March 22, 2022 5 min read
Positive environmental news stories may seem few and far between but there are actually lots of stories out there that should (and do) bring us hope. The Earth continues to warm and the consequences grow more dire, but look closely and you can spot the seeds of resistance being sown.
There’s the resistance of Mother Nature herself – ingenious and adaptable as ever – and then there’s the resistance of the people around the world who refuse to sleepwalk into a climate change crisis and who are making a stand.
We're here to bring positivity to your minds.
Eco-anxiety, environmental existential dread, climate doom...we see these terms used a lot, and often feel them ourselves. There's a lot to be worried about when it comes to the climate crises, but when a sense of hopelessness becomes the overarching emotion, apathy begins to creep in too. Now, we’re not trying to downplay the severity of the situation, or greenwash reality, we simply want to show that there ishope and a cause for optimism!
So, here are five recent positive environmental stories and initiatives to fill your cup...
Plastic waste is a blight on the environment and the planet's oceans, taking a heavy toll on marine life. About 14 million tonnes of plastic finds its way into marine ecosystems every year, flowing into lakes, rivers and seas. Often this plastic is ingested by marine animals. At times, the micro-plastics eaten by fish and other creatures are in turn eaten by humans, posing a health risk to them as well.
On 16 February 2022, Cabinet adopted a draft resolution on plastic pollution.
In essence, the draft resolution is a call for a legally-binding global agreement on plastics. It seeks to tackle plastic pollution across the full lifecycle of plastic - from preventative measures to ways to address waste management - in order to prevent plastic pollution in marine and other environments.
The treaty promotes national acting plans to prevent, reduce and remediate plastic pollution, tailored to local and national circumstances, as well as to address product design and use (including compounds, additives, harmful substances and intentionally added micro-plastics).
The resolution also seeks to increase knowledge through awareness-raising and information exchange on the best practices to prevent plastic pollution and promote behavioural change.
The discovery of Pestalotiopsis’ ability to decompose plastic has led to further research into plastic decomposition by fungi.
Researchers have now found that many species of mushroom are actually capable of plastic bioremediation including the common Oyster mushroom. The Oyster mushroom is capable of decomposing plastic, while still being an edible mushroom. This opens up doors for its use as an at-home recycling system.
Whilst investigating this phenomenon, scientists discovered a different mushroom that eats plastic called Aspergillus tubingensis at a waste disposal site in Pakistan. In two months, the fungus could colonise the plastic itself and secrete enzymes to break down polyester polyurethane into smaller pieces.
Diving in the waters off of Tahiti’s tropical coastline, marine researchers uncovered one of the largest coral reefs ever found. Unlike many of its counterparts, this reef appears to be completely unaffected by human activity.
Although they occupy just 0.1% of the ocean floor, coral reefs are home to a quarter of all marine life. These complex aquatic networks provide animals with shelter and food, while also protecting coastlines from the impact of storms and waves.
Tahiti's newly discovered reef network stretches for three kilometres and includes distinctive rose-shaped corals – one of the rarest forms of this sea animal. Unlike most of the world's coral reefs, which are found in relatively shallow waters, this one is deeper – between 35 and 70 metres. It gives hope that similar discoveries might soon be on the horizon.
In the past decade, the world has lost 80% of its trees. These days, it is easy to lose touch with the fact that we live on earth and it sustains us.
Planting trees and changing minds, Greenpop, which was founded in 2010, has planted trees across South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa (especially in regions where the deforestation rate is extremely high). The Cape Town-based NPO is a community-orientated organisation that is on a mission to reconnect people with the planet.
They work to restore ecosystems and empower environmental stewards through forest restoration, urban greening, food gardening and activating people through green workshops and events. Since 2010, Greenpop has planted 150,000 indigenous and fruit trees at schools and other urban sites, community farms, as well as forests across South Africa, Zambia and Tanzania.
Taking place this year from 1 to 3 April at Bodhi Khaya Retreat in Gansbaai, the Reforest Festis a weekend of tree planting, connection and fun! Help restore degraded land; attend workshops, talks and classes; dance under the stars with local live music and DJs, enjoy delicious food, art and theatre; all whilst having a blast getting active for the environment.
In January this year, California implemented a Senate Bill making the disposal of organic waste into rubbish bins illegal. The state is taking active measures to reduce methane in their landfills by rolling out accessible green waste collection programs run by various municipalities.
Similar legislation came into effect at the beginning of this year in the Western Cape. The Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning introduced a Western Cape Organics Landfill Ban. The ban requires a 50%reduction in organic waste in landfills, with a 100% reduction by 2027.
China's first 'Vertical Forest City' has been completed, providing a home to around 500people, and over 5,000 shrubs and trees. The forest city will absorb around 20 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, whilst emitting approximately 10 tonnesof oxygen.
The rapid development of vertical forests in the city shall fundamentally transform the landscape of China, helping to bring back biodiversity in contemporary metropolises, and improve the environment.
As cities continue to grapple with air pollution, housing shortages, and climate change, these vertical forests could very well be the residential architecture we need for the future.
And you can certainly expect to see more of them!
There is so much value in looking for the good in a world where bad news so often feels overwhelming. These examples of progress demonstrate that committed action across a range of key areas is already making a positive difference in the fight against climate change. If humans are the primary cause of global warming, that means we can also be the architects of its undoing.
In our pursuit to restore our environment and climate, it is important that we remind ourselves of successes in the movement to inspire us and carry us forward. Hunnies, let us remind you that hope is not lost nor foolish, and change has already begun!
Much love Eco-Warriors,
The Nourish'd Familia xxx
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