Between fires in Southern California, hurricanes all over the world and some seriously f*cked political moves, 2017 was one for the books. Here’s our year in review, from the good, to the bad, to the trashy – and what you can do for a cleaner planet in 2018.

Sustainable Businesses and Individuals

Elon Musk continues to pioneer in the realm of sustainable energy.

Tesla funded the world’s largest battery in Australia, made in 100 days, and the overall commitment to finding clean, sustainable energy, including electric cars that don’t require oil.

Subaru leads the way.

Subaru became one of the first companies to reach zero waste status in the US. All of its manufacturing waste is recycled or turned into electricity. 

Brave groups are fighting to protect their native lands.

Bands of indigenous people in Colombia’s Cauca Valley, most notably the Nasa Indians, are attempting to reclaim their ancestral land back from sugar plantations who use the land for capitalist profit.

And many (mostly indigenous people) continue to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline, despite militant backlash from local and federal police forces.  

The US people marched.

On April 29th, an estimated 200,000 marched in D.C. and thousands more in 300 additional cities, as a protest to the environmental policies of U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration. A 2018 march is already in the works

Zero waste becomes more accessible to everyone.

Package Free Shop, the first of its kind in the US, launched as a shop that offers everyday essentials from sustainable companies and includes no packaging or waste in its store. Everything is recyclable or compostable.

TerraCycle continues to trailblaze – turning trash into usable goods.

TerraCycle works with larger corporations and individuals to upcycle almost anything we buy- from cigarette butts to dirty diapers – not only trying to solve the problem of too much plastic, but also shifting towards a more sustainable method of consumption. 

The solar industry creates jobs 17 times faster than the rest of the US economy.

The numbers prove it, the solar industry is not only better for the environment, but it is rapidly creating jobs and bettering the US economy.

Progressive Policies and Laws

Most of the world banns together against Climate Change.

The UN Climate Change Conference took place in November 2017 in Bonn, Germany where most countries in the world participated and discussed solutions to climate change.  

New York City invests in renewable energy.

Rounding the year out right, in December 2017, New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced that New York City and state will be divesting $390 billion of public pension funds from fossil fuel investments and reinvesting that money in renewable energy. The public has been campaigning for this transition for five years.

An Australian mining company makes a bold statement.

BHP Biliton, an Australian mining company, has announced plans to leave the World Coal Association because of climate change, and is threatening to leave the Minerals Council of Australia if negotiations for cleaner energy are not reached.

Plastic bags are banned all across the world.

From Rwanda to Boston, states, cities and countries are taking measures to ban the use of plastic bags, and even enforcing major fines for being in possession of these pollutants.

The Bad

The Great Barrier Reef is dying.

Scientists have now found that many parts of the Great Barrier Reef are now dead, due to Climate Change, greenhouse gases that raise the temperature of the ocean and the burning of fossil fuels. 

Hurricanes continue to devastate communities.

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria tore through Texas, the Caribbean, and Puerto Rico.

Wildfires sweep through California.

Though unusual in the wintertime, fires blazed through California because of increased Santa Ana winds due to global warming and climate change. These fires may become more commonplace, displacing many homes and wildlife.

President Trump withdraws from The Paris Agreement.

As of right now, we are the only country not in the agreement, though states like California have pledged to uphold the agreement.

House Republicans attempt to stifle the EPA.

In March, the House passed two bills that essentially prevent the EPA from releasing science-backed research.

The Arctic is melting at a terrifying rate.

The Arctic is melting faster than it has in over 1,000 years, due to greenhouse gas emissions and rises in temperature.

The threats associated with Climate Change continue to grow and diversify.

It’s commonly known that Climate Change is affecting the Arctic Systems and causing heat waves, but the implications are much more varied and frightening. This graph identifies areas such as decreased human health, harms to agriculture and economic damages as all becoming byproducts of Climate Change.

An elephant conservationist is shot.

Wayne Lotter, an elephant conservationist and anti-poaching NGO founder was shot dead in tanzania by poachers.

An environmental crusader’s life is lost.

Ruben Arzaga, village leader and environmental crusader officer was shot while investigating illegal loggers in the endangered paradise island Palawan in the Philippines. Other team members have died, but the cause continues to protect the endangered trees that are highly sought after.

What You Can Do About It

Reduce your food waste.

Currently ⅓ of all food raised or prepared does not become consumed – wasting an incredible amount of water, energy and labor. Grocery shop more frequently and buy less when you do so perishable food doesn’t go bad. Always have food storage containers ready to store leftovers and don’t buy new food items until your leftovers are gone. Learn to compost items like peels, pits and food scraps.

Reduce your general waste.

Whether it be getting rid of plastic, shopping second hand, or making coffee at home and bringing it to work with you in a reusable cup, there are various ways to cut waste and stop contributions to landfills.

Consider a plant-based diet.

Adopt a plant-based diet, or try to reduce your animal product consumption: it’s proven to cut down on your carbon emissions and water usage

Call your representatives.

It’s easier now than ever to get ahold of your political reps. Whether it be by email or telephone, campaign for clean energy and sustainable futures. It is possible to make lasting legislation to help protect our planet.

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2018, we’re ready for you, and we’re not backing down.

 

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