On An Optimistic Note: Green Initiatives Around the World

On An Optimistic Note: Green Initiatives Around the World

By Indiana Lee

On the surface, things can feel pretty bleak when it comes to the environmental state of the planet. Climate change is on the tip of everyone’s tongue, and with that comes greater talks of global warming. 

To top things off, the Trump administration is a big advocate of burning fossil fuels —  non-renewable resources that can cause harm to the planet. It shouldn’t come as a big surprise, as President Trump has always had close ties in the business world with coal, oil, and gas companies. But, when it comes to the future of the planet, friendships shouldn’t “trump” what’s best for the environment. 

Turn on the news at any given moment, and you’ll likely see a variety of terrifying statistics, images, or projections about what could happen to the earth if things continue to go in this direction. 

But, it’s not all bad, and it certainly doesn’t have to stay bad. Are there plenty of dangerous environmental issues out there? Yes. But, there are also plenty of green initiatives across the globe that are meant to help the planet and boost sustainability. Knowing more about these efforts can give you a bit of optimism, and may even inspire you to make your own green changes. 

Jane Fonda climate activist
Jane Fonda on the steps of the Capitol. She has moved to D.C. for four months to dedicate her efforts to the climate crisis. Photo: Victoria Pickering.

Green jobs and clean industries

One silver lining to all of these environmental issues? They’re giving people new jobs and lifelong careers. Many companies across the globe are making changes to become more sustainable and “green,” and we’ll get to that in a minute. 

But, it’s also important to note that new eco-focused careers are popping up out of necessity. Some of the newer “green” titles that have started to grow in popularity include: 

  • Clean car engineers
  • Urban farmers
  • Green architects/designers
  • Wave energy producer
  • Wind energy worker
  • Green builder
  • Solar cell technician

While some of these careers have been around for a while, the reason they are becoming so important is due to their necessity in fighting some of the problems the environment is facing right now. 

Speaking of how careers impact the environment, you don’t necessarily have to have a “green” job to do your part. As we mentioned earlier, companies large and small around the world are making changes to be more sustainable. The fashion industry has become a big advocate of sustainable practices, using smarter materials, sourcing things sustainably and locally, and there are even “eco” fashion and lifestyle labels for those who specifically want to buy sustainable clothing and accessories. Even Facebook is committed to doing its part. The social media giant has committed to reaching 100% renewable energy by 2020. 

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You don’t need to control a huge corporation to make a difference. You can encourage your co-workers to be more eco-friendly by recycling, going paperless, or conserving electricity around the office. Sometimes, it takes dire situations to motivate people to make changes both at work and at home. 

Recycling and renewing

Speaking of making changes at home, recycling has become more important as a result of the state of the environment. In 2010, paper recycling increased by 89% from the previous ten years. So, we are making strides, but there’s still a long way to go — specifically, Americans still only recycle about 30% of what they could be reusing. One of the reasons recycling isn’t being fully utilized is because many people don’t know exactly what they can and can’t recycle. For example, shredded paper can’t be recycled if it isn’t contained because machines find it hard to sort. Neither can styrofoam or food containers with food particles still on them. So, if you recognize the need for recycling, make sure you’re organizing things the right way so they don’t end up in a landfill. 

Read more: Lifting the Lid on Recycling: 10 Recycling Dos and Don’ts

Certain industries are also popping up to offer reusable or renewable resources that are far more sustainable and better for the planet. One of the biggest influencers of the moment is the industrial hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) industry, and they’re doing much more than creating health products. For example, industrial hemp is being used for paper, banknotes, pet bedding, carpets, and even biodegradable landscape bedding. 

Hemp clothing. Photo: Afends.

Because hemp and CBD come from plants, they’re renewable resources that can be used again and again. The more products that can be made from them, the less we’ll have to rely on things like fossil fuels, chemicals, and plastics. 

Solar and clean energy

The state of the planet also has the whole world looking for alternative power sources — ones that are renewable. As a result, power sources like solar energy have become increasingly popular in recent years, and wind power and hydropower aren’t too far behind it.

Solar panels are less expensive than they once were as increasing demand and production efficiencies have reduced costs, and they are more easily accessible for the average home-buyer or business owner. Having them installed can save you money on your energy bills, but it also will have an impact on the amount of energy drawn from nonrenewable resources. 

Read more: The Good Solar Guide Australia: Lower Your Energy Bills in 7 Steps

One good example of the reach of solar energy comes from California who, last year, became the first state in the country to require new homes to use solar power. It’s important for more states to follow their lead and stop relying on fossil fuels for energy. Especially considering how we’ve only been using them for about 200 years, it’s estimated that at the current rate of usage, they will run out within the next century. If that statistic sounds alarming, it should be. That’s exactly why so many green, sustainable initiatives are being taken to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels, fight climate change, and reduce the amount of waste we produce. 

Again, sometimes it takes scary statistics to motivate people into action. What we can do is think positively about the changes that are being made to create a better future for ourselves and our planet. 

Another silver lining? Greta Thunberg was just named TIME Magazine’s person of the year. She’s only 16-years-old but has made a global name for herself as an environmental activist, and frequently speaks out on the effects of global warming. People who are making a difference and advocating for the planet are being seen more than ever. As a whole, we can take comfort in knowing that those who are fighting for change are being celebrated instead of silenced, and that’s one of the keys to creating a more sustainable future for all of us. 

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Feature image of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaking to attendees at a rally for Bernie Sanders in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Photo: Matt Johnson.

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