Kew’s ‘no-dig’ policy to help retain carbon

Kew Botanical Gardens has announced it will be relaunching its kitchen gardens – but this time with a focus on sustainability.

Back in Georgian times, the Kew Kitchen Garden supplied fruit and vegetables to members of the royal family living in the Kew Palace. This new garden, which was created on the site of the original kitchen garden which would have served King George III and his family, is one of the first kitchen gardens open to the public to have a sustainable focus.

“The veggies you grow yourself always taste extra delicious, and here at Kew we’re dedicated to researching and showcasing how you can get the very best out of your plot in a sustainable way,” says Hélèna Dove, Botanical Horticulturist, RBG Kew. “This is more important than ever as the price of food increases globally. Edible Science: Kew’s Kitchen Garden will be ever changing, always offering something new to see, and I hope visitors walk away feeling inspired.”

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Kew are using a no-dig policy to help retain carbon that is currently trapped in the soil, rather than disturbing the earth and releasing it into the atmosphere. By placing compost on top of the beds, more carbon is trapped, making the practice carbon-negative.

Additionally, in an effort to grow winter vegetables for the first time in decades, Kew have created eco-friendly, no-mow paths. These paths are created from Cedec, a sustainable, porous material, and make the gardens more accessible, as well as removing the reliance on fossil-fuel heavy mowing techniques.

The kitchen gardens continue to implement more and more sustainable development practices, backed up by research, to ensure that the gardens are as sustainable as possible. 

GET INVOLVED: Get stuck in with Garden Organic to help support sustainable gardening practices.



Drinking tea could lower risk of death

A daily cuppa could lower your risk of death, a new study has suggested. 

Research by the National Institute of Health, utilising data from the UK Biobank, showed that compared to those who didn’t drink tea, those who drank two or more cups per day had between a 9% and 13% lower mortality rate. 

The study used questionnaires answered between 2006 and 2010 and followed up on the participants over more than a decade to get these results. The research was performed on half a million men and women, aged between 40 and 69, 85% of whom reported regularly drinking tea. Of those participants, 89% said that they mostly drank black tea.

The best news? According to research, it doesn’t even matter how you take your tea – the benefits are still there. So whether you take milk, sugar, cream, or drink black, green or mint, you can rest assured that you’re reaping all of the benefits.

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The research was described as “a substantial advance in the field” by Fernando Rodriguez Artalejo, who is a professor of preventive medicine and public health at the Autonomous University of Madrid.

“This article shows that regular consumption of black tea (the most widely consumed tea in Europe) is associated with a modest reduction in total and, especially, cardiovascular disease mortality over 10 years in a middle-aged, mostly white, adult general population,” added Artalejo.

Though the results are promising for those tea-drinkers among us, it’s important to note we can’t be certain tea was the sole cause of this lower mortality rate, as there’s no way to rule out other health-related factors.

SUPPORT: Give to Stroke, the UK’s leading stroke-related charity.

GET INVOLVED: Get ready for National Cream Tea Day in 2023, and help raise money for charities all across the UK.



Lidl ensures no ‘wonky veg’ goes to waste

High street budget retailer Lidl GB has pledged to support fruit and veg suppliers across Britain by ensuring “less than perfect” vegetables don’t go to waste. 

It’s aiming to help suppliers tackle the challenge of a growing quantity of stunted crop due to the “hottest and driest weather seen in half a century”.

The retailer has written to all of its British fresh produce suppliers to offer support and look for ways to ensure that high quality British crops are being eaten. Lidl will help to prevent perfectly good, quality produce from going to waste because of variations in specifications, for example a different size to what shoppers are typically used to – a.k.a what you probably know as “wonky veg”. 

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“Farmers across the country are facing a big challenge this year due to the extreme weather conditions experienced over the summer months,” said Ryan McDonnell, Lidl GB CEO. “Whilst the crop coming out may look and feel a bit different to what we’re all used to, it’s still the same great British quality. We therefore want to show support for our suppliers by working with them to find solutions to help.

“Lidl is built on the foundation of making good food accessible and affordable to everyone, and our fresh produce range is key to achieving this. Whilst some supermarkets have chosen to create a separate ‘wonky veg’ label for items that don’t quite fit a certain specification, we don’t believe in a creating a false market.

“Instead, we have always strived to work collaboratively with our suppliers to ensure that we are flexible with variations in specifications at different times of the year.”

Lidl has also committed to funding and implementing 10 whole chain food waste projects by 2025 to work with suppliers to find further solutions to reducing waste and creating additional value in the supply chain.

This builds on Lidl’s initiatives to tackle food waste throughout the supply chain. The discounter was one of the first supermarkets to sign the NFU Fruit and Veg Pledge in 2016, underlining a commitment to help work in a sustainable way with all growers.

Inspired to act? 

SUPPORT: Help fight food waste by supporting Fareshare


Sisters deliver 460,000 letters to seniors

The pandemic was traumatic for a multitude of reasons, but one group of people most at risk of loneliness was the elderly.

Between family moving on and friends passing away, people that reach retirement age can often find themselves isolated. To combat that two sisters in Boston, US, Shreya and Saffron Patel, wanted to do something. 

At the beginning of Covid, the duo made a point to consistently reach out to their grandparents, then got an idea when their grandma was ecstatic at receiving a handwritten letter. One thing led to another, and they decided to try and reach out to other elderly people that may find themselves isolated. 

“This small gesture of connection meant the world to her,” Shreya tells Upworthy. “We realized that many other seniors may also be feeling disconnected, and that they may appreciate a letter.”

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The sisters began by reaching out to Boston assisted living facilities to see if they would accept letters to the residents, which was met with enthusiasm. 

They named their initiative Letters Against Isolation, with a simple mission. “We fight senior loneliness one letter at a time,” they say. “Through handwritten messages of love, hope, and joy, our volunteer community brings seniors connection and improves their mental and physical health.”

In just under two years, the organization became an award-winning non-profit and with the help of over 28,000 volunteers, the organization has helped deliver over 460,000 letters to seniors at assisted living homes and care facilities in seven countries, including the US, Canada, Ireland, England, Australia, South Africa, and Israel.

Inspired to Act?

DONATE: Letters Against Isolation accepts donations if you want to help fund their cause. 

SUPPORT: Consider getting involved with the organization and donating your time to help send out some letters.


Bison population blooms – with great benefits

Bison remain firmly outside an endangerment threshold in the US, but entire regions where the animal – acting as a keystone species – helps prop up the ecosystem are missing them. With that in mind, there have been efforts around the continent to reintroduce herds to the wild. 

One area is Banff National Park in Canada where 10 female and 6 male bison were moved from Elk Island National Park in 2017.

Over the past five years, that small herd of 16 bison has blossomed to over 85 after 16 bison calves were born in the spring.

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“They’ve been incredibly healthy and they’re faring really well in their new habitat,” said Saundi Stevens, resource management officer for Banff National Park.

The herd sits in a 1,200 square kilometer re-introduction zone serving as a testing ground for reintroducing bison to the area on a larger scale.

In the Banff National Park area, bison didn’t roam in the massive herds that were common on the plains, but even in low numbers, they helped shape ecosystems.

They alter landscapes in ways that benefit many other plants and animals. For example, bison fur provides insulation for bird nests, bison grazing creates a habitat for elk, and they provide a rich source of nutrients for scavengers, bears, and wolves.

Most of the bison have remained within the re-introduction zone, but as the herd grows more bison have been found outside in wider Alberta.

Inspired to Act?

DONATE: The National Wildlife Federation has a bison restoration fund. Consider donating if you want to help support an organization aiding bison. 

SUPPORT: Research what it means to be a keystone species and how you can help support the ones around you.

Planet Wellbeing

How US states are cutting emissions

The US made a significant step in climate action after the Inflation Reduction Act was signed into law. The bill allocates about $370 billion to climate change and clean-energy production while providing funding for medical needs, and pharmaceuticals, among other things. 

Around the US, individual states are taking climate action in their own ways.


In California, legislation was introduced and passed to slowly phase out gas-powered vehicles in the most populous state in the country, coming to a head in 2035 when the purchase of new gas-powered vehicles in the state will be entirely banned.

“California now has a groundbreaking, world-leading plan to achieve 100% zero-emission vehicle sales by 2035,” said the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom. “It’s ambitious, it’s innovative, it’s the action we must take if we’re serious about leaving the planet better off for future generations.”

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The program, approved by California’s air regulators, may have a sweeping influence on auto manufacturers around the country with such a large market essentially shutting its doors to gas-powered vehicles.


Another climate initiative in the US is in Chicago, Illinois, where city operations are slated to run on fully renewable energy as soon as 2025. 

Chicago is the 3rd most populous city in the country with over 2.7 million people calling the city home, and now its airports, libraries, and water-purification plants will be powered by renewables. Through the initiative, the city is expected to lower its carbon footprint by more than 290,000 metric tons each year, equivalent to emissions associated with 62,000 passenger vehicles, the statement said. 

“I am incredibly proud to advance this commitment to transitioning all city operations to 100% renewable energy by 2025,” said Chicago Mayor Lightfoot. “The signing of this agreement demonstrates that the City of Chicago is leading by example and driving high-impact climate action, building the clean energy workforce of the future and equitably distributing meaningful benefits to foster the local clean energy economy for all.” 

Inspired to Act?

DONATE: The Interstate Renewable Energy Council is an organization that helps support all forms of renewable energy, consider donating. 

SUPPORT: Find ways to cut down on emissions or energy use on your own. Consider biking to work or using public transit, and try to find ways to lower power usage in your home.


Life expectancy rises 10 years across Africa

Between 2000 and 2019, people’s life expectancy across Africa has risen by about 10 years – a trend that’s continuing today.

While the average quality years in the continent is still lower than international averages, according to a WHO report, the average increased to 56 years in 2019, compared with 46 in 2000. The international average is 64 years.

“While still well below the global average of 64, over the same period, global healthy life expectancy increased by only five years,” the report explained.

This data spans 47 of the 54 countries in Africa that make up the WHO Africa region.

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“The sharp rise in healthy life expectancy during the past two decades is a testament to the region’s drive for improved health and well-being of the population,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

“At its core, it means that more people are living healthier, longer lives, with fewer threats of infectious diseases and with better access to care and disease prevention services. But the progress must not stall. Unless countries enhance measures against the threat of cancer and other noncommunicable diseases, the health gains could be jeopardized.”

Another thing that has challenged the progress in Africa is the Covid-19 pandemic, as many countries in the region reported major disruptions due to the pandemic. According to a WHO survey, more than 90% of the 36 countries that responded reported one or more disruptions to essential health services, with immunization, neglected tropical diseases, and nutrition services suffering higher disruptions.

“COVID-19 has shown how investing in health is critical to a country’s security. The better Africa can cope with pandemics and other health threats, the more our people and economies thrive.”

Inspired to Act?

DONATE: Healthy Women Healthy Liberia is an organization that helps provide medical care to women in Liberia. Consider donating. 

SUPPORT: Read more about what’s happening with WHO’s work in Africa look here.


‘Teach The Teacher’ brings climate awareness

Students are transforming into teachers in a bid to educate people across the country and climate change – for the sake of our planet. 

Mock COP, hosted by SOS-UK charity, is running a project called “Teach the Teacher”. It’s an international, youth-led campaign bringing students into their schools to talk to their educators about climate change.

The workshop explains what it’s like to be a young person experiencing a climate emergency, what climate anxiety is, and how exploring climate action can help students turn their fear into power.

So why are they doing it? Well, 70% of teachers don’t feel adequately equipped to educate students on climate change. So the aim is to equip them with resources and confidence to implement climate education in their classrooms. 

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“We see the impacts of the climate crisis every day, and now more than ever,” they say, “and it’s essential to educate students in a way that sparks hope within them. Teach the Teacher empowers students to speak to their teachers in a way which ensures open and holistic discussion about climate change, climate education, its intersectionalities and all of its adversaries.”

Last year, their team trained 90 students across 24 countries to deliver Teach the Teacher,supporting them in adapting the content to their localities and contexts. The trained students then delivered the workshop in a total of 47 schools in 21 countries. 

Inspired to act? 

SIGN UP: Students and Teachers (on behalf of their students) can sign up online.

FIND OUT MORE: You can head to the Mock COP website


10-year-old’s climb for children in Somalia

A determined young fundraiser from north London is preparing to scale Mount Snowdon, to honour the memory of his grandfather, and raise funds for international children’s charity Save the Children.

Ten-year-old Dexter Durde never got the chance to meet his grandfather Yussef (known as Joe), as he sadly passed away before Dexter was born. But  his father has shared many stories with him, about being born in Somalia before emigrating to Italy and then the UK in later life. 

“One day recently we were sat down when a news article flashed up about the drought in Somalia and the subsequent hunger crisis happening there,” said Dexter’s mother Carrie Durde. “It was of course quite confronting to see – and I could tell made Dexter think about his grandad. He turned to me and asked, “what can I do to help Grandpa Joe’s home country?”.

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The pair settled on the idea to climb Snowdon together to raise money, as Dexter has been learning about mountains at school. 

Dexter has already far surpassed his fundraising target of £1000, with over £2,500 donated to his fundraising page, but Carrie says that families in Somalia need all the help they can get and she and Dexter would welcome any extra funds before they start the climb.

Supporting Save the Children

According to Save the Children, the number of children in Somalia receiving treatment for the most dangerous form of malnutrition surged 300% in the first six months of 2022 as the worst drought in years tightened its grip on the country.

Four consecutive rainy seasons have failed in the Horn of Africa with forecasts for a fifth poor rainy season later this year, with the crisis compounded by rising food prices due to the war in Ukraine and the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Save the Children is working to help affected communities in Somalia cope with the immediate humanitarian effects of drought. The aid agency is providing emergency water supplies, treating malnourished children, supporting education systems so that children do not miss vital learning while displaced by drought, running health facilities, and providing cash and livelihood support to the most vulnerable.

“I’m so incredibly proud of Dexter,” said Carrie. “And I know his grandfather would be as well. No child should have to go hungry. Please consider giving to this worthy cause – all donations are most welcome.”

Inspired to act?

DONATE: You can donate to Dexter’s fundraising page on JustGiving


Large blue butterfly numbers bloom in Britain

The once-extinct large blue butterfly, reintroduced to the UK in 1983, flew in its greatest numbers since records began on the largest number of sites in 2022.

Thanks to meticulous conservation by a partnership of scientists and conservation bodies, southwest England now supports the greatest concentration of large blues known in the world.

Twelve new sites are being restored to flower-rich meadows suitable for breeding, either ‘starting from scratch’ on arable land, failed conifer plantations and railway constructions, or by restoring bespoke grazing to degraded downland.

Already, these support up to a third of the UK population of large blues, up from just 7% in 2019. 

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Among plants, the extremely rare Pasqueflower and Cut-leaved self-heal have reappeared and/or spread under ‘Large blue management’, together with up to twelve species of orchid.

A remarkable number of other insects have increased on or newly colonised the twelve restorations.

Aside from the gains of other rare species, they are important internationally because the Large blue is listed as one of Europe’s most ‘Endangered Species’ of insect, and similarly worldwide.

The restorations are led, supervised and monitored by the Royal Entomological Society’s David Simcox and Sarah Meredith, who also designed the bespoke management plan needed for each site.

David Simcox, Project Officer, Royal Entomological Society, and the Joint Committee for the Re-establishment of the Large Blue Butterfly, said: “We have welcomed the opportunity to continue working on this iconic and difficult butterfly and to lead this diverse and energetic partnership.

“We are extremely proud that the partnership’s efforts have enabled hundreds of people to see this stunning and enigmatic butterfly flying on some of the most beautiful grassland sites in the country. The greatest challenge ahead is to secure this expansion in a warming climate and to develop strategies to mitigate the impacts of extreme weather events.”

Inspired to act?

SUPPORT: You can support the Royal Entomological Society on its website