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Mysterious Environmental Incident Leaves Crimean City Without Birds

Armyansk, a city on the Russian-occupied Crimea Peninsula, has been left without any kind of birds after a mysterious chemical incident at the nearby Crimean Titan plant.

On August 23 – 24, an unknown substance spewed into the atmosphere, covering everything in a rust-like plaque and emanating a foul odor. Social media was buzzing with reports and photos of houses, cars and even plants covered in the mysterious substance, but occupation authorities ignored them for several days. At first, people started noticing that, apart from the occasional crow, there were no more birds in Armyansk, but then things got progressively worse. More and more residents of the Crimean city began experiencing breathing problems, but local authorities and the media completely ignored them.

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Chinese Millionaire Spends His Free Time Picking Up Trash From the Streets of His City

Zhong Congrong, a successful businessman from Chongqing, China, has become known as the “the millionaire trash collector,” for his longtime habit of scouring the streets of his city armed with a trash-picking claw and picking up any garbage he finds.

The 52-year-old entrepreneur began cleaning up the streets of Chingqing three years ago, after a family trip to southern China’s Hainan province, for the Chinese New Year. There, he met a retired university professor who had reportedly been picking up trash from one of the local beaches every day, for the last four years. He was so impressed with the woman’s dedication and commitment to trash collecting that he decided to replicate her daily habit in his home city, as soon as he got back from his vacation.

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Eco-Conscious Woman Cuts Her Trash Output to a Tiny Mason Jar Per Week

Do you think you could make do with just a Mason jar instead of your trash can? It’s highly unlikely, but a Canadian woman has managed to do just that. After seeing the huge amount of plastic waste in her son’s lunch, Tippi Thole decided to make a drastic change. While she already recycled and composted most of her trash, she knew that she could do much better.

Tippi and her son are now focused on living a more sustainable life in order to help the environment, and to that end, she has replaced their old 10-gallon trash can with a 5-inch Mason jar. You may think this means she’s started to recycle more, but actually, the opposite is true.

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Swedish Brewery Makes Beer with Recycled Sewage Water

In an attempt to raise awareness about the ability to turn wastewater into safe drinking water, a brewery in Stockholm, Sweden has launched a new beer brand made with recycled sewage water.

Aptly called PU:REST, the new beer crafted by Stockholm’s Nya Carnegiebryggeriet (New Carnegie Brewery) in collaboration with the Swedish Environmental Research Institute (IVL) and Carlsberg is supposed to convince people that “second-hand water” can be as clean as normal tap water. IVL claims that the challenge to get people to drink recycled water is not a technological one, but a psychological one, so what better way to convince consumers of the purity of treated wastewater than using it to create a beer.

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World’s First 100% Plant-Based Steak Is Barely Distinguishable From the Real Thing

Dutch company Vivera claims it has created the holy grail of plant-based protein – a 100% vegan steak that tastes and smell so good that consumers will barely be able to tell that it’s not actual steak.

Made primarily of soy and wheat, the groundbreaking vegan steak is the result of one and a half years of trial and error, with Vivera’s experts working against the clock to ensure that the Dutch company is the first to bring a 100% plant-based steak to market. While getting the taste and smell right was a big challenge, the texture was by far the most difficult to replicate. Making a plant-based product feel like steak when your biting and chewing on it is apparently not the easiest thing in the world.

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This Indian Coal Field Has Been Burning Continuously for Over 100 Years

One of India’s largest coal reserves, the Jharia coalfield, situated in the Dhanbad district of Jharkhand, is the site of one of the longest-burning fires in the world. The area has been burning continuously for over 100 years.

Mining in the Jharia coalfields, which cover over 100 square miles, began in the late 1800s, under British rule. The first detected fire broke out in 1916, but by the 1980s over 70 blazes had sprouted up, and none of them could be contained, let alone extinguished. As they were often deep underground, they were left to smolder in the hope that they would eventually burn out on their own. Unfortunately, a new mining operation in 1973 smothered that hope.

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This Landfill Diner in Indonesia Lets Patrons Pay for Food with Plastic Waste

An extraordinary new restaurant in Semarang, Indonesia is on a mission to support locals trapped in poverty, many of whome are earning less than $25 (USD) a month, by providing them with an alternative way to pay for their food.

The Methane Gas Canteen, run by husband and wife team Sarimin and Suyatmi, is located in an unexpected place for an eatery – Jatibarang Landfill in Semarang, Central Java. The landfill is a mountain of putrifying waste, where poor locals spend their days scavenging plastic and glass to sell. Meanwhile, the couple, who spent 40 years collecting waste before opening the restaurant, is busy cooking.

What makes the restaurant unusual, aside from its location, is that no cash is required to pay for meals. Poor scavengers have the option to pay for their food with recyclable waste instead of hard currency. Saramin, 56, weighs the plastic customers bring in, calculates its worth, and then deducts that value from the cost of the meal, refunding any surplus value to the patron. The scheme is part of the community’s solution to reduce waste in the landfill and recycle non-degradable plastics.

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Dutch Startup Wants to Train Crows to Clean Streets of Cigarette Butts

Alarmed by how many cigarette butts littered the parks of Amsterdam, two Dutch designers came up with an unusual plan to train crows to pick up the butts and trade them for tasty rewards.

Industrial designers Ruben van der Vleuten and Bob Spikman originally considered using robots to clean the streets of cigarette butts, but they presented a series of difficulties, particularly the complicated programming required to have them vacuuming the buts out of every nook and cranny while trying to avoid bicycles and passers-by. So they turned their attention to one of the most abundant resources of urban areas – birds. Pigeons were the first ones they considered, because they can be found in virtually every city in the world, but a quick search revealed that they aren’t really known for their intelligence, so training them would have been very hard. But the two designers soon found a bird that was both very common around human settlements and much, much smarter – the crow.

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Bizarre Mouthpiece Allegedly Turns Polluted Air into Clean, Mineral-Infused Air

Treepex is a portable barrel-like device that allegedly uses living tree cells compressed in replaceable cartridges to turn carbon dioxide into oxygen, emulating a tree’s ability to transform polluted air into mineral-enriched air. It sounds like a game-changer for sure, but nobody knows if it actually works, plus, it looks kind of funny.

Developed by a Georgian, Tbilisi-based, startup with the same name, Treepex claims to provide a real solution to the world’s growing air pollution problem. Using a new technology called CRISPR, the company was apparently able “to extract the DNA of actual trees to recreate the living cells that are responsible for photosynthesis”, and compress them into cartridges that absorb polluted air and release clean fresh air for the user. All you have to do is plug a cartridge into the tubular Treepex, stick it into your mouth, and breathe.

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How Discarded Orange Peels Brought a Costa Rica Forest Back to Life

20 years ago, a couple of ecologists fighting for the conservation of Costa Rica’s tropical ecosystems convinced a large orange juice producer to donate part of their forestland to a national park in exchange for the right to dispose of massive amounts of orange peels on a degraded plot of land within that same park. No one had any idea what an impact that would have.

In 1997, Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs, a husband and wife team of ecologists working with the Área de Conservación Guanacaste national park, in Costa Rica, came up with a plan to save a piece of unspoiled, completely forested land from a big fruit juice company, by offering something very attractive in return. If the company, Del Oro, agreed to donate part of its forested land to the Área de Conservación Guanacaste, they would be allowed to deposit massive amounts of waste in the form of orange peels on a 3-hectare piece of degraded land within the national park, at no cost. Disposing of tons of leftover pulp and peels usually involved burning them or paying to have them dumped at a landfill, so the proposal was very attractive.

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These Three Dogs Are Bringing Chile’s Fire-Devastated Forests Back to Life

In January 2017, a series of fires in central Chile’s La Maue region burned down over 457,000 hectares of forest, leaving behind nothing but charred ground. Now, three border collies are helping replant it all by doing what they love most, running.

Das, Olivia, and Summer, three female border collies have been working hard to bring the fire-devastated forest back to life, since March. Not that they know how hard or how important their work is, since they are essentially running and playing. The dogs’ owner, 32-year-old Francisca Torres, takes them to various areas of charred forest in her truck, equips them with special vests that come with special satchels which she fills with seeds of endemic plants. Then the dogs are sent out to run around and spread as many seeds as they can. When they return, she rewards them with snacks, fills up their satchels and sends them out on another run.

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Brazilian Man Spends 40 Years Bringing a Forest Back to Life

83-year-old Antonio Vicente has spent the last four decades of his life fighting against the current. As Brazilian landowners cut down rainforests to make room for profitable plantations and cattle grazing grounds, he struggled to bring the lush jungles of his childhood back to life. Today, his efforts are being rewarded, as the completely stripped land he once began planting trees on 40 years ago, has become a beautiful jungle teeming with tropical wildlife once again.

It was 1973 when Antonio took up the challenge of restoring the forest on a 31-hectare piece of land that had been razed for cattle grazing. Ironically enough, he bought the land on the outskirts of Sao Pablo, in Brazil’s Sao Paulo region, using credits that the military government was giving out to promote deforestation and investing in advanced agricultural technology. But Antonio had no intention of using the money to boost the national agriculture. He just wanted to revive the forest.

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This Uninhabited Tropical Island Has the World’s Highest Density of Plastic Pollution

One of the last things you would normally expect to find on an uninhabited island in the South Pacific is plastic, and yet the beaches of Henderson Island are riddled with nearly 40 million pieces of plastic, ranging from toothbrushes to shopping bags and bottles.

According to a recent report published in the in “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” journal, Henderson Island currently has zero inhabitants and around 17 tonnes of plastic trash, with around 13,000 pieces washing up on its shores every single day. The tiny patch of land has been found by marine scientists to have the highest density of debris recorded anywhere in the world.

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Couple Spend 25 Years Turning Barren Patch of Land into Paradise of Biodiversity

In 1991, Anil and Pamela Malhotra bought a 55 acres of unused farmland in Karnataka, India, and started planting native trees on it. Over the last 25 years, their small forest has turned into a 300-acre wildlife sanctuary that hundreds of endangered plants, animals and birds call home.

Anil and Pamela met and married in New Jersey, USA, during the 1960s. They both shared a love for wildlife, and after visiting Hawaii on their honeymoon, they fell in love with the archipelago’s lush forests and fascinating fauna. They bought some land and decided to settle there. “That is where we learnt the value of forests and realized that despite threats of global warming no serious efforts were being made to save forests for the future,” Anil said.

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The Brave “Spiderman Cleaners” Risking Their Lives to Keep China’s Mountains Trash-Free

With millions of Chinese visiting the country’s sacred mountains every year, keeping them trash-free is incredibly difficult. Luckily, that’s where the Spiderman cleaners come in. These dedicated men an women risk their lives on a daily basis, rappelling down steep cliffs to reach plastic bottles, bags and various other garbage thrown there by uncivilized tourists.

Spiderman cleaners get their name from the dangerous nature of their job. Photos released in the media show them dangling thousands of feet above ground on the side of steep mountain cliffs, supported only by ropes or cables, as they attempt to collect hard-to-reach trash. In an attempt to highlight the danger of their work and make tourists think twice before littering, some of the cleaners actually exchanged their regular uniforms for Spiderman costumes. This has made them a hit with visitors, who often stop to watch these real-life versions of their favorite superhero descend into the abyss to pick up a piece of trash, rewarding them with applause and cheers when they complete their mission.

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