People You Never Heard of Are Working Hard to Fix Environmental Problems

Every year the UN selects six “Champions of the Earth”

The United Nations Environment Programme established Champions of the Earth in 2004 as an annual awards programme to recognize outstanding environmental leaders at a policy level. Six awards are given out each year to a Laureate representing different geographical regions with one additional special prize.

The Little Triumphs Keep Adding Up

Cities Take Up the “Ban the Bag” Fight. Why new policies across the nation could mean the end of plastic bags.

The most recent city to join the effort to ban the bag is Portland, Ore., which has banned single-use plastic bags at the checkouts of large retailers. The change was met with overwhelming support from most Portlanders, says Stiv Wilson of 5 Gyres Institute, who helped give out free reusable bags at grocery stores to ease the transition for shoppers on October 15, when the ban took effect.

The Portland ordinance, unanimously approved by Portland City Council, was the culmination of a four-year campaign by the Surfrider Foundation Portland Chapter, 5 Gyres Institute, and the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. It reflects growing public concern about the environmental impact of disposable plastic.

Good Environmental News

Huge Boost in Fish Numbers in Cabo Pulmo National Park

There’s been an amazing reversal of fortune for an undersea wildlife park off the tip of Mexico in Baha, California, according to a press release from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The number of marine species in Cabo Pulmo National Park (CPNP) rocketed by 460% between 1999 and 2009. Much of the credit for this terrific change goes to locals, who have ensured adherence to the park’s ‘no take’ law.

Not All Environmental News Is Worrisome

Snow Leopards Rebounding in Africa

“Afghanistan has been devastated by 30 years of conflict, so you might not expect there to be a lot of large wildlife left. But there does appear to be a fairly large population of snow leopards, and that’s wonderful,” said Peter Zahler, who launched the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Afghanistan program in 2006.

Unsung Heroism

Remarkable women developing solutions and guiding us towards a sustainable future.

Eco Amazons brings together for the first time the women leading the charge to create a sustainable future for all life on Earth. Their efforts demonstrate how individual concern gives rise to passion, how passion leads to action, and how action effects meaningful change—efforts that can be emulated by each and every one of us.

Remaking the Way We Make Things

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, by William McDonough and Michael Braungart

Paper or plastic? Neither, say William McDonough and Michael Braungart. Why settle for the least harmful alternative when we could have something that is better — say, edible grocery bags! In Cradle to Cradle, the authors present a manifesto calling for a new industrial revolution, one that would render both traditional manufacturing and traditional environmentalism obsolete. Recycling, for instance, is actually “downcycling,” creating hybrids of biological and technical “nutrients” which are then unrecoverable and unusable. The authors, an architect and a chemist, want to eliminate the concept of waste altogether, while preserving commerce and allowing for human nature. They offer several compelling examples of corporations that are not just doing less harm — they’re actually doing some good for the environment and their neighborhoods, and making more money in the process.

– Therese Littleton

Spiritually Activated Environmentalism: Green Hermeticism

What is Green Hermeticism? It’s a response to the problem that there hasn’t been sufficient spiritual focus for the environmental movement. Without a spiritual focus, a movement like this doesn’t generate the kind of emotional energy that it needs to battle against global capitalism.