Indonesia’s natural fix to climate change

While some countries use elaborate technology to tackle climate change, others are turning to natural solutions. One such country is Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, which aims to go carbon neutral by 2060. To reach this goal the government is employing one natural fix: mangrove forests.

Known to absorb four to five times more carbon emissions than other tropical forests, mangroves offer a powerful means to balance out the country’s emissions. 

“People often assume man-made solutions offer the best value for money,” wrote forestry expert Dr Mohammad Basyuni. 

“But our review of 53 nature-based sea defence projects (including 12 mangrove projects) revealed that mangroves could be two to six times cheaper than the commonly used alternative (submerged breakwaters) for conditions with relatively low waves,” he added.

Indonesia is home to 21% of the world’s mangrove population. However, its forests have declined by around 40% – the fastest rate of mangrove deforestation in the world.

[Read more positive news about everyday heroes and organisations driving climate action]

This loss had tragic consequences for the environment. As Mohammad explained, “Recent studies have shown that when mangroves are cleared vast quantities of carbon is released into the atmosphere, which accelerates global warming.”

But it also impacted communities. He added: “Without the natural buffer mangroves provide, coastal communities are left exposed to tropical storms, endangering their homes and lives. And local fishing industries and people’s livelihoods are threatened by the loss of natural habitat for thousands of fish species.”

To undo this damage, the country aims to restore 150,000 hectares of mangroves this year and 1.5 million acres by 2024. 

Last year, it achieved a quarter of its 2022 goal because funds were diverted to tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. This meant that conservation workers restored 34,911 hectares, costing 690 billion rupiah ($48.07 million). 

In 2022 the government will increase this budget to 3.2 trillion rupiah, said Hartono, head of the peatland and mangrove restoration agency.

To find out what you can do to protect mangrove forests visit



9 major companies acing it on gender equality

For peace, prosperity and sustainability, the world needs gender equality, according to the UN. But when it comes to gender equality in the workplace, no country has yet reached this target – and less than 50% of women have access to employment worldwide.

To turn this around, Bloomberg asks major companies to ‘fess up on how they’re doing. This year, it listed 418 companies for hitting the mark across five different areas: female leadership and training, equal pay, an inclusive culture, anti-harassment policies, and pro-women branding.

Here are nine companies from that list that you’re likely to come across on the high street or online.


Based on principles of minimal waste and optimism, Etsy excels in corporate social responsibility. In pursuit of gender equality, the company is going above and beyond, collaborating with a trans rights activist and prioritising inclusivity.


While customers get active in Lululemon’s sportswear, the company itself is active in driving gender equality among its staff. In 2018 the company achieved gender pay equity and it continues to consider equality when making decisions, the company says.

Gap Inc

As the first Fortune 500 Company to announce equal pay for equal work, Gap is – forgive the obvious pun – closing the gap between the sexes.

Estee Lauder

With an 82% female workforce and 55% of senior positions held by women, Estee Lauder is another company working hard to achieve gender equality.

Ulta Beauty

Around 55% of Ulta Beauty’s directors and the majority of its workforce are women, making gender equality an absolute priority for the company.


One of L’Oreal’s four pillars for its actions is “gender and LGBTQIA+” and for three years running the company has been named one of the best for gender balance amongst its staff.


With a huge range of inclusive policies based around the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles, Burberry is working hard to achieve gender equality.


Maintaining global pay equity and a 50:50 gender balance across its workforce, Nike is also doing it bit to achieve equal rights for staff of every gender.

Levi Strauss

While it’s not quite there yet, Levi Strauss says it’s working hard to achieve pay equity and to educate its staff, particularly at the hiring stage.




Tallest forest returned to indigenous people

With towering trunks grown over hundreds of years, California redwoods are the tallest living things on Earth. Their size and beauty gave them a sacred status for indigenous Sinkyone people, who occupied these forests generations ago.

Now, for the first time since colonisation in the 16th century, more than 500 acres of redwood forest is being returned to its original guardians.

Two nonprofit organisations, Save the Redwoods League and the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, purchased the land and are donating ownership to the Sinkyone people. To mark the handover, the forest, formerly known as Andersonia West, has regained its original name, Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ, which means “Fish Run Place.”

“Renaming the property Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ lets people know that it’s a sacred place; it’s a place for our Native people,” said Christa Ray of the Sinkyone Council. “It lets them know that there was a language and that there was a people who lived there long before now.”

Made up of representatives from ten tribal nations, the Sinkyone Council says indigenous people “were forcibly removed by European American settlers generations ago.” 

“This place is within the Sinkyone traditional territory, that for thousands of years it has been and still remains an area of importance for the Sinkyone people, and that it holds great cultural significance for the Sinkyone Council and its member tribes,” said Council chairwoman Priscilla Hunter.

Pacific Gas & Electric Company helped purchase the land as part of a conservation project following accusations that PG&E equipment was responsible for sparking wildfires in the area.

[Discover more incredible stories of people coming together to protect life on land]

By handing the land over to indigenous people, the company and environmentalists hope to restore the land and protect threatened wildlife with a combination of Indigenous practices, science-based approaches and fire safety protections.

“We believe the best way to permanently protect and heal this land is through tribal stewardship. In this process, we have an opportunity to restore balance in the ecosystem and in the communities connected to it, while also accelerating the pace and scale of conserving California’s iconic redwood forests,” said Sam Hodder, president and CEO of Save the Redwoods League.

The donation of 523 acres of forest is the second made by Save the Redwoods League to indigenous people, the first being 164 acres of forest also located on California’s North Coast.

Due to excessive logging throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, only five percent of the original old-growth redwood forest remains in the area.

To protect more of the world’s tallest trees donate to Save the Redwoods League.


The city making space for birds and bees

In the climate-conscious city of Brighton and Hove, authorities are prioritising nature with planning regulations to ensure every new build creates space for birds and bees as well as humans.

The local laws ensure that all new constructions above five metres must offer sanctuary for bees and local bird species. They will use innovative ‘bee bricks’ with holes for bees to inhabit, and nesting boxes suitable for swifts or swallows.

“Bee bricks are just one of quite a number of measures that really should be in place to address biodiversity concerns that have arisen through years of neglect of the natural environment,” said Robert Nemeth, the councillor driving the initiative.

The authorities’ aim is to start restoring biodiversity lost due to previous architectural methods that lacked an understanding of nature’s needs. Since the ‘70s, 41% of UK species have declined due partly to urbanisation and pollution. With soaring extinction rates and increasing urbanisation, it’s important that cities offer space for biodiversity to thrive.

As pollinators that make up over 90% of British bee species, solitary bees play a vital in sustaining ecosystems. By offering them shelter in the urban landscape, along with bird nests, local authorities hope to win back biodiversity. 

[Discover more positive news about initiatives supporting wildlife and nature around the world]

“Increased planting, hedgehog holes, swift boxes and bird feeders are all examples of other cheap and simple ideas that, together, could lead to easy medium-term gains,” Robert said.

Faye Clifton of Green&Blue, a company producing bee bricks, explained how their creations assist solitary bees which struggle increasingly to find homes in cities due to the rigor of modern construction methods.

She said: “Solitary bees nest in crumbling mortar work and old brickwork but modern buildings are so perfect that all the cavities are blocked.”

Nature enthusiasts get to discover how successful the initiative is, thanks to a 10-year study of the bricks conducted by Faye. “We want to map the impact across the country,” she said.

Elsewhere in the UK, similar policies to Brighton and Hove’s measures have been adopted in Cornwall and Dorset, aiding pollinators and biodiversity there too.

Learn more about bee bricks at


How sea otters can help save our planet

Rewilding specialists Mossy Earth are paving the way towards protecting and restoring ecosystems across the world through rewilding. 

In 2021, the organisation secured one of its biggest corporate partners, Not Just Travel, so £5 of each travel booking will support the projects. Already, Not Just Travel has raised more than £13,000 for the initiative. 

In collaboration with Mossy Earth, Not Just Travel is helping to fund the reintroduction of termites to slow desertification, and rewilding sea otters, who feed on the sea urchins which are devastating sea kelp forests.

“We work with one mission in mind, to restore wild ecosystems, support wildlife and biodiversity and help fight climate change,” said the Mossy Earth team. 

Sea otters are a ‘keystone species’

Sea otters are a keystone species, whose position in the food chain is crucial. By preying on sea urchins, who graze on kelp, they ensure the health of kelp forests and protect the many other species that thrive there. 

Along the California coast, marine recreation is growing and this is having significant behavioural and physiological negative consequences for the Southern sea otter. 

(Read more about these top ten TikTok climate campaigners to follow)

Mossy Earth’s sea otter disturbance research is well underway in Slough, California. The research the team is gathering will inform the future management decisions relating to the conservation work. Conducting this research is crucial as it helps them better understand how tourism-related activities are negatively impacting sea otters.

Building ponds and mighty termites

Mossy Earth is also helping to build British ponds, which lock in on average 149g of carbon per sq metre, compared to fields and woodlands which lock in 2-5g of carbon per sq m.  

Then there’s the small, but mighty, termite. At just 10 millimetres long and weighing an average of 1mg, termites are not big, but they certainly are clever. 

Their mounds hold vital moisture stores, and more importantly they build tunnels. These allow moisture to permeate the ground easily and so vegetation flourishes on and around termite mounds, locking in life-giving water in arid areas. 

(Read more about this overlooked climate fix which could help cut emissions)

Africa will be hardest hit by climate change, yet has contributed the least. Severe droughts are becoming more common and termites are the heroes here. Despite their size, they play a critical role in holding back desertification. 

With Mossy Earth’s partners in Benin, the fieldwork plan is complete. The first step is to detect existing termite mounds. This will be done through drone mapping, one of the most effective methods. 

The myriad of tiny underground tunnels created by termites allows rainwater to penetrate the soil which helps to slow the spread of deserts in Africa, this is what the team is looking for. 

Rewilding specialists Mossy Earth work with all these projects and more to help fight the ecological and climate crisis – and you can find out more on their website

You can also become a member for just £10 a month, and every month Mossy Earth will plant native trees and carry out rewilding projects on your behalf. 


Donation platform changes the way we give back

Have you ever wanted to do something positive to help support climate action – but don’t know where to donate, or what organisations to support? That’s exactly why the donation platform Milkywire was set up. 

Its founder, Nina Siemiatkowski, says she’s never been one to do things by the book. When she left the business world to embark on a documentary project, following a pride of lions in Kenya, she was struck by the realities of the situation facing the planet: the world’s wild lion population had halved in numbers in the space of just 20 years, down to 20,000. 

But when she began working with non-profit organisations, she realised they were run by passionate individuals who were limited in resources and faced many risks. 

Fuelled by her frustration at the broken charity system, an idea emerged for a platform that would change the way we give back to the planet and the grassroots organisations who fight for it on our behalf.

(Read more about the founders of the environmental platform

Speaking to Smiley News, Nina says: “After talking with friends and family back home in Sweden, it was clear that there were an abundance of people wanting to support these causes, but not knowing where to start or whom to trust; there was a real sense of distance between organisations and the people who want to support. 

“From this, I created Milkywire – a platform whose purpose is to bridge this gap between trusted and fully vetted charities, and individuals and businesses keen to make a difference.

To put it simply, Milkywire provides a solution to charitable donation, solving the problem of not knowing how your charity donations are really being spent. 

“Using smart, digital solutions, we link users with fully audited, high-impact nonprofits working across the world to save the planet,” says Nina.

(Read more about these New Years Resolutions to protect the planet)

Grassroots organisations often live ‘hand-to-mouth’ with limited financial predictability – and applying for funding takes time that could have been invested in the cause itself. 

“We want to change the game by bringing together a dedicated community of monthly donors, resulting in more security and efficiency for those in the field,” adds Nina. 

“No donation is too small and every action counts. We want everyone to know that their efforts really matter. As humans we’re so powerful when we come together. It only takes a few hundred people to literally change the world.” 

So how does it work?

Firstly, you choose the area where you want to make an impact. That could be protecting wildlife, fighting climate change or saving our oceans for example. 

Once you’ve clicked through, you’re presented with a range of local, award-winning grassroots organisations that are working to eradicate issues related to that topic. You can click through on each one to see the impact they make.

Next, choose the amount you want to give, and get donating!

Find out more about Milkywire on its website – and take action to save our planet. 



Window light festival spreads happiness

Beautiful lights aren’t only for Christmas – they can be displayed all year around to capture people’s hearts and a community’s gaze.

Window Wanderland is an award-winning, Covid-safe project, which provides resources for communities around the world to set up their own magical window displays, day or night, throughout the year.

The project brings neighbourhoods together to reduce social isolation and inspire creativity – but now they need your help to keep running. 

Born out of direct experience of social isolation by Lucy Reeves Khan in 2015, Window Wanderland was set up to increase community engagement and improve wellbeing, through creating accessible and inclusive window displays.

Lucy experienced years of isolation after chronic illnesses – she’d take short nightly rehabilitation walks around her neighbourhood in Bristol.

She said: “I noticed that if my neighbours’ curtains were open, I didn’t hurt so much. At first, I assumed I was just nosy, but I soon realised it was the warmth of the light and the sense of kinship that was making me happy.”

(Read more about this festival of kindness)

Inspired to create a community festival filled with light and life, she organised the first Window Wanderland in 2015. In it, windows come alive, to light up communities – from simple to spectacular displays, on small and tall buildings. 

Since then, hundreds of Window Wanderlands have been organised by communities around the world, spreading happiness and bringing people together.

Window Wanderlands are a local neighbourhood trail held over a weekend, or longer. A local organiser develops the Wanderland with a local project team, using interactive online resources. 

The displays, in residents’ street facing windows, form the trail and are viewed from outside, so they are Covid safe as well. 

Window Wanderlands are held in all areas, from cities and small towns, to rural villages, and areas with social deprivation. 

(Read more about these five stores for sustainable winter wear) 

Last year, they experienced a huge increase in events, which put a lot of pressure on such a small social enterprise. 

They want to continue to support the 93 communities that put on Wanderlands, and encourage new areas to take part – but they need more funds to do so.

So now they’re trying to raise £5,000 to continue their work. 

After donating to the crowdfunder, one person wrote: ”Window Wanderland is one of the highlights of my winter. Our road has been doing it together for the last five years and have had lots of fun getting involved.”

Another added: “You bring light and life to communities. Keep going!”

Make a donation to their fundraiser, and keep bringing light and life to local communities whilst transforming streets across the country. 

Find out more about Window Wanderland on its website to find out how to set one up in your area.

Equality Wellbeing

Gifting salon services to those less fortunate

Haircuts, spa treatments, manicures, self-care – they all make people feel good.

But for those who are less fortunate, who can’t afford or access even basic needs, these luxuries often get left behind. 

Salon and spa company Zenoti is on a mission to change that. Through its charitable arm – the Zenoti Foundation – it partners with local salon and spa customers, connecting with community shelters to provide haircuts, manicures and other self-care treatments. 

The aim is to bring these luxury treatments to the homeless and the terminally ill, so everyone has the opportunity to find their greatness. 

Sudheer Koneru, founder and CEO of Zenoti, tells Smiley News: “Giving back is inherent in the Zenoti brand, and so in 2020 we established the Zenoti Foundation to further commit to giving back to the communities we serve in the US, UK and across the globe.”

Its charitable work is broad-ranging. More than 40,000 haircuts have been provided for the homeless across the UK and the US, as well as 15 shelter day events across the US in support of the homeless and terminally ill in 2021.

(Read more about inspirational projects to support and care for the homeless)

Zenoti employees also created a Covid-19 relief fund by donating a portion of their salaries to help those in need. In total, Zenoti employees contributed more than $100,000. 

They distributed aid to more than 500 beauty and wellness professionals in the United States, Australia, India, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

Connecting with others to give back to those in need

Zenoti has supported Haircuts4Homeless, which was set up by veteran hairdresser Stewart Roberts. A community of skilled hairdressers volunteer their time free of charge to provide haircuts for people experiencing homelessness – and Zenoti supports them with software and materials.

Another example is Zenoti’s partnership with American Haircuts, which hosts head-shaving events for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to show their solidarity with children who have cancer and raise money for childhood cancer research. 

Last year, the Zenoti Foundation supported the annual head-shaving event for National Childhood Cancer Awareness month with a Buy One, Donate One haircut for the cause.

(Read more about these UK employers who have begun their homeless recruitment drive)

The Birds Barbershop worked with local shelters to provide haircuts and grooming services to people experiencing homelessness. In partnership with Lighter Loads ATX, they bring mobile hygiene services directly to their local shelters, extending their impact as far as possible. 

Once again, the Zenoti Foundation sponsored the providers with a Buy One, Donate One, to ensure that everyone could look and feel their best.

“Zenoti is looking to achieve a movement that creates a sense of health, mindfulness and personal confidence that comes from feeling good inside and out,” says Sudheer. “The beauty industry is greatly overlooked for its power to do so.”

Zenoti also has a Foundation Scholarship, in collaboration with the Gene Juarez Academy – and plans to introduce more scholarships for the next generation of beauty, wellness and fitness practitioners in 2022. 

You can find out more about Zenoti’s ethos of doing good and feeling good on its website

Culture Wellbeing

The delight of free live theatre for kids

In the heart of Bath, lies the most beautiful dedicated theatre for children in the world – The Egg.

It was designed in consultation with children, and built by the patrons of Theatre Royal Bath, as a welcoming and inspiring place filled with quality theatre. 

The dedicated young people’s theatre has now launched the Wonderfund to enable more school children to see live performances for free across 2022. 

As schools’ resources have become even more stretched during the pandemic, teachers need support to return to theatres with their classes. Recently, the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology stressed the vital importance of prioritising “children’s access to educational, social and recreational activities”, like theatre, to aid their mental wellbeing.

(Read more about this West End show streamed to 1200 older people in Independent Age network)

The Egg tells Smiley News: “The UK has one of the worst mental wellbeing records for children in the world. But there is hope and we’re asking for the public’s help through the Wonderfund.

“Research from all over the world shows that theatre, and the arts more generally, can be a place where children can develop skills of critical reflection and empathy. Theatre can uniquely present ideas introduced in the classroom in a new way, which is great for different types of learners and for putting themes into context.” 

However, children’s theatre engagement is currently declining nationwide faster than all other creative activities, with only 25% of 5 to 10 year olds engaging in theatre, a figure that has halved since 2009. 

As a charity, Bath’s Egg Theatre is asking for the public’s help to make 2022 the year where all the barriers to school trips are removed, enabling as many children as possible to experience live performance and access additional resources to enhance their education. 

(Read more about this theatre show which is transforming the lives of children in care)

As well as free tickets, the scheme will also help to provide transport and teacher support to those schools with the highest levels of deprivation.

Kate Cross, director of The Egg, said: “A first trip to the theatre can change someone’s life forever. It can mould a career or define leisure time. It can help them in their exams or in their relationships. 

“At The Egg we are so sure of this, through testament, data, instinct and years of experience that we urgently want to give this opportunity to as many young people as possible. In our young communities, we are witnessing a happiness deficit and we want theatre to top that up. 

“But resources are needed to take a child to the theatre. The Wonderfund will provide logistical and financial support which we promise will make a difference to our local school community.”

Any state school can now apply to benefit from the Wonderfund in 2022 by contacting The Egg and those in the greatest need will receive additional support and finance for eligible performances.

Find out more about the Wonderfund and donate at

Culture Planet

Gen-Zers passion for climate education

Young people are becoming empowered to reorientate the education system around climate action, social justice and sustainability – to ensure generations are learning about the right things in school.

A youth-led organisation, called ‘Teach the Future’, has written a Climate Emergency Education Bill, which headed for its second reading in Parliament on the 28th January.

To make a big impact, the group is crowdfunding for the new research, PR for their Climate Education Bill, and to hire student staff to coordinate their work.

Eleanor Andrade May, 19, a first-year student in Sheffleld, is a volunteer with the organisation. “Our campaign is founded on the principle that young people need to be equipped and empowered to face the climate crisis,” they tell Smiley News.

“All of our volunteers are with us because they have found current teaching on climate change to be inadequate, and we want to make sure that no student is left unprepared for their future.”

[Discover more stories about everyday heroes driving forward positive change]

The idea was sparked through the youth climate strikes back in 2019, says Eleanor. “Young people were becoming more and more aware of how irreversible climate change was going to be, and how older generations were failing them with inaction,” they say.  

Currently, any mention of the climate crisis is siloed into geography or science – meaning students who don’t take those subjects or aren’t motivated by them miss out, says Eleanor.

“But the climate crisis is going to impact every aspect of our lives, and our education must reflect that,” they add. “Climate change should be woven through the curriculum like a golden thread, so no child is excluded from their future.”

Crowdfunding for impact

Eleanor hopes people will support their crowdfunding campaign to help them drive forward positive change. 

“People should support us because we’re a determined, youth-led campaign with practical solutions to implement,” they say.

“And the evidence is on our side: 90% of teachers think climate change education should be compulsory, while 41% say it is rarely or never mentioned. Only 4% of students feel like they know a lot about climate change, while 68% want to learn more.”

Find out more about Teach the Future at Or, donate to the crowdfunder to help them reach their goal.