Bower Recycling: it pays to recycle

Thanks to a new app recycling can be good for the planet – and for your wallet.

Ooh – tell me more!

Bower Recycling is an app designed to encourage people to recycle. While everyone knows that recycling is good for the planet, people may find it too complicated, or think it is too much to do on an already busy day.

The app gives people a reward through money or coupons for charitable causes when they recycle everyday items.

Does it work?

In countries like Germany, Finland, Norway, and Canada, which have already implemented financial incentives, the recycling rates are above 90%. Alternatively, only 44.4% of household waste in the UK was recycled in 2020.

If you’re interested in using Bower Recycling, you can do so by downloading their app. Additionally, if you want to support a recycling charity, you can give back to Recycle Now to help encourage and optimise recycling in the UK.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.


This group turns waste glass into beautiful kitchenware

Glass bottles, like any other kind of waste or trash, are usually discarded and disregarded by most people. According to the EPA, we only recycle about 31% of our glass, and glass waste makes up about 5% of the trash in landfills. 

One person didn’t see that glass as waste and wanted to find ways to reuse it, turning it into small-batch home and kitchen accessories.

Danielle Ruttenberg is the co-founder, alongside Rebecca Davies and Mark Ellis, of Remark Glass, a Philadelphia-based company that takes old glass and upcycles it into something new.

Things like old wine bottles can become brand-new kitchenware like bowls, cups, or even something like a chandelier.

The process starts with them cleaning and de-labeling the bottles, cutting them to whatever proportion they need, and prepping the glass for heat. Once it’s ready they melt and reshape the glass to whatever their need is. They also try to maintain some of the characteristics of the original glass object to maintain its essence. 

They use this as a tool to help address the recycling crisis and find a new use for objects that would be otherwise discarded and take up space, potentially at the bottom of the ocean. 

“By creating small batch home accessories from post-consumer bottle glass, we aim to build a more sustainable artform and manufacturing practice that simultaneously reduces glass waste on a local level,” they write on their website. 

They even started a sister non-profit called Bottle Underground to help address the problem further.

“Bottle Underground is committed to innovating and localizing systems for collection, recirculation, recycling, downcycling and upcycling,” they write on their website. “By maintaining a high-quality collection system, our team is dedicated to reducing waste now and making the best use of glass for our future.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Partners of the Goals.


An Arizona plant will pull carbon from the air and put it in concrete

The most important greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide. It traps and radiates heat and without CO2 the Earth’s natural greenhouse effect would be too weak to keep the average global surface temperature above freezing. 

The problem is that since the industrial revolution, the US has supercharged the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and is now one of the largest contributors to global warming and therefore climate change. 

To address this a plant in Arizona is working to take CO2 out of the atmosphere and trap it in cement. 

Cement is incredibly carbon-intensive to produce and startups and established construction firms alike have begun devising lower-carbon ways of making concrete. Three companies are working together on an industrial lot in Flagstaff, Arizona to do just that.

 Block-Lite, a family-owned masonry business, announced plans to produce concrete using an alternative cement process made by CarbonBuilt in combination with a process by Aircapture that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The trio got a $150,000 grant from the 4 Corners Carbon Coalition which is a network of local governments in Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. 

“Atmospheric carbon dioxide removal and carbon utilization into products is on the critical path to addressing climate change,” said Matt Atwood, CEO of Aircapture. While the common assumption of industrial carbon application is that of a short lived product, we are demonstrating a novel solution to create permanent carbon storage sinks in our built environment.” 

The plan is to begin production in 2024 after retrofitting one of Block-Lite’s facilities and that plant will produce 30,000 metric tons per year of concrete, while also removing some 500 tons of atmospheric CO2 annually. This entire process will ideally cut CO2 emissions from concrete production by about 70%.

“We intend for this project to become a blueprint that can be replicated at many of the thousands of concrete manufacturing plants around the world,” said Rahul Shendure, CEO of CarbonBuilt.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.


An Arizona neighborhood is an urban forest and community pantry

A neighborhood outside of Tuscon, Arizona, called Dunbar Springs, has become an urban forest of sorts, with unpaved roads surrounded by food-bearing plants that are watered using rainwater diverted from the streets. The entire idea was to create an urban food forest that could serve as a natural pantry for the community. 

It all began about 30 years ago and serves as a tool to deal with climate change and rising food costs providing food for residents and roughage for livestock, plus a massive tree coverage in the third-fastest warming city in the nation. The amount of food they have is incredibly wide-ranging as well, with over 100 plant species in a single block.

“Since 1996 we’ve collaborated with our neighbors to plant over 1,600 native food- and medicine-bearing native trees and many hundreds of multi-use native understory plants,” the Dunbar Spring Neighborhood Foresters organization shares on its website.

All of that is fed by a stormwater system that irrigates the whole thing.

The original plan was just to plant weather-resistant shading trees to help alleviate some of the blistering heat in Arizona and now 30 years later its become something else entirely. 

“We can plant resilient native trees that are not dependent on imported water for irrigation,” said Brad Lancaster, a resident and co-founder of the Dunbar/Spring Neighborhood Foresters organization.

“Trees shade the street, reduce heat stress and provide food for our neighborhood.”

Find out more and see how you can support the neighborhood here.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Partners of the Goals.


Swiss startup to equip raillines with solar panels

We’re really starting to get creative with how we generate power and energy as the effect of climate change start to become more apparent. One place trying its best to utilize space more efficiently to generate power is Switzerland.

Swiss railways are rolling out a project to install solar panels on their railways to generate power and ideally not take up as much space as solar farms usually do, creating a situation where railways are going to have multiple uses. 

Swiss start-up Sun-Ways is installing panels near Buttes train station in the west of the country in May as long as they get the signoff from the Federal Office of Transport. This is among a lot of other projects in the EU, finding creative places to put solar panels like reservoirs, dams, roadsides, and farms. 

But the Sun-Ways system is removable if needed, making it a first of its kind.

“That is the innovation,” co-founder Baptiste Danichert tells Swissinfo.

Sun-Ways has big ambitions for its project too, hoping to start rolling it out in other countries too. 

“There are over a million kilometres of railway lines in the world,” Danichert tells SWI Swissinfo. “We believe that 50 percent of the world’s railways could be equipped with our system.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.


Nature programme launches in UK

A Japanese water and nature education programme is being launched in the UK for the first time.

Tell me more!

Suntory Holdings, owner of Lucozade and Ribena, is launching its unique environmental education programme, Suntory Mizuiku, in the UK.

After a successful partnership last year, Suntory is working with The Severn Rivers Trust to deliver the programme.

The programme, named Mizuiku, was launched in 2004 with the aim of helping younger generations learn where their water comes from, and the significance of the natural world.

To date, 458,700 people across the world have taken part, starting with the initial project in Japan and expanding to Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, France, China, Spain and now the UK.

How does it work?

‘The Outdoor School of Forest and Water’ is part of the programme that is receiving focus on the UK. It’s designed to provide participants with interactive, hands-on experiences that help them appreciate the importance of natural water sources.

The Severn Rivers Trust will be running sessions highlighting why the lifecycle of water is so important and encourage participants to reflect and act to preserve and protect our water, rivers and wildlife. 

Launching at the end of May and running until October, families will be able to book onto free sessions at five different riverside locations: Lydney, Diglis, Warwick, Shrewsbury and Newtown.

If you’re interested in getting involved, you can find more information on The Severn Rivers Trust website.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action, Clean Water and Sanitation.


Multi-story car park turned into food garden

A multi-story car park is being turned into a food garden.

Amazing! Tell me more.

The Vyse Street Food Project aims to improve and reduce the city’s carbon footprint whilst delivering quality, clean food to residents.

The project is a collaboration between the Birmingham City Council and Slow Food UK, while the garden is being designed by Urban Design Hub LTD.

Is it just a farm?

Nope – in fact there’s loads going on! There will be a community space and garden for locals to hang out in, and even an educational hub and café.

If you want to support community food projects in Birmingham in the meantime, you can do so through Incredible Surplus.

This article aligns with the UN SDGs Good Health and Wellbeing and Climate Action.


This ocean event raised $20 billion in commitments

As pollution worsens and we continue on the climate path we’re on, people are taking steps to protect the ocean like at the 8th annual ocean conference, organized by nonprofit Oceana, in Panama.

At the event, international delegates pledged billions to protect the world’s oceans. Between the 341 commitments, the conference raised $20 billion, including funding for expanding and improving marine protected areas and biodiversity corridors.

Previous Our Ocean conferences have brought together more than 1,800 commitments worth approximately $108 billion.

The president of Panama, Laurentino Cortizo Cohen, led the event and spoke about the importance of bringing people together to discuss climate issues.

“As Panamanians we inhabit a narrow strip surrounded by blue,” Cohen said in a statement. “To protect it, we should all think of the ocean as a source of life and recognize it as a great ally in our fight against the climate and biodiversity crises.”

Panama itself has been putting in considerable work to protect its oceans, attempting to eliminate all sorts of plastic use in the country to cut down on pollution in the waters. 

“With the protection of more than half of its seas, including extensive ocean reserves on both sides of the isthmus, Panama is not only ensuring the conservation of its marine biodiversity and the livelihoods of the people who depend on these ecosystems in the long-term, but is also positioned to lead a much more ambitious regional effort,” said Héctor Guzmán, a marine biologist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and co-founder of the marine conservation network MigraMar.

While all the commitments are great its just another step toward bettering our relationship with the ocean.

“There have been some fantastic commitments here, but we still need those actions to take place,” Tony Long, chief executive officer of the platform Global Fishing Watch said.

“The more we see the community come together to drive those actions forward, the quicker the health of our ocean will be maintained.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Life Below Water.


Plant your pants for soil health (yes, really)

A charity is calling on people to start planting their undies.

Weird! Tell me more

Called ‘Plant Your Pants’, the campaign is organised by The Country Trust, a charity that is trying to encourage people to explore the world beneath their feet. 

So, today is all about ‘planting’ your cotton underwear and then leaving it hidden for two months, before digging it up. The Country Trust has an interactive UK soil health map that anyone can contribute to, so we can all see how healthy the soil is in our vicinity.

But how does planting your pants indicate soil health?

Healthy soil is alive with living organisms and will help break down, or degrade cotton faster than soil with low levels of microbial life. 

Soil health is essential to all of us – from the air we breathe to the food we eat and the carbon that is stored. 95% of the food we eat is produced in soil, but often we don’t think about the earth we walk on when talking about planet health.

It is hoped that this campaign will give valuable insight into the health of our soil, as well as encouraging people to reconnect with the world beneath them!

If you’re interested in getting involved, you can see information about the Plant Your Pants campaign on The Country Trust website. 

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.


‘You are not alone in this’ – Meet 21-year-old climate campaigner, Noga Levy Rapoport

It’s 2019, and Noga Levy-Rapoport is 17 years old and angry.

Spurred on by their passion for the environment, and anger that the adults in charge weren’t doing anything about the climate crisis, Noga went to London to join climate marches. 

“This was not just a way of making immediate, long-term changes in drawing awareness to the climate crisis,” explains Noga, “but also in making it clear that young people were not going anywhere, and that there was an immediate, and urgent need to have our voices heard.”

From here, Noga has gone on to be one of the most prominent young climate activists in the UK, even having their own TED talk on the climate crisis, and how important young people are in the fight to protect our earth.

A passion for a cause

Over the last four years, Noga has become more determined than ever to influence decision-makers into enacting change. It isn’t an easy fight but, for Noga, that makes it even more worth it – the knowledge that they are fighting for something important.

“There was risk and, at times, there was burnout,” admits Noga, now in their third and final year of university. “But nothing was able to get me through those times like spending time with those who I worked with, with the friendships and the connections … because there is a deep understanding that the work you do can be exhausting.

“But if you stop it completely, you will be so much more drained, feeling so much more helpless.”

It’s true that fighting for a cause can be draining at times – but that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope. In fact, for Noga, there is plenty of hope to be found in what they do, even when it is hard. Surrounding themself with people who have the same priorities and same beliefs brings Noga hope because it reminds them that they aren’t alone in what they are doing.

“Any form of eco-anxiety or eco-paralysis, in my experience, has almost always come from feeling like you can only do small things and you can only do them alone,” explains Noga. “Being … in a space where you can remind yourself that you are part of something much greater by default offers you a much greater hope. You can continue to feel that passion, simply by moving away from paralysis.”

Fear about the environment can be paralysing – and no one knows that more than Noga and others in the climate action movement. Whether you’re campaigning every week, or just making small changes in your own life, it can feel as though the burden of the whole climate movement is on you.

“Whilst no one should feel that they have to carry the entire world on their shoulders, I think it’s important to stay as involved as you can and as balanced as you can,” explains Noga. “Take time for yourself, but remember that the movement needs you and you need the movement too. Without it, it can be a very depressing place to be in your life, it can be very hard to see a way forward if you’re not engaged in those in those political environmental campaigning spaces.”

A necessary voice for our future

Aged just 21, Noga is still young – something many people might try to use against them. But for Noga, they know that being young doesn’t have anything to do with how capable you are of change, or how necessary your voice is in discussing the future.

“Over the past few years, I was able to really embrace the power of young people,” explains Noga. “I was able to discuss with other young people the power that we had, that we could hold on to very strongly … understanding that our naivety is not something to be afraid of and that the restrictions that we’ve grown up with … can always show us that we can survive every single crisis, and we have the opportunity to build a better world and the world that we want.”

For those struggling with their feelings of anxiety about climate action – Noga has some advice for them too. 

“Firstly, get together. You’re not alone in this and there are so many people who are like-minded who feel the same as you,” advises Noga. “It’s very hard sometimes to be involved in nationwide or international campaigning when you feel strapped in every possible way. But getting together with the people around you is the first step to deciding what to do.”

If you want to support climate action, consider donating to or volunteering with The Climate Coalition.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.