WATCH: This Plastic Challenge Will Inspire You to Make a Difference
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 Liu, but 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 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 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
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 Liu. "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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A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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