When it comes to looking after our environment, we’re confidently calling 2018 the year of education. And 2019? The year of action.
There are major positive changes happening right now that ensure our planet has a sustainable future. So take a seat, lap them up...and take motivation from the awesomeness YOU are helping create!
1. School Climate Change Strikes
On the 15th of March, approximately 1.5 million people joined The School Strike for Climate. Participants in 2083 places, 125 countries, and on all continents, didn't go to school. Instead, they raised awareness around climate change and demanded systemic change from their governments. 350.org labelled it the biggest day of global climate action ever.
Image: A youth climate strike in Australia on 30th November 2018.
Who started these school strikes? 16 year old Swedish student; Greta Thunberg. On the 20th of August 2018, Greta gave up going to school until the Swedish government promised to reduce carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. The world heard her, and joined in.
Greta is a real life example of how one person can actually change the world. We’re sure she didn’t set out to become a global environmental leader, but through her passion and persistence, she is.
TIP: Start getting vocal about what you are passionate about. You never know who you will impact and how far your passion will spread.
2. Big Brands Doing Refills
Zero waste shopping went mainstream this January. Sound too good to be true? It's real!
Multinational Companies such as Pepsi, Nestle, Tide, Haagen Dazs, Coca-cola, and Unilever, committed to a trial zero waste system in New York and Paris involving refillable and returnable containers.
Under the Loop scheme, consumers are now able to order food and other products (such as shampoos, soaps, and washing powder) to their door in refillable and reusable containers. Once the products are used up, consumers arrange for the empty containers to be collected from their home, and taken away for cleaning and refilling. Refilled containers are given to the consumers, and the cycle continues.
Image: Haagen Dazs refillable ice cream.
Instead of bulk bin shopping, this refillable scheme makes zero waste shopping simple and easy. Consumers order online and have food bought right to their doorstep. We aren't promoting these brands (as they have A LOT of work to do) but it's a great step in the right direction. Shop at a standard supermarket and you will most likely buy an item that is under their umbrella. The scheme opens up zero waste possibilities to the mainstream market and it's a great example of solutions at scale - as well as showing us all that brands really listen to what consumers want!
TIP: This is currently a trial and it will take a while for this to roll out everywhere SO...try bulk bin shopping at your local bulk bin store. Use our detailed bulk food shopping guide to help make your trip easy peasy.
3. Nationwide push from consumers for companies to change
We used to get glared at when we asked for "no straw please" (sometimes we still do), or receive confused email replies when shopping online and enquiring about their eco packaging policies. Lately, instead of eye rolls, we’ve been met with acceptance and understanding. Have you noticed it too?
Consumers have been demanding sustainable change, and companies have been feeling the pressure. It’s finally working.
TIP: Email your favourite brands and enquire about their sustainability policies. Ask them how they offset their carbon footprint, what they do with their waste, and how they practice sustainability. Lead the change in your own workplace; check out our helpful tips for workplace change here.
4. Legislation Changes
Monday the 31st of December was officially the end of an era, as all major supermarkets nationwide, stopped offering single use plastic bags at checkout. Thicker plastic bags from high streets and shopping malls will slowly be phased out too, micro beads were banned on the 7th of June 2018, and plastic cotton tips are scarcely found in stores.
On Wednesday the 27th of March, the European Parliament has voted to ban single-use plastics! This includes cutlery, cotton buds, straw, stirrers, polystyrene cups (also those made from oxo-degradable plastic). Plastics containing wet wipes, tampons, tobacco filters, and cups have to be labelled. ALSO lost fishing nets at sea will be charged to the companies who manufacture them, not the crews that use them! These single-use plastics items have readily available reusable alternatives. This ban will start in 2021.
Political change is arguably the best change. If something is actually illegal, rather than simply frowned upon, a company will most likely stop doing it.
TIP: Sign petitions and support political parties who align with your values and environmental goals. Make sure you always use your vote, and educate yourself properly before you do.
5. Empowering conversations at The World Economic Forum
The World Economic Forum was held in January this year; a gathering of world leaders to discuss global change. At this recent event, British naturalist, David Attenborough, presented a moving speech, explaining “The Garden of Eden is no more”. He empowered individuals to support companies in their sustainable practices, and his speech flooded the internet, spreading even more awareness.
Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, also acknowledged the severity of climate change when she said: "What greater threat to our wellbeing is there than the current threat of climate change." Ardern spoke to the leaders present, and leaders watching from afar: "Do you want to be a leader that looks back in time and say that you were on the wrong side of the argument when the world was crying out for a solution? It's as simple as that."
Leaders and elite figures worldwide are slowly, but surely, using their voice and positions of power to educate the people, and achieve systemic change.
TIP: Keep up to date with the news, and share stories of positivity and change. If you are in a position of power: use it for good.
If these five massive eco changes don’t get you excited about the future of our planet, then maybe this will help...
9 Endangered species who will make a comeback in 2019:
Burmese star tortoises
Greater Adjutant Stork in Cambodia
Jaguars in South America
Tanzania's Kihansi Spray Toad
Maleos in Sulawesi
Scarlet Macaws in Guatemala
Tigers in Western Thailand