8 positive environmental stories from 2021

December 29, 2021 by  
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All too often, headlines are built strictly from terrible and shocking stories. It’s easy to lose track of the kindness and generosity of humanity, as well as efforts to do good for the planet. If you’ve been following environmental news in 2021, like every year, has highlighted atrocities around the globe. Yet, there are countless stories of policy changes, local cleanup efforts, impactful corporate action and innovations all aimed at decreasing carbon, conserving trees, protecting wildlife and so much more.  1. Limiting oil and gas exploration This year’s COP26 saw nations from every corner of the planet focused on the same goals. With the environment in the forefront, seven countries pledged to end oil and gas exploration. None of the seven countries source significant oil from their own soil, but the resulting Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance gives other nations and regions a platform to join the effort. You can read more at 7 countries vow to end new oil and gas exploration . Related: Inhabitat’s Positive News page 2. New York City uses goats for invasive weed control The Riverside Park Conservancy has been battling invasive species in the park for fifteen years. Although they’ve seen an outpouring of volunteer efforts to clear the plants , they quickly return to the steep hillside that’s difficult to access. So they brought in two dozen goats in an event dubbed, “Running of the Goats.” The goats munched throughout the day and five remained for six weeks to happily eat away at the problem porcelain berry, English ivy, mugwort, multiflora rose and poison ivy. Allowing the animals to graze eliminates the need for toxic weed killers, which are harmful to the land and the citizens. 3. Lab-grown meat reduces environmental impact  It’s fairly well established at this point that raising livestock impacts the land in negative ways. There’s the issue with methane release, a greenhouse gas that’s more damaging than carbon dioxide. Plus, land requirements for production results in damaging the soil. Then there’s the concern in regards to animal treatment. Lab-grown meat is leading the way towards a reduction in animal reliance for food. Take, for example, this new facility in California that’s capable of producing 50,000 pounds of lab-grown meat annually and a short-term goal to raise that number to 400,000 pounds.  4. Protections for Tongass National Forest It’s our nation’s largest national forest , covering 16 million acres in Southeast Alaska. This area is home to 800-year-old trees, Indigenous people and 400 species of wildlife and fish. While there were previously protections in place, former president Trump had exempted the area in his last few months of office, which opened the door for building roads, logging and other damaging activities. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the reimplementation of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, a win for the natives and the planet. According to the Alaska Wilderness League, Tongass National Forest is one of the world’s largest intact temperate forests. It stores more than 1.5 billion metric tons of carbon and sequesters an additional 10 million metric tons annually. 5. 110 countries pledge to end deforestation by 2030 Without policies to protect existing trees, we’ll be rudderless in our efforts to maintain air quality, slow global warming and mitigate the effects of erosion, landslides and wildfires . Another result of COP26, leaders from 110 nations signed the deforestation pledge, vowing to eliminate deforestation by 2030. It will limit investments in contributing projects and implement restrictions against tree removal to make room for animal grazing and growing of crops such as palm oil.  6. Reforestation projects abound In addition to protecting existing trees, replanting them is critical to nature’s long-term balance. Fortunately, myriad businesses have begun contributing to reforestation. In addition, non-profits around the globe are making a measurable contribution. One Tree Planted is one such organization. Its mid-year update reports 58,000 mangrove trees planted in a sensitive region in Haiti , the planting of 430,000 native trees in Minnesota , 40,000 native trees in Mexico and over 814,000 trees in California . Also, forests the size of France have been restored in the past 20 years, showing how small efforts grow into notable accomplishments. 7. Ocean Cleanup sees major achievement If you’ve never heard of it, Google the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. In short, it’s a massive area of the Pacific Ocean that has become a collection point for ocean pollution . A Dutch inventor decided to tackle the problem when he was just 18 years old. He began making a device to tackle the problem and started Ocean Cleanup, his organization aimed at eliminating 90% of the plastic floating in the ocean by 2040. After two previous launches that resulted in failure, during the summer and fall of 2021, Ocean Cleanup collected and removed 20,000 pounds of waste, which was brought back to shore and recycled.  8. Eastern barred bandicoot extinction reclassification  You likely don’t give this Australian marsupial much thought, but with the countless plants and animals going extinct each year, it’s good news that the bandicoot has been reclassified as endangered, which is an upgrade from the previous classification of “extinct in the wild.” Officials say it’s been a 30-year effort to protect the small furry animal that was almost completely eliminated by foxes and lack of suitable habitat.  Via Inhabitat , Eco Watch , NY Times and BBC Images via Pexels

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8 positive environmental stories from 2021

Timberland transforms recycled plastic bottles into shoes, bags

March 3, 2017 by  
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For its latest collection, Timberland is turning to the bottle—the plastic bottle, that is. The outdoor-wear maker has teamed up with Thread , a Pittsburgh, Penn.-based manufacturer of sustainable fabrics, to transform plastic bottles from the streets and canals of Haiti into a dapper collection of footwear, bags, and T-shirts. The Timberland x Thread collaboration goes “beyond environmental sustainability,” according to Timberland. Not only does the partnership turn an ecological blight into a resource but it also creates social value in the form of cleaner neighborhoods and job opportunities for one of the planet’s poorest nations. “The Timberland x Thread collection is incredible proof that style and sustainability can go hand-in-hand,” Colleen Vien, director of sustainability for Timberland, said in a statement. “This collection delivers good with every fiber, not just by recycling plastic bottles that would otherwise end up littering the streets, but also by creating job opportunities and cleaner neighborhoods in Haiti. Related: Take a first look at Timberland’s new boots and bags made out of recycled plastic “Consumers can feel good about pulling on their Timberland x Thread boots or backpack, and know they are making a positive impact in someone else’s life,” she added The Timberland x Thread capsule comprises five styles of men’s shoes and boots, a duffel bag and a backpack, and one T-shirt. All incorporate Thread’s “Ground to Good” fabric, which the certified B Corp. spins in the United States using 50 percent post-consumer recycled polyethylene terephthalate , better known as PET. Thread says that every yard of fabric can be traced throughout the supply chain, from bottle collection to textile creation and delivery to the manufacturer. The “bottle to boot” process employs more than 1,300 bottle collectors, entrepreneurs, and manufacturing employees in Haiti alone. “At Thread, we believe that dignified jobs cure poverty—and our fabric creates those jobs,” said Ian Rosenberger, founder and CEO of Thread. “Our partnership with Timberland marks a seismic shift in the fashion industry, combining Timberland’s large supply chain and loyal customer base with Thread’s responsible, transparent approach to creating premium fabrics and vital jobs in the developing world. The Timberland x Thread collection is a major step towards improving the way our clothes are made.” + Timberland + Thread

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Dramatic disintegration of Canada permafrost threatens huge carbon release

March 3, 2017 by  
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Permafrost , or frozen soil , is rapidly collapsing across a 52,000 square mile area in northwest Canada – about the size of the entire state of Alabama. New research from the Northwest Territories Geological Survey (NTGS) finds the permafrost thaw is intensifying, a dramatic disintegration that could speed up climate change . When these slabs of Arctic permafrost collapse, they send silt and mud rich in carbon into waterways. The research shows the decay is resulting in landslides that could alter large swaths of landscape. Similar phenomenon have been noted in Scandinavia, Siberia, and Alaska. The new study sought to measure permafrost decay in Canada using satellite images and other data – and Steven Kokelj of NTGS, lead author of a paper published in February by Geology , said “things have really taken off” in the face of climate change. Scientists from universities in New Zealand and Canada also contributed to the research. Related: Alaskan permafrost could melt in the next 55 years, says world’s leading expert The scientists observed permafrost disintegrating in 40- to 60-mile stretches of the terrain, revealing “extensive landscapes [that] remain poised for climate-driven change.” Other research has suggested thawing permafrost could lead to the collapse of coastlines or creation of new lakes or valleys. All that silt and mud could affect fish and other species living in the waterways, limiting development of aquatic plants, but scientists still need to determine how exactly this added mud might impact fish. Also up for debate is how quickly the carbon in melted permafrost becomes carbon dioxide (CO2). Scientist Suzanne Tank of the University of Alberta told InsideClimate News the carbon in permafrost becomes coarse particles that don’t become CO2 right away. But Swedish researchers conducted a study suggesting soil particles are in fact converted rapidly to CO2 when the soil is carried along to the sea. Via InsideClimate News Images via Wikimedia Commons and U.S. Geological Survey on Flickr

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Dramatic disintegration of Canada permafrost threatens huge carbon release

Egyptian scientists turn dried shrimp shells into eco-friendly plastic

March 3, 2017 by  
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Plastic is a plague on this planet, but it doesn’t have to be. A group of Egyptian researchers is developing a kind of plastic won’t languish in landfills for hundreds of years – made with dried shrimp shells. Just six months into a two-year project, the team is already seeing some success. Scientists at Nile University clean and chemically treat shrimp shells, then ground them up and dissolve them in a solution that dries to form plastic. The researchers have utilized chitosan , a polymer made from the compound chitin commonly found in crustacean shells, to make their clear, thin plastic prototype. They’re able to obtain the shells inexpensively, sourcing them from local supermarkets, restaurants, and fishermen at low prices. Project researcher Hani Chbib told Reuters Egypt imports some 3,500 metric tons of shrimp, and is left with 1,000 metric tons of shrimp shell waste. So the project could help alleviate waste and reduce plastic pollution . Related: Harvard Scientists Create Super Strong Degradable Bioplastic from Shrimp Shells The Egyptian researchers are collaborating with a team from Britain’s University of Nottingham , where the professor overseeing the project, Irene Samy, conducted post-doctoral research and began exploring the idea of converting shells into plastic. Samy told Reuters, “If commercialized, this could really help us decrease our waste…and it could help us improve our food exports because the plastic has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.” The team envisions the biodegradable plastic might be used for packaging and plastic bags . They said their technique could potentially work for large-scale industrial production, and while so far they’ve only made small samples, are working to enhance properties like durability and thermal stability so the product could be widely used. The United Kingdom side of the team plans to approach packaging manufacturers in their country. Via Reuters Images via screenshot

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Hurricane Matthew hits Haiti as a Category 4 hurricane en route to Cuba

October 4, 2016 by  
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Late season hurricanes can be just as forceful as mid-summer storms, and Hurricane Matthew is no exception. The storm made landfall on Haiti’s southwestern coast early Tuesday morning as a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 145 mph. Haiti officials are bracing for the worst as high winds and storm surges threaten the impoverished nation, where homes are not typically built to withstand such an event. Still moving on its north-northwesterly path, Hurricane Matthew will continue to batter Haiti over the course of the day before heading toward the eastern coast of Cuba late this afternoon. Although many Atlantic hurricanes suffer a loss of energy when making landfall, Hurricane Matthew hasn’t slowed its pace, in part due to the small size of the islands it is traveling over. This is Haiti’s strongest hurricane in nearly a decade, and after a long reprieve, local officials are concerned that residents have become complacent about hurricane preparation. Rather than stocking up on essentials like food, bottled water, and batteries, some fear that many residents will be ill-equipped to handle the full extent of Hurricane Matthew’s visit to the struggling nation. So far, one Haitian fisherman has drowned in the storm surge, but no other major damage has been reported. Related: Earthquake-resistant orphanage is a welcoming ray of hope in Haiti The people of Haiti are still struggling to recover from a magnitude 7.0 earthquake shook the nation’s capital city of Port-au-Prince in 2010. That disaster killed 230,000 people and caused millions of dollars in damage to buildings and infrastructure. The island nation’s last major disaster was Hurricane Sandy in 2012 which did not make landfall in Haiti, but grazed it closely enough that the high winds and torrential rains killed 75 people and left $250 million in damages in its wake. The disaster kicked off a cholera outbreak that infected some 5,000 people in one of the nation’s largest public health emergencies in history. The National Hurricane Center in Miami is keeping a close eye on the powerful storm, which is on track to tickle Cuba’s eastern coast, which is sparsely populated. Hurricane Matthew is then expected to travel north over the Bahamas where the storm is predicted to lose some power and drop to a Category 3. The storm’s path then leads it northward off the east coast of Florida until potentially makes landfall in southern North Carolina this weekend. Via USA Today Images via National Hurricane Center

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Hurricane Matthew hits Haiti as a Category 4 hurricane en route to Cuba

What off-grid countries can teach us about clean power

September 19, 2016 by  
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10Power, Sigora Haiti and Greenlight Planet offer lessons from bringing electricity to Haiti, India and sub-Saharan Africa.

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What off-grid countries can teach us about clean power

Architectural Association School of Architecture bamboo workshops in Haiti teach post-disaster construction techniques

December 17, 2015 by  
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The AA School is working with Quisqueya University , the Wynne Farm and ARUP through short workshops to design and build architectural projects contextualized for the climate of the Caribbean and the cultural vernacular of Haiti using bamboo. The country is plagued by a lack of lightweight materials in the built environment, the legacy of disastrous deforestation, and bamboo is a solution to the building supply shortage as well as the damaged ecology. Read the rest of Architectural Association School of Architecture bamboo workshops in Haiti teach post-disaster construction techniques

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Enèji Pwòp Program Sends Life-Changing Hanging Solar Lights to Impoverished Haitians

November 27, 2013 by  
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Clean energy company Enèji Pwòp is on the mission to transform Haiti with renewable energy. The firm hopes to enhance quality of life within the country’s borders through a program that allows immigrant Haitians purchase clean energy products like solar lights to send to their loved ones at home. Read the rest of Enèji Pwòp Program Sends Life-Changing Hanging Solar Lights to Impoverished Haitians Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: EarthSpark International , eco design , Enèji Pwòp , green design , green lamps for Haiti , Haiti renewable energy , hanging solar lights , lighting up Haiti , renewable energy lamps for Haiti , renewable lamps , saving haiti , solar lamps , sustainable design , sustainable lighting solutions        

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Enèji Pwòp Program Sends Life-Changing Hanging Solar Lights to Impoverished Haitians

Beijing Cracks Down on Over 300 Barbecues to Reduce Pollution

November 27, 2013 by  
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Following up on their recent ban of outdoor barbecues in Beijing , city officials have destroyed more than 300 of the outdoor eateries as part of a three-month long campaign to slash smog. The barbecues, which are a common feature across the city and a source of livelihood for many, have been blamed by officials to be a leading cause of harmful levels of pollution. But local citizens are ridiculing the exercise, suggesting authorities should focus on bigger sources of poor air quality – like coal, perhaps ? Read the rest of Beijing Cracks Down on Over 300 Barbecues to Reduce Pollution Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Beijing air pollution , Beijing city officials , beijing confiscates outdoor barbecues , beijing cuts barbecues , Beijing outdoor barbecues , fuel pollution tax , Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs , Ma Jun , Matt Hope’s Breathing Bicycle , Smog-Sucking Vacuum Cleaner , ????        

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Beijing Cracks Down on Over 300 Barbecues to Reduce Pollution

Can Yak and Reindeer Milk Nourish a Growing World?

November 27, 2013 by  
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Photo via Shutterstock With the world’s population projected to hit 9.6 billion by 2050, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization has released a report that recommends the development of “non-traditional” dairy sources to provide valuable nutrition to some of the most vulnerable communities. So what classifies as a non-traditional dairy source? According to the FAO, protein-rich milk can be sourced from llamas, alpaca, donkeys, yaks, camels, moose and reindeer. Read the rest of Can Yak and Reindeer Milk Nourish a Growing World? Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: alpaca , camel , Dairy , dairy farming , donkey , farming , Food Agency , Global Health , livestock , malnutrition , milk , milk production , moose , nutrition , population growth , reindeer , Reindeer Milk , UN , UNFAO , United Nations , veganism , yak        

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