The Happy Eco News Blog

By Grant Brown, October 25, 2020

In around two months, on January 1, 2021, Happy Eco News turns three years old. Last month, we posted our 5,000th post. Five thousandth post. It seems a bit surreal to be honest.

My family at the Panama kitchen in Canggu, Bali on Christmas day 2017. Image Grant Brown

Back in January 2018, I had no idea whether I’d even find enough positive stories for this to actually survive. At the time, I was working remotely from a coffee shop in a small surfing town called Canggu in Bali with my wife Christine and our two teenagers. We were about 1/3 of the way through a life-changing 10-month trip around the world. In Canggu, we were 5 cities in, on a trip that would end up consisting of 35 cities, in 20 countries on 4 continents.

Bali was stunning, as were all the other places up to that point – Barcelona, Spain, Bangkok, Thailand, Siem Reap, and Phnom Penh in Cambodia, and Canggu, Indonesia. All had their share of natural beauty, interesting architecture, and historic ruins.

A random ancient stone carving found in the forest near Ubud, Bali. Image Grant Brown.

All were beautiful, but all were also polluted.

The people we met were as beautiful as the natural places they are from, but the cities were polluted with plastic and waste and smoke and noise. Some were worse than others, but then we went to Bali. I had heard about ocean plastic polluting places like Bali before, but nothing prepares you for the sight of it in real life. Canggu beach has been long known as one of the most beautiful and best surfing spots on the planet. The place revered and respected by generations of surfers and locals alike was a garbage dump. From the water’s edge all the way up to the highest point on the beach, the sand was covered in plastic. It was the same as far as the eye could see. In the water was more plastic, like a toxic stew, the surf breaking it into ever smaller pieces before depositing it on the shore. Digging into the sand, you would find even more plastic. Film from bags, bottle caps, medical waste, personal hygiene items, flip flops, and of course, millions and millions of cigarette butts. Decades of plastic waste from local and distant shores concentrated on this beach, not a square foot of sand without some sort of single-use garbage.

Gorgeous vistas at every turn on Bali, Indonesia. Image Grant Brown

I spent the next few weeks exploring the island of Bali, absorbing what I was seeing; the beauty of the place and people, marred by the intrusion of pieces of plastic. Eventually, I came to a realization. I realized that that the mainstream news industry, especially the stuff on social media, was probably just as polluted as the beach. I knew that there were millions of people like me, billions most likely, who only want a few simple things. They want intact nature, clean water, clean food, and a better life for their children. Humanity and the hope they need was not represented in the news. Neither were the thousands, if not millions of people working in the world, trying to make it better.

I had to do something. I had to take action. I could not bear to post one more negative or alarmist story on social media or by email – what good would come from making people even more afraid than they already were? So, I started looking for the good stories, and on January 1, 2018, I published the very first article on Happy Eco News it was called 12 positive environmental stories from the past 12 months written by Margaret Sessa-Hawkins and Fiona Dobson for Bird Life International.

I began to find more stories about good people doing good things. The scientists and technologists trying to fix modern problems, the ancient ways of doing things that still work today, the wild places remaining, and the wild places restored. The food we eat and the alternatives to the waste we create. I began to share them and gradually I began to feel like maybe I was making a difference. What started as one or two articles per week grew to 5 or more per day, on a schedule, every day, week after week. Somehow, I have managed to find the Happy Eco News stories that are making the world better, and somehow, I feel like I managed to reach my people. The people like me, who care. Some have been helped by the Happy Eco News, some have helped it. Some I have met in person and some I have met by video calls, others I have only met through chat, or by email. Some are wealthy, others have struggles, and a daily reality that most people in my situation cannot even imagine. The one thing that every one of these people has in common, is that they all have brought hope and inspiration to help me keep going. The Happy Eco News brought us together, and the message of hope and optimism it represents brings us forward, together. I am proud of the small accomplishment that is called the Happy Eco News and I am grateful for this growing community of eco-nerds.

Maybe it’s a stretch, and I certainly don’t think that I am anywhere near the same category as British royalty, but something tells me that Prince William might be the type of eco-nerd that would read the Happy Eco News. The 5,000th post on Happy Eco News on October 8th, 2020 was about the Earthshot Prize – the £50,000,000 incentive for people to figure out some of the biggest environmental issues that humanity faces. The program provides for 5 individual £1,000,000 prizes each year for 10 years, one in each of the following categories:

  • Protect and restore nature.
  • Clean our air.
  • Revive our oceans.
  • Build a waste-free world.
  • Fix our climate.

The rationale is that with a financial incentive and competition for such a tangible and high-profile award, the best and brightest minds will bring forward innovations and new ideas that the world needs right now. With his foundation behind the award and his obvious high-level contact list, Prince William brings a list of notable scientists and celebrities to the table to not only promote the prize but in some cases help pick the winners.

This is what the world needs now, smart people doing smart things. The world needs to know about them and that is why we have the Happy Eco News.

Thank you for reading, sharing, and participating.

Grant Brown

Happy Eco News

4 COMMENTS

  1. I wanted to leave you a note of thanks.

    I discovered your site about a year ago and I now visit every morning to get my little fix of hope. There is no end of doom and gloom available out there, but I love coming here for a 180 degree turn in perspective to see instead positive news of what is being done and being planned for the future by like minded people and individuals not willing to let the scale of problems stop them from taking steps forward. Your site is a wonderful place to glimpse a brighter future with projects and changes already in motion. Seeing that success is the best possible advert for change.

    Thank you,
    Tom

    • Thank you for your message, Tom. I am very glad you enjoy the site. I hope with this we can inspire more people to make the changes needed, big and small.

  2. Thank you for this. Good news leads to hope. And hope leads too solutions. In a world drowning in bad news, good news is like an endangered species, and we need to save it. Thanks for your part. I share it with my family and friends in person, or by text. That’s perhaps a smaller than social media, but I stay away from that. In the end, perhaps it’s more powerful. It is for me.

    • Thanks for the message. I agree about social media. For me it is a double-edged sword; on one hand, it is manipulative and negative, on the other, it is a powerful way to get my message out to more people. Either way, thank you for sharing with your networks, big or small. It all helps.

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