10 Uplifting Stories of People Who’ve Won the Fight for the Environment
Every day, there are more and more environmental problems in the world: forests in Brazil are burning, glaciers in Antarctica are melting, and the oceans are filling with plastic. But there are people who aren’t able to bear these things and are trying to help the planet. People are building factories that suck carbon dioxide from the air and are helping to invent new ways of getting clean energy. And all of us can join these people even if it’s with something as simple as sorting through the trash or cleaning our own yards.
We at Bright Side really want to hear some good environmental news, so we’ve collected some inspirational examples of major planet wins. And at the end of the article, there’s a bonus for you: a story about the unexpected good that can come from bad mayonnaise.
1. McDonald’s trucks work on used deep fryer oil from the restaurants.
Since 2007, McDonald’s has been producing biofuel by exploiting the used oil from their kitchens. After the oil is collected from the restaurants, it’s cleaned and sent to special recycling facilities. Later, the fuel is used in 42% of the cars for the company. Several European logistics companies use it for their transportation.
2. In Tokyo, islands made of trash have been built.
The inhabitants of Tokyo are very careful about sorting through trash: their manual on trash is 24 pages long! Most of the trash in Japan is burned and the exhaust is thoroughly cleaned before dumping it into the atmosphere. The ash from the burned trash is then used to produce concrete and asphalt. The trash that doesn’t burn is split into small pieces and placed in very thick layers, making islands in the middle of the Tokyo Bay. The Odaiba Island already has prestigious businesses and rest districts and there is another building on the island where they’re planning to open a park in the year 2020.
3. In Portland, some of the regular water pipes were replaced by pipes with turbines that produce electricity.
The founders of the LucidEnergy startup from Portland, Oregon came up with a new method of receiving clean energy. They’ve placed spherical turbines into big-diameter water pipes. The turbines turn in the water and produce electricity from it that already flows under the city. The prediction is that in 20 years, these pipes will have produced $2 million worth of energy.
4. In 80% of bathrooms in Hong Kong, seawater is used to save fresh water.
In Hong Kong, there are not enough sources of fresh water which is why for the last 150 years, it has been supplied from a nearby province. In order to solve the problem, the Hong Kong authorities built a separate sewage system that uses only seawater. This saves them a lot of fresh water and the salted wastewater is believed to be less toxic for sea life.
5. In Indonesia, you can use trash to pay for your bus fare.
The inhabitants of Suroboyo, Indonesia can now pay for their bus fare with used plastic that they can bring to special recycling points at various bus stops. This makes the process of sorting trash easier and decreases the number of personal vehicles in the city streets.
6. In Switzerland, there’s a factory that “sucks” CO2 out of the air.
Not far from Zurich, there’s a factory that has special filters in order to suck CO2 from the atmosphere. The gas is later used for growing vegetables, producing sodas, and so on. The factory is planning to get about 900 tons of CO2 every year.
7. Sweden is the biggest wood exporter but there are more and more trees growing there every year.
Forests take more than half of the country’s territory in Sweden and when 1 tree is chopped, 3 new ones are planted. Despite the fact that there’s massive deforestation in the country for their own needs and for export, the number of forests in Sweden has doubled in the past 100 years and continue to increase.
8. Edible packaging
The plastic rings used to connect packs of 4 beer cans is one of the biggest problems sealife faces today: they don’t allow birds to fly, seals can suffocate when they’re choked by them, and growing sea turtles damage their shells on them. The E6PR startup began to make rings out of material that not only is 100% biodegradable, but that can also serve as food for fish and other animals.
9. In Moscow, you can exchange trash for movie or museum tickets.
The project “Art for the Environment” encourages people in Moscow to exchange their sorted trash for movie, theater, museum or concert tickets. People have to give at least 2 pounds of aluminum and 4 pounds of paper, glass, or plastic for recycling. This trash can be recycled at 10 different places.
10. After volunteers removed 11 million pounds of trash from the Versova beach in India, turtles returned there for the first time in 20 years to lay eggs.
Afroz Shah, a lawyer from Mumbai, managed to inspire thousands of local people to clean up Versova beach that was buried under tons of trash. It took the volunteers (that consisted both of the people from the slums and the stars of Bollywood) 86 weeks to completely clean up the beach. Afroz Shah was given the title “Champion of the Earth” by the UN. Soon after the cleanup, 80 sea turtles were seen in the area that hadn’t been there for more than 2 decades.
Bonus: Bad mayonnaise was turned into energy.
After 4,700 liters of mayo went bad on the Michigan University campus, employees didn’t just throw it away. They dumped it into the anaerobic digester. This is a machine for clearing water and industrial waste. As a result of the chemical reaction, biogas was created that could be turned into heat and electricity. The new mayo energy was used for the needs of the nearby farms.
What have you done in order to save the planet?