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By John R. Platt

The world needs to change the way it eats, not just as individuals but as a society.

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Rimma_Bondarenko / iStock / Getty Images

By Tiffany La Forge

We've all been there — feeling like there's just some pep missing in our step. Thankfully, there's a natural (and tasty!) solution in your pantry.

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On thin ice. Christopher Michel / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The Russian military is taking measures to protect the residents of a remote Arctic settlement from a mass of polar bears, German press agency DPA reported.

The move comes after regional authorities declared a state of emergency over the weekend after sightings of more than 50 bears in the town of Belushya Guba since December.

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This year's letter from Bill and Melinda Gates focused on nine things that surprised them. For the Microsoft-cofounder, one thing he was surprised to learn was the massive amount of new buildings the planet should expect in the coming decades due to urban population growth.

"The number of buildings in the world is going to double by 2060. It's like we're going to build a new New York City every month for the next 40 years," he said.

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Over the past few years, it seems vegan cooking has gone from 'brown rice and tofu' to a true art form. These amazing cooks show off the creations on Instagram—and we can't get enough.

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The USS Ashland, followed by the USS Green Bay, in the Philippine Sea on Jan. 21. U.S. Department of Defense

By Shana Udvardy

After a dearth of action on climate change and a record year of extreme events in 2017, the inclusion of climate change policies within the annual legislation Congress considers to outline its defense spending priorities (the National Defense Authorization Act) for fiscal year 2018 was welcome progress. House and Senate leaders pushed to include language that mandated that the Department of Defense (DoD) incorporate climate change in their facility planning (see more on what this section of the bill does here and here) as well as issue a report on the impacts of climate change on military installations. Unfortunately, what DoD produced fell far short of what was mandated.

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The Paradise Fossil Plant in western Kentucky. CC BY 3.0

Trump is losing his rallying cry to save coal. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) voted on Thursday to retire two coal-fired power plants in the next few years despite a plea from the president to keep one of the plants open.

Earlier this week, the president posted an oddly specific tweet that urged the government-owned utility to save the 49-year-old Paradise 3 plant in Kentucky. It so happens that the facility burns coal supplied by Murray Energy Corporation, whose CEO is Robert Murray, is a major Trump donor.

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U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, and U.S. Senator Ed Markey (R), Democrat of Massachusetts, speak during a press conference to announce Green New Deal legislation to promote clean energy programs outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, Feb. 7. SAUL LOEB / AFP / Getty Images

By Bill McKibben

Myron Ebell of the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, the man who led the drive to pull America out of the Paris climate accords, said the other day that the Green New Deal was a "back-to-the-dark-ages manifesto." That's language worth thinking about, coming from perhaps the Right's most influential spokesman on climate change.

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Students take part in a student climate march on February 15, 2019 in Brighton, England. Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

By David Rousell and Amy Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles

Students around the world are walking out of school once more, as part of ongoing strikes to protest governments' inaction on climate change. Since August 2018, tens of thousands of young people have taken part in strikes across Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Canada and Australia. The movement continues to grow, with fresh protests occurring in the UK and elsewhere.

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Can you go 21 days without using plastic water bottles? Well, you've been challenged. Too easy of a challenge for you? Share the idea with your friends and family. Imagine if the entire world went 21 days without consuming plastic bottles.

Let's make 2019 the year of plastic pollution solutions. We have unimaginable power as consumers to create a better world for our children.

You've Been Challenged

EcoWatch teamed up with China's first professional surfer Darci Liu and #5minutebeachcleanup founder Carolina Sevilla to create an exciting challenge to help you on your path to making a huge difference on this planet. Get engaged with your friends and family and embark with us on this journey.

It's simple: refuse plastic bottles for 21 days, talk about it on social media, hashtag #PlasticBottlesChallenge and reflect on your experience for a week via social media posts. Let us know via social media direct messaging if this challenge has made a difference in your life. Mention @EcoWatch, @5minutebeachcleanup and @take__away_from_the_sea so we can consider featuring your experience in our Instagram story.

We Need a Massive Shift

"We get used to very easy lifestyles," said Darci Liu, bu we've got to shift our mindsets and move away from the single-use mentality.

"What we need to realize is how much that bottle has traveled to be where you are," said Carolina Sevilla as she spoke about the carbon footprint of plastic water bottles. We are responsible for the destruction happening on this planet. Sevilla urged viewers to get engaged, reject single-use plastic and realize that "this can really make an impact."

Plastic Is Wreaking Havoc On Our Health​

"It's way healthier for us to bring our own water bottles" instead of consuming whatever bottles of water or beverages are available when we are on the go, said Darci Liu. Plastic Pollution Coalition points out in the above Instagram post that we are still learning about the health implications of plastic.

Plastic Bottles or Tap Water?

93 percent of bottled water contains microplastics. The chemicals used in plastic bottles create these microplastics. Have we all processed the fact that these chemicals do leach into the liquid, and thus end up in our systems as well?

Coke, Pepsi and Nestlé Are World's Biggest Producers of Plastic Trash

Darci Liu lives on Hainan Island China where she has direct connection to the ocean each day, a rare opportunity considering most of China is away from the sea.

"Every single day there is more trash in the ocean next to me while I'm surfing," said Darci. "Kids ask me the question why there are so many plastic bottles in the ocean. I don't know how to answer the kids."

At this point, you likely have a solid understanding of the importance of this challenge. So find yourself a water bottle that you enjoy drinking from, and be sure you have access to a water refill station or water filtration system if needed. You are officially a change maker and an #EcoWatcher committed to making a difference.

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