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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Beautiful Bio-Plastics for a cleaner world!

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In recent years, we’ve all become aware of the problems caused by plastic pollution. Petroleum-based plastics, which can take literally hundreds of years to disintegrate, fill up our landfills and cause huge problems in the ocean.

Thankfully, some ingenious inventors are busy developing alternatives to traditional plastics, called “bioplastics”. These alternatives aim to have the same uses as traditional plastics, but be much more environment-friendly than fossil fuel based substances. To do this, they’re using unexpected things like seaweed, sugar, and…bugs? Yep!

An inventor from Chile named Margarita Talep has created a bioplastic made from seaweed. Red algae, which grows naturally in marine environments, contains an important jelly-like substance called agar. Talep uses agar to make a plastic alternative made entirely of natural materials that breaks down in a few months. She has even experimented with coloring the bioplastic with natural vegetable colors for more packaging versatility.

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The makers of Lego toys have begun to use an interesting plastic alternative, made from sustainably sourced sugar cane. They have even partnered with the World Wildlife Fund and other organizations to promote bioplastics and ensure that they are sustainably sourced. The bioplastic is currently being used for the tree and plant pieces, and they plan to have all Lego blocks made from it by 2030. Very cool! šŸ™‚

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One of the strangest materials used in bioplastics comes from Aagje Hoekstra, who created a new plastic made from, of all things, insects! The bugs, called darkling beetles, are the adult stage of the mealworm, a grub that is commonly farmed as animal feed. Normally the beetles die after laying eggs and are simply discarded, but Hoekstra discovered that their shells can be collected and pressed into a waterproof sheet. Personally I don’t see this being very popular as *food* packaging, but it could have some less gross applications! šŸ˜‰

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Another interesting alternative comes from Jeongwon Ji, who has designed a plastic alternative from the shells of invasive crabs. Chinese mitten crabs are an invasive species that have been taking over waterways in the UK. Ji found a way to use these pests as a resource, by combining the chitin in the shells with glycerin to make a bioplastic called Crustic. Unlike the others, this bioplastic warps as it dries, creating interesting artistic shapes.

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One pair of designers,Ā  Eric Klarenbeek and Maartje Dros, have created an algae-based bioplastic that can be used in 3D printers! They plan to establish a network of printing stations called the “3D Bakery”, where anyone can print objects they need from bioplastic.

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It’s inspiring to see these plastic alternatives being developed! Plastic packaging is very useful for keeping our food and water fresh, but it’s sad to see the damage it does after it is thrown away. With these alternatives, we can have the same uses as plastic, but with the added benefits of being sustainable and biodegradable!

I’m excited for the future, how about you? šŸ˜€

Check out these articles from Dezeen.com for more detail on these cool inventions!

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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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City Supports Boy’s Hot Dog Stand!

A couple of years ago, 13-year-old Jaequan Faulkner started a hot dog stand selling hot dogs, chips, and soda to the locals. Most everyone loved it, but one person didn’t – and they reported him to the city for lack of a food vendor permit.

But instead of shutting him down, Minneapolis Health Director Dan Huff took a more positive route and helped Jaequan qualify as a real business! The health department paid his permit fee, equipped him with a thermometer and a hand-washing station, and trained him in food safety regulations. They even set up a GoFundMe fundraiser to buy him a mobile hot dog stand.

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Jaequan originally started the business to help him work through depression and raise funds to buy clothes. It’s so nice to see that city officials have a heart and are working with him to make his small business a success!

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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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Good News Report – Duck “Supermom”!

Photographer Brent Cizek has captured photos of an amazing mama duck, who is taking care of 75 – yes, SEVENTY FIVE – babies!

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A lake in Bemidji, Minnesota is the home of this Common Merganser supermom, who is busy raising an army of ducklings. Observers have counted at least 75 babies, who are growing and seem to be doing well in their huge family.

Experts say the most likely explanation is that most of the ducklings were somehow lost or separated from their real mothers, and adopted by their current foster mom.

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If there’s a “Mom of the Year” award, I think this brave lady should get the prize!

Check out the original article at Majically: Supermom Duck

See Brent Cizek’s instagram

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