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Sign placed by volunteers at the Joshua Tree National Park in California on Jan. 3 after the federal government's partial shutdown. MARK RALSTON / AFP / Getty Images

By Miranda Fox

The impacts of the government shutdown on the nation's national parks have been widely reported: overflowing bathrooms, decimated habitat and widespread litter resulted in parks that remained open without staff oversight and management. In response, individuals, organizations and corporations have volunteered to help out with the clean-up. One of these is Nestlé Waters North America, which released this statement last week:

"At Nestlé Waters North America, we believe that even one bottle or can that is not recycled properly is one too many. When we heard about the need in our national parks, we wanted to help."

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Alchemy Goods / Bambaw / LuminAID

The holidays are coming and if you're stuck on what to give your eco-conscious friend or relative, we've got you covered. At EcoWatch, we're big fans of homemade presents, products that actually help the planet, and putting our dollars towards a good cause. This year, our staff has rounded up some of the best green gifts we've given and received, as well as the items on our wish list.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

With safety razors, only the blades need replacing. Your Best Digs / Flickr

By Meredith Rosenberg

Disposable items have become so ingrained in our daily habits that we may not realize all of the small, everyday actions that are adding to the amount of disposable waste that ends up in oceans and landfills. Here are five lifestyle changes you can make today to ditch the disposables and reduce your environmental impact.

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utt73 / Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The U.S. Forest Service offered Nestlé a three-year permit on Wednesday to keep taking millions of gallons of water from the San Bernardino National Forest in California, the Associated Press reported.

The offer has certain restrictions. Nestlé, which sells bottled water under the Arrowhead brand, can continue piping from the Strawberry Creek watershed "when there is water available consistent with the forest's Land Management Plan," according to the AP, citing the Forest Service offer. The watershed is currently rated as "impaired."

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Sir David Attenborough—who showed "heartbreaking" examples of the effects of plastic pollution on marine life in his Blue Planet II series—spoke with Sky News ahead of World Oceans Day about humanity's responsibility to save our struggling seas.

"We've become aware of what we've done to the world and the responsibility we have for looking after the wild world," he revered British naturalist said.

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Big Bear Lake is a major reservoir in the Santa Ana River watershed in the San Bernardino Mountains. Darkest tree / CC BY 3.0

Federal officials and conservation groups reached an agreement Wednesday that will finally end Nestlé Corp.'s ability to rely on a permit that expired 30 years ago to siphon water from the San Bernardino National Forest for its massive bottled-water operation. The company's diversion has severely reduced water in spring-fed Strawberry Creek, which forest wildlife and plants need to survive.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger pledges to terminate plastic spoons at home. @schwarzenegger / Twitter

In one of the coolest social media campaigns since the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, the United Nations launched a global challenge to #BeatPlasticPollution, the theme of World Environment Day on June 5.

The movement encourages you to give up single-use plastics and replace them with reusable and sustainable alternatives. Participants are asked to announce their commitment on social media and tag their friends to help spread the message within 24 hours.

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At least 700,000 tons of abandoned fishing gear enter the oceans each year. Pixabay

In an ambitious effort to stop ocean pollution, the European Commission on Monday proposed banning the 10 most common single-use plastic products as well as lost and abandoned fishing gear.

The European Union's executive arm targeted the products that are most often found on the continent's beaches and seas, which together account for 70 percent of its marine litter.

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Dean Hochman / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The growing movement to stamp out plastic straws is spreading to San Francisco.

Supervisors Katy Tang and Ahsha Safai plan to unveil on Tuesday legislation that prohibits restaurants, bars and coffee shops from serving plastic straws, stirrers or cocktail sticks with beverages, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Instead of the disposable items, the lawmakers suggested businesses hand out compostable or reusable alternatives.

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Scott Pruitt at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland. Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Sharon Kelly

Back in 2008, residents of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and surrounding areas received a notice in the mail advising them to drink bottled water instead of tap water—a move that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) internal memos at the time described as "one of the largest failures in U.S. history to supply clean drinking water to the public."

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An off-base public water system near the Fairchild AFB in Washington state was taken off line and residents were given bottled water after testing showed high levels of DFAs. Joe Mabel / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The Defense Department has for the first time disclosed the locations of military installations where tap water or groundwater on or off base is contaminated with highly toxic fluorinated chemicals. But the list is incomplete, naming only locations where water is polluted above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) "safe" level for tap water, which is well above levels found safe by independent scientists and regulations in a growing number of states.

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