We're living in dark times. Most of the world's scientists and leaders are in near-unanimous agreement that the planet we live on is in a dire predicament. Global climate change is causing waves of suffering yet still people persist that there is nothing in the human element that can or should be changed because "global warming is a hoax," and extreme fluctuations in weather have existed since the dawn of time. Yet the damage remains measurable. Our oceans are filling with plastics, species are going extinct directly caused by humankind's interference, and the waste from the energy industry is causing unprecedented pollution.
It's heartbreaking to think about but for all the damage being done there are people and companies working very hard to reverse damage and/or create positive change. We're all feeling soul-crushed these days having all the damage drilled into our brains so it's high time we focus on the good work people are doing. The efforts you'll read about today will surely inspire you and restore your faith in humanity.
Today there is over 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the ocean, devastating marine life and negatively impacting the entire world. The more the world wakes up to the serious impact of plastic pollution, the more desperate we have been to find solutions that don't just reduce waste but help remove the plastic currently in the ocean.
In comes The Ocean Cleanup, founded in 2013 this non-profit organization is calling themselves the largest clean-up in history and has been finding solutions to clean plastics out of the oceans for 6 years. So far, they have created a fake 600-meter long coastline in the middle of the ocean, using natural oceanic forces, to collect plastic. Their first goal is for the next 5 years to clean out 50% of the ocean's plastic and their ultimate goal is to remove 90% of plastic from the ocean by 2040. You can track their progress and updates on their website!
Ecosia is a search engine unlike any other. Every 50 searches on Ecosia the compay plants a new tree with the ad money they earn! This allows everyone willing to be a part of something bigger by doing nothing more than the sort of thing they do every single day anyway. To date, the search engine has planted over 50.1 million trees and every second of every day the number continues to grow! Ecosia told Bored Panda why they chose to plant trees over all the environmental restoration options in the world:
By planting a tree, you can fight climate change, restart water cycles, turn deserts back into fertile forests and provide nutrition, employment, education, medical assistance and political as well as economic stability.
There are other things YOU can do to help reduce the devastating impact that deforestation has like: avoid using as much paper as you can, plant a tree once in a while, recycle and buy recycled products, reduce your consumption of meat.
Florida based brewery, Saltwater Brewery was paying attention to the devastating effect that have been long-documented in the six-ring plastic used to keep 6 packs of alcohol and soda together. For years we have seen sickening images and videos of animals trapped in the plastic that can take hundreds of years to begin degrading and Saltwater Brewery decided to do something about it. They created biodegradable six-pack rings that are also totally safe for animals to snack on! They're made from barley and wheat ribbons!
In an interview with Bored Panda, a representative from the brewery explained how it all began:
Since our inception, our goal has been to maintain the world’s greatest wonder by giving back through ocean based charities, such as Coastal Conservation Association, Surfrider, Ocean Foundation, among many others, and by being the first brewery to package and sell our beer with the Eco Six Pack Rings. The first eco-friendly six pack ring made from by-product waste and other compostable materials, E6PR is designed to replace plastic rings, which are truly damaging to our environment and the animals who live in it.
Over 100,000 animals have died courtesy of the plastic on six-pack rings. We can only hope that more companies look at what Saltwater Brewery has done and move forward with more biodegradable options!
Pakistan has been struggling to cop with a fast-eroding landscape which has led to an increase in floods, rising temperatures, droughts, and complicated rainfalls... all of which have been caused by global climate change. But Pakistan's new government is tackling the issue head-on and in a sincere effort to solve their enviornmental problems have begun the process of planting 10 billion trees over the course of give years. So far they have planted 1 billion of those trees and in turn have converted "mafia encroached land" into forests and wildlife parks and sanctuaries for current and future generations to enjoy and benefit from. The combined effort of multiple organizations such as "Billion Tree Tsunami," "#plant4pakistan," and "Positive Pakistan," appears to be having a very positive effect on their local environments and may be something other areas of the world could and should follow.
Sometimes big problems call for very simple solutions. In 2018, the city of Kwinana in Australia found a very simple solution to a very big problem when they installed two drainage nets in Henley Reserve. Prior to the installation of the nets, workers were struggling to pick up copious amounts of trash by hand. The two nets cost close to $20,000 but it's still managed to be a huge cost reduction compared to manual labor and in just the first four months their nets caught around 815 pounds of trash!
When the nets are filled, the the collected trash is transported into a sorting facility, where the green waste is then converted into mulch and recyclable/non-recyclable materials are separated. Residents are pleased and local wildlife is thriving. To date, no animals have been caught, stuck, or died in the installed nets!
Back in 2015, environmentalist and lawyer, Afroz Shaz began picking up trash blown by the direction of the wind over time from a Mumbai beach. What ended up happening is today known as the "world's largest beach clean-up project." Slowly but surely more volunteers joined Shaz and the inevitable result was the clean up of 5.3 million kilograms of trash! 5.3 million kg of trash accumulated because the territory was simply not a tourist attraction so government officials just... didn't really care. However, thanks to the collective and persistent efforts over 1,000 volunteers, not only is the beach open to the public today to enjoy but turtles have come back to the beach for the first time in 20 years!
When the turtles returned, Shaz personally guarded the fresh hatch-lings to the ocean. In an interview with the guardian he said:
I had tears in my eyes when I saw them walking towards the ocean.
According to a recent study, supermarkets throw away 43 million pounds of food every year. Meanwhile, globally famine is a very serious issue, with 795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. To put that in perspective, that is 1 in 9 people on earth. What's worse is that the vast majority of the world's hungry people live in developing countries.
A supermarket in Denmark is tackling the issue head on with a shop called "WeFood." WeFood is selling products that are past their expiration date or have damaged packaging and can thus cut the cost for consumers by 30 to 50 percent! Not only does this reduce the food waste problem but it helps get edible food into the hands of low-income shoppers and anyone worried about the food waste problem. The store is completely volunteer run and all profits go to charity initiatives in the developing countries struggling with famine and malnutrition. As of 2017 they and their partners have helped 3.3 million people in need.
Environmental activist Jadev Payeng has been planting and tending to trees on a sandbar of the Brahmaputra River in India. The landscape once devastated by erosion is now a 1,360 acres forest named Molai Forest (named after him!) The forest is also home to hundreds of elephants, rhinos, boars, reptiles, and birds! Payeng lives in a small hut with his wife and 3 children, tending to cattle and buffalo on his farm, and selling milk as his only source of income. A botanical-enthusiast, Payeng says he is planning to plant trees until his "last breath".
Nature is God. It gives me inspiration. It gives me power … As long as it survives, I survive.
You can learn more about his life and work by checking out this brief documentary on YouTube!
Plastic's negative impact on the entire planet is literally undeniable. Plastics can take anywhere from 450 to 1,000 years to degrade and the pollution has been building up for a long time. In an effort to combat these devastating effects people have been trying to find biodegradable options for people unable or unwilling to switch to re-usable products and thanks to a Mexican-based company called BioFast... we have an amazing solution in the world today! In just 240 days, the cutlery and straws this company have created will biodegrade and their products are made out of avocado seeds! Fun fact! Mexico is responsible for around 50% of the world’s avocado supply! The plentiful supply of avocado seeds were usually being burned in a landfill until BioFase found a way to turn them into cutlery and straws.
If kept in a fresh and dry place, the cutlery remains usable for 1 year, but after that, it starts to biodegrade without leaving any plastic behind.
E-waste, waste from dumped electronics is the fastest growing waste problem in the world. According to a U.N report, 45 million tons of electronics were thrown out worldwide in 2016 and only 20% of that waste had been recycled. Not many efforts have been made to reduce this growing problem for for the Olympians at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games... they'll be benefiting from the efforts of the citizens of Japan to make a dent in the e-waste problem! They will be receiving recycled e-waste trash as their prizes, in the form of gold, silver, and bronze medals of course! The Medal Project, an environmentally conscious program has called on Japanese citsens to donate their consumer electronics so they can scrap the metals to manufacture the medals for the upcoming games!
According to Tokyo Olympic organizers, 3 grams of gold tablets can be extracted from 100 mobile phones! Citzens in Japan have been enthusiastic about helping. Donations for the Medal Project began in October of 2018 with a goal of 2,700 kgs of bronze, 30.3 kgs of gold and 4,100. The end date for collections is March 31st, 2019.
Hansjörg Wyss is a philanthropist and conservationist
Hansjörg Wyss, a philanthropist, and conservationist has offered $1 billion dollars to protect our earth. In an article titled "We Have to Save the Planet. So I’m Donating $1 Billion" Mr. Wyss stated he is willing to donate this amount of money with the goal of protecting 30 percent of the planet's surface by 2030. In times like this, it is extremely important for the world's wealthiest people to spread the message about the environmental problems we are facing. Although donating a huge amount of money can be life-saving for many endangered species, all of us can make a change with our daily actions and small donations to charity organizations that strive for the better world.
The power of volunteers is undeniable at this point. Bachendri Pal was the first Indian woman to climb Mount Everest, and as amazing as that is, it's what she's worked on with the Ganges River that has us inspired today. The Ganges is both a deeply sacred river to the Hindu people and "a lifeline to millions of Indians who live along its course and depend on it for their daily needs." Bachendri organized a volunteer initiative to help clean 55 tons of waste from the sacred river. Composed of 40 people it only took the team a month to clean such a massive amount of trash from the river. Unfortunately, Ganga River is still in a dire state of suffering. Humans, fish, animals, and amphibians that depend on the Ganga River are exposed to dangerous levels of fecal coliform bacteria from human waste. The initiative to resolve the sacred river of excessive pollution has so far been considered an absolute failure because of a variety of reasons including lack of government and religious support, so Bachendri's work is really important. Hopefully more people in their community will rise to the call.
As the awareness for plastic waste continues to grow, more countries are stepping up to the plate and taking initiatives to put a stop to it. In 2015, the UK took seemingly drastic measures when they decided to charge shoppers at large retailers for plastic grocery bags! Charging give pence per bag didn't seem like much but that small price had a BIG impact! Along with helping put an end to unnecessary extra bags being used but in only one year the Great British Beach Clean association announced that the amount of plastic bags on their beaches went down by a whopping 37%! The government also encouraged shops to donate the funds raised from selling bags to environmental associations!
Based on the success of the program, the UK government has altered their plan to increase success. Beginning in January 2020, it won't be just large retailers required to charge for plastic bags. Every shop will be required to charge and they've raised the price for five pence to 10 pence! According to the BBC: Since the 5p fee was introduced in 2015 for retailers with at least 250 employees, an estimated 15 billion bags have been taken out of circulation.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:
We want to do even more to protect our precious planet and today's announcement will accelerate further behaviour change and build on the success of the existing charge.