Nursery Bans Glitter, Calls on Others to Follow Their Example
By Imogen Calderwood
Glitter is great, right? Particularly now that it's getting dark and cold and a bit depressing outside.
But, as much as we love glitter for making everything look festive, a chain of children's nurseries in the UK might actually have a point.
Tops Day Nurseries has decided that glitter has to go, for the sake of the environment.
Leftovers from children's art projects wash into the water system, and from there can end up in the food chain, according to the nurseries' Managing Director Cheryl Hadland.
"You can see when the children are taking their bits of craft home and there's glitter on the cardboard, it blows off and into the air," said Hadland, who is in charge of 2,500 children in 19 nurseries across Dorset, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Somerset and Wiltshire.
"There are 22,000 nurseries in the country," she added, "so if we're all getting through kilos and kilos of glitter, we're doing terrible damage."
But Hadland added that she "loved glitter" and she is trying to find an alternative material for craft sessions.
Marine Conservation Society described it as a "proactive approach" and welcomed the nurseries' announcement.
Sue Kinsey from the Marine Conservation Society, said: "While glitter is only a small part of the microplastic load getting into watercourses and the sea, steps like these will all add up to something greater."
Alice Horton, from the UK's Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, told the Guardian: "On a small scale, one nursery banning it is unlikely to have any environmental impact, but it's a good environmental statement to make, like one person choosing not to buy bottled water to reduce plastic bottle waste. [It is] not going to change the world but [it] sets a target for others."
Microplastics have become a hot topic in the UK, with the government announcing the strictest ban in the world on microbeads to come into force by the end of this year.
The tiny plastics are found in everyday cosmetic products like body scrubs, face washes, toothpaste and cleaning products. And a single shower can result in 100,000 plastic particles entering the ocean.
Once plastic gets into the ocean, it acts as a magnet for pollutants. Toxins that wash into bodies of water—for example, agricultural pesticides and chemicals from industrial plants—latch onto plastic. And plastic in the water is then eaten by marine animals.
It is already affecting our food chain. The average person who eats seafood swallows an estimated 11,000 pieces of microplastic every year, according to researchers at the University of Ghent.
Sir David Attenborough has been championing the fight against plastic pollution—which he has described as "heartbreaking."
"We may think we live a long way from the oceans but we don't. What we actually do here … has a direct effect on the oceans and what the oceans do then reflects back on us," he said.
"It is one world. And it's in our care," he continued. "For the first time in the history of humanity, for the first time in 500 million years, one species has the future in the palm of its hands. I just hope it realizes that that is the case."
Global Citizen campaigns for the Global Goals, including to protect our oceans and seas. You can take action with us here.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Global Citizen.
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By D. André Green II
One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="91165203d4ec0efc30e4632a00fdf57d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KilPRvjbMrA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.