Dogs sniff out endangered animals

Two very special dogs are helping save endangered Pangolins.

Tell me more.

Pangolins are small, adorable, animals, that are covered in scales. You probably know them as the animals that curl up in a ball when they feel scared or threatened.

They are incredibly rare animals that have been hunted for generations. Many people believe their scales have medicinal properties, but excessive hunting has left them endangered.

How are dogs helping them?

Two lovely labradors Buster and Bess have just graduated from a training programme with the police. They will be flying out to Thailand in April, to help sniff out animals, just like the endangered pangolin.

Pangolins, and other endangered animals, are often smuggled out of their native countries – and Buster and Bess are just the crack team to stop them.

They even had special training at the London Zoo, and will now make their way to Thailand where they will patrol roads, airports and ports to prevent animal smugglers from taking these precious animals out of the country.

If you want to help endangered animals like Buster and Bess, you can do so by supporting the charity United for Wildlife.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Life on Land.


How Arizona is still finding ways to grow – despite water crisis

Arizona is one of the quickest-growing states in the country. Its capital, Phoenix, has blossomed into the fifth most populated city in the US and all that is despite being a massive dry and arid state with deserts everywhere and a concerning water supply. 

West of Phoenix is a small farming town called Buckeye that is being touted as one of the fastest growing towns in the country, starting with a population of 6,500 in 2000 to the north of 111,000 today.

All of this, despite the fact that Arizona is the driest its been in 1,200 years. Currently, amid a 23-year-long megadrought Arizona officials are getting creative with how to use the water, they do have while helping promote the state’s continuous growth. 

Arizona has some of the lowest priority rights to the river water of any of the seven basin states. So Phoenix and its suburbs are increasingly turning to groundwater as the state has endured big cuts to Colorado River water.

While the state released a report about the use of water and how they may be running a little lower than expected many town officials welcomed the news saying that a detailed report helps them plan the cities better and more efficiently.

“I don’t think we want to shut off all of the growth trying to figure out the solution for all the growth, “ Buckeye Mayor Eric Orbsorn says. “We can do this in an incremental approach.”

This is a part of a wider trend, specifically in states like Arizona and to the west, California where states are having to find creative ways to save water while still promoting positive growth in their communities. 

If this is something you’re passionate about consider donating to some organizations like to help bring potable water to developing countries.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure.


A look back: King Charles III his passion for the climate

King Charles III has made headlines by pledging to donate wind farm earnings back into the community as well as his charity work, of which there’s a lot.

But what a lot of people don’t know is that the environment has always been at the forefront of His Majesty’s mind – even when climate change was widely dismissed by all but the most dedicated scientists. 

So we thought we would take a look back at King Charles’ history with climate action, and the initiatives he has supported over the course of his life – because maybe, just maybe, his reign could mean great things for the UK’s climate footprint. 

Going back in time

King Charles first started talking publicly about the climate crisis when he was 21, as the new chairman of the Welsh Countryside Committee. This was back in 1970 and, as Charles put it, most people thought his ideas were ‘dotty’.

But in this particularly poignant quote, we can see just how forward-thinking he was. “When you think that each person produces roughly 2lb of rubbish per day and there are 55 million of us on this island using non-returnable bottles and indestructible plastic containers, it is not difficult to imagine the mountains of refuse that we shall have to deal with somehow,” he said at the time.

From there, Charles only became more vocal about his climate concerns. With the power he had, then as Prince of Wales, he made changes where he could in his own life, and in the lives of others. For example, he has made various Crown-owned properties powered by solar panels, uses electric cars on his estates, and even has a biomass boiler installed at Birkhall

Back in the 1980s, Charles became interested in organic gardening, leading him to launch his own organic brand, Duchy Originals, which sells more than 200 sustainably produced products – from food, to garden furniture. Even better, all the profits from Duchy Originals go towards supporting the Prince’s Charities – Charles’ collection of charities he sponsors.

Charles has won plenty of awards for his efforts in environmental activism – from the t10thnth annual Global Environmental Citizen Award from the Harvard Medical School’s Center for Health and the Global Environment in 2007, to the Teddy Roosevelt International Conservation Award by the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF) and so many more!

In 2007, Charles decided to launch the Prince’s May Day Network, designed to encourage businesses to be more environmentally conscious and take action on climate change. Over 3,500 businesses have signed up to the network since it launched in 2007, and make regular reports on best practices for reducing your carbon footprint and more. 

Plus, in 2008 Charles spoke to the EU, asking them to be leaders in the battle against climate change – something that was received incredibly well at the time. It was also around this time Charles stopped serving foie gras in any of his properties. Foie gras is a type of dish made by fattening the liver of a duck or a goose to around ten times its natural size, which has led to many concerns around the world about force-feeding and treating the animals poorly throughout their lifetime.

In the 2010s Charles spoke at COP21, and even collaborated with a sustainable UK-based fashion brand. Alongside British designers Vin and Omi, Charles donated the nettles from his Highgrove estate, which were used to create a sustainable clothing and jewellery line – which is pretty cool.

No slowing down

In the last few years Charles has showed no signs of slowing down, despite the tragedy of the pandemic, his father and mother passing away, and taking on new responsibilities as the King of England.

In 2020, he launched the Sustainable Markets Initiative to encourage sustainability. This, in turn, launched a five-year plan that revolved around creating sustainable economic growth to help the planet, as well as the UK’s economy in the wake of the pandemic. Plus, he set up RE:TV, a streaming platform dedicated to videos about the environment and sustainability, which eventually went on to partner with Amazon Prime. 

In 2021, Charles launched the Food for the Future initiative, in order to teach young children about sustainable food practices and how food waste is negatively impacting the environment. This is also something he has chosen to adopt himself, as he revealed that two days a week he eats no meat nor fish and one day a week he eats no dairy products.

Throughout his life, Charles has clearly been a huge advocate for climate action – as is obvious by his calls for change throughout his career, as well as the changes he has made in his personal life. 

Now, as we face his official coronation in 2023, this is hugely encouraging for climate activists and the general public alike, as we can see the environment is a big priority for him. We can’t wait to see what change he enacts going forward.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.


‘Clean air zone’ could prevent 500 deaths per year caused by pollution

Sheffield is the latest city to implement a ‘clean air’ zone.

It has announced that the most polluting commercial vehicles will have to pay a daily charge of £10 for older taxis and vans, or £50 for older buses, coaches and HGVs. Private cars will be exempt from this.

The charges will apply in the zone covering the city centre and inner ring road, and it is hoped that this will help tackle an estimated 500 deaths per year caused by pollution.

Sheffield is just the latest city to implement such a change, with Newcastle and Gateshead, as well as five other cities making similar changes. 

If you want to support cleaning up the air in your city, you can get involved with Action for Clean Air.

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


Beach town bans sale of balloons to reduce ocean trash

Marine trash is nothing new. There have been headlines for years about turtles eating plastic straws and the garbage patch in the middle of the Pacific. One California town, famous for its beaches, is trying to cut back on how much trash ends up in the ocean.

Laguna Beach, California, is known for its surf culture, massive waves, and beautiful beaches. It has announced a resolution to ban the sale and use of balloons citing wildfire risks and the buildup of marine trash.

What comes under the ban?

Beginning in 2024, balloons of all types will not be permitted to be used on public property or at city events, with violators facing fines of up to $500. Residential homes will be exempt.

This is a growing trend around the US with states like Maryland and Virginia banning planned balloon releases in 2021, Hawaii doing the same in 2022, and now other states like New York and Florida considering similar things.

Why balloons?

Balloons are particularly deadly for sea creatures because of the latex they’re made of which, according to a study, is 32 times more deadly to seabirds than normal hard plastic.

“This is because latex balloons are made from a soft, malleable material that can easily conform to a bird’s stomach cavity or digestive tract,” says Lara O’Brien, a geospatial analyst at Noaa’s Office for Coastal Management, “causing obstruction, starvation, and death.”

You may not be able to help as much as government mandates but every little bit of trash you clean off the beach is trash that doesn’t end up in the ocean. Consider a beach cleanup.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Life on Below Water.


How beavers could reduce flood risks

Beavers might be helping a Yorkshire town stay safe from flooding.

Tell me more.

Beavers, famous for their large front teeth and architectural abilities, have been introduced to a forest in Yorkshire. While beavers went extinct in the UK in the 1500s thanks to hunting, they are being reintroduced back into habitats across the country.

The town of Pickering, which is downstream from this forest, has been flooded four times in the last 25 years – which is pretty awful.

Scientists have introduced these beavers to the nearby forest in the hopes that they will use their natural engineering skills to keep man-made dams in good nick.

How will it work?

While the dams were made by humans, beavers are natural engineers that regularly build, repair and maintain their own dams to protect their homes.

It’s hoped that beavers introduced to the area will help keep these dams in good condition, and therefore protect the town of Pickering for longer.

If you’re interested in supporting these little engineers in their quest to protect Pickering, you can donate to or volunteer with the Beaver Trust.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Life on Land.


Inside an ‘Incredible Edible’ community garden

By Tom Barwell-Best

Just up from Penryn High Street in Cornwall – tucked off the main road – you’ll find St Gluvial Hall: a hub of community, creativity and sustainability.

In its garden, on Sunday mornings, volunteers get stuck into planting, weeding, and composting. The produce is free for people to take, trusting that the community wouldn’t take more than they need.

This is an Incredible Edible group – part of a nationwide network across the UK, which aims to create kinder, more confident and connected communities through the power of food.

John, garden manager and member of Incredible Edible in Cornwall, explains: “The produce of the garden can be for the community, and that doesn’t have to be the same individuals who do the work – the people that do the work do it to enjoy each others company and the joy of being outside.”

Around 10 years ago, the St Gluvial Church, who owns the hall in Cornwall, came to the conclusion that it no longer had the funds to keep it open, and were considering selling it off.

John says the community put their heads together to brainstorm ways they could make it more sustainable, reducing the financial costs. “One of those was to transform the outdoor space,” he says.

The Penryn community made use of the Incredible Edible model – which originally started in Todmodern, West Yorkshire – in an effort to save the hall.

Put simply, the model is to utilise disused land to grow your own food – and for the community aspect of growing together. It was a success for the Penryn community – and now, the optimum time for volunteers is in spring and summer, when most come down from university.

The community has done music events on the premises to raise money for Incredible Edible and the hall itself; the success leaving them with a residue of funds for buying compost and other gardening materials.

Another arm of creating a self-sustaining venue is The Olive Branch Cafe, who also make use of the fresh produce. Open to everyone, people can purchase affordable food and drink inside the community hall where the money raised goes towards the funding pot. 

In addition to these cost-saving and money raising initiatives, the hall is kitted out with solar panels with storage batteries, along with a rain collection system which provides all the water they need for gardening.

The group have plans to reinvent the “sensory garden”, as well as restore the accessible pathway that was installed by the council years ago, which has since deteriorated. There is plenty of work to be done, as well as the potential to collaborate for events – perhaps it’ll inspire you to do something similar in your community?

This article aligns with the UN SDG Life on Land.


Monarch butterflies are bringing hope for our planet

The monarch butterfly is one of the most well-known insects in the world. While it was struggling over the past decade or so due to habitat loss, the butterfly has bounced back and bounced back hard – growing on last year’s success.

The butterfly had a surprising rebound in 2021 thanks to conservation efforts but some thought it may have been a fluke thanks to other surrounding trends.

Was it a fluke?!

It wasn’t a fluke: 2022 saw a consecutive year of growing numbers of monarchs. 

Volunteers tallied 335,479 individual monarchs on their yearly migration; larger than 2021’s 250,000 and much, much larger than the depressing 2,000 in 2020. 

“We can all celebrate this tally,” says Emma Pelton, a conservation biologist at the Xerces Society which leads the western monarch count. “A second year in a row of relatively good numbers gives us hope.”

This is a trend in the right direction. To find out more about the society supporting these conservation efforts, visit Xerces Society’s website.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Life on Land.


Pets bring hope to children in Ukraine

A large national charity has launched a pet therapy programme in Ukraine.

Amazing! Tell me more.

Save the Children, a charity that helps protect children globally, has been training staff members to conduct pet therapy sessions with children in Ukraine.

It is hoped that these pet therapy sessions will provide emotional support throughout the war, and prevent long-term trauma.

Parker the Golden Retriever has been a big hit with the kids in Kyiv, as have Best the Border Collie and Bob the therapy rabbit!

What does pet therapy do?

Pet therapy has been shown to have a great effect on children and adults alike, helping to lift and improve their moods.

If you want to support the efforts of Parker, Best and Bob as they bring encouragement to children in Ukraine, you can donate or volunteer with Save the Children.

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


Co-op on a mission to reduce food waste

Co-Op is ditching best-before dates on fresh produce.

Sorry, what?

In a bid to limit food waste, UK-based supermarket Co-Op is removing best-before dates from their fresh produce like fruit and vegetables.

Climate activists have petitioned ditching best-before dates for a long time, citing studies that show people often mix up ‘best before’ dates and ‘use by’ dates, which causes food to be wasted unnecessarily.

What’s the difference?

‘Use by’ dates let people know whether the food is safe to be consumed after a certain date – while with ‘best before’ dates there is a little wiggle room. 

‘Best before’ dates are a guideline, and you should observe the food products for unusual appearances, tastes and smells to help you decide whether it needs to be discarded.

Co-Op is getting rid of the best before dates so that people can rely on their observational skills and make the decision as to whether they think food is safe to eat or not.

The supermarket’s new initiative is coming into stores immediately and will apply to a large number of produce items including apples, oranges and broccoli.

If you’re interested in preventing food waste, get involved with charities like The Felix Project.

​​This article aligns with the UN SDGs Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action.