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Planet

‘Ring of blossom’ comes to Birmingham

A wonderful new floral project has launched, planting blossoming fruit trees all around Birmingham.

Tell me more.

The National Trust, a conservation charity, has donated 600 fruit trees to Birmingham, the first of which were planted this week along the number 11 bus route.

Why is this happening now?

Once upon a time, Birmingham was known as ‘the town ringed by blossom’ – this project hopes to make that moniker true once again.

According to the National Trust, Birmingham has lost 85% of its orchards since the 1900s, and it is hoped that this new push will promote biodiversity, food production and public health.

Plus, it will make Birmingham all the more beautiful when those blossoms begin to bloom.

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

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Planet

Rewilding was a huge success in 2022

Rewilding Britain has unveiled its biggest nature success stories of 2022 – and there are some great ones.

Tell me more.

We’ve written about this one before – it’s the bison! Reintroduced to the UK after becoming extinct in the country thousands of years ago, these beautiful beasts will be working wonders for our environment.

Plus, since we covered the original story they have had two new additions – a bull, and a surprise calf.

That’s so cute.

Plus, Rewilding Britain has had huge success with their fundraisers – helping to fund 24 rewilding projects, from seagrass to beavers and more.

So rewilding is becoming more popular, then?

That’s right – a new study shows that four in five Brits now support rewilding as a way to combat climate change and help heal our environment. That’s 81% of Brits.

You can see more of Rewilding Britain’s success stories of 2022 on their website.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.

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Culture Planet

Washington Schools get creative in teaching climate change

Climate change education comes in all shapes and forms, whether it be on a TikTok doom scroll or in a college classroom.

But now, places like Camas High School, in a semi-rural region of Washington State, have been working on making climate education more interactive and interesting hopefully inspiring kids along the way.

The creative education manifested as a role play where students became farming activists attending a G7 summit while their teacher Ali Coker wove in facts about food insecurity.

The end goal of the project was to educate the students on food justice and the impacts of climate change on agriculture in the state of Washington.

The project was part of a teaching development program called ClimeTime which helps Washington teachers add climate change and environmental justice literature into their lesson plans. 

With an annual investment of over $7 million, Washington became the first state in the US to explicitly put money toward K-12 climate change education, and that investment has largely been a great success.

Of the nearly 1,000 educators who participated in programming during the 2021-22 school year, 98 percent agreed or strongly agreed that it prepared them with the necessary skills to try something new or different in their professional practice.

The program links Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and climate science and brings it to the classroom.

“A lot of the information that’s available now didn’t exist five years ago, 10 years ago,” says Ellen Ebert, Washington’s director of secondary content. “So how is the teacher supposed to keep up with all of the information? When we present it this way, they develop their own toolboxes — and then that’s what they bring back to their colleagues in their schools.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Life on Land among others.

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Planet

How to recycle your used make-up for benefits

Harrods is making a move towards a greener future by launching a recycling programme for their makeup line.

Sounds interesting! Tell me more.

The scheme will be piloted for 3 months, beginning on Saturday 14th January. For now, the pilot scheme is only being conducted at one in-person store – H Beauty in Milton Keynes.

So, how does it work?

MYGroup, the company Harrods is partnering with for this scheme, have placed recycling bins by the counters where customers can deposit their used cosmetics with the help of H Beauty staff.

By recycling their used cosmetics, customers can get a whole host of rewards from benefits to experiences – both online and in-store.

What can we recycle?

Customers are being encouraged to return used beauty, fragrance and skincare products to the store for recycling. They are even able to return products that are usually considered hazardous or unsuitable for recycling like nail polish and perfume bottles.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.

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Planet

Wheat DNA could breed ‘climate proof’ crops

DNA from an exotic type of wheat could be crucial in making crops ‘climate proof’.

Tell us more.

Years of selective breeding have made wheat vulnerable to climate change – but a new research project is has changed that.

Research from the Earlham Institute in Norwich, in collaboration with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), has taken a closer look at wheat by comparing 149 different varieties of wheat.

What did they find?

The wheat compared varied from widely-used lines to those selectively bred to include DNA from wild relatives.

The seeds were sown later in the season, to force them to grow in hotter conditions.

The study found that the plants bred with exotic DNA had a 50 per cent higher yield over wheat without this DNA – meaning they were able to harvest more. 

What is even more important, is that these over-achieving crops didn’t perform any worse under normal conditions.

What does this mean?

Basically, it means that wheat bred to include this wild DNA will be able to cope better with the planet’s rising temperatures, making it much more capable of thriving in our unpredictable climate.

That’s a big win for our Weetabix – and the planet.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.

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Planet

An ‘anti-plastic’ website has launched

An anti-plastic platform has been launched by 40 of the world’s most prominent designers, scientists and business leaders in hopes of discouraging plastic use.

Tell me more.

PlasticFree.com is a website designed to empower creatives across the world into rethinking their use of plastic and single-use systems.

Run by A Plastic Planet, a global solutions group, they hope that they will eradicate “one trillion pieces” of plastic from the global marketplace by 2025.

Wow – that’s a big goal.

It is, but PlasticFree.com is full of solutions! From success stories to inspiration for alternative materials, the website is even advertising events related to reducing plastic in the environment.

There is plenty of resources and inspiration for you to look at – as well as the potential to connect innovative new designers from around the world. 

It’s so encouraging to see more people moving towards planet-friendly plastic alternatives.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.

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Planet

How one man is saving China’s stray dogs

“Doing nothing at all would feel so much worse,” says Sam Evans. “I couldn’t just completely ignore the fact, or pretend that the situation didn’t exist. I’m not someone that can choose what I see, and what I don’t see if I know that the situation exists.”

Sam is a 38-year-old English teacher from Burrow-on-Furness in Cumbria. Today, he works as a teacher and lives in China where he has opened his arms, and sometimes his home, to stray animals. 

Stray cats and dogs are a common sight in China, which has a prolific, but not particularly humane, animal trading business. Cats and dogs are sold in markets, bred on farms in poor conditions, and often escape or are abandoned on the streets.

As of 2019, it was estimated that China had 40 million stray dogs, which is around 20% of the world’s total. 

For Sam, who moved to Suzhou, China from a small port town in England, it wasn’t the language or the food or the culture that was the biggest adjustment, but the ambivalence of the locals towards stray animals.

Within a week of moving to his new home in Suzhou, China, Sam found a kitten who had become trapped behind one of the University buildings. When he realised that people were ignoring the kitten’s cries and walking by, he took it upon himself to rescue the creature – and so it all began.

It wasn’t long after that, that one of his American colleagues, who also has a soft heart when it comes to stray animals, told him about a puppy that she had rescued who was in need of a home – and Sam was unable to say no.

“So then I [had the dog] and I took the kitten home as well after she was all sorted out and healthy,” explains Sam. “I thought, ‘I’ve made a real difference’. And then there’s literally, like, thousands of animals that were in the same situation just in this one city.”

Though Sam wishes he could help all the animals individually, and bring them home, it simply isn’t feasible.

“That was within the first week,” says Sam, of the kitten and puppy that began his rescuing adventure. “And if I carried on at that rate, you know, I’d be living in a zoo now.”

Sam now tries to help the animals he rescues get adopted out into loving homes, like the kitten he found who now has a new family. Sam has taken home three dogs himself; Larry, the original puppy found by his colleague, Jackie and Charlie, who has sadly passed away.

“Every week or so there’s going to be some other animal that you’ve come across, and you realise you just can’t rescue all of them,” explains Sam. “So you kind of get used to making judgments like, alright, this animal is more needy than this one. All right, this animal really seems in pain, I definitely need to help it out.”

Sam now strives to take care of the animals who need it most – those who are injured or sick, or young females who should be spayed, he will take to see the vet. Though he runs fundraisers to help cover the costs of saving these animals, much comes out of his own pocket.

“I don’t feel resentful of people who are honest with themselves, and try to understand what the situation is,” says Sam. “But then decide that they’re not in a position to be able to help because they don’t have the time or they don’t have the money, or [it’s] too heavy emotionally.

“You kind of understand why people just can’t do anything. Because if you’re the one person who does something who takes an action, who picks the dog up, then you become responsible, financially responsible.”

Sam isn’t the only one working tirelessly to protect these animals and curb their numbers, there are others who help out including his neighbour who feeds 30 stray cats morning and night. Sam has also connected with a shelter nearby and he and some other volunteers take regular coach trips out to find and help strays.

“In terms of the overall numbers, it’s like a drop in the ocean,” admits Sam. “But for the lives of those individual animals … it makes all the difference for those one or two or three animals that I can help. So yeah, it’s exhausting. And it’s expensive. But it would be a lot worse to do nothing.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Life on Land.

Categories
Planet Wellbeing

Longtime oil field to be turned into public park

Newport Beach is a small coastal city in southern California with a population just short of 85,000. It’s known for its sizeable boat-filled harbor and two piers the Newport Beach Pier and Balboa Pier. The town is also home to a former oil field along its coastal bluffs. 

That oil field has just recently been purchased by a non-profit called Trust for Public Land to clean up the area and turn it into a state park. 

The region, called Banning Ranch, is considered one of the last open swathes of coastal real estate in southern California and was eyed by developers for years. But conservationists and Indigenous leaders fought to keep the region free from development.

The land has been an active oil field since the 1940s but oil operations have officially stopped with the recent purchase and conservationists will get to work cleaning up the land.

“It’s surreal after years of trials and tribulations that today a nearly 400-acre property is now in public hands,” Guillermo Rodriguez, the Trust for Public Land’s state director said. “This is a tremendous opportunity to increase habitat restoration and wildlife restoration in an urban setting.”

The Trust for Public Land ended up accumulating $97 million in public and private money to purchase the land with a $50-million donation from longtime Orange County residents Frank and Joan Randall.

“For more than two decades the property has been in total and utter disrepair,” said Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Irvine), who helped secure state funding for the purchase. “And I think we’re on the precipice of turning it into a jewel not just for Orange County, but for all of Southern California.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Life on Land among others.

Categories
Planet

Ozone layer on track to be healed

A new report has found that the Earth’s ozone layer is on track to be healed within just a few decades.

That’s great news!

It really is! Thanks to actions by governments around the world, the protective layer around the earth is set to be healed everywhere (aside from the polar regions) by 2040.

As for the rest of the ozone layer, it looks like it will be healed by 2045 over the Arctic and 2066 over the Antarctic, according to this new research.

How has this happened?

The damage being done to the ozone layer became a public concern in the 1980s, and since then governments and organisations have made an effort to change things.

In 1989 the Montreal Protocol was launched, a global agreement to cut out chemicals that are extremely harmful to the ozone layer.

Since then the ozone layer has been steadily healing, making this a huge win for climate action – and showing just how much of a difference humanity can have if we work together!

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.

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Planet

Farts could help with climate change. Hear us out

A British company has come up with a way to make farming more sustainable – what a poo-tiful thing!

Wait, what?

Bennamann, a clean energy company based in Britain, has created a tractor that can be powered … by poop.

Farming, particularly that which involves cows, can have a huge impact on the environment.

Cows produce methane, a greenhouse gas, though, well, farting, and traditional tractors produce carbon – yet another harmful gas. Sounds like our planet needs a little … re-hoof-ination!

How does this tractor work again? Poop?

Bennamann has come up with an innovative way to use up all that harmful methane gas, by liquifying it and using it to power tractors.

Not only does this cut out the harmful carbon, it also comes up with a great way to use the methane that has already been produced.

Maybe this idea came out of the poo, but it sure is a good one!

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.