Looking Forward

From Stephanie Feldstein, Population and Sustainability Program Director


If you're like me, the election of Joe Biden as president-elect brought a sense of relief. With the power of our vote, we're taking our country back from a racist and misogynist president who put polluters and profits ahead of people and the environment. And we'll have the country's first woman-of-color vice president.

But there's a lot of work ahead. The damage caused by the Trump administration will have to be reckoned with. Even as President Biden tackles the COVID-19 pandemic, we'll have to be holding him to his campaign promises — and pushing him beyond them to take strong action to secure a just, sustainable future. He'll need to get to work on day one to reverse Trump's rollbacks on the climate and reproductive healthcare, among other priorities like immediately ending border-wall construction.

These are actions Americans want. Read on to learn more about our recently released national-survey results showing widespread support for climate action, conservation and universal access to contraception.

Border wall and cut-down saguaros

Trump's border wall has devastated the desert landscape, cutting down venerable saguaro cacti and disrupting wildlife migrations. Read Center Borderlands Campaigner Laiken Jordahl's essay in The New York Times about the damage the wall has inflicted on these precious places.

Population fact

Birth control pills and sea turtle with plastic bag

Survey Results: Contraception and Consumption in the U.S.

For the past decade, the Center has been one of the only organizations talking about the connection between population growth, consumption and the extinction crisis. To better understand how people in the United States perceive these issues, we conducted a nationally representative survey.

The results show that most Americans believe human population growth is driving wildlife extinctions. Seventy-three percent of respondents think the world's population is growing too fast, and 69% believe society has a moral responsibility to slow human population growth if it would help prevent extinctions. And there's widespread support for rights-based solutions — 80% think all types of contraception should be legal, free and easily accessible.

Here's one thing you can do: Explore the full survey results.


The Consumption Gap

There are deep inequities in how people consume products and resources and in the impacts those patterns have on different communities. According to our national survey, nearly 3 out of 4 people say Americans consume too much — but almost half also think they personally consume less than average. This gap between what people think others are doing and what they think they're doing could be leading to guilt-free consumption.

Our society's focus on recycling can make that worse, allowing people to feel they can consume as much as they want as long as it doesn't wind up in a landfill. That mindset ignores the environmental cost of extraction, production, shipping — and of recycling itself. By shifting our priority to simply reducing consumption, rather than struggling to manage large quantities of waste, we can lessen the pressure our economy puts on the environment.

Here's one thing you can do: Read Population and Sustainability Campaigner Kelley Dennings' op-ed on why the recycling community needs to focus on waste prevention.

Contraception Conversations graphic

Video Series: Contraception Conversations

Men are often left out of contraception counseling. As a result tubal ligations are still three times more common than vasectomies in the United States, despite vasectomies being cheaper, more effective and simpler to get. In honor of World Vasectomy Day today (Nov. 20), the Center just launched a video-interview series called Contraception Conversations to raise awareness about this procedure.

In the videos three men share their perspectives on, and experiences with, vasectomies: one man who got a vasectomy, one preparing to get one, and one considering the procedure in the future. We also talked with a urologist who shared his expert knowledge and answered commonly asked questions. We hope hearing real people discuss their experiences can help others better understand this form of contraception.

Here's one thing you can do: Considering a vasectomy? Find a provider near you using World Vasectomy Day's doctor directory.

T-shirt quilt

Simplify the Holidays

The holidays will look different this year. Travel, large family gatherings and office parties will be limited by the pandemic; many people are starting off the season stressed and strapped for cash. In a typical year, the average American spends almost $1,000 on gifts. And all that wrapping paper, packaging and splashing out leads to 25% more waste per week from Thanksgiving to New Year's.

But it's possible to make this holiday season more meaningful and less wasteful. Population and Sustainability Campaigner Sarah Baillie offers ideas for five homemade holiday gifts that can help ease the pressure on your pocketbook and the planet. And stay tuned for even more ideas for alternative gifts and sustainable traditions when our Simplify the Holidays campaign is launched in the coming weeks.

Here's one thing you can do: Register for a free webinar with Sarah on Dec. 2, cohosted by the Buffalo Museum of Science, on how to balance gift-giving and mindfulness.

Grocery store

Buying Into Food-waste Prevention

So much food is wasted in the United States that it could fill a 90,000-seat college stadium every single day. As the gatekeepers between farms and households, grocery stores play a pivotal role in addressing food waste. But until recently most of the industry's waste-reduction efforts were focused on donations and composting, which fail to prevent the wasted land, water and energy that go into producing excess food in the first place.

With the launch of the 10x20x30 initiative, that may begin to change. The goal of the initiative is to have the world's 10 largest food retailers require 20 of their major suppliers to halve food waste from their supply chain by 2030. Senior Food Campaigner Jennifer Molidor writes about how focusing upstream helps grocery stores take steps to stop trashing food and the planet.

Here's one thing you can do: Check out which stores are part of the 10x20x30 initiative. If your favorite supermarket isn't on the list, ask it to make the same commitment to food-waste prevention.

American burying beetle

Wildlife Spotlight: American Burying Beetle

The perfect date for two beautiful black-and-orange American burying beetles takes place over the carcass of a small mammal that they bury to serve as food and shelter for their offspring. The details of this love story may sound grisly, but American burying beetles are an important part of their ecosystems, helping with decomposition and returning nutrients to the earth.

American burying beetles received Endangered Species protection in 1989, but their habitat in the southern Plains continues to face destruction from oil and gas development and climate change. The species is far from recovered, but the Trump administration announced that it was downlisting the beetle from endangered to threatened anyway. The Center will challenge that decision and keep fighting for this unique insect.

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Photo credits: American flag decorations via Canva; Stephanie Feldstein staff photo; border wall and cut-down saguaros by Laiken Jordahl/Center for Biological Diversity; birth control pills; sea turtle and plastic bag; recycling by Jon Tyson/Unsplash; Contraception Conversations graphic courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; T-shirt quilt by rubyji/Flickr; grocery store by Scorpions and Centaurs/Flickr; American burying beetle by Doug Backlund/SD Game, Fish, and Parks.

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