Help keep your community tidy this spring

It’s March and the time for spring cleaning is here! But it’s not just tackling your house – our outside world needs a tidy, too.

Keep Britain Tidy is a charity dedicated to – you guessed it – keeping Britain tidy. It helps communities keep their world clean and free from litter, making it safer for people, the planet, and even the local wildlife.

One of their biggest initiatives includes the Great British Spring Clean, which takes place annually between 17th March and 2nd April.

How to get involved

Keep Britain Tidy is encouraging people to pledge their time to picking up litter in communities all around the UK. By pledging a number of bags of litter, you’re committing to creating a cleaner, more environmentally friendly country, as well as a community that you can be proud to belong to.

Plus, research is beginning to demonstrate that litter picking has great benefits for our mental health – it keeps you active, grounded in the present, and gets you out into the fresh air.

Celebrities like Steve Backshaw are among those who have pledged to pick up litter, joining more than 8.5 million adults in the UK that have done litter picking in the past 6 months. 

If you want to get involved with the Great British Spring Clean – here’s what you can do!


First things first – decide who is going litter-picking. While you can absolutely treat this as a little ‘you time’ and go out on your own, it can also be quite nice to go out with other people. Whether that’s your family or partner, a group of friends, or a community of strangers, it doesn’t really matter. But figure this out first – because it helps you with the next step which is …


Now that you’ve got your litter-picking tribe sorted, get on the Keep Britain Tidy website and make a pledge. This is easy enough to do, just choose whether you’re pledging as an individual or a group, and enter how much time you’re hoping to spend litter picking – and how much you hope to pick up.

No need to get hung up over the exact details – the website has a helpful guide on what exactly constitutes a ‘bag’ – and if you exceed your expectations then that’s all the better.


No litter-picking venture is complete without the correct equipment – it’s all about health and safety, folks. So don your gloves and some sturdy (and easy to clean!) boots, and get out there. You’ll also want some bags to fill, along with one of those long-arm grabbers to pick things up – so you don’t have to get quite so up close and personal.

If you don’t have some of these things, which is quite likely, you can purchase them from the Keep Britain Tidy store, or take a look at their helpful spreadsheet to see if your local council has the means to loan you some equipment. 


Now that you have everything you need, it’s time to get picking! Whether you’re doing it on your daily dog walks, or organising a veritable litter picking march doesn’t matter – you’re still making a huge difference to your local community, your mental health, and your planet.

Don’t forget to take pictures of some of your findings while you’re out and about, and let Keep Britain Tidy know about them by tagging them online.

If you aren’t able to get involved by picking litter, feel free to donate to Keep Britain Tidy to help others instead.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.


The US has found a way to cut down on a potent greenhouse gas

The US and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are celebrating a recent climate success, in detecting and working to address one of the most potent greenhouse gases in the world, sulfur hexafluoride, or SF6.

SF6 is believed to be the most potent greenhouse gas in the world, trapping about 25,000 times more heat than CO2 does over a century-long timescale, and the US has been working with businesses to cut its release.

NOAA reported that its emissions have declined by 60 percent in the United States between 2007 and 2016, in large part because of a mandatory EPA reporting requirement that began in 2011 and voluntary reductions in different industries.

“This is a great example of the future of greenhouse gas emissions tracking, where inventory compliers and atmospheric scientists work together to better understand emissions and shed light on ways to further reduce them,” said Steve Montzka, a senior staff scientist at NOAA’s Global Monitoring Laboratory.

SF6 is emitted from electrical insulation and high-voltage equipment that transmits and distributes electricity, and with growing energy demand there’s fear that the chemical could run rampant, so finding ways to track and reduce them are essential. 

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.


Primark wants to ensure clothes can be worn for longer

Primark has launched a new scheme to improve their impact on the planet.

Tell me more.

Primark has launched its Primark Cares initiative, a series of new commitments made by the company to help establish a new industry standard of clothing durability.

Primark is collaborating with WRAP, a waste prevention charity, as well as the University of Leeds and Hubbub in order to develop research into the relationship between clothing price and durability.

Amazing – anything else?

They are also helping to scale up free clothing repair workshops throughout Europe, as well as an online hub full of tutorials to help people fix their clothes at home.

It’s hoped that all of this will contribute to less clothing waste, which has a negative impact on the environment, as well as better quality clothing for those who need it.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.


Okra could filter microplastics from water

Southerners in the United States are overtly aware of the mainstay, okra – a vegetable popular in a host of southern-inspired dishes like gumbo, some stews, or just fried on its own.

But it may soon have a use outside the kitchen. 

Researchers at Tarleton State University in Fort Worth, Texas may have found a way to solve the growing microplastic problem by filtering water through okra. 

In a study, the researchers found that planet extracts from the okra have the power to remove microplastics from wastewater. 

The long-term health effects of microplastics are unclear, but studies suggest that people unintentionally consume tens of thousands of particles every year.

“We think that microplastics by themselves may not be much of a health hazard, but anything they get into or any type of toxic substance that gets attached to them could go inside our bodies and cause problems,” said Associate Professor Srinivasan, the principal investigator for the project.

The typical way to remove microplastics from water is by skimming the top of the water or by adding flocculants, sticky chemicals that attract microplastics, to the water and waiting for them to form large clumps that sink to the bottom and can then be removed.

Those flocculants can be toxic and don’t serve to fully remove microplastics efficiently, so researchers were looking for a cleaner alternative and came across okra. 

“The whole treatment method with the nontoxic materials uses the same infrastructure,” Srinivasan said. “We don’t have to build something new to incorporate these materials for water treatment purposes.”

The study found that components from okra and fenugreek were best for removing microplastics from ocean water, while a combo of okra and tamarind worked best for freshwater. The best part is that if successful, these plant-based flocculants can be easily implemented in existing water treatment facilities.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Good Health and Wellbeing.


‘I want to do something good for somebody else’ – Giving life to old items

We all know the feeling: it’s time for a spring clean, and you clear out a load of junk that used to be in your wardrobe. Except now it’s in the middle of the living room.

You have no time to take it to the charity shop, but you don’t want it to end up in a tip either – so what are you supposed to do?

Well, A Good Thing is making that process a little bit easier for businesses, through their dating app-style website. Businesses can advertise anything they no longer need, and charities will pick it up – meaning they’re reducing waste and helping charities access the things they need for free.

“We also get the most random and wonderful things,” says Cathy Benwell, who co-founded A Good Thing with her husband, Richard. “When people ask us ‘what can we donate’ our answer is – you can donate absolutely anything. I mean, literally anything, as long as it’s a physical thing – and people have really stretched that!”

The brainchild of Cathy and Richard, the idea for A Good Thing has been bouncing around in their heads for the last 15 years. Passionate about the environment, as well as giving back to charities, Cathy and Richard knew there was a way for them to do good twice over.

“I think businesses tend to look at those things and think they just don’t have any value,” says Cathy. “And there’s a real education piece there for us with businesses of saying: ‘really you’d be amazed!’”

Businesses can make an account by entering their business name and the postcode of where the items are. After that, every charity in a six-mile radius will be notified of the items that are up for grabs and can submit a request, along with a few lines about the work they do, so the businesses know where their things are going.

Among the items that have been donated through A Good Thing are hundreds of bamboo poles from an art installation – those went to a charity that was building a community garden – and half-empty paint cans from a decorating company that enabled a charity to brighten up their community space for free.

“This lovely lady came to us and she’d been hand-making these organic cotton baby blankets. She’d become very poorly… and she made the decision to close her online business, which was a really tough decision, but she [had] these hundreds of blankets left,” explains Cathy.

The person in question put her blankets up on A Good Thing and was inundated with requests. “They went immediately to a lovely charity called the Baby Bank, which works with vulnerable new parents in Windsor, and were able to share them amongst the families that they were working with.”

Each business is able to choose which charity they want their items to go to, and from there they can arrange a time for the charity to come to pick up whatever it is they are giving away.

The details of the business are kept anonymous until there’s a ‘match’ so that if they miss out there are no hard feelings involved – and to encourage people to keep trying!

“This sounds very cheesy, but the people that I’ve had contact with through doing this are just lovely,” says Cathy. “It just feels like almost everybody that you come across has got the same goal in mind which is either ‘I want to do something good for somebody else’, or ‘I want to do something good for the environment’.”

From puppets the size of a house to used cutlery, A Good Thing will take any old thing and help turn it into a force for good – whether you might see the potential in it, or not.

If you are a business or charity that is interested, you can sign up for A Good Thing on their website – so you can send less to a landfill, and more to a good cause.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Good Health and Wellbeing.


Musicians donate to the Earth

Musicians are supporting conservation efforts in one very special way.

Tell me more.

Artists are beginning to credit the Earth as a co-writer on their songs – so that a portion of the profits goes towards conservation.

Among the artists are people like Brian Eno and Anna Calvi, as well as multiple Grammy winner Jacob Collie.

Where does the money go?

The money donated goes to a non-profit called EarthPercent, set up by Brian Eno, dedicated to generating money from the music industry and using it to fund conservation projects to protect the Earth.

Plenty of other musicians, from Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij to Aurora, are on board with the initiative and are following suit with their future music.

The foundation aims to earn $100m by 2030 for climate justice. If you’re interested in getting involved, you can do so by going to the EarthPercent website.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.


What Is Food Waste Action Week?

We visited The Felix Project with Kitche to learn more…

4.5 million tonnes of edible food is thrown away each year by UK households.

Shockingly, 25% of this wasted food is due to cooking, preparing or serving too much – this costs UK households £3.5 billion each year. 

That is why Love Food Hate Waste is dedicating a whole week of action to shining a light on how simple behaviours to reduce food waste can save time and money. 

This will ultimately reduce the impact of food waste on climate change.

The Felix Project collects fresh, nutritious food that cannot be sold.

They deliver this surplus food to charities and schools so they can provide healthy meals and help the most vulnerable in our society.

Kitche is a free mobile app designed to save you money and reduce your food waste at home.

Easily import your food to keep track of what you have at home to find 1000s of recipes, based on products you have.

Get helpful tips to reduce food waste and be rewarded for positive impact!

WATCH : The Food Waste Action Week Challenge W/Kitche&Felix


David Attenborough ‘optimistic’ about our planet’s future

Sir David Attenborough has said he’s is still optimistic about the future of our planet.

That’s a relief.

It is – but it doesn’t mean we should stop doing our bit to help the planet.

In his new BBC documentary series Wild Isles, David said that, though it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the problems the planet faces, we have the solutions and can make a difference.

So, what’s the new campaign?

David is an ambassador for WWF – a conservation charity which has recently launched a joint campaign with RSPB and the National Trust.

The Save Our Wild Isles campaign is calling for an immediate halt to the destruction of UK nature and urgent action for its recovery.

To get involved with the campaign, you can take a look at the Save Our Wild Isles website. They have plenty of ways you can help out – at home, at work, at school and in your communities.

Alternatively, you can give directly to, or volunteer with, the charities involved in the campaign by visiting the WWF, RSPB or National Trust websites.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.


The US reveals plans to help restore bison

Bison are one of the most iconic animals in the United States, but during colonial expansion, they were nearly wiped out.

Between 30-50 million buffalos roamed the Great Plains at the beginning of the 19th century. By 1902, fewer than 100 wild buffalos roamed there.

Soon after, the American Bison Society was founded with a focus on bison restoration. Since then, the population has grown steadily to around 30,000 – with many more in captivity. 

Now, the US is looking into other ways to restore large bison herds to Native American lands. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced $25 million in federal spending for bison conservation. The goal is to tap into Indigenous knowledge in its efforts to conserve the massive animal.

While the bison has bounced back from near extinction, it still hasn’t returned to a lot of grasslands with deep native connections. Secretary Haaland, of Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, is the first Native American to serve as a U.S. Cabinet secretary and has been focusing on native concerns, one of those concerns being the reintroduction of the American bison, also known as a buffalo.

“This holistic effort will ensure that this powerful sacred animal is reconnected to its natural habitat and the original stewards who know best how to care for it,” Haaland said. 

“When we think about Indigenous communities, we must acknowledge that they have spent generations over many centuries observing the seasons, tracking wildlife migration patterns and fully comprehending our role in the delicate balance of this earth.”

Across the U.S., 82 tribes now have more than 20,000 bison in 65 herds. Obviously vastly smaller than they used to have but still growing after the bison’s near extinction. 

About half of the $25 million announced Friday will go to the National Park Service. The remainder will be split among the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Life on Land.


3 remarkable women in climate innovation

In the spirit of International Women’s Day, we’re highlighting three incredible women who have recently won Ashden Awards for their contributions to climate action.

For over 20 years, the Ashden Awards, run by the environmental charity Ashden, have been uncovering and spotlighting the world’s next climate champions. Through grant prizes of up to £25,000, the awards accelerate climate innovation – helping businesses, charities, governments and others power up their impact.

Sounds great – so who are the winners?

From Borneo, Indonesia, Nur Febriani, has spearheaded innovative community solutions that protect both forest and human health. She is the director of Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI), an NGO, to help take a ‘radical listening’ approach when working with communities in the Borneo rainforest to provide new livelihoods and community support while dramatically reducing rainforest destruction.

From Stockport, UK, Aileen McDonnell is the Founder and CEO of B4Box housing retrofit and construction. Aileen is committed to transforming the UK construction industry to adopt high energy efficiency standards while also supporting local people to gain the skills they need.

She also has a strong focus on employing women in construction, and paying apprentices a fair wage.

From Togo, Astria Fataki, is the founder of Energy Innovation. She is providing young people with a route to work by enabling their visions for clean energy enterprises and is hugely passionate about helping young people tackle the problems facing their generations.

Inspired by an access to energy scheme she witnessed when visiting India, Astria’s goal is to give people the tools and support they need to succeed in sustainable energy.

You can find out more about climate champions around the world on the Ashden Award website. If you’re interested in helping combat the climate crisis, you can do so by getting involved with charities like The Climate Coalition.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Gender Equality, Climate Action.