Things That Matter

The United Nations Gave Costa Rica The Highest Award Possible For Their Work Saving The Environment

Costa Rica is a global example of cutting carbon emission and using renewable and sustainable energy to power a nation. The Central American country has been striving to be carbon-zero ahead of the rest of the world. The country recently powered itself using only renewable and clean energy for part of a year showing that it is indeed possible. As such, the United Nation gave the country the highest award for being the environmental example it is.

Costa Rica was recognized by the UN for leading the way to a zero-carbon future.

Credit: visit_costarica / Instagram

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) recognized Costa Rica with its highest environmental honor. The Central American country was celebrated for its role in the protection of nature and its commitment to combat climate change with strong policies. 

“Costa Rica has been a pioneer in the protection of peace and nature and sets an example for the region and for the world,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment program. “Climate change demands urgent and transformative action from all of us. With its ambitious plan to decarbonize the economy, Costa Rica is rising to that challenge,” she added. “Global emissions are reaching record levels and we must act now to move to cleaner, more resilient economies.”

Around 70 percent of all buses and taxis are also expected to be electric by 2030, with full electrification expected by 2050.

Credit: visit_costarica / Instagram

Ninety-eight percent of Costa Rica’s energy is renewable and forest cover stands at more than 50 percent after decades of work to reverse deforestation. In 2017 the entire country ran a record 300 days solely on renewable power. The plan is to run on 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030. Costa Rica has plans to switch 70 percent of all carbon-emitting buses and taxis to electric by 2030, with full electrification of vehicles projected for 2050.

“Receiving the Champions of the Earth award on behalf of Costa Rica, its entire population, the past generations who protected the environment, and future generations fills me with pride and emotion for what Costa Rica has achieved and for what we can continue to do because we can achieve even more. I feel very proud to be Costa Rican,” said President Carlos Alvarado Quesada.

“About 50 years ago, the country began to advance a series of innovative environmental policies because the paradigm of sustainable development is very much in Costa Ricans’ DNA. The decarbonization plan consists of maintaining an upward curve in terms of economic employment growth, and at the same time generating a downward curve in the use of fossil fuels in order to stop polluting. How are we going to achieve that? Through clean public transport; smart and resilient cities; sound waste management; sustainable agriculture and improved logistics,” he said. 

Costa Rica revealed its plan of action to abide by the Paris Agreement’s target to achieve zero emissions by 2050.

Credit: visit_costarica / Instagram

Costa Rica’s Decarbonization Plan was unveiled in February and the target of the plan is to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, by reforming transport, energy, waste and land use. This would mean that the country will produce no more emissions than it can offset through actions such as maintaining and growing its forests. 

Already, Costa Rica’s groundbreaking role in promoting clean technologies and sustainability has earned the country of around 5 million people a global emissions rate of only 0.4 percent. China’s global emissions in 2011 were over 10 percent, and the US was emitting over 6 percent

UN Secretary-General urged world leaders to come together to discuss sustainability in New York during the Climate Action Summit.

Credit: visit_costarica / Instagram

The Champions of the Earth is the UN’s flagship global environment award. It recognizes Costa Rica’s sustainability efforts and highlights the urgent need to find solutions against climate change. The need for radical global action on this subject was highlighted by the UN earlier this week at UN’s Secretary-General António Guterres’ Climate Action Summit in New York.

For the summit, the Secretary-General urged world leaders and businesses to come together with concrete ideas on how they intend to cut emissions by 45 percent in the next decade and achieve net-zero emissions globally by 2050 as per the Paris Agreement of 2016. 

The urgency of the problem was highlighted by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg’s emotional speech.

By the end of the day, 65 countries announced efforts to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, several asset fund managers offered to aim to a net-zero portfolio of investments by the same year. Dozens of businesses said they would abide by the Paris Agreement too. The urgency of the problem was highlighted by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who chastised world leaders for their approach. “The eyes of all future generations are upon you,” she said, “if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you.”

The ‘Champions of the Earth’ award was established to celebrate outstanding figures whose efforts have transformed the environment and the world.

Credit: visit_costarica / Instagram

The award Champions of the Earth, bestowed upon Costa Rica this year, was established by the UNEP (UN Environmental Program) in 2005 to celebrate outstanding figures whose actions have been transformative to this earth and the environment.     From world leaders to environmental activists and technology innovators, the award recognizes trailblazing efforts to protect the planet for generations to come. 

Costa Rica is one of five Champions of the Earth this year. The other categories rewarded are entrepreneurial vision, inspiration and action; and science and innovation. All 2019 champions will be honored today at a gala ceremony in New York during the 74th UN General Assembly. Also honoured at the event will be seven young environmental activists between the ages of 18 and 30, who will take home the ‘Young Champions of the Earth’ prize.

Previous laureates from Latin America include Michelle Bachelet, former president of Chile, for her efforts in creating marine protected areas and for boosting renewable energy (2017); former Brazilian environment minister Izabella Teixeira for her leadership and key role in reversing deforestation of the Amazon (2013); and Mexican ecologist José Sarukhán Kermez for a lifetime of leadership and innovation in the conservation of biodiversity in Mexico and the world (2016).

READ: Costa Rica Is Warning Everyone To Stop Drinking Alcohol As 19 People Have Died Due To Tainted Alcohol

Fashion Is The Second Most Polluting Industry In The World —And It’s Turning To Food Waste To Cut Down On Emissions

Fierce

Fashion Is The Second Most Polluting Industry In The World —And It’s Turning To Food Waste To Cut Down On Emissions

@recycle1az / Instagram

The world is in a dreadful mess if you haven’t noticed. And —surprise, surprise— a lot of it is caused by the fashion industry. Apparel and footwear production accounts for 8.1% of global greenhouse emissions —or as much as the total climate impact of the entire European Union. The current fast fashion “only wear it once” mentality is causing an unprecedented strain on the planet’s resources. And a few brands are taking note of the magnitude of the problem and see an opportunity. 

Both Fashion and the food industries are greatly responsible for an unprecedented strain on the planet’s resources.

twitter @seotaijilads

Analysts warn that the fashion market’s annual 5% growth is straining planetary resources “at an unprecedented level,” by raising production to more than 100 million tons by 2030. For those of us who don’t know, ’Fast Fashion’ can be defined as ‘the cheap, disposable clothing, made indiscriminately, imprudently and often without consideration for environmental and labor conditions’ by the companies we all love —like Zara, H&M, Forever 21 and Fashion Nova— it’s a disease and both the planet and the people are facing the consequences. 

Added on to the damage that fashion production causes, there’s the case of food production and waste. 

twitter @ajplus

Around the world, people eat around 100 billion bananas every year. That creates around 270 million tons of waste–from peels to stalks–which are often burned or left to rot. Crop burning pollutes the air, and rotting releases methane into the atmosphere and contributes to global warming. But here’s where we have good news; a few masterminds of the sustainable fashion industry took into consideration the magnitude of this waste and saw an opportunity. 

Single-use plastics and discarded fishing nets were among the first materials to be recycled into luxury products, but now it’s food waste that’s getting the sustainable spin. 

instagram @veja

US designer Mara Hoffman crafts all her buttons from tree nuts, while Hugo Boss and Veja sell sneakers made from repurposed pineapple leaves and corn starch, and Italian start-up Orange Fiber makes silk from scraps of citrus peel which has been used for Salvatore Ferragamo’s slinky floral printed scarves and dresses. 

The true pioneer of sustainable —and luxury— fashion is Stella McCartney who launched her eponymous line in 2001. 

instagram @stellamccartney

As one of the industry’s most vocal champions of environmental issues, McCartney is a strong example of the commercial potential of sustainable, ethically minded businesses. Sustainability —and an ethical standpoint— shapes the company’s policies, its underlying business model and its brand message.

Stella McCartney opted out of using animal-derived materials such as leather, silk, wool, etc. for ethical reasons as well as for the environmental impact their production causes. 

instagram @stellamccartney

The environmentally conscious brand makes buttery vegan leathers out of mushrooms. For spring/summer 2019, McCartney offered gauzy vests and T-shirts crafted from vegan silk made from yeast, and leather trousers in earthy mustards and burgundy hues.

Food waste is definitely on-trend right now.

instagram @clos19official

The huge luxury conglomerate who owns brands like Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Fendi —to name a few—LVMH, has teamed up with London charity Refettorio Felix for their ‘wine and spirits platform Clos19’ and host super fancy “supper clubs” where stellar chefs serve up three-course dinners using only waste produce — tickets cost £90, and each event sells out almost instantly. 

It’s a movement happening across different lifestyle categories from dining to beauty and fashion. “Food waste is definitely trending right now,” says Lisa Carolan, founder of the first waste-free wellness resort Our Retreat, in Sardinia; she introduced a waste-free policy after discovering that 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted annually. 

The growing demand for natural skincare and plastic-free packaging has seen the beauty industry wake up to waste too.

twitter @marieclaireuk

Earlier this year, The Body Shop unveiled a collection of cleansers and moisturizers crafted from organic, “ugly” carrots that are too crooked to be sold in supermarkets. UK beauty brand, Cowshed, makes its packaging from repurposed sugar cane while London-based brands UpCircle and MontaMonta have both partnered with coffee shops across the British capital to turn used coffee grounds into scrubs and serums that are sold at Cult Beauty and Liberty. 

Fashion brands will find that if they choose to use food waste, ‘The supply of material is plentiful.’ 

twitter @macrostar

Data proving that 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted annually also predicts that the figure is expected to rise to 2.2 billion by 2025 —according to the United Nations. Other statistics say that one-third of the food grown or produced in the world is discarded. “The supply of material is plentiful,” says Tom Broughton, founder of London-based eyewear Cubitts and a pioneer in the design of sustainable eyewear. 

Cubitts produces opticals and sunglasses crafted from waste materials like corn husks and mushrooms. The specs even look like they’re made from wood, mais non, they’re made from corn starch. The brown finish is added from…wait for it… potatoes and coffee grounds. 

In recent years, as the fashion industry has started to acknowledge, and wake up to the impact it has on the planet —aka. being the second most polluting industry after oil production— sustainability has become a buzzword, and the only way out. It’s encouraging to see that brands are taking serious steps in innovation to mitigate their negative impact on the planet. And just as fashion brands and designers are opting to see the value in waste rather than the waste in it, consumers also need to take their share of responsibility and shop with awareness and ethics.

Monarca Butterflies Were Almost Declared A Threatened Species — This Year, The Number Of Butterflies Arriving To Mexico Is Shocking

Things That Matter

Monarca Butterflies Were Almost Declared A Threatened Species — This Year, The Number Of Butterflies Arriving To Mexico Is Shocking

Every year, hundreds of millions of Monarch butterflies travel up to 3 thousand miles in their annual migration from Canada and the United States, to their wintering home in Mexico. Once there, the monarchs set camp in the Oyamel Fir trees of Michoacan, Mexico. After years of increasingly declining populations, monarch butterflies could be making a comeback across North America.

The ‘Monarca’ butterfly has started to descend upon the Mexican forests of Michoacan.

The beautiful butterflies have started their annual fall migration, and early reports from observers suggest that more of them are making the trek than in years past. The increase is attributed to good weather conditions during the migration period, as well as larger numbers of milkweed, an important food source, along their path.

The brightly-colored butterfly starts its long migration in October and heads back North toward the end of Winter in January.

Come October when temperatures start to drop in Canada and the United Sates, millions of  beautiful black and orange monarch butterflies start their mesmerizing migration, which sees them flapping south, nearly 3 thousand miles to the center of Mexico. These butterflies cluster into Pine and Oyamel trees in the forests of Michoacan.

The massive migration of monarch butterflies still remains a mystery to researchers.

A lot is still unknown about how the butterflies are able to find their way to Mexico every fall — or how they make the return trip north to Canada and the northeastern United States come spring. One thing we do know is that when the weather starts warming up in the U.S., they’ll head back north from Mexico, stopping in southern states like Texas and Louisiana to mate and lay eggs, which quickly become caterpillars that transform into butterflies that continue flying north bit by bit, mating (and dying) along the way.

Another thing that’s become clear in recent years is that monarch butterfly populations are dwindling.

https://twitter.com/SouthernGroupAL/status/1188940480760946693

In fact, over the last two decades, more than a billion —yes, billion— butterflies have disappeared. One reason is the decline of milkweed, mostly a result of herbicides. Milkweed is the only plant on which monarch butterflies can lay their eggs — and the only food caterpillars feed on before turning into butterflies.

Although, monarch butterflies have not yet been declared a threatened species, the prospects of future migrations are unsure.

Recent figures indicate that the number of monarch butterflies arriving to Mexico has been far lower than usual. The monarch butterfly biosphere reserve is located in the central Mexican Mountains. The creation of this biosphere reserve was to protect the forests and butterflies that overwinter there.

Surprisingly, this year started out well for the eastern monarchs.

The NRDC cites a count of monarchs in Mexico last winter that showed more than double the previous year’s number. It was the highest number in 10 years! Now that the southward migration is on, monarch lovers are hopeful that the population will remain strong. Civilian butterfly boosters are spotting the colorful road warriors on their journey.

One key way that the butterfly fans encourage the monarchs on their annual odyssey is by planting milkweed.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, the loss of milkweed plants in both urban and rural areas is a big reason why monarch populations have dipped, and the success of milkweed restoration projects may be contributing to their return. Fortunately, word is spreading about the need to bring back milkweed.

Tourists can visit 3 reserve areas that are open to the public: El Rosario in Ocampo the most popular, one. It receives visitors from November to March. And it also offers guided tours. Sierra Chincua in Angangueo is easy to visit, and finally, the most perfect among the three is Cerro Pelon. These reserves are visited by many Mexican and international tourists from Canada, United States, Germany, Japan, France and Spain.

The town of Angangueo, located in far eastern Michoacan celebrates the ‘Monarch Butterfly Festival.’

In the year 1922, Angangueo decided to start a festival to promote awareness of the habitat of butterflies and the arts and culture of the area, all proceeds from the festival go back to protecting the butterfly biosphere reserve as well as local indigenous groups.