The Year So Far in Sustainability
Summer is officially here and we’re rapidly approaching the halfway mark of the year. The ongoing climate crisis has of course been one of the biggest themes in 2019, including marches, great strides, and unfortunate setbacks. Let’s take a look at what's been going on in the world of sustainability so far in 2019, as a look back can show us what we should continue and what mistakes we should learn from.
Major Anti-Plastic Movement - Starting with a movement to ban plastic straws inspired by an infamous and heartbreaking picture of a sea turtle, the anti-plastic movement went from a pipe dream to legislation this year. Numerous cities and even some countries have made laws and promises to limit or ban single-use plastic, including NYC banning Styrofoam, Maine banning Styrofoam, Canada planning to phase out single use plastic by 2021, Nigeria banning plastic bags, and Great Britain banning plastic straws and stirrers. A full 187 countries have signed on to a pledge to reduce plastic pollution.
Major Climate Crisis Protests - From Greta Thunberg’s school strikes going global to the Extinction Rebellion taking over cities, mass protest movements have been on going and so far do not look like they're losing steam anytime soon.
The Green New Deal Proposed - US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and US Senator Edward Markey jointly proposed legislation they called the Green New Deal, designed to combine FDR style New Deal economic legislation with major sustainable initiatives. While an initial early draft was shot down in the senate, the idea of a Green New Deal is not going anywhere soon and has already spawned copycat legislation such as New York's Green New Deal, so the idea will most likely be a major political talking point for years to come.
Renewables Reach Record Highs - Multiple sources are point out that renewables are picking up major steam, from record breaking renewable energy use in the US to England going it’s first week without coal since the industrial revolution.
China Rebukes Sloppy Plastic Recycling - Early in the year China changed the laws for what kind of plastic recycling it would accept, effectively banning the highly contaminated “single-stream” plastic recycling that many western countries have adopted. This set off a domino effect of South-East Asian countries also rejecting this, and is forcing the west to improve their plastic recycling standards.
Damning Reports - Between world record heat waves, carbon levels not seen in 800,000 years, the report that 1 million species face extinction, to the most recent news that Canada’s permafrost is melting a full 70 years ahead of schedule, 2019’s science on climate has highlighted the drastic need for change.
Landmark Climate Lawsuits - Across the world, landmark lawsuits are being filed and one on behalf of the climate and the people affected by it. In the US, the company Monsanto lost multiple lawsuits for the harmful and cancer causing effects of RoundUp. In Australia, Indigenous Islanders filed a lawsuit against the government of Australia for not doing enough to prevent climate change that will sink their island. These are just two court challenges in a new wave of legal battles for the environment.
Commitments to Carbon Neutrality - Washington State, New York State, The State of Hawaii, Great Britain, Japan, Finland, and Sweden have joined the fight against climate change by pledging to be carbon neutral, some even as early as 2035.
Sustainable Fashion Becomes Trendy - Sustainable Fashion has outgrown some of its niche nature and has become a major talking point. Capsule wardrobe bloggers got huge, Upcycled and recycled fashion are hitting major runways, rental fashion company Rent the Runway was valued at a billion dollars, major sneaker companies like Adidas and Reebok are now trying to make ultra-sustainable shoes usually associated with smaller brands. Last year, multiple studies have shown that Millennials are looking to shop green, and between smaller eco-brands becoming hugely popular and larger brands scrambling to go green, the trend is fully here.
Thanks for reading! What is your favorite and least pieces of climate news in 2019? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments! And if you enjoyed this content, be sure to follow our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more.