Wednesday 9 October 2019

Lovelier Planet News!

Good news stories (to keep us all going)
News articles on how we are damaging the planet can be soul destroying and occasionally we do need a pick me up to keep us all positive.

The advances below are just a tiny tip of the iceberg it does at least give us all hope. So here’s my round-up of feel good stories to keep us all going!

Nespresso Helping to Plant Trees!

To protect our planet and coffee production which are both at threat, Nespresso has been planting millions of trees. The National Geographic Magazine state ‘Between 2014 and 2018 alone, 3.5 million trees were planted in three countries (Colombia, Guatemala and Ethiopia). Over the next 30 years, those trees are expected to remove (sequester) an estimated 398,000 tC02e (metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent) from the atmosphere.’

By 2020, Nespresso plans to add five million new trees to its coffee-producing regions in Colombia, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Mexico, and Nicaragua. This helps the company to become carbon neutral, aids the planet in terms of oxygen production and carbon absorption, and also supports the coffee farmers build long term futures.

Kerbside Meadows Begin to Take Shape 

The National Guidelines for Managing Roadside Verges, commissioned by the charity group Plantlife, recommends only 2 cuts per year instead of the usual 4. This not only saves councils money but also wildflowers can begin to take shape. These wildlife corridors will encourage nature & wildlife to spread to parts that are currently being fragmented by roads. 

The Guardian reports that 97% of wildflower meadows in Britain have been destroyed in less than a century and that roadside grassland is a crucial wildlife habitat for more than 700 species of wildflowers.

Not only do flowers give life to insects but also can be cheerful for the public to see. According to the BBC ‘ An eight-mile "river of flowers" alongside a major route in Rotherham was widely praised on social media recently and roadside meadows have also popped up in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Birmingham, Newcastle and Sheffield.’

A small path can be mown through the meadow to allow for public access where required. 

Great Garbage Patch Cleanup Under Way

An ocean clean up device designed in the Netherlands was built to catch floating plastic debris in a huge area (3 times the size of France) called the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch'. The project hit problems and was delayed for years. Finally though the first successful catchment has taken place. 

The Ocean Clean up site states that, ‘Over 5 trillion pieces of plastic currently litter the ocean. A full-scale deployment of our systems is estimated to clean up 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch every five years'. 

The device is made up of a 600m length of floating buoys with an anchor that acts like a parachute to slow the device down, so that passing plastics pushed along by wind and waves can become trapped and later collected by shipping vessels. A 3m skirt allows for marine life to pass through safely underneath. 

Floating plastics is not our only problem, plastics also sink to the sea floor and can be washed up onto beaches. Beach cleans are becoming more popular as a way to help clean up the environment. 

According to Eunomia though ‘94% of the plastic that enters the ocean ends up on the sea floor. There is now on average an estimated 70kg of plastic in each square kilometre of sea bed.’ So we must do more to prevent the plastic reaching the sea in the first place.

A Fungus Eating Plastic?

According to Sky Ocean Clean Up, a fungus discovered in Pakistan has been found to biodegrade a type of plastic called polyester polyurethane (PU) into smaller pieces. The fungus secretes enzymes and essentially dissolves the plastic. It has been suggested that it can help too with toxic cleanups, ocean spills etc. so could be a powerful tool. 

For more info plus see a great video of the 'Ocean Garbage Patch' clean up vessel check out:

UK Company Burns Waste to Generate Electricity

Our local council say they send non recycled waste to an Energy Recovery Facility where it is then burned to generate electricity. Keen to learn more I found a video by Viridor (see below) that explains the process. 

It is reassuring to know that rubbish can be used to generate power, thereby reducing reliance on fossil fuels for our power needs.

More Plastics to be Recycled

I was also interested to find the company Viridor, in unison with Pennon have invested a large amount of money to increase its plastics processing plants, by recycling plastics and using the electricity created by landfill type waste (per video above) to power it. 

The company claims this also reduces the need to send plastics abroad. “There is a clear ambition from both UK consumers and politicians to improve recycling rates and reduce the amount of waste which is sent to export. Our research shows that 80% of people believe the UK should find a way to deal with its own recycling without having to ship it to other countries." Bravo!

Final Piece of Good News

In September Lovelier Planet donated £10 to the New Mills project to increase trees in an area of Derbyshire. 

For more tree saving ideas check out our recent blog post: 

Ah, now that's lovelier. How about a cup of plastic free tea to celebrate. Chin, chin!

Tree with sunrise background

Other links of interest: Save Our Sea Meadows / Compostable Coffee Pods