemes contribute to transparency and these processes can be combined with technology like blockchain, or organizations like Sourcemap, to provide consumers innovative tools to make green choices and prevent ecological loss.

The sustainable consumer revolution is coming, are you ready?

Isabel Schatzschneider
Isabel Schatzschneider
I am an environmental activist and researcher specialising in food ethics, religious ethics and animal welfare. And I am an academic researcher and concentrate on media and politics in the Middle East.