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Cigarette butts are the most-littered item found at beach clean ups. John R. Platt

By Tara Lohan

By now it's no secret that plastic waste in our oceans is a global epidemic. When some of it washes ashore — plastic bottles, plastic bags, food wrappers — we get a stark reminder. And lately one part of this problem has been most glaring to volunteers who comb beaches picking up trash: cigarette butts.

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Polling station sign. Brenton Flectcher / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Nathaniel Stinnett

Americans are finally beginning to understand the severity of the climate crisis. Nearly three-quarters of Americans now say global warming is "personally important" to them, even as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that we have just 11 years to take dramatic action to avert climate catastrophe.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Lloyd Russell / University Of Plymouth

The advantage of biodegradable shopping bags is supposed to be that they will not linger as long in the natural environment as conventional plastic bags. However, a new study from the University of Plymouth suggests that might not be the case.

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Traditional Thai desserts wrapped in very environmentally friendly banana leaf packaging. Yvan Cohen / Contributor / LightRocket

Thailand and Vietnam are two of the five countries that account for 60 percent of the plastic in the world's oceans, according to a 2015 study. Now, Vice reported Friday that supermarkets in both countries are going back to nature to find an alternative to plastic bags: banana leaves.

A March 21 Facebook post showing how Rimping Supermarket in Chiangmai, Thailand had begun wrapping produce in the durable leaves received more than 7,000 positive reactions.

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SimonSkafar / E+ / Getty Images

A powerful documentary can help inform viewers and spark a more conscious lifestyle. Maybe you've thrown out rotting greens one too many times, or waste from online shopping has you feeling guilty. The following list of documentaries may inspire you to "green" your life a bit more just in time for spring.

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Elisa Macellari

By Patrick Rogers

In the U.S., we consume more than 15 billion pounds of tissue each year—more than 50 pounds per person. It's taking a major toll on forests like the Canadian boreal.

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A water sprinkler system irrigates a field in the southern region of the San Joaquin Valley within Kern County, California. John Chacon / California Department of Water Resources

By Tara Lohan

For many people a clean drink of water isn't a certainty. Right now an estimated 1.2 billion people live in areas with chronic water scarcity, and upwards of 4 billion — two-thirds of the world's population — experience shortages at least one month a year. This will only get worse with climate change and population growth, and as it does it will exacerbate food insecurity and inequality — in both rich and poor nations.

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Patrick Neufelder / Pixabay

By John R. Platt

This has been one hell of a tough year for the planet.

Just look at the past few weeks: The Trump administration tried to bury its own climate report, planned to eliminate sage-grouse protection on millions of acres of oil-rich land, allowed more pollution from coal plants, and then withdrew the Waters of the United States rule, threatening the entire Clean Water Act in the process.

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A river cleanup in Union County, New Jersey. Paige Bollman / CC BY 2.0

One of the questions people ask me most often is what they can do locally to help endangered species. Well, I recently appeared on the Green Divas podcast to talk about that very subject. We discussed the horror of lawns, the danger of cars, great ways to volunteer, and other efforts you can take to make your neck of the woods a little bit safer for rare plants and wildlife.

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Microsoft founder Bill Gates speaking during the Hongqiao International Economic and Trade Forum in the China International Import Expo at the National Exhibition and Convention Centre on November 5, 2018 in Shanghai, China. Lintao Zhang / Getty Images

For Bill Gates, toilets are serious business. The billionaire philanthropist kicked off the Reinvented Toilet Expo in China and unveiled a new toilet that does not require water or sewers, and uses chemicals to turn human waste into fertilizer, Reuters reported.

"We are all here for one reason: because more than half the world's population doesn't have the safe sanitation they need to lead healthy and productive lives," Gates said in a speech on Tuesday in Beijing.

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