Street artists fighting for the environment

Street artists are becoming more and more internationally and officially recognised for their environmental work. In 2018, Hawaiian-born artist Sean Yoro, who goes by the artist name Hula, made the Forbes “30 under 30” list for his murals, mostly of female faces being submerged in water. His works raise the question of rising sea levels due to climate change.

Street art has typically focused on megacities and urban festivals. But a generation of digitally ultra-connected artists has been encouraged to engage with grassroots campaigners and spread their brushes and spray cans elsewhere – to forests and seas – and to creatively question our relationships to the natural world.

Street artists have recently been criticised for “selling out” to big companies for taking on commissioned work, without showing any critical awareness of the social impact of these big companies. Yet these examples of climate activist street art shows artists can actually bring an alternative and responsible message to the public through their work.

Original article by Stephanie Giamporcaro and George Kuk – Source The Conversation


Mini-grids, maximum impact

Electricity access is essential for people’s lives and livelihoods: from using fridges to store food and medicine; charging mobile phones to stay connected; lighting up households and schools at night; to powering local businesses.

Yet 590 million people in Africa currently live without access to electricity, the majority in rural areas. These areas risk being left even further behind.

Those who have access often rely on polluting, unreliable and costly diesel-powered generators. Solar-powered mini-grids could be the answer to rural access and dirty energy. Well-suited to small, remote communities, renewable energy mini-grids can now be the cheaper, greener option for rural electrification.

But it’s not that simple. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach that will work in every African country, let alone every small community.

The good news is that governments, donors and the private sector have set up peer-to-peer learning networks such as the Africa Mini-Grids Community of Practice to try and tackle this issue.

Original article by Charlie Zajicek – Source Odi

Planet Wellbeing

Plastic boat raises pollution awareness

The dhows, with their swollen triangular veils, are an icon on the Kenyan coast, having crossed these waters of the Indian Ocean for about 2,000 years.

With its characteristic triangular sail, this boat, having embarked on an expedition along the East African coast, has almost everything from traditional dhow.

Ali Skanda is builder of the ‘Flipflopi:’ “We had this dream of doing plastic dhow, as we are doing so much in the world, and we feel it’s our responsibility to make this solution, because we are polluting our environment, many creatures are suffering from this jungle of plastic.”

The Flipflopi was built thanks to plastic waste collected especially on Kenyan beaches.

Source africanews


Paws on Plastic

Marion Montgomery launched Paws on Plastic in an effort to tackle the increasing amount of plastic pollution that blights coastal towns.

Her campaign encourages dog walkers to pick up at least two items of rubbish every time they take their dog out for a walk, using a spare poo bag or carrier bag.

The Gourdon Primary School teacher came up with the idea after numerous walks with her dog Murphy, who died in 2015.

He would often come across waste items and bring them to her, leaving Ms Montgomery with the choice of leaving the rubbish behind or disposing of it proper


Happy when it rains

During the 12th century, people came to Cambodia’s Kulen mountain, a sacred place associated with fertility, to cut huge chunks of stone that would have to be hauled down by elephants.

In recent decades, despite Kulen becoming a protected area, people have come not just to pick the sweet lychee fruits from which the mountain derives its name, but to cut trees to sell for luxury hardwood or charcoal in towns further down.

The illegal logging of Kulen national park has laid bare vast patches of forest. As the tree cover has shrunk, the people living on top of the mountain have watched the rain clouds that used to gather above the forest shrink or slip away altogether.


Co-op to replace carrier bags with compostables

The Co-op is to be the first major supermarket in the UK to replace single-use plastic carrier bags with lightweight compostable alternatives that shoppers can reuse as biodegradable bags for food waste.

The bags – a stronger version of the biodegradable bags the convenience chain has been trialling since 2014 – will be rolled out within weeks to almost 1,400 stores across England, Scotland and Wales, and then to all 2,600 shops.

Culture Planet

Learning how to co-exist with animals again

Growing up as a Maasai herder on the Lemek group ranch, Dickson Kaelo frequently encountered big cats. But when we meet a cheetah on a drive into the Maasai Mara’s Kicheche Bush Camp, he reacts as if seeing the slender creature for the very first time.

His surprise is justified.

When he helped found the Olare Orok (now Olare Motorogi) Conservancy in 2006, this land on the fringes of the National Reserve was over-grazed and devoid of native species. Now it’s one of Africa’s top safari destinations, with professional photographers and returning tourists applauding the wildlife sightings.



UK renewable energy capacity surpasses fossil fuels

The capacity of renewable energy has overtaken that of fossil fuels in the UK for the first time, in a milestone that experts said would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

In the past five years, the amount of renewable capacity has tripled while fossil fuels’ has fallen by one-third, as power stations reached the end of their life or became uneconomic.


Plastic-busting fungi

According to the first-ever State of the World’s Fungi report, Scientists at London’s Kew Botanical Gardens reported that these organisms have the potential to break down waste plastic – an important advance in a world where momentum is building to reverse the toxic tide of plastic that is killing marine life and polluting the ocean.

Every year, at least eight million metric tonnes of plastic end up in the sea, sometimes decomposing into tiny microplastics that make their way into our food chain.

Senior Kew Gardens Scientist Ilia Leitch, said that other fungi and microorganisms are also being explored for their potential to degenerate different types of plastic, explaining that “by understanding how the fungi break down these bonds and what the optimal conditions are, you can then increase the speed at which they do it.”

In the meantime, the Kew Gardens report showcases the kind of pioneering thought that will be at the heart of the fourth UN Environment Assembly next March, on “innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable consumption and production.”

Planet Wellbeing

5 firms tackling the biggest global issues

Faster trains. Cleaner air. Fresher food. Engineering firms are tackling some of the world’s biggest problems.