The Great Green Wall!

There has been a lot of talk about building walls lately…but this is one wall that EVERYONE can gladly support!

The Great Green Wall is an initiative currently happening in Africa. The goal is to build a massive wall of trees at the edge of the Sahara, to prevent the desert from expanding and taking over too much usable land. Many countries are participating, and the final wall will span the entire width of the continent — an astounding 8000km (5000mi) long!!

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The project is about 15% completed so far, and the goals are to restore 100 million hectares of farmland, create 350,000 jobs, and trap 250 million tons of carbon by 2030. Once completed, the Great Green Wall will be the largest living structure on the planet, 3 times the size of the Great Barrier Reef. Wow!

This is such a cool project, and I can’t believe I’ve just now learned about it! It’s an amazing show of solidarity for so many countries to work together on such an ambitious plan, and the results sound promising so far. Not only is it good for the people of Africa, it should also be enormously helpful for wildlife and the Earth’s climate as well.

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It’s wonderful to see people working together to create a win-win situation for the entire world!Ā  You can see more details about the Green Wall project at their website here.

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Good Things that Happened in 2018!

According to the news, the world is going to hell in a handbasket, getting worse and worse every day. But that’s rarely the truth — the news wants us to be stressed and worried, because they think we’ll tune in more and buy more from their advertisers.

In reality, good things happen every day! In a lot of ways, 2018 was a rough year, but it was also a year when we made a lot of progress in multiple areas.

Check out this great article from Future Crunch:99 Good News Stories You Probably Didn’t Hear About, with a list of almost 100 great things that happened in the past year.

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This article from Good News Network lists advancements made on the environmental and conservation front: “The Best Environmental News of 2018”

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And this cute article from BoredPanda shows artist Mauro Gatti’s cute illustrations of some positive news stories: “Iā€™m Honestly Fed Up With All The Bad News So I Illustrated The Best News Of 2018”

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Despite some of the tumultuous stories we hear, the world is getting better and better in a lot of ways. Don’t let the bad news get you down; focus on all of the good news instead! šŸ™‚

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First signs of Autumn!

It’s been a long, hot summer, but here in the northern hemisphere we’re heading into autumn! The cool weather took its time getting here, but I’m starting to see signs of the turn of the season in the nature around my home.

Most of the leaves are still summer green, but there are a few hints of changing leaves; the oak in my front yard dropped this lovely red leaf, and the dogwood is just beginning to turn yellow.

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The dogwood is also popping out shiny, bright red berries.

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And the oak tree has been dropping acorns for a while now.

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One of my neighbors is excited to see the cool weather too! šŸ™‚

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I love autumn, how about you? I’m looking forward to colorful leaves, fresh apples, and lots of nice long walks with the dog!

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Biodegradable Water Bottles!

In recent years we’ve been learning about the negative effects that waste plastic has on our oceans and on marine life. A regular plastic water bottle takes an average of 450 years to decompose, and in the meantime it chokes wildlife and clogs up delicate ecosystems.

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One startup has a special water bottle in development – one that completely biodegrades in 3 weeks. This bottle, developed by 27-year-old James Longcroft and his company “Choose Water”, is made completely of paper, with a steel cap. All of the materials used in the bottles break down into non-toxic substances that don’t harm the environment or hurt wildlife.

Even better, the company has pledged to donate profits to Water for Africa, a charity that helps rural communities get clean water.

Choose Water had an Indiegogo campaign earlier this year that met 144% of the funding goals, so hopefully we should be seeing these cool new bottles on store shelves soon!

It’s so inspiring to see people working to clean up our oceans and protect our beautiful planet!

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Bird Clean-up Crew!

A theme park in France has trained birds to provide a helpful public service – picking up trash!

Puy du Fou, a popular historical theme park in western France, keeps their park clean with the help of a crew of six birds. The birds are Rooks, a member of the Corvid family, which includes crows, ravens, and magpies. These birds are known for their incredible intelligence and learning ability.

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The rooks help keep the park clean by picking up cigarette butts and other trash, then putting them in a bin in exchange for food treats. The park’s owners hope these avian litter-cleaners will inspire us humans to take better care of our environment as well!

A Dutch company called Crowded Cities is hoping to use these super smart birds to clean on a larger scale. They’re testing a new device, called a “Crow Bar”, that rewards wild birds for bringing in cigarette butts. It should be interesting to see where they’re able to go with this cool idea!

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Isn’t nature awesome? šŸ™‚

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A Lesson from Sunflowers – Bloom as you are!

Every year I like to grow sunflowers in the sunny part of the yard near my fence. Usually they grow to about 4-5 ft tall (1.2-1.5m), with a saucer-sized flower head filled with hundreds of seeds.

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This year, I was super busy in June and left the seedlings in the starter cups for too long. I planted them anyway, and now I have two rows of stunted mini-sunflowers, most of which are only knee high or so.

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I was afraid they wouldn’t bloom at all because they’re so small, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a flower head start growing on each and every plant! Several of them have opened already, and as you can see (notice the chain link fence for scale), the flower is only about the size of a regular daisy or zinnia bloom.

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I find this very inspiring! Life (ok, me) gave them a weak start, and left them much smaller than usual. But instead of giving up and refusing to bloom, they’re popping out the best flower they can. They don’t sit around in the dirt crying because of their situation, or comparing themselves to other sunflowers, they just spread their leaves, happily create a flower head, and open it up to the sun. Each flower, though small, is perfect in its own way; it has beautiful yellow petals, soft florets filled with nectar and pollen, and young seeds growing and ripening inside.

I think we humans should pay attention to this message! Instead of dwelling on the unfairness of your situation, the difficulties that you face, or feelings of not being good enough, just BLOOM. Bloom the best you can, with what you have, where you are. Your contribution is meaningful and valid, even if it doesn’t look like someone else’s. Make YOUR flower, whatever that may be, and share it proudly with the world.

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Do as the sunflowers do, and BLOOM AS YOU ARE! You’re worth it. šŸ™‚

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Solar Panels…powered by bacteria!

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have developed a cool new innovation in the field of solar power – bacteria!

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Solar cells are great for harvesting energy from the sun, but the drawback is that they have a drastic drop in efficiency on cloudy days or situations with dim light. There are certain types of bacteria that produce a natural dye that helps them convert light energy into food, and scientists had experimented with extracting this dye for use in solar technology. Extracting the dye proved difficult and costly, so they decided on a more elegant solution–putting the bacteria themselves into the solar cells!

These new solar panels are called “biogenic” because they are a hybrid of technology and nature. How cool is that?

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This could be a great solution for parts of the world that would benefit from solar power, but have too many overcast days to currently make it practical. I’m looking forward to seeing how this new bio-tech continues to develop!

Check out the original article here –> University of British Columbia

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