I know it is very easy to get caught up focusing on the bad stuff going on in our world – the destruction of our rainforests, climate change, peak oil, hormonal changes due to our use of toxic chemicals – sometimes it seems like the totality of the environmental movement focuses only on the negative and ignores what progress we have been making. Believe me, I do it myself quite often. Seems the media, as always, like to highlight only the bad and leave out the good, so I decided I wanted to go looking for positive stories about changes we have made in our environment. Here are a few things that I found…
– Garbage turns into gold in Bangladesh, as organic waste becomes salable compost and millions in carbon credits. This article from The Christian Science Monitor talks about how a NGO has reduced the amount of urban garbage produced in Bangladesh, created jobs and healthier living environments for poor residents, provided for more-sustainable farming, and cut down on greenhouse-gas emissions. And stories like this are happening all over the world due to the spread of information and education about how our trash can be reused for other purposes.
– More and more people are using reusable bags. I have seen this one firsthand, as I am sure most of you have as well. While it’s not too “in-vogue” here where I live to use your own bag, whenever I venture outside my town most people are doing it. Even in places like Target I am seeing folks bring their own bags, which makes me very, very happy!
– Momentum is building to stop the construction of new coal-fired power plants. This article over at E/The Environmental Magazine outlines the fact that the construction of these dirty power plants is slowing, and more and more people are coming out to protest any that are being built. Seems that all the talk about how damaging they are to the environment are encouraging residents to come out of their homes and let their voices be heard!
– Remember that hole in the ozone layer? Well, it’s closing up. Back in the 1980’s the hole was big news, and concern about the implications spurred many into action. We started banning CFC’s which were causing the hole, and now 20+ years later the hole is closing. Action = progress and success.
– Watermelon to fuel cars? Seems that someone a lot smarter than myself has found that leftover watermelons from farms’ harvests could be converted into up to 2.5 million gallons of clean, renewable ethanol fuel every year destined for your car, truck, or airplane’s gas tank.
– Dairy Farm Powered By Its Own Waste. What could possibly be better than a farm realizing that all that poop could be put to such great use? Threemile Canyon Farms in Oregon is building a $1 million dollar methane digester that can be used to create power. With methane considered the #2 greenhouse gas contributing to climate change, programs like this could drastically reduce the amount being pumped into our environment.
– The recession has helped to clean up the environment. Sure, it may be bad for other things, but this recession has slowed down our consumption of goods and brought down greenhouse gas emissions for the first time in 40 years.
– In general, our water is getting cleaner. We are cutting down less of our forests. Our air is cleaner. Towns are taking an interest in making their parks cleaner and greener. Cities are implementing green roof programs. More and more people are buying organic foods, which will in turn bring down prices. Some endangered species’ are being taken off the lists. Our cars are getting better MPG, which hopefully will reduce our need for oil. Mass transit is being implemented in more places. People are paying attention and getting involved. It’s all good.
Through our behavioral changes and continuous education, we can work to increase awareness and speed up progress as we try to clean up the damage we have been doing to the planet since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. While it can be difficult, try to keep in mind the good things we are accomplishing as well as the negative things we need to continue to work on!
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