In recent years, many of us all around the world have grown more aware and more weary of the problem of climate change. It’s become obvious that human impact has created irreversible changes in our natural ecosystems and it’s our responsibility to address it.
So, today, we wanted to share a few uplifting stories of good green acts occurring around the world that we hope motivates you to stay green as well as inspire hope for a greener future.
1.Thrifting takes over TikTok with 4.2 billion views as young Americans look for sustainable alternatives to fast fashion
With a rapid rise in awareness of how fast fashion damages our ecosystems, young audiences are learning to look for greener alternatives. Social media platforms such as TikTok have been integral in bringing sustainable fashion to the forefront, thrifting especially becoming popular - the hashtag #ThriftTok has 1.2 billion views worth of posts, while the general topic of #thrifting has reached over 4.2 billion views as reported by the Toronto Star in June 2022.
With that in mind, it predicts positive growth for the secondhand apparel market, in fact, it “is expected to grow 127% by 2026, according to a recent report from thredUP… Gen Z and millennials make up a major proportion of these shoppers — and 62% say they look for an item secondhand before purchasing it new.” This is not to say fast fashion won’t be standing strong as the industry is even predicted to grow by 8.8% in the next year, however, half of its consumers believe its industry greatly damages our planet and only resort to continually buy from fast fashion brands due to convenience and affordability.
However, due to platforms that allow secondhand selling and buying such as Depop, there is starting to be a shift in how much easier consumers can purchase thrifted clothing - “ThredUP projects 50% of total secondhand dollars will come from online resale by 2024.”
In more TikTok-related news, the platform is also responsible for sparking new interest in all sorts of new hobbies, a popular subsection being knitting and crocheting. From creating clothing to plush toys, people all around the world are discovering the joy of doing-it-yourself as well as taking an alternative path from buying a favourite or trendy style from a fast fashion brand.
What’s more is the interest in those who take it one step further by building a small business for themselves, for example, “in February, a knitted capsule collection designed by Ella Emhoff -- inauguration It-Girl and now a fresh face in fashion -- sold out on independent platform Mall NYC within an hour… These small-scale operations are often more sustainable too. Limited production capacity has reinstated low-waste business strategies like waitlists, custom or made-to-order pieces, encouraging shoppers to buy with more intention.”
What this could mean is a continuing rise in popularity for craft created on a small scale, something that would mean less demand for fast fashion and a decrease in wasteful fashion habits.
Dotted along Kenya’s and Tanzania’s southern ocean border are hedges of mangroves, a natural ecosystem that has the potential to act as massive carbon sinkholes, absorbing tons of carbon emissions that we, humans, create everyday. Mangroves are essentially tropical rainforests that shelter and serve us by protecting coastlines from erosion and storm surge; as well as providing food and shelter for a diverse array of wildlife, however, due to the fact that the wood from mangroves are highly valued by coastal communities as timber for construction, fuel, and more, these forests have been depleting.
Nevertheless, in the past 3 years, UN agencies, the Kenyan government and other key partners have been working together to launch conservation projects that aim to tackle poverty while enriching their biodiversity. Their most recent initiative is seeking to further this goal.
“Alongside UNEP, the Kenya Forest Service, the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute and partners recently inaugurated the Vanga Blue Forests Project in coastal Kwale County’s Vanga Bay (south of Mombasa), a groundbreaking initiative to trade carbon credits from mangrove conservation and restoration… The Vanga Blue Forests project focuses on conservation of the trees, as the locals have already planted the seedlings. It benefits about 9,000 residents of the villages of Vanga, Jimbo and Kiwegu. The villages form ‘VAJIKI’, a community forest association that oversees 460 hectares of forest land. Jimbo Village has established a nursery with 30,000 viable mangrove seedlings.”
A significantly large climate issue that needs to be tackled is the problem of how we produce our food. In a 2021 report by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), it was found that food system emissions were estimated at 18 million tonnes, which worked out to be approximately one-third of global emissions, and so, in order to reach emissions targets set out by the Paris Agreement, changes in how we grow, process and distribute food need to be considered and acted on. One such solution is engineering our crops that are able to withstand more varied or harsher conditions, requiring less room to grow, growing more rapidly, “to more efficiently capture carbon dioxide and turn it into oxygen or store it in the soil.”
At present, researchers around the world have been tackling this in various ways, some of which include:
- Strains of rice, maize and wheat have been developed that can withstand droughts and wetter monsoon seasons.
- Researchers at the Innovative Genomics Institute are using CRISPR gene-editing technology to improve the ability of plants and soil microbes to capture and store carbon from the atmosphere in a variety of ways.
- The National Science Foundation-funded Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency project found that by using genetic engineering to optimise photosynthesis they could create plants that were roughly 40% more productive, meaning less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Fungi play a lesser known but critical role in helping forests absorb carbon. There are millions of species that exist in water, the air, soil and on trees; a particular species called mycorrhizal fungi can grow among the roots of trees while another variant known as ectomycorrhizal fungi helps trees and forests absorb CO2 more quickly - “This fungi can also slow down the speed at which carbon returns from forest soils into the atmosphere, helping forests to keep carbon locked up in trees and soils for longer.”
Notably, fungal networks can’t survive without their plant partners, and any damage can take decades to repair, so with forests “disappearing at an alarming rate, with around 12 million hectares destroyed each year, according to the United Nations (UN)” it puts these networks at risk too. To address this occurrence, the Society for the Protection of Underground Networks (SPUN) was launched to map and preserve these networks which have become known as the “Wood Wide Web” - “The global map of fungal networks could provide us all with a more sustainable route into the future.”
We hope this gives you some renewed motivation to keep living consciously everyday and support organisations who are trying to make our planet greener.
For sustainability stories and a closer look into slow craft, check out more from our Green Journal.