20 Year Old Cleans up Park (for 600 days straight) – Top 5 Happy Eco News – 2021-05-03
Thanks for reading the Happy Eco News Weekly Top 5 newsletter. This week we have an interview with Edgar McGregor, a 20-year-old climate activist who has been cleaning up a park in California for over 600 days. We also have stories about a liquid that can store solar energy, the trend toward solar energy in the USA, the rise of Trumpeter swans in North America, drones picking up garbage in waterways, and Frances ban wild animals in circuses.
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Edgar McGregor is a 20-year-old climate activist who has spent well over 600 days cleaning up trash from the Eaton Canyon park, north of Los Angeles on the edge of Angeles National Forest.
You’re best known for your clean up in the Eaton Canyon park at the edge of Angeles National Forest, what inspired this initiative?
In May 2019, I was climate striking at my local city alongside thousands of youth climate strikers around the world. While I was out there, I was doing it for a couple of hours a day, and I felt like I could be doing more to help the environment. Every Saturday in Spring 2019, I’d go out to my local park and I’d bring a five-gallon bucket with me and I’d go pick up trash. I was doing that for about a month or two until I started to realize that if I actually wanted to clean up my park, I had to go out there, every single day.
And starting on May 29, 2019 I started going out to my park every single day. I went, whether I had just gotten off of a 12-hour shift if it was pouring with rain or 110 degrees. It didn’t matter. I was out there for at least 30 minutes a day, cleaning up.
Why do you think there is so much trash in this particular park?
We have 11 storm drains that dump storm water from the communities that are higher elevation into the park. So, whenever it rains, my park gets completely trashed. There are also issues of hikers, picnickers, etc., but this is the main source of trash, unfortunately.
Was it just you alone? Has this clean up expanded to a team of people?
Most of the time it was just me. Sometimes a family member would tag along. A few fellow climate activists have joined me on occasion. A celebrity actually caught wind about what I was doing about nine months ago – Bradley Whitford, an actor on the West Wing and now the Handmaid’s tale. He joined me on a hike one time with his wife, and it was amazing.
But I prefer to do these clean ups alone. I like to wander around the park, and half the time when I’m on my way to the park, I don’t even know where I’m going to clean up. I decide when I get there. I like the flexibility… [read more].
In an effort to reduce the footprint made by plastic bottles in retail stores (and ultimately, in waterways and landfills), top alkaline brand TEN Alkaline Spring Water has now made their product available via 8-pack aluminum cans in stores around the US. TEN is the first in their category to sell their 10ph premium alkaline water in a can and leads the way in sustainability for the alkaline water industry. The benefits of drinking alkaline water are many, but the amount of plastic used to package food and beverage products around the globe is at a critical tipping point.
Consumer awareness of plastic pollution is at an all-time high and increasingly, the perceived sustainability of a brand is driving their purchasing decisions. With plastic pollution making headlines on a weekly basis, there is only increasing scrutiny of the problem further driving demand for alternatives… [read more].
The Happy Eco News Weekly Top 5
Solar power is considered one of the most promising alternatives to fossil fuel. However, in order to embrace this sustainable energy entirely, there are still challenges we need to overcome — one of which is the long-term storage of solar energy. Storage is vital to ensuring we have access to power even when the sun isn’t shining. A series of research papers offer hope though, as they outline a novel approach to storing the sun’s energy. Liquid acts like an efficient battery In 2018, scientists in Sweden developed “solar thermal fuel,” a specialized fluid that can reportedly store energy captured from the sun for up to 18 years. “A solar thermal fuel is like a rechargeable battery, but instead of electricity, you put sunlight in and get heat out, triggered on demand,” Jeffrey Grossman, an engineer who works with these materials at MIT explained to NBC News. The fluid has been in development for more than a year by scientists from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. The solar thermal collector named MOST (Molecular Solar Thermal Energy Storage System) works in a circular manner. A pump cycles the solar thermal fuel through transparent tubes. When sunlight… [read more].
Solar power costs have been coming down for decades. That long and significant trend has already led to solar power becoming the cheapest option for new electricity in the world — in the history of the world. However, that doesn’t mean it’s the cheapest in every location and every situation, and it doesn’t mean that a new solar power plant is going to be cheaper than getting electricity from an existing fossil fuel power plant. So, there is more work to be done! For starters, though, let’s take a look at this beautiful graphic below showing the average costs of solar modules in the U.S. from 2006 through 2019 (graph on right) and U.S. solar module shipments from 2006 through 2019 (chart on left): Impressive, no? Yet there’s still room to improve, and the US Department of Energy (DOE) would like to do so. Shooting for the Sun (or 2¢/kWh) The DOE aims to cut utility-scale solar power plant costs by 60% by 2030, according to a new cost-reduction target announced by the agency earlier today (March 26, 2021). In order to help the price-reduction trend move along, the DOE is committing another $126 million into wide-ranging pathways… [read more].
Trumpeter swans are one of two types of swans found in Alberta, along with the tundra swan. Trumpeter swans can be identified by their straight beaks and jet black colouring, while tundra swans have yellow colouring at their bill base. (Submitted by Raymond Turner) Known for their shyness, it’s not easy to get a good glimpse of the largest migratory bird in North America. But that means that when it happens, it’s all the more impactful. Naturalist Brian Keating said over the last couple of years, he has seen trumpeter swans in the city of Calgary flying up and down the Bow River. When it happens, he said it fills his heart with joy. “They’re a profound, beautiful, iconic waterbird that we equate with beauty. I mean, you look at these swans, they’re so graceful, they’re so big, they’re so white, they’re incredible,” Keating said. “They’re shy, too. So they’re not easy to approach. And I think that just makes them that much more alluring.” It takes a lot of work to get a good sighting of these birds — or a long, powerful telescope. A trumpeter swan goes feet first into a body of water. Naturalist Brian Keating… [read more].
In a river in the Danish city of Århus, a small machine called the WasteShark now autonomously sails through the water collecting trash, bringing it to shore, and then recharging itself. Soon, a drone will begin flying through the air to help: Using a special lens that collects data to be crunched by a machine learning algorithm, that drone can identify pieces of plastic or other garbage and direct the sailing drone to pick them up. The system can also identify oil spills, which the WasteShark can help clean up with a special filter. [Photo: Pete Kauhanen/SFEI] “We’re testing a technology that can be scaled in a lot of different ways,” says Martin Skjold Grøntved, a special consultant for the Danish Climate Ministry. While the small trash-eating drone isn’t new, the addition of the flying drone makes it possible to find more garbage more quickly. The sailing drone also hasn’t been used to clean up oil spills in the past, because without the drone overhead scanning the water, it wouldn’t be able to identify the oil. [Photo: Pete Kauhanen/SFEI] The tech startup Kinetica worked with the agency to provide a data platform, running on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, that makes… [read more].
Traveling circuses have wowed viewers around the world for over 100 years. Acrobats, trained elephants, and clown cars are standard fare under the “Big Top.” However, animal rights activists have long critiqued acts which use wild animals. This month, France’s environmental minister announced a ban preventing wild animals from performing in traveling shows. The nation joins over 20 other European countries with similar prohibitions in an effort to bring the treatment of wild animals in line with modern best practices. The French ban began as a grassroots movement, with over 400 local officials enacting similar rules within their jurisdictions. Minister Barbara Pompili—who announced the new rules—cited ethical concerns for the “welfare of captive wildlife.” Tigers, elephants, lions, and bears usually roam great distances in their wild habitats. Circus animals spend long hours in small cages and are sometimes forced to perform when sick. At a press conference, the minister declared, “It is time that our ancestral fascination with these wild beings no longer translates into situations where their captivity is favored over their welfare.” The new rules will also apply to French marine parks, called dolphinariums. Breeding of dolphins and captive killer… [read more].
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