Eco-activists turn Earth Day celebration into a virtual event. Earth Day Live is a three-day event featuring workshops, live performances, and teach-ins. (Photo from NRDC)

 

The world is currently facing a pandemic that has greatly changed our everyday lives. But the coronavirus won't stop these young climate activists from celebrating Earth Day in a big way. Organizers from the 2019 Climate Strike, along with Zero Hour and TREEaage are taking the celebration online. Earth Day Live is a three-day event that will feature activists and ideas from around the world. The event will include performances from artists like Jason Mraz, teach-ins, training sessions, and panels with environmental leaders, the president of NRDC, and social justice champions.

 

Though the event is now online, the group still has movements and protests planned to make their voices heard. Stop the Money Pipeline coalition aims to call out big corporations who invest in commodities that harm the planet and beg them to use their money to support eco-friendly commodities instead.

 

On the last day of Earth Day Live, organizers will hold a contest between regions of the country to see who can register the most voters in a single day. They hope these voters will then reach out to their elected officials to take a stand against climate change.

Earth Day Live is available to join to anyone with an internet connection. The event starts Wednesday, April 22nd and ends Friday, April 24th. If you want to tune in, learn something new, or even take part in the event, click here for more information.

 

 

These kids show how technology can aid the fight against climate change. (Photo from Forbes)

 

Some eco-warriors are using technology to achieve their climate goals. A group of girls in Kazahstan developed a way to educate others on what they can do to help the environment. TECO is a 3D augmented reality game that teaches players the steps they can take to become more eco-conscious. They presented the app during the 2019 Technovation Challenge, which is dedicated to apps that address real-world issues.

 

"In Kazakhstan, there are a lot of ecological problems like air pollution, and so we decided Kazakhstani society should be more ecologically-friendly and we [our team] should start that in our culture to help with our future," says Malika Buribayeva from team CoCo.

 

Meanwhile, the Sage Foundation in the U.K. created a program called FutureMakers to teach people how to use artificial intelligence to solve the social issues they care about. The program inspired two young girls, Jenatie Ganesharajah and Stacy D'Souza developed an object recognition software that catalogs marine life to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14.

 

Their marine life catalog uses image recognition and allows people to photograph fish and other underwater creatures. They can then upload it to a website, label it, and store them in the catalog. This earns them points to donate to food for people who depend on the ocean. If someone doesn't know what a species is, the image recognition system will make some suggestions. The girls hope to take their prototype to the next level.

 

This young scientist built a filter to remove microplastics from water. Quan's new device fights back against microplastics. (Photo from Diablo Mag)

 

Over the past few years, society has been making an effort to reduce plastic waste, but young scientist Melanie Quan felt it wasn't enough. Not only was she concerned about plastic bags and bottles, but she also wanted to focus on microplastic pieces that are found in waterways, which are then ingested by marine life and may end up on our plates. To address the issue, she developed an electrostatic filter to remove microplastics from water.

 

Inspired by a filter that removes ash from smoke towers, the device gives the microplastics in the water a charge. Then they get placed near a mesh filter with an opposite charge making them attracted to each other. Once this is done, the microplastics can be removed from the water.

The filter can be used for various applications, such as washing machines and ocean cleanup projects. It not only impressed Quan's peers, but also the United States Environmental Protection Agency, who gave her a 2018 Patrick J. Hurd Sustainability Award.

 

But she didn't stop there. Last year, she created a new bioplastic, which won her the 2019 Amgen Bay Area BioGENius Challenge, and she's currently studying potentially dangerous interactions between plastic debris and heavy metal pollution.

 

Cafes and restaurants in India adapt new Bring Your Own Cup policy to reduce plastic waste. The Bengaluru Eco Team urge more eateries in India to adopt a BYOC policy. (Photo from The Times of India)

 

Lots of restaurants have BYOB policy. Now, a café chain in Bengaluru, India, has a BYOC policy. Chai Point launched it's Bring Your Own Cup initiative in 2018 after members of the Bengaluru Eco Team (BET) reached out to the cafe explaining how disposable cups are harmful to the environment. The move is meant to reduce waste generated by disposable paper and plastic cups.

 

"We sell over 5 lakh cups of tea every day across our 170 outlets. Even if 5 to 10 % start bringing their own cup, it will make a big difference to the amount of waste generated every day," says Amuleek Singh Bijral, co-founder and CEO of Chai Point.

 

BET has been pushing restaurants, cafes, and take out chains in various neighborhoods to start their own BYOC movements. And their efforts seem to be working. Last year, the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) launched its own BYOC campaign instead of stocking plastic water bottles on their buses. Ekayana, a north Indian and continental outlet, were also inspired by the movement and started offering a 10% discount for customers who brought their own containers.

 

As the trend grows, this is something we could start seeing in cafes and restaurants around the world. Many places have already banned plastics straws. It will not be long until more places enact their own BYOC policy.

 

Eco Atlas helps you find eco-friendly services in South Africa. (Photo from Eco Atlas)

 

There are a lot of people and places dedicated to being eco-friendly in South Africa, but sometimes it's difficult to keep track of them all. Rhian Berning decided to make things a bit easier with Eco Atlas, a search engine for eco-friendly accommodation, products, and services in South Africa.

 

"Eco Atlas was born of the premise that we can create a groundswell of positive change through our daily choices if where we shop, eat, stay and play is based on having positive social and environmental impacts," says Berning.

 

The website, created seven years ago, lets you search for hotels, restaurants, and shops that serve ethical food, recycle or empower the local community with profit sharing. You can even recommend, and review places based on how well they meet at least three of the Eco Choice criteria, such as recycling, green design, and fair trade. Berning also hopes it inspires people to source eco-friendly and locally sourced goods.

 

Isha Clarke and Julian Jackl are young activists making a big impact. These activists prove you're never too young to protect the environment. (Photos from Diablo Mag)

 

These activists may be young, but they're making waves in their community. Oakland native Isha Clarke went toe to toe with developer Phil Tagami when she was only 14 years old. Clarke confronted Tagami to convince him to stop developing a coal terminal in West Oakland. Four years later, the fight's not over, but Clarke isn't backing down.

 

Last year, she came face to face with Senator Dianne Feinstein over her lack of support for the Green New Deal, a legislative plan to fight climate change. Now, Clarke is a leading member of Youth Vs. Apocalypse, a Bay Area youth-driven climate justice coalition. She also led the Bay Area Youth Climate Strike as part of a larger global strike. Students around the world walked out of their classrooms and took the streets to protest and bring awareness about the dangers the planet is facing.

 

Though he's not leading rallies, 12-year-old Julian Jackl made a huge difference at his school to help the planet. When he was in fourth grade, Jackl noticed how much plastic utensils his school was using and not recycling. Inspired by documentaries like A Plastic Ocean, he met with his principal, science teacher, and the Burton Valley's garbage collection service, Republic Service to confirm the plastic utensils weren't recyclable. After several meetings with the school board and the PTA, he convinced the school to switch from disposable utensils to washable silverware, saving roughly 47,000 plastic utensils from the landfill each year.

 

 

Green Camp Gallery Project is a haven for all things eco-friendly. What was once a derelict building is now an eco-friendly space. (Photo from OpenUp)

 

In 2012, Xolani Hlongwa founded the Intelligent Design (I.D.) Green Camp Gallery Project in his hometown of Durban, South Africa. He transformed a derelict property in the Glenwood neighborhood into a community that focuses on urban farming, supporting a sustainable lifestyle, and creativity. The space hosts a number of small events that aim to teach people on how to live an eco-friendlier lifestyle along with entertainment that includes documentary film screenings and live music performances.

 

Some of the key programs offered at Green Camp include a public space for arts and culture with many pieces made from recyclable materials, an artist residency, organic urban agriculture, and green entrepreneurship to name a few. They also support local businesses with an organic famer's market, a vintage clothing stall, and a "morning trade artisan produce market" held Sunday mornings.

 

People from around the world visit the camp to learn more about the culture, participate in skill share events, and to learn about urban ecology. Hlongwa continues to support the space and continually looks for ways to improve it. In the future, he hopes to set up an infrastructure that can be used to provide basic need such as health and financial centers, for the community.

 

For more information on the Green Camp Gallery Project, visit their website.

 

The Beach Co-op removes and studies plastic waste from beaches in search of a bigger solution. A group of volunteers do clean up duty at a local beach. (Photo from The Beach Co-op)

 

In 2015, Cape Town native and surfing enthusiast Aaniyah Omardien joined a group of volunteers to collect marine debris at Surfers Corner in Muzienberg every new moon. These informal gatherings soon transformed into the non-profit organization The Beach Co-op. Their mission is to keep South Africa's beaches clean by eliminating, reusing, and recycling single-use plastics, which often end up in the ocean.

 

Aside from hosting beach cleanups, the organization gathers research and data to better understand single-use plastics, how they're viewed by consumers, and how they're being recycled. They offer this information to other organizations and businesses who want to learn more about them and how to reduce their use. The Beach Co-op gathers information by hosting Dirty Dozen cleanups, where volunteers record what waste they find while cleaning up beaches.

 

So far, the organization has picked up over 100,00 pieces of trash from local beaches and oceans. They breakdown the most commonly found trash on their site, and some of the biggest offenders include drink lids, straws, and candy wrappers. The non-profit also continues to work with organizations like WWF-SA, the Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology at the University of Cape Town, and Fair Trade Tourism to further study how single-use plastics are used and how to eliminate them for good.

 

 

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