How Campuses are Eliminating Herbicide Use & the Top 5 Happy Eco News Stories for September 13, 2021

Thanks for reading the Happy Eco News Weekly Top 5 newsletter.

As the content manager, it’s my job to sift through the news articles to find the ones that highlight positive environmental action. Some days are harder than most (especially lately) and I find myself scrolling through hundreds of articles before something positive catches my eye. With everything going on in the world I understand that sometimes it is hard to stay positive. Trust me, I have found myself questioning an environmental career on several occasions because it can feel hopeless. But hang in there, because there are good people doing good things across the globe, we just have to dig a little to find them. On those hopeless days I remind myself that every single effort counts and eventually we will make a difference. Remember, we’re all in this environmental journey together!

Jamie D’Souza, Content Manager

This week we have a blog post by Christie Jones and Rose Williamson, students involved with Herbicide Free Campus. They tell us about the national campaign and how successful universities have been to eliminate the use of harmful chemicals on campus. We also have stories about how Mexico City has outlawed single use plastic, a non-profit organization that is planting a million trees in abandoned coal mines, a new sewage plant that has been inspired by cows, scientists that are turning plastic waste into food, and what communities around the world are doing with plastic waste.

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Student Activists are Re-Wilding their Campus Landscapes

Guest Post by: Christie Jones and Rose Williamson students involved with Herbicide Free Campus

You’ve probably heard of DDT, a synthetic chemical popularized in the 1940s for killing unwanted insects. Most high school American History courses touch on marine biologist Rachel Carson and her groundbreaking 1962 book titled Silent Spring, which documented the adverse effects of widespread pesticide application—especially DDT. Carson’s work revealed the true and detrimental impacts of pesticides on humans and the environment, lighting a fire amongst the American people. By 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established to research and regulate chemicals that may harm our ecosystems.

For many of us, though, that is where the ‘pesticide conversation’ ends. With the continued regulatory control of the EPA, it is easy to assume that harmful chemicals like DDT are a thing of the past. We expect that everyone—from the government to chemical companies themselves—learned an unforgettable lesson from the dangerous effects of widespread, unregulated pesticide application in the 20th century…[read more].

Sponsored: “That was a little bit of a wake-up”: Baltic countries have more litter than you may expect

Clean Games Baltic Cup unites them in a volunteer cleanup competition from 18th to 26th of September.

For three years now Baltic countries have gotten together to participate in the Clean Games Baltic Cup which has been held annually on the World Cleanup Day. The difference from an ordinary cleanup is that participants from different Baltic cities compete in waste collecting and sorting and earn game points for the amount of garbage collected.

This year competitions are going to be held in 10 countries. Poland, Latvia, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Sweden, Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia are going to compete. The Clean Games Baltic Cup tournaments in Russia are going to be held during the Nordic Weeks festival in Saint-Petersburg. The tournament is implemented in partnership with environmental organizations Clean Baltic Coalition and Latvian Green Movement.

“This tournament became a tradition for us. This will be our third Baltic Clean Cup.” – says the Clean Games chairman Dmitry Ioffe. “We are very glad to see that people from so many places want to participate and even bring their friends and families as their teammates. It is thrilling to see that people actually care about the issue”…[read more].

The Happy Eco News Weekly Top 5

  1. One of the World’s Biggest Cities Outlawed Single-Use Plastic

Mexico City’s 22 million people discovered change is not that simple. In Depth Elizabeth Villagómez Cruz rarely runs afoul of the “Five Rs” of zero-waste living—refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot—no matter what it takes. One day while traveling, she was craving esquites , a common snack sold by street vendors throughout Mexico, made of corn kernels in a cup with salsa and mayonnaise. She refused a Styrofoam cup from the vendor and was without a reusable container after her dogs chewed up the one she normally carries in her car. But the vendor came up with a creative solution. “The gentleman, in order to make the sale, went and asked another vendor who sold tamales for a plantain leaf … and gave me my esquites in a plantain leaf,” says Villagómez, who founded Zero Market México, a chain of stores in Mexico City that cater to the zero-waste lifestyle. She says this episode is the perfect illustration of uniquely Mexican, ingenious solutions to reducing waste. “I believe those who want to help the environment can come up with a creative solution in a country like ours,” Villagómez says. The greater Mexico City metropolitan area is home to nearly 22… [read more].

  1. The organization planting millions of trees in old coal mines

A non-profit organization has been restoring thousands of acres of once-surface-mined land to accommodate trees. A nonprofit called Green Forests Work plants trees on land once used for coal mining. It wants to restore ecosystems and eradicate non-native species, while also generating local jobs. The organization has planted more than 3 million trees in the Appalachia region of the eastern United States. Reforestation is vital to mitigating the impact of climate change and improving biodiversity across the world. What happens to coal mines when they’re no longer in use? In Appalachia, United States, one nonprofit has a solution – restoring thousands of acres of once-surface-mined land to their erstwhile natural glory. Kentucky-based Green Forests Work is boosting both the local environment and economy in the region by planting trees on this kind of land. Through this work, it wants to eradicate non-native species, mitigate the impact of climate change and restore ecosystems – while also generating jobs for tree planters, equipment operators and nursery workers. Since 2009, Green Forests Work says it has planted more than 3 million trees across nearly 5,000 acres in the Appalachia region, located in the eastern US, and beyond. Surface mining is a method… [read more].

  1. The zero-power sewage plant inspired by cows

Untreated sewage leads to poor sanitation and disease around the world. Its effects are felt strongly in India, and Bangalore resident Tharun Kumar turned to cows for a solution. With help from the Biomimicry Institute, he has designed and built 50 sustainable sewage plants that work in a similar way to a cow’s stomach. The system has no moving parts, so doesn’t require any power or people to operate it. Voice: Patrick Aryee Digital producer: Jennifer Green Animator: Jules Bartl With thanks to Tharun Kumar, ECOSTP and Dr Dai Grove-White, University of Liverpool For more on this story, listen to 30 Animals That Made Us Smarter… [read more].

  1. New Tech Turns Plastic Waste Into Food

Heaps and heaps of plastic garbage are choking the planet. But thankfully, a scientist duo has an interesting new plan to tackle it: turning plastic garbage into fine cuisine, instead of throwing it into a dump or the ocean. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign bioengineer Ting Lu and Michigan Technological University biologist Stephen Techtmann won an award called the 2021 Future Insight Prize earlier this month for technology that they say can convert plastic waste into edible protein. As Zenger News notes, the tech could provide an answer to the seemingly endless churn of plastic production that, outside of the pandemic, hasn’t slowed down in decades. Junk Food The tech itself relies on what Lu calls microbial synthetic biology, which essentially relies on gene-hacked microbes to break down the molecules of plastic garbage and turn them into protein. That may not sound like the most appetizing meal, but the end result is the same kinds of edible protein that you’re already eating, regardless of where it came from. At that point, it’s just a matter of what you do with it. The team also has their eyes set on adjustments to their … [read more].

  1. What to Do With Piles of Plastic Waste?

The long-term solution to the plastics problem is stopping the flow at its source. But even if we were to magically achieve that today, the world would still be awash in nearly a century’s worth of plastic waste that has been accumulating in landfills and landscapes across the globe. On Jan. 1, 2021, an agreement among 187 countries took effect to limit international trade in plastic scrap for “recycling” to prevent it from ending up in the environment. (The United States did not sign on.) Still, our plastic waste isn’t going away on its own. Cleaning it up is an urgent part of the solution. Communities around the world are turning plastic waste into the raw materials to build local infrastructure, create employment, and change the systems that have trapped them under the weight of the world’s plastic waste for far too long. —Breanna Draxler Photo by Madalitso Wills Kateta. Women Turn Waste Problem Into Jobs By Madalitso Wills Kateta Every morning, well before sunrise, Rose Muhondo leaves her house at Kawale Township in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe for her daily garbage collection excursion. By the time the sun crests the horizon, Muhondo has already sorted two heaps … [read more].

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