Join the Pesticide Amnesty and take action for wildlife

Join the Pesticide Amnesty and take action for wildlife

Our planet, and its wildlife, is fighting for its life. Habitats are degrading and shrinking. Species are declining and even becoming extinct. Pollution is building in our ever-warming seas. The list goes on – and, when it comes to solutions, it’s hard to know where to start.

Our ambitious 30 by 30 campaign is an attempt to take in all these problems and say: if we want to get 30% of our land into management for wildlife by 2030, how are we going to get there? What actions can we all take to ensure nature’s recovery? So, the news of an event taking place this weekend in Bristol that offers everyone the chance to improve the biodiversity on their doorstep couldn’t be more timely.   

On both Saturday and Sunday, Bristol residents are invited to hand back their household chemicals as part of a city-wide pesticide amnesty - the first of its kind in England. Locals are encouraged to have a ‘garden shed’ clear out. In return you’ll receive a free pack of wildflower seeds, as well as information on pesticide-free alternatives. Organised by The Natural History Consortium (the charity behind the city's Festival of Nature), the free pop-up events represent a chance for every single household to make a real difference to the wildlife in their own communities. The data from the collections will be used by the University of Bristol for further research to try to understand the impacts of pesticides on our environment.  

Orange-tip Butterfly

Orange-tip ©Bob Coyle

Why is this so important?  

Pesticides have been used in agriculture for centuries, but over recent decades there has been an exponential growth in synthetic chemical use. Government policy has incentivised a model of farming based on increasing food production through using high-yielding seed varieties, artificial fertilisers, and pesticides. The widespread and unnecessary use of pesticides is a key driver in the catastrophic decline of insect populations, which in turn threatens our food security and risks ecological collapse.  

If you want to know what that threat looks like in practice, look around you! In the last 50 years, human activities have reduced the numbers of insects dramatically. Recent evidence suggests that insect abundance may have fallen by 50% or more since 1970. Insects are a critical part of all terrestrial and freshwater food webs, providing food for numerous larger animals such as birds, bats, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. They provide important ecosystem services and perform vital roles such as pollinating crops and wildflowers, controlling pests, improving water quality, and recycling nutrients in the soil.  

It is not just insects that are at risk because of pesticides. Pesticides in the water environment can impact both drinking water resources and aquatic life, and figures released by the Environment Agency in 2020 revealed that every single waterbody in England failed chemical standards.  

Wildflowers with bee

So what needs to happen?  

It is not too late to reverse the declines in biodiversity loss if we start now, but we need transformative change. We believe that a significant reduction in pesticide use is urgently needed to reverse insect declines, improve human health, and create a wilder future. Failure to do so risks a collapse of the natural systems on which humans and wildlife depend. That starts with ordinary people, here and now, making changes in their everyday lives – and this weekend’s pesticide amnesty is a great way to start. 

To take part, come along to Redcatch Park on 23 October between 11-3, and at Blaise Nursery on 24 October between 11-3. 

Better still, once you’ve dumped your nasty chemicals, why not log your action on our website and find lots of other actions you can take for wildlife? 

Log your action