The Top Environmental Stories of 2019
It’s no surprise that some of the biggest news stories of the year were about our planet and the environment. Climate change is a major concern for 85% of Britons today. It’s what drives many of our actions and what brought you here. As we approach the end of the year, we take a look back at the top environmental stories from 2019!
Hold onto your seats/screens as we take you on a whistlestop overview of the events, issues and ideas that have gripped us this year!
This year started with a bang with the biggest Veganuary to date! Whether for the environment, health or the personal challenge, 250,000 people pledged to ditch animal products for the 31-day challenge on the organisation’s official site. It’s thought that many more took part without signing up with many continuing their new eating habits past January.
Supermarkets also saw a steady rise in the demand for vegan foods and drinks. This trend reflects the rising number of vegans and flexitarians who have cut down on their meat and fish intake and follow a mostly vegetarian diet.
2019 really was a mixed year for plastic pollution. We saw companies getting creative by repurposing and rethinking products to reduce plastic waste. Snøhetta, the architecture and design firm made chairs using ocean waste. Lucozade handed out seaweed pouches filled with sports drinks at this year’s London Marathon. The 10 R’s of sustainability really were the guiding principles of a number of sustainable solutions.
However, the plastic pollution problem is something that we will need to keep working on in 2020 and probably throughout the next decade. One big change we will most likely see from next year is for supermarket’s ‘Bags for life’. There has been a 26% surge in their use over the past year, causing more problems than the solution it was originally trying to solve.
As we started planning our summer breaks, IHG the hotel giant who owns Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and InterContinental made a groundbreaking announcement! They promised to ban all single-use plastic toiletries in across their 843,000 rooms and suites. That’s 200 million miniature toiletries that have been saved from rubbish bins, our soil and oceans.
This year we also saw an ongoing rise in people searching for greener escapes and getaways. From biking holidays to eco-lodges and exploring their local area, planet-friendly adventures are all the rage.
Starting to plan your 2020 holidays already? Then The Guardian has you covered with 20 planet-friendly breaks.
The launch of the Earth Rewards app
We launched the Beta version of the Earth Rewards app this summer followed by the real deal in September! Combining the talents of environmental scientists, researchers and professors with the tech know-how and creative design, Earth Rewards hit the App Store and Google Play.
The Earth Rewards® app is a simple yet effective tool to help you to calculate your carbon footprint. Our environmental rewards program helps you to understand, reduce and offset your carbon impacts by earning Earth Rewards points. It was recently voted Tech Spy’s app of the week. If you haven’t tried it yet, then download it here!
The Global Climate Strike
20th September saw us leave our desks and take to the streets to join millions of people around the world for the Global Climate Strike. We came together to inspire and instigate action to protect our planet and prioritise the climate emergency.
For us as individuals and as a team, it was one of the many highlights of our year. We were proud to stand side by side with people from all walks of life for a cause which is essentially our ‘raison d’être’; to help people build a better tomorrow for our planet and our future.
The language of the crisis
Although not a huge story, but noteworthy none the less, comes a nod to one of the top UK news outlets. In October, The Guardian published their environmental pledge. It outlined the steps they are taking to improve their reporting of the climate crisis and the steps they would take as an organisation to reduce their impact. This includes:
- To report truthfully and independently about the environmental crisis and how it affects people around the world
- Use language that is accurate, scientifically precise and clear to reflect the severity of the crisis
- To achieve net-zero emissions by 2030
Knowledge is power and sharing the stories that matter is one of the most powerful tools we have as a community. So we commend them for taking a strong stand and commitment to such an important issue.
A year/decade of records
The 2010s looks set to have been the warmest decade on record. 2019 is expected to be the second or third warmest year on record. This year saw a record number of melting ices sheets in Greenland. The decade saw a growing number of forest fires from the Amazon, Russia, Africa, Indonesia and Australia.
Areas and communities across the globe were affected by extreme ‘abnormal’ weather including heatwaves, floods, erratic rainfall patterns and cyclones. Collectively, these events led to 7 million new climate-related displacements between January and June in 2019.
The trigger for these is man-made lifestyle and consumption patterns with a record level of greenhouse gas concentrations reached in 2018. These continued to rise in 2019 with our daily actions individually and collectively contributing to this. This was reflected by us reaching the earliest Earth Overshoot Day ever this year on July 29th!
Although we still have a way to go, there are a few records we set that can be a source of inspiration as we continue to fight for our planet, environment and future.
A record number of cities, countries and continents have now declared that we are in a state of climate emergency. This may not sound like good news, but on the contrary, this actually means that environmental policies, solutions and action will now be higher up on the agenda.
Starting with the British government in May and the European Parliament in November, the declaration of a state of emergency was BIG news. ‘Climate emergency’ even became Oxford Dictionaries word of the year!