It’s that time of year, we‘re all in need of some good news…. the clocks have gone back and as a result its bought with it dark evenings and brisk weather. Getting out and about has now become that little bit harder.
We could also sit here and talk about the endless Brexit merry-go-round that the UK government is continuing to ride or Trumps latest revelation, announcing officially that America will leave the Paris Climate Agreement…but none of this news is good for any of us.
So without further ado, let’s get into the good stuff and take a look at our favourite good news stories from the month of October.
YouTube stars boost tree-planting campaign to over $8m
A global tree-planting campaign led by YouTube stars has seen more than $8m (£6.2m) raised in just five days. Beauty YouTuber Jeffree Star and US entrepreneur Elon Musk are among those to have donated.
The “Team Trees” project is aiming to plant 20 million trees around the globe by 2020, with each $1 donation “planting” one tree. The donations go to the Arbor Day Foundation, a US organisation dedicated to planting trees.
How it came about –
In May, a YouTuber called Jimmy Donaldson, known online as “Mr Beast,” asked what he should do to celebrate his 20 millionth subscriber. One of his fans responded urging him to plant 20 million trees to represent each of his subscribers.
Since then, the YouTuber has collaborated with other content creators and the Arbor Day Foundation to create the #TeamTrees campaign. The idea is simple – for each $1 donation, the Arbor Day Foundation will plant one tree.
The trees will reportedly be planted on every continent except Antarctica, and the kind of tree planted will be native to their surroundings.
Toronto garbage trucks will soon be powered by the food scraps they collect
All of the garbage trucks in Toronto will soon be powered by the biogas produced from the very trash they collect. Toronto is set to be one of the first cities in North America to launch such an initiative, thanks to the their newly-constructed Dufferin Solid Waste Management Facility.
Starting in March 2020, the city’s fleet of garbage trucks will collect all of the organic waste and flood scraps from the Toronto Green Bins and bring them to the facility for processing. The facility will then use anaerobic digesters to capture all of the biogas produced by the waste and transform it into renewable natural gas (RNG).
Once the scraps are dropped off at the facility, the city’s 170 garbage trucks can then immediately fill up their fuel tanks with RNG before heading out to collect more trash.
According to city officials,
“RNG is also less expensive and more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels such as diesel. Once injected into the natural gas pipeline, it can be used to fuel vehicles or provide electricity or heat to homes and businesses. RNG generated from food waste is actually considered carbon-negative, because the reduction in emissions by not extracting and burning petroleum-based fuel, and the emissions avoided by not sending organics to landfill, exceed the direct emissions associated with the production and use of RNG.”
Reports say that 10% of greenhouse gas emissions in Toronto are generated by garbage, primarily food waste. Now, estimates suggest that the Dufferin facility will produce approximately 3.2 million cubic meters of RNG per year, which will save roughly 9,000 tonnes of CO2 from ending up in the atmosphere.
This closed-loop system is just one of the city’s four pre-planned waste-to-RNG production schemes for the coming years.
Unilever to halve new plastic use
Unilever has pledged to halve the amount of new plastic it uses over the next five years.
The FMCG giant, which produces 700,000 tonnes of new plastic every year, will seek to use more recycled plastic, create more reusable bottles and find alternative materials.
CEO Alan Jope tells the BBC the strategy is part of Unilever’s efforts to stay relevant to younger consumers who care about purpose and sustainability, and the conduct of the companies and the brands they buy.
“This is part of responding to society but also remaining relevant for years to come in the market,”
Says Jope, adding that Unilever “profoundly believes” sustainability leads to a better financial top and bottom line.
However, he maintains that plastic is a “terrific material” and says a “hysterical move to glass may be trendy but it would have a dreadful impact on the carbon footprint of packaging”.
British Airways pledges to carbon offset domestic flights
IAG’s chief executive, Willie Walsh, says the company would reach the net-zero target largely through offsetting but promised its airlines, including Aer Lingus and Iberia, would also substantially reduce emissions through sustainable fuels and replacing older aircraft.
Emissions from domestic BA flights will be offset by International Airlines Group investing in carbon reduction projects, including renewable energy and reforestation programmes.
Walsh says offsetting is the only way aviation could promise to reach carbon net zero. Offsetting allows companies to invest in environmental projects to balance out their own carbon footprints but has been criticised by environmental activists as a short-term solution.
“A lot of activity that is normal and socially acceptable today may not be in the future. If we don’t do this, then issues about whether it is socially acceptable to fly definitely become a question.”
However, he warns
“The idea that you can go back to a time when only the privileged get to experience travel is socially unacceptable.”
BA is also building Europe’s first household waste-to-jet fuel plant in a new facility, which is due to open in 2024. The result will turn waste destined for landfill into an aviation fuel that produces 70% CO2 emissions compared to traditional fossil fuel.
The development is part of a plan by IAG to invest $400m developing sustainable aviation fuel over the next 20 years. In the future, bonuses for management, including senior executives, will be linked to reducing carbon emissions across the group.
John Lewis and Waitrose cut back on Christmas plastic
Instead, the retailer will switch to crackers with items made from recyclable materials such as metal and paper. It will also crackdown on glitter, embossing cardboard crackers rather than decorating them with plastic glitter, as well as cutting down the amount of glitter it uses to decorate its own-brand wrapping paper, gift bags, tags and advent calendars.
Dan Cooper, the head Christmas buyer at John Lewis, said
“Reducing the amount of single-use plastic in products and packaging is really important to us and our customers. One of the challenges I face as a buyer is that we plan 18 months ahead, so it takes time for changes to become a reality. I’m always searching for new, more sustainable products which will make Christmas sparkle but won’t end up spoiling our environment.”