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South Korean Mayor Dumps Tonne of Trash on Pristine Beach for International Clean-Up Day

On September 21, volunteers across the globe, from Thailand to Hawaii, gathered on their local beaches to clean up trash and make a powerful statement about the poor state of our environment? But what about volunteers with no dirty beaches to clean? Well, some of them got a bit of help from local authorities.

Late last month, a South Korean mayor came under fire after revealing that he dumped a tonne of trash on a pristine beach just so hundreds of volunteers could clean it up the next day, in celebration of the International Coastal Cleanup Day. His office later apologized, saying that there wasn’t any trash for people to pick up, and that they only did it to “raise awareness about the seriousness of coastal waste”.

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The Brazilian Couple Who Brought a Dead Subtropical Rainforest Back to Life

Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado is a world renowned social documentary photographer and photojournalist from Brazil, but few people know that he is also the mastermind behind one of the most amazing environment restoration projects in history. Together with his wife, Salgado has nearly completed the recovery of a single uninterrupted section of the Atlantic Forest, planting millions of saplings over the last two decades.

The story of Instituto Terra, the non-profit organization founded by Sebastião Salgado and his wife, Lélia Deluiz Wanick Salgado, began in 1998. The celebrated photographer had recently returned from Rwanda, where he had documented the tragedies of war. The horrors he witnessed during those troubled wars haunted him long after he left Africa, and at one point he completely lost both his faith in humanity and the desire to shoot photos. It was around this time that Sebastião’s parents offered him and Lélia the old farm he had grown up in, and he took the opportunity to return home thinking that the idyllic paradise he remembered would help him heal. However, he found that his home was nothing like he remembered it.

Salgado grew up on a 1,750-acre farm in the state of Minas Gerais 70 miles inland from Brazil’s Atlantic coast. He recalls that, when he was only a boy, the Atlantic Forest covered half his family’s farm and half the Rio Doce Valley, and that the fauna that called it home created a cacophony of sounds every day. But that wasn’t the sight he came home to in the mid 90’s.

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Double Amputee Turns Barren Hills into Lush 17,000-Tree Forest

Ma Sanxiao, a 70-year-old double amputee and army veteran from Jingxing, North China’s Hebei province, has pent the last 19 years of his life planting thousands of trees and turning the once barren hills surrounding his village into a small forest.

Ma was diagnosed with blood poisoning in 1974, while serving in the Chinese Army. His condition got worse after he retired, and eventually had both legs amputated because of it – his right leg in 1985, and the left one in 2005. After seven major operations and constant medical treatments, he could barely afford to take care of his family, and ,because of his disability, finding a job proved very difficult. His veteran subsidy was enough to cover his medicine, but he couldn’t remain idle, so in 2000, after getting inspired by another tree-planting story on TV, the double-amputee started planting parasol trees in the barren hills around his remote village, with the intention of selling them for profit.

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Female Vigilante Group Has Been Defending This Indian Forest for 20 Years

A group of 75 female volunteers from India’s Odisha state has spent every day of the last 20 years patrolling a 75-hectare forest to protect it from woodcutters and timber smugglers.

In 1999, the eastern state of Odisha was ravaged by a supercyclone. People lost their homes, their crops and had to go without food or clothing for several days. But many in Gundalba, a small village in the Mahanadi delta of Puri district, realized that the only reason they were still alive was thanks to a forest and mangrove area that had shielded them from the brunt of the devastation. They knew they had to protect it at all costs, but with all the men busy rebuilding the village after the supercyclone, the task of watching over the forest fell to the women. They quickly formed a vigilante group and  have been taking turns patrolling the forested area in search of timber smugglers and woodcutters for the last 20 years.

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Heavy Pollution Turns Snow Black in Russia

Imagine going to sleep after a day of heavy snowfall and waking up the next morning to find that all that white snow has turned black overnight. That’s exactly what the people of Kiselevsk and Prokopyevsk, two cities in Russia’s Kuzbass region experienced earlier this week.

Photos and videos recently shared on social media by worried citizens of the two Russian cities show the grim reality of living in a coal mining area – snow covered fields and streets blanketed by a thick layer of coal dust and soot that literally turns the snow from white to pitch black.

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Indian “Tree Man” Planted Over 5 Million Trees to Cope with Tragedy

Vishweshwar Dutt Saklani took his last breath on January 18, 2019, but he will live on in the memory of his countrymen as the “Tree Man of Uttarakhan”, a dedicated conservationist who planted over 50 lakh (5 million) trees and turned his once barren homeland into a lush forest.

Saklani had been fond of trees all his life. He planted his first sapling when he was eight years old under his uncle’s guidance, and kept at it for the next seven decades of his life, until he lost his sight and succumbed to the hardships of old age. However, by that time, the once barren hills in and around his native village of Pujargaon had already become home to a lush forest. Vishweshwar Dutt Saklani’s love for trees is well known, as he often used to call them his children or his closest companions, but few know that the legendary conservationist planted millions of trees to cope with the tragedies in his life.

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Australian Families Living a Nightmare as Thousands of Bats Drop Dead in Their Yards Due to Heatwave

Dozens of families in and around the city of Cairns, in Australia, have been forced to temporarily abandon their homes after flying foxes started dropping dead on their properties due to the unbearable heat.

Cairns residents started reporting massive numbers of spectacled flying foxes dropping out of trees on Monday, when temperatures in Australia’s Queensland region rose to above 40 degrees Celsius. According to animal experts, the nocturnal mammals cannot sustain an internal temperature of over 40 degrees, and with no way to cool off, their organs start to shut down and they eventually die. Wildlife rescuers have been working around the clock, using using spray bottles and drippers too cool off and hydrate the helpless creatures, but there’s only so much they can do. The flying fox colonies in the Cairns area have already sustained heavy losses and the number of fatalities is expected to rise for as long as the heatwave continues. But apart from the environmental issues, the massive number of dead bats rotting away so close to people’s houses has now become a become a serious public health issue as well.

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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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