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Planet

The skincare company that will save the world

It’s that time of the week when we feature businesses that are giving back – whether that’s to the planet or their community, we’re excited to share it all!

UPCIRCLE BEAUTY.

UpCircle Beauty is a company that takes by-products from other industries and turns them into skincare products! They are based on the idea of the circular economy and have worked hard to create a sustainable, environmentally friendly range of care products that uses up what would otherwise be wasted.

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly gift for the skincare enthusiast in your life, or just looking to add step 11 to your Korean skincare routine, this is the brand for you!

THE MAIDSTONE DISTILLERY.

The Maidstone Distillery is not only known for its gin, but its huge efforts to be sustainable. From running on 100% green energy and responsibly foraging ingredients to their plastic-free packaging and bottle refill service, you can certainly drink this gin guilt-free.

Not only that, but 2.5% from the sales of Ranscombe Wild Small Batch Gin are donated to Plantlife, a UK-based conservation charity. We love to see it!

NUMI TEA.

If you thought tea was good enough on its own, think again. Numi Tea is the beautiful brainchild of a brother and sister team who are fighting climate change, poverty and inequality through the power of organic teas.

From providing education and clean drinking water to those in need, to fair trade and their five-step climate action plan, Numi doesn’t just talk the talk, it walks the walk – and what’s more delicious than that?

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Planet

Introducing ‘Solar Punk’ activism

Two artists are unveiling an ingenious way to save on energy costs in London.

Tell me more!

Dan Edelstyn and Hilary Powell, artists known for their impactful art installations, have come up with a brilliant way to help families in London with energy costs; by creating a power station out of an ordinary street in East London.

But aren’t power stations bad?

Traditional ones certainly aren’t good for the environment – but this is not a fossil fuel-based station. Dan and Hillary are creating a solar power station out of a row of terraced houses by installing rooftop solar panels on dozens of homes in Walthamstow, London.

According to their research, installing solar panels on every house in the UK would provide 60.52% of our total domestic electricity consumption. 

The duo are calling this project a blueprint for ‘solar punk’ activism, hoping that others will take a leaf out of their book!

So where is the money coming from?

Dan and Hillary have launched a crowdfunder, which they publicised by sleeping on the roof of their own home, which will be involved in the power station. This means that many of the 30 residents whose homes are involved in the power station will be able to get their upgrade to solar for free at a time when everyone is needing to pinch pennies.

That’s what we like to see! 

This article aligns with the UN SDG Affordable and Clean Energy.

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Planet

Meet ‘Plastic Man’: an environmental activist from Senegal

One man is raising awareness about just how badly plastic is affecting our world – in quite a unique way.

Go on then, what’s he doing?

Meet Modou Fall, also known as the ‘Plastic Man’, an environmental activist from Senegal. As for what he’s doing, well, they do say a picture speaks a thousand words…

An image of Modou Fall aka the ‘Plastic Man’ in his outfit made from plastic waste.

He makes outfits made from plastic waste and, well, shows it off.

Wow, now that’s commitment!

It sure is! Modou, a 49-year-old former soldier and father of three took on his alter-ego Plastic Man on World Environment Day in 2011 and has been travelling around cities in Senegal ever since. 

Amazing – what else?

He has also set up an environmental association named Clean Senegal that raises awareness of waste pollution through education and encourages reuse and recycling.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.

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Planet

5 Earthshot winners who scooped £1m

The winners of the second ever Earthshot prize have been announced.

Great! But … what’s the Earthshot prize?

The Earthshot Prize is part of a global challenge to encourage innovative ideas to help repair, restore and protect our environment.

Five winners are selected, one for each category; Protect and Restore Nature, Clean Air, Revive our Oceans, Build a Waste-Free World, and Fix our Climate.

All receive £1m each in funding.

Sounds great! So who are the winners?

Mukuru Clean Stoves in Kenya has won the Clean our Air prize for designing and selling a type of stove that produces 90% less pollution than traditional ones.

Indigenous Women of the Great Barrier Reef have won the Revive our Oceans prize for their work training the next generation of indigenous women as rangers to protect the ocean and the life within it.

44.01 has won the Fix our Climate prize. They have discovered a way to safely, quickly and cheaply remove carbon from the atmosphere forever by mineralising CO2 in peridotite. This is a permanent removal, rather than temporarily storing carbon in nature as trees and soil do.

Kheyti, based in India, has won the Protect and Restore Nature prize by creating a ‘Greenhouse-in-a-Box’ to help small-hold farmers to protect their crops and turn unpredictable farming into dependable income. The greenhouses grow 7 times more food with 90% less water, making it a more sustainable option.

London-based start-up Notpla have been awarded the Build a Waste-Free World award for creating a plastic alternative from seaweed. While it is grown for harvesting, the seaweed farms trap carbon, and create a healthy environment for under-water wildlife to thrive in.

Amazing! What do they get?

The Earthshot prize will be ongoing for a decade, meaning there will never be more than 50 winners. Each year for the next decade, five solutions will be awarded £1million to help support their quest to save our planet.

As of Monday December 5 2022 applications for the Earthshot prize 2023 are open.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.

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Planet

The TikTok group with one goal: to save the planet

18 creators. 18 different backgrounds. 1 goal: to save the planet.

Let’s be honest, your thoughts about TikTok are most likely to be about the collective hours you’ve wasted, rather than about how you could potentially use it to change the world. 

But Sabrina Pare, 29, a founding member of EcoTok, wants to prove otherwise. 

Cast your minds back to March 2020, when Covid took hold. With a lot of free time, Sabrina, from Detroit, started to get into sustainable living, sharing her finds on TikTok. “I made videos on sustainable swaps, living more sustainably, and people seemed to like them,” she tells us. “A couple went viral, so I continued, and really enjoyed making them.”

There were only a handful of environmentalists on TikTok at the time, says Sabrina, and they all knew each other, forming a group chat.

In June of the same year, the group – Abbie Richards, Alaina Wood, Alex Silva, and Sabrina Pare – came up with the idea of starting a group page on TikTok  The name? EcoTok.

EcoTok is a collective of environmental educators and activists who use TikTok as a platform for good. They see climate change for what it is, a crisis, and they hope to empower younger generations to do something about it by teaching them about science, activism, and ways to make changes in their life.

At the time, there were 10 members. Now, there’s 18. Among them, you’ll find scientists, students, activists, environmental educators, and civil servants. 

The group has gained traction on the platform, garnering nearly 120,000 followers and having more than two million likes on their videos. They range from anecdotal stories, responses to the news, life hacks to live better, the science behind the climate, and shine a light on the optimism we can hope for. 

“In the last couple of years, there has been a lot of climate doom and people putting out negative, fear-driven messages,” says Sabrina, speaking about the need for EcoTok. “We are passionate about being more positive, spreading climate optimism. 

“We tell people there is still hope and time to combat climate change – and I think that’s why people resonate with us.”

Their mission, she says, is quite simple: to educate and inspire people to take climate action.

More than just a platform to share ways people can take action, EcoTok has created real, in-person friendships.

“We’re all good friends!” says Sabrina, beaming. A lot of us met this summer, at the Hollywood Climate Summit – it was really cool to finally meet in person after two years. We’ve become really close, and we FaceTime each other!”

For the majority of the content creators, EcoTok is a passion project. A side hustle they do because they love inspiring the next generation. While some are still students in college, others – like Sabrina – do it alongside full-time jobs. 

“It’s a lot of work,” she says, “making videos, doing emails, having meetings. It’s another 10 hours a week on top of my full-time role.” Outside of TikTok, Sabrina works as a benefits and wellness specialist. 

But there are big plans for EcoTok. They currently have an executive board of four members, and are working on transforming it into a nonprofit. The extra workload is worth it, says Sabrina.

“Being a part of this, it’s really boosted my mood around the planet,” she says. “A lot of our members come from a science background, and I find it so helpful to get information from them. It’s a super helpful support group, and I’m so focused on being climate positive.”

Sabrina’s advice for those suffering from climate anxiety – something increasing numbers of Gen-Zers are feeling – is to follow more positive accounts. “Don’t get stuck doom scrolling,” she says, “seek out more positive information instead.

“Also, getting involved in your community and seeing how you can support it can really help. There are so many great organisations out there putting in the work that you can join. 

“We all have what it takes to make real change.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.

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Planet

These reusable crackers support charity, too

There’s no denying the festive season is full of products and single-use buys that aren’t exactly great for the planet… but the magic these bring can sometimes be hard to resist.

Take crackers, for example. The gorgeous-looking table decoration, the joy when you pull it alongside your loved ones, wearing the paper hats… it’s a staple festive tradition.

Lucy Ewles wanted to keep that tradition alive – but make it better for the planet. In 2020, she created Kaneo: beautiful, eco, reusable crackers for Christmas.

Named after the village she married her husband, Lucy came up with the business idea after Christmas 2019. “I had a big do and did fill-your-own crackers,” she says. “We had 22 people, I personalised them all and it was such a hit, but after, I felt awful.

“We had nearly 3 bin bags full of this rubbish. I wanted something that looks lovely on the table, but for it to go straight in the bin or recycling felt a bit wrong.”

Lucy started searching for reusable crackers that still had that “snap”, but couldn’t find any. So she tried herself. “I’m a crafty person, so I do enjoy things like that,” she says.

Working full-time as a teacher, she spent her evenings and weekends with her sewing machine and making prototypes. She managed to create crackers that were reusable, could “snap” when pulled, and looked good, too. Her friends loved them – and it spiralled from there.

Lucy found a manufacturer and decided to turn her reusable crafty crackers into a business, with 2021 being her first year of trading. She did a Hatch Enterprise cause that year for entrepreneurs who are looking to give back through their business idea – because she wanted to make sure they were crackers who did more. 

“I always wanted to do something good with these,” says Lucy, “giving back is the side that is really interesting to me. 

“I wanted it to be embedded within what the crackers were about. When I was looking at charities, the most iconic Christmas charity is the Salvation Army – they do so much around helping people with homelessness, providing hot dinners and places for people to stay.”

Lucy approached them and they agreed to be a partner. Now, 10% of all sales go to the charity. 

You can buy a box of six crackers, which come with 18 sticky snap sticks for three parties – and refills are sold, too. “These are special snap sticks I invented,” says Lucy. “They’ve got a sticky bit at both ends, the cracker has got two tubes, and they slide apart when you pull. The snap goes around the outside once you’ve put gifts in.”

Find out more.

This article aligns with the UN Responsible Consumption and Production.

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Planet

Disney’s pledges to ‘keep our oceans amazing’ in unique way

Nearly 13 years ago, Avatar hit theaters. Remember that?

Known for its stunning visuals and poignant story about colonization and land exploitation, the James Cameron film went on to become the highest-grossing movie of all time – bringing in over 2.9 billion dollars at the box office. 

Now, over a decade later, a sequel named Avatar: The Way of Water is slated to come out on December 16.

To drum up support, and help support a good cause, Disney has launched a new program to protect the oceans. 

What’s Disney doing?

Oceans cover over 70% of the planet and produce most of the oxygen we breathe, but less than 8% of the ocean is protected. So Disney is working to protect more waters. 

As part of its ‘Keep Our Oceans Amazing’ campaign, Disney has released Virtual Pandora Ocean, an online experience that allows people to scan in and create their own Pandoran creatures using features common to the fictional world.

The site has tidbits of information on real-life ocean habitats and organisms to help teach the people coming through. 

The biggest part, though, is that Disney is planning on donating five dollars to the Nature Conservancy for every creature created – up to $1 million to help fund the fight to protect the ocean.

The Nature Conservancy is fighting to have 10% of the ocean officially protected by 2030.

“The entire planet depends on the health of our ocean to support and sustain it,” said Melissa Garvey, Global Director of Ocean Protection at The Nature Conservancy.

“We need to do our part to protect it. That’s why we are thrilled to collaborate with Disney and Avatar on this campaign. Our mission is driven by working together with those who believe we can shape a brighter future where people and nature can thrive together.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Life Below Water.

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Planet

Look at McDonald’s new reusable packaging

Some of the most common producers of waste and single-use plastics come from large food service corporations, providing things like plastic forks and spoons, to-go packaging, straws, and much more.

The fast-food giant McDonald’s is one such massive contributor – but they’ve actively been making efforts to improve their global footprint, particularly in France. 

Twitter user Juan Buis, who lives in Paris, shared a photo on social media of the silicone-style reusable packaging the fast food giant is trialling.

“Absolutely loving the design of this reusable packaging that’s being introduced at McDonalds France,” he wrote.

Why France?

In 2020, France passed something called the AGEC Law (Waste for a Circular Economy) which essentially banned many single-use plastics in the country.

Among the products banned by the AGEC Law are many containing microplastics, polystyrene fast food containers, plastic fast food cutlery used on site, plastic fast food toys, plastic packaging for mailings, plastic water bottles at public events, and certain non-recyclable plastic packaging. 

To be able to continue business in the country without breaking the law, McDonald’s started developing reusable alternatives for things like its burger boxes and plastic packaging and cutlery.

Ultimately, these packaging changes could prevent 8,000 tons of waste per year as part of the “zero plastic” strategy championed by the brand. 

“For years, a key pillar of our packaging strategy has been to reduce the materials we use by lightweighting and optimizing our packaging,” McDonald’s writes in a release. “We’ll accelerate our progress to reduce materials across our portfolio, redesigning some of our most iconic products to eliminate unnecessary packaging and increase opportunities for recovery.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.

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Planet

How the world is future-proofing fashion

From luxury threads to the cheap and cheerful, fast fashion has taken the world by storm, becoming a billion-dollar industry that stretches across the globe. Full of cheap, trendy clothing with a quick turnover, fast fashion makes once expensive styles affordable for everyone.

But fashion isn’t all exciting sales and affordable prices. The industry generates more CO2 than the aviation and shipping industries put together, contributing to 10% of global pollution per year. Not only that, more than $500 billion of clothing is lost every year due to a lack of recycling and clothing being thrown away.

Let’s be honest; Elle Woods would not approve. And like the blonde bombshell we all love so much, there are those who have decided enough is enough – something has to change. These people, organisations, and businesses are putting planet before profit to focus on what the world actually needs.

So, who’s doing their bit?

Loanhood is a clothing rental app that allows consumers to rent out clothing from their own wardrobe. Set up by three friends determined to make an impact on the world, it hopes to end the overconsumption of clothing, and the prevalence of fast fashion in our world. 

Renting clothing is becoming more popular as an alternative, not only to making purchases at a high price point but to over-consuming clothing. By renting clothes instead of purchasing new ones, you’re preventing the need for new fashion pieces to be created, and all the environmental pitfalls that come along with that.

“For so many people, [fashion] is their form of creativity and self-expression,” explains Loanhood founder, Jen Charon. “It helps them feel that they belong with their friends. It helps them express who they are in society… it’s a big ask say ‘stop’.

“I think fashion rental is a great alternative for fashion lovers, who still care about the environment. And I think it’s going to change all of our experiences of fashion. It opens up your options, and not just the high street or the big e-commerce retailers; you get to access individuals like making really cool clothes. I think that’s super exciting.”

What about pre-loved?

A tried and tested alternative to fast fashion, which is increasing in popularity, is buying second-hand – or thrifting, whether it’s charity shops or using online stores like Vinted and Depop.

“Wearing secondhand is a joyful way to express individual style and wear unique items that no one else has,” says Traid Chief Executive, Maria Chenoweth. “From Alexander McQueen to Oscar De La Renta and Selfridges, at last secondhand has become socially acceptable, with everybody wanting a piece of that preloved action.”

A 2022 survey found that four in 10 consumers purchased secondhand goods, while one-third said that they sold their own items on the secondhand market. Buying secondhand clothing is just one piece of the puzzle – there is so much more that goes into being more sustainable with your clothing.

“It’s really important to keep clothes in circulation, so buy good quality, only buy what you know you will wear, repair and if you have clothes that you no longer wear and someone else could, then donate them to charity,” explains Maria. 

Giulia Alvarez-Katz, a self-described ‘Zilennial’, almost exclusively buys secondhand – from kitting out her wardrobe to furnishing her apartment, it’s all pre-loved.

“The more globally-minded importance of buying secondhand only became clear to me in adulthood as I learned about the waste involved in fast fashion; how much fabric is disposed of and never used again,” explains Giulia.

“Some people are disillusioned by fast fashion or actively want to boycott it. I’ve noticed there’s a growing sense among fashionistas that older garments are made with more care and attention to detail.”

So that’s the tea. The fashion industry still needs to undergo some major changes to make it sustainable, but there is hope – and there are people out there making changes.

There are so many people out there fighting to make a difference and to make sustainable fashion the norm.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Responsible Consumption and Production.

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Planet

Make a difference with a climate café

Have you ever thought about hosting your own climate café?

In a bid to combat the increasing rates of eco-anxiety, Force of Nature – a nonprofit that aims to mobilise mindsets for climate action – is hosting climate cafés: safe spaces to navigate difficult conversations, and turn eco-anxiety into action.

Founded by Clover Hogan, Force of Nature wants to enable young people to take action in their own ways. With research by the nonprofit showing that 70% of young people are eco-anxious and 56% feel that humanity is doomed, they believe climate cafés can be a tool to help people navigate this fear. 

So what actually is a climate café?

They’re community-organised spaces for people to have open yet structured conversations about how to navigate difficult climate emotions, and translate these feelings into action.

Force of Nature has launched a free resource to help people host their own climate café; featuring a step-by-step plan.

They’re looking for young people to host these cafés. “We will provide you with an instruction guide on setting up a café, and support bringing it to life,” they say. 

What’s needed for a climate café?

  • A venue to host the climate café (this could be an existing café, shop, community space, or even someone’s living room).
  • Seats and tables.
  • Hot drinks and snacks (e.g. biscuits).
  • Clarity on who you want to participate in your climate café. This could be friends or strangers off the street; other young people or an intergenerational audience.
  • A readiness to facilitate climate conversations. It’s up to you how long you run the café for; it could be one day or it could be for two weeks.

How are they helping?

Force of Nature is also offering micro grants to young people who want to host a climate café but face financial barriers. 

“The micro-grants are up to £150 and will prioritise cafés that are reaching groups often left out of climate conversations and for those who are most affected by the climate crisis,” they say.  

You will receive more information about the grants and how to apply once you’ve submitted your interest to host a café.

To find out more information about holding a climate café, visit: forceofnature.xyz/climate-cafe

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.