We’re sure that you, like us and many other people, are entirely burned out by bad news. Whether it’s bad news about politics, the economy, or the environment, we’ve got a real selection to choose from.
So, for Earth Day this year, we’ve decided to focus on the positives. There are many awful things going on in the world right now, but there are also some great things. In this article, we’re going to take you on a journey through the past year to discover all of the environmental victories the world has to celebrate.
What is Earth Day?
But before we jump into that, what actually is Earth Day? Earth Day is a day that raises awareness for environmental issues around the world. The first Earth Day was celebrated in Wisconsin in 1970 and was organised by the local senator. Since then, it has been celebrated yearly in over 140 around the world.
Victories in 2021
Now we have all of the formalities out of the way, let’s dive in! We wanted to include some wins from last year too so we can cover all of the good news since last Earth Day, so here’s what happened in 2021!
The Gambian Government stops expansion of fishmeal and fish oil plant
In April 2021, the government issued a stop notice to the Fishmeal and Fish oil plant in Gunjur. Fishmeal is a product made from whole wild-caught fish and is used to feed animals. It is a very resource intensive product, requiring 5 tonnes of fresh fish to create 1 tonne of dry fishmeal. Other than resources, it also uses a lot of energy and water, and there is often a lot of waste with very little product yield. While the process of extracting fish oil is generally harmless to the environment, the industry plays a big part in the loss of species due to overfishing.
So, stopping this plant from expanding will allow the ocean to flourish with its biodiversity, and give the local fisherman an opportunity to thrive with their business.
Keystone XL oil pipeline cancelled in Canada
TC Energy cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline in June 2021. This came after people demanded that we find more sustainable alternatives to fuel and was a huge victory for the planet. In fact, in Northern America, there have been 21 fossil fuel projects that have been cancelled or rejected, saving 400 coal fired power plants’ worth of pollution.
Dutch court orders Shell to cut emissions
For the first time ever, a major fossil fuel company, Shell, was ruled by the Dutch court to be liable for damaging the climate. The verdict meant that Shell has to now reduce CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030 to continue as a fuel provider.
China will not build any new coal-fired plants overseas
In September 2021, the president of China pledged to never build any new coal plants out of the country. China has long been the world’s biggest public financier of overseas coal plants.
With the production of these plants stopped overseas, this will drastically reduce global pollution and thus will be integral to our fight against Climate Change.
Credit: The Times
Victories in 2022
Even though the year hasn’t long begun, we’ve still had plenty of wins this year!
Night solar panels are proving to be promising
The issue with solar power has always surrounded the fact that the sun is needed to generate power. Well, that’s no longer the case! In 2020, scientists at the University of California Davis discovered night solar panels. These panels allow us to harvest energy from the night sky. Now, we’ve taken it a step further and we’ve managed to charge a mobile phone with the energy collected by these panels.
Skyscraper in Sweden acting as a carbon sink
In Sweden, a wooden skyscraper has incorporated trees into the building. It is made from over 12’000 cubic metres of wood and has the potential of capturing up to 9 million kilograms of carbon dioxide in its lifetime - that’s equivalent to 10’000 forests!
UK Students have designed a floating house to save people from floods
Students in the UK came up with the concept of a house that can float. The house can be used as storage for food and water, and provide shelter for at least six weeks.
The house’s design is simple, so can be easily replicated, and the idea is going to be trialled around the world in places like Vietnam.
All is not lost with the bleached coral reefs
Although the effects of coral bleaching are awful and irreversible, there is still hope. The reefs that have been damaged due to rising sea levels and temperatures seem to still be rich in nutrients. We do need to continue to look after our reefs though, but this shows that not all hope is lost.
UN agree on plastic pollution treaty
Dubbed ‘the most significant environmental deal since Paris’, the UN has managed to create the first global plastic pollution treaty. Most of the details are still confidential for legal reasons, but the treaty is due to be finalised by 2024 and is expected to have a huge impact on businesses and economies.
Wins for Gone West
Here at Gone West, we’ve had an incredible year full of environmental victories.
Free Trees for Portugal
Returning to Portugal for our third iteration of Free Trees for Portugal, we managed to plant around 110’000 trees at no cost to the local economy. This initiative created jobs for the locals, educated them about how to look after the trees and the land, and reforested thousands of acres of land devastated by the wildfires.
We always make sure to plant native trees and to always plant a variety of species. This helps keep the soil rich with nutrients, promotes biodiversity, and makes it more difficult for wildfires to spread.
As well as reforesting places like Portugal that have been affected by wildfires, we have also begun reforesting Iceland. Iceland has had very few trees for a long time after being deforested by the vikings. We have managed to plant 915, 106 trees in our last season, and two of our planters, Nicholas and Joshua, each managed to plant 7,865 trees in one day, breaking the Icelandic planting record.
The good news doesn’t stop there though! After our overwhelming success in Iceland, we have managed to secure a contract to plant trees in Iceland for the next 5 years in a bid to reforest the country!
Other good news
Other than planting trees in Iceland and Portugal, we have been planting all over the world too! We’ve planted over half a million trees in the UK & Ireland and we support hundreds of projects around the globe. We have also been lucky enough to have continued support from One Tree Planted, and with their help, we’re able to plant even more trees!
As well as this, we have started a brand new Gone West podcast. Not only does this project feature discussions with key members of the conservation and environmental sectors, it also plants a tree for every subscriber.
We have many other exciting partnerships and projects coming up, so be sure to follow us on social media to see how you can get involved!
Happy Earth Day! That’s all for now. I hope you have enjoyed reading our blog. Join the sustainable revolution to help save our natural world and our future by following us on Instagram and by subscribing to our monthly newsletter for updates.