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About HowToSpendItEthically.Org

Hi everyone, my name is Lynn Johnson and I am writing about the legal trade in endangered wildlife and how the luxury sector massively profits from unsustainable exploitation of endangered and exotic species.

HowToSpendItEthically.Org is a new online magazine to help consumers take a closer look at the LEGAL trade in endangered species. My aim is to help consumers know their purchasing behaviour is helping to protect the natural world and not adding to the extinction crisis.

I started working on the consumer demand for illegal wildlife products in 2013, but realised in 2017 that we couldn’t decisively solve the illegal trade in endangered species until the system that facilitates the legal trade (valued at US$320+ billion annually) is modernised, as it is currently really easy to launder illegal 'products' (valued at up to US$258 billion annually) into the legal marketplace. This is a topic very close to my heart and I am the founder and CEO of Nature Needs More Ltd, a non-profit organisation and charity registered in Australia.

Over the last 2 years I have tried and failed to get the mainstream media interested in the topic of the legal trade in endangered species. The little attention mainstream media is prepared to pay to wildlife trade issues is limited to the illegal trade and mainly focused on some of the iconic species we all know and love. Yet the problems go way beyond elephants, rhinos, lions and tigers.

Endangered species contribute to this mindboggling value of the luxury market, including personal luxury (clothing, accessories, jewellery, beauty products etc), high-end furniture and homewares. They are also legally traded for luxury hospitality, fine dining and gourmet food, the exotic pet industry (from parrots and reptiles all the way to big cats) and for traditional Asian medicine and much more. 

To make up for the lack of interest from both the mainstream media and the traditional conservation agencies, I decided to launch an online magazine, called HowtoSpendItEthically.Org, to write about the use of endangered and exotic species by the luxury industries. Though the luxury retail industry says supply chain transparency is key to building trust with its consumers, it has done so little real work to solve this that consumers cannot be sure that the product was sourced and they can’t even be sure it was obtained legally. In order to penetrate the use of (mostly endangered) wildlife by these industries I had to become an expert in CITES, the UN Convention that regulates the trade and I attended the 18th Conference of the Parties in Geneva in 2019 as an observer.

Nature Needs More has prepared detailed proposals for how CITES needs to be modernised to better monitor and regulate the trade in endangered species, as most of the systems used are ancient, obsolete and lack transparency and traceability. Even if individual businesses tried to be transparent and sustainable in their sourcing, given the flaws in the trade system as it stands, they couldn’t trust their supply chain.

With this online magazine I want to help inform and educate consumers and anyone who wants their children to experience wildlife in the future about the perils of the legal trade. Trade was established as the second biggest factor driving the extinction crisis by the May 2019 IPBES report, after land use; trade is even more important than climate change, when it comes to biodiversity loss, yet receives next to no attention.

I want to change that and in order to do so, I need your help. These investigations are very time-consuming, there are decades of information to dig through and people with specialist knowledge to interview.  I am volunteering my time to this project and to Nature Needs More because I am passionate about the cause and convinced that it is possible to drive some of the key changes needed with the help of a broader audience.

I hope that you become a subscriber of my Patreon page so that I can continue to write about this topic and pressure business, CITES and CITES signatory parties to improve the regulation and monitoring of this fast-growing yet largely invisible trade that is driving species to extinction.

Thank you

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