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Patrick McCarthy headshot

As Activists Swarm to Save Endangered Monarch Butterflies, Most Companies Sit Idle

monarch butterflies

The loss of the endangered monarchs could result in its own disastrous “butterfly effect" across the global food system. To that end, a tornado of activists are flapping their wings to give a helpful wind of momentum and allow the population of monarch butterflies to recover. 

Since 2015, the Monarch Joint Venture has collaborated with mayors across the U.S. with the Mayors for Monarchs initiative. The program encourages mayors to pledge their support for the monarch and details actions that local communities can take to help the butterflies.

By planting milkweed and other native plant species, for example, individuals are improving soil health and water retention, which will increase monarch habitats. After that, everyday people can work to ensure those habitats aren’t once again threatened by corporations.

“Consumers can apply pressure to corporations by demanding pollinator-friendly agricultural techniques, halting individual purchase and use of chemical toxins, and demanding corporate retailers stop carrying toxic products that harm pollinators and other species,” said Jeanne Dodds, the creative engagement director for the Endangered Species Coalition.

 A corporate call-to-arms to save monarch butterflies

A swarm of monarch butterflies is a breathtaking sight, and equally breathtaking are the activists organizing to save the newly endangered species from annihilation. But for all the reporting on what individuals can do to help save the monarchs, there has been far less coverage on the role of corporations. 

Everyday people didn't cause monarch butterflies to decline in the first place, and they probably can’t revitalize the monarch population without help. The business world needs to join the conservation crusade.

After all, it is global corporations, not individuals, that are fueling the butterfly genocide in the first place, yet most international corporations are nowhere to be found in the monarch discussion.

So far, it’s a small list of companies working to save pollinators

Some businesses have entered the fray in support of America’s insect. The Monarch Joint Venture lists eight companies that donate money to the organization, and they aren’t the only businesses getting involved.

“Clif Bar, which donates to the Endangered Species Coalition, advocates for monarch and other species conservation by signing on to advocacy letters to decision-makers and by consistently funding projects to increase monarch and pollinator habitat,” Dodds said. “Endangered Species Chocolate and Amy’s Kitchen also advocate for monarch conservation.”

A re-think of business models is needed

Beyond advocacy, companies must review and revise business practices that threaten monarch butterflies and their habitats.

“Land use change as a result of corporate monocultural agriculture is a primary cause of pollinator decline,” Dodds explained. “Large-scale corporate farming monocultural techniques such as removing milkweed in favor of a single crop and intensive toxic use on plantings must be reduced in order to increase habitat for monarchs and other pollinating species.”

The practical consequences of losing the monarch butterfly are enormous, but in a more sentimental sense, the extinction of the species would be the extinction of something uniquely wondrous and irreplaceable. The monarch is iconic — it is America’s insect. Without it, the world loses a pollinator, yes, but it also loses swarms of stunning little creatures, nevermore to soar through blue skies with orange-winged comrades.

“When we lose any individual species, the diversity and richness in the world is diminished,” Dodds said. “Loss of iconic species, like the monarch butterfly, are especially devastating and visible from the human perspective.”

Image credits: Erin Minuskin and Meritt Thomas via Unsplash

Patrick McCarthy headshot

Patrick is a freelance journalist who writes what the robots can't. Based in Syracuse, New York, Patrick seeks to uplift, inform, and inspire readers with stories centered on environmental activism, social justice, and arts and music. He enjoys collecting books and records, writing prose and poetry, and playing guitar.

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