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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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Poo Couture – Dutch Designer Turns Cow Manure into Fashionable Clothing

With cattle breeding at an all time high, manure has become one of the world’s greatest environmental hazards, but one Dutch artist is using chemistry to turn into something that is both eco-friendly and valuable. Her innovative technique turns manure into a variety of useful materials like clothing fabric, bio-degradable plastic and paper.

In recent years, scientists around the world have made great progress in their attempts to recycle cattle manure, including turning it into natural fertilizer and biogas, but Eindhoven designer Jalila Essaïdi didn’t think they were efficient enough to solve the global manure surplus problem. So she started on her very own solution, one that approached animal waste as a valuable material that could be processed into useful products. The results of her work prove that manure really is worth its weight in gold.

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Indian Company Makes Edible 100% Biodegradable “Plastic” Bags

In an effort to combat plastic pollution, Indian startup EnviGreen has come up with a combination of natural starch and vegetable oils that looks and feels just like plastic, but is 100 percent organic, biodegradable and eco-friendly. You can even dispose of such a “plastic” bag by eating it.

EnviGreen founder Ashwath Hedge came up with the idea for these revolutionary bags after seeing people struggling to find alternatives to plastic bags, following bans imposed by several Indian cities. “People were concerned bout how they would carry products from the market now. Everyone cannot afford a bag worth Rs. 5 or Rs. 15 to carry a kilogram of sugar,” he told The Better India. So the 25-year-old decided to work on something that would solve this problem while being environment-friendly.

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Activist To Wear All The Trash He Creates in a Month

Environmentalist Rob Greenfield wants to change the way Americans think about their trash footprint by wearing every piece of trash he creates over 30 days.

“For one month, Rob Greenfield is going to live like the average American. He’ll eat, shop, and consume just like the average American which produces 4.5 pounds of trash per day. The catch? He has to wear every piece of trash he creates,” an announcement on his website states. “That’s over 30 pounds of trash on his body by the end of the first week and nearly 140 pounds by the end of the month (almost his body weight)! Every coffee cup, plastic bag, pizza box, every single piece of trash he creates will be on his body, everywhere he goes.”

The idea behind Rob’s “TrashMe” project is to show people the cumulative effects of trash. Most people never think about how much waste they are producing every month. They just seal their garbage bags, put them in the bin and wait for someone to pick it up. But what if they came face to face with a walking, talking display of overconsumption? That might get them thinking about the world’s growing trash problem and maybe even get them to limit the amount of trash they generate.

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Researchers Use Wastewater to Grow 240-Hectare Forest in Egyptian Desert

Located near Ismailia, about two hours from Egypt’s capital, Cairo, Serapium Forest is nothing short of an environmental miracle – a 240-hectare forest of both native and non-native trees thriving in the middle of the desert.

Advancing desserts have become a serious problem throughout the African continent, but a team of German and Egyptian researchers has come up with a very efficient way of stopping desertification and even reclaiming land from the dry sands. While forests have been used to stop the spread of deserts into fertile land for a very long time, the absence of rainfall makes nurturing the trees and keeping them healthy an almost impossible task in most African countries. But it turns out we don’t have to rely on water falling from the sky, as waste water works even better for plants and trees not intended for human consumption.

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You Might Not Want to Go There, but North Korea Is One of the World’s Last Havens for Birds

North Korea may be one of the world’s least tourist-friendly countries on Earth, but its strategic location along the avian East Asian Australasian Flyway and complete lack of development is preventing the extinction of several once plentiful species of migratory birds.

Around fifty million birds, from tiny song birds to cranes, journey across the East Asian Australasian Flyway every year, and eight million of them are shorebirds or waders. For many of these, North Korea’s west coast is the only stop for tens of thousands of miles, which means that without it, they would probably couldn’t finish their epic trip. But what makes this otherwise inhospitable place so important to birds?

A group of New Zealand bird watchers asked permission from the North Korean government to enter the country and observe the migratory birds. Armed with binoculars, powerful telescopes and cameras they counted the birds making their stop from the southern hemisphere all the way to the top of the northern one. “As we lose habitat elsewhere, the birds are going to get more and more pushed into remaining habitat, which by default means North Korea,” birder David Melville told the BBC. Because the shorelines of neighboring countries China and South Korea have witnessed rapid developments, with most of the mudflats having been converted to dry land for agriculture and industrial projects, the birds have virtually no place to stop and refuel.

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Panama’s Eco-Friendly Plastic Bottle Village

‘The Plastic Bottle Village’ is just the sort of innovative idea that might eventually save the Earth from drowning in plastic. It’s a planned 83-acre community in Panama that, as the name suggests, is going to be entirely built out of discarded plastic bottles.

Located on Isla Colón, in the Bocas del Toros province, The Plastic Bottle Village will include approximately 120 homes of varying sizes. The design process begins with building frames of rebar and steel mesh, which are then filled with used plastic bottles. Once this step is complete, and various electrical and plumbing lines are inserted, the plastic walls are covered by concrete – both inside and out.

So the finished homes look just like conventional ones, and no one will actually be able to tell that the walls are made of plastic. What’s more, the unusual choice of construction material will keep the house a considerable 17°C  cooler than the temperature outside. The homes also come equipped with a septic tank system, standard windows, doors, and an exterior sidewalk.

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The Amazing Story of a Gambler-Turned-Conservationist Who Spent $90 Million Saving Nature

Former gambler and businessman M.C. Davis placed the biggest bet of his life about 20 years ago when he decided to spend a considerable chunk of his fortune on nature. Over the past two decades, he spent $90 million purchasing thousands of acres of land all over Florida. And the risk paid off – he managed to revive forests and swamps across the state, saving several wildlife species in the process. Although he tried to do his conservation work without attracting too much attention, the positive effects of Davis’ efforts could not go unnoticed forever. Last year, he was featured in Smithsonian Magazine and on the National Public Radio website, and his story went viral.

Having grown up in a cramped trailer on a dirt road in the Florida Panhandle, Davis set out to make a fortune at a very young age, becoming a self-proclaimed gambler and hustler. He made hundreds of millions of dollars, but it took a simple traffic jam to bring about the epiphanic moment that would change the course of his life forever. “It’s drizzling rain, and I was just sort of frantic with exasperation,” he told NPR. “Stuck in traffic, and I looked up, and I saw on the marquee of the high school, ‘Black Bear Presentation’. Intrigued, he decided to pull over and attend the event.

At the time, Davis didn’t even know that Florida had black bears, but the lecture made by two women of the Defenders of Wildlife piqued his interest – the very next day he donated enough money to keep the Defenders campaign alive for two years. He also began to read more books written by environmentalists, and kept in touch with Laurice MacDonald, one of the Defenders that had oipened his eyes. “He had the steepest learning curve,” MacDonald later said. “We would begin with little debates. They were a little testy but fascinating.”  

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Beirut’s Stinking River of Trash

From afar it might look like a pathway of white pebbles snaking its way through the cosmopolitan capital of Lebanon, but it’s actually just a landfill overflowing with stinking garbage bags. Nicknamed ‘river of garbage’, this urban monstrosity stretches hundreds of meters through the Jdeideh municipality in the city’s suburbs.

The problem apparently began in July last year, when authorities closed down the main landfill site that collected the city’s garbage. Since they did not provide an alternate garbage dumping site, rising mounds of garbage started appearing on the streets of Beirut. In Jdeideh, a makeshift dumpyard was created four months ago near a few residential buildings, where people tossed all their garbage. It has grown in size since then, resulting in the unsightly ‘trash river’ that now stands testament to the city’s garbage crisis and the nation’s dysfunctional politics. “This used to be such a beautiful place, but look at it now. We can’t even walk by it,” one local told reporters, in February.

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Grieving Mother Dedicates Her Life to Planting Millions of Trees in Memory of Her Son

Meet Yi Jiefeng, a Shanghai woman who has helped plant millions of saplings in Inner Mongolia, over the past 12 years. Her goal is to reforest the arid Alashan Desert while keeping alive the memory of her son who passed away 16 years ago.

In the year 2000, Yi’s only son, Yang Ruizhe, was killed in a road accident in Japan, and the tragic incident left her a shattered woman. But she eventually found a way to deal with the grief by devoting her own life to fulfilling her son’s dream. Ruizhe had told her about his plans to plant trees in northern China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous region in order to stop the advancing desert, so Yi decided to fulfill his dream herself. “He was fond of nature since he was a little boy,” she said. “He was concerned about natural things such as wind, rain, plants, and animals.”

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These Floating Trashcans Could be the Answer to Cleaning Polluted Oceans

A couple of Australian surfers have come up with a creative solution to clean up polluted oceans – they’ve designed an automated trashcan that can suck up floating garbage, right from plastic bottles, to paper, oils, fuel, detergent and more.

Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski, who spent their childhood around the ocean, said they were frustrated with the increasing amount of rubbish they encountered in the water. So they quit their jobs to design a prototype bin in Perth, with the help of seed investors Shark Mitigation Systems. Once ‘Seabin’ was ready, they introduced it in Mallorca, Spain, the marina capital of Europe. They’re now trying to raise more money through crowd funding for commercial production. The idea’s been very well received – they’ve already raised over $70,000 and a Seabin promo video has attracted over 10 million views.

So how does it work? Seabin, a cylinder made from recycled materials, is fixed to a dock with a water pump running on shore power. It floats upright with the open end level with the water’s surface. The pump creates a flow of water into the bin, sucking in all the floating rubbish into a natural fibre bag and then pumping clean water back out. “It essentially works as a similar concept to a skimmer box from your pool filter,” explained Richard Talmage, a spokesperson for ‘Seabin’. “But it’s designed on a scale to work and essentially attract all that rubbish within a location within a marine harbour.”

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Filipino Entrepreneur Creates Revolutionary Lamp That Runs on Saltwater

Meet Aisa Mijeno, a Filipino architect and scientist who invented a revolutionary lamp that runs on a glass of saltwater instead of batteries. Her vision in creating the SALt (Sustainable Alternative Lighting) lamp was to “light up the rest of the Philippines sustainably,” by finding an environment-friendly alternative light source suitable for people in coastal areas. She came up with the idea after spending time with the locals of the Butbut tribe in the Kalinga Province of Philippines, who had no access to electricity.  

The lamp can apparently run for eight hours on just two tablespoons of salt and a glass of water. “It is made of tediously experimented and improved chemical compounds, catalysts, and metal alloys that when submerged in electrolytes will generate electricity,” Mijeno explained. The idea behind it is the chemical conversion of energy, but while it works on the scientific principle of the galvanic cell, it makes use of a harmless, non-toxic saline solution instead of hazardous electrolytes. 

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