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Archive Environmental Progress News July 2021

Get Thrifting!

By Petra Nordal, Age 16

One of the most trendy and accessible ways to be sustainable is thrifting. The fashion industry is 10% of the entire population’s carbon emissions. Transportation of clothes, manufacturing, throwing them away all contribute to the fashion industry’s carbon footprint.The fashion industry uses 93 billion cubic meters of water each year. This industry’s carbon input will rise to 50% of the worlds by 2030 if we don’t find new ways to buy and distribute clothing. 

By thrifting you are detaining an item of clothing on its way to the landfill by giving it a new, more sustainable home. 46% of Gen-Z was thrifting in 2019 and those percentages just keep rising. People are discovering that it is not just sustainable but it’s accessible to all and it is a way to be individualistic when finding your style. Walking into a thrift store is different in many ways to let’s say walking into a Zara. At a Zara you could buy maybe 3 items for $100, whereas with a thrift store you could get 30 items for $100. When you buy your summer clothes at Zara, be prepared to see 20 other teenagers in the same summer collection as you, whereas with thrifting, that t-shirt you’re wearing has been out of stock for 20 years; you are the only person with that t-shirt.

When I was very young my mum would take me and my sister to the thrift store. We would find really cool toys, fun things for dressing up and the best DVDs. As I got older, the toys maybe interested me less but the shops certainly didn’t. With thrifting I really found my own style and things I know wouldn’t be ‘not cool’ by next month while saving money and being sustainable.

Most of my closet is thrifted and, from personal experience, it’s a lot nicer stuff than any fast fashion store I’ve ever shopped at. Not only have I shopped for clothing when thrifting, but also most of my bedroom is decorated with funky mirrors and posters and paintings I have thrifted.

My family and I have found all sorts of old Scooby Doo DVD’s and box sets of old television shows and fun movies that aren’t available on Netflix or at regular DVD stores anymore. If you are on a budget or feel like finding something unique for a friend, you can for sure get a gift for someone at the thrift store, a “vintage” purse perhaps? A nice vase? 

Making the change from shopping at Zara to the thrift store is one that is not difficult and one that you will find actually changes your life. You are reducing your own personal carbon footprint, you are helping  the world reduce its carbon footprint and you are coming out looking more stylish than ever! Get to your local thrift store this summer and make a change!

Petra’s Thrifts

The Clothes I Make

By Allegra Bisallion, Age 16

When I was seven my grandmother bought me a brand-new sewing machine. I’ll be honest, at seven there isn’t much you can do on your own. My best projects consisted of a bunch of tablecloths, napkins and pocket squares.

I’m sixteen now, so I think it’s safe to say I’ve moved on from table coverings, but even then I was recycling old materials that would’ve ended up in landfills otherwise. Unknowingly my grandmother had started me on my quest for a sustainable closet.

It’s no secret how much the fashion industry contributes to the climate crisis we are facing. The production of the pants we wear, the shirts on our backs, uses trillions of litres of water each year. Not millions, not even billions, trillions.

The pollution from the fashion industry’s use of water alone is insane, and that’s not even starting on the millions of tonnes of garments thrown out every year, or the inhumane working environments provided for those making the clothes. The fast-fashion industry encourages cheap, quick and trendy pieces that are meant to be discarded after a year, only to end up in some landfill or in the ocean. The worst part is, with online shopping and the instant access we have to dirt-cheap clothing sellers online, microtrends have only blown up more since the start of the pandemic. These online retailers are in my opinion, the most harmful introduction to the fashion industry in recent history. The pace at which they can produce clothing is astounding, and it also means that they are throwing old clothes away even faster than ever before. 

I know that most people want to be on top of the newest trends, get that brand-new bag everyone’s been wanting or the “perfect” pair of shoes for this summer, but there is a way to be trendy while minimising your impact on the environment. Creating your own clothing may sound a bit daunting to some, but I’m going to explain how I think everyone can upcycle their old clothing into something new and fresh.

You don’t need to go to the fabric store and sew a new shirt from scratch. In fact, I urge you not to because the textile industry is pretty much just as bad as the fast-fashion industry in terms of pollution and water-consumption. Instead, take a trip to your local thrift store for fabrics or even just dig out that old shirt in the back of your closet that you never wear anymore.

I love upcycling my old clothes to make them new to me again, it can be as simple as hemming your garment or if you’re feeling adventurous, cutting up a few items and putting them together to make a new creation entirely. You don’t even need a sewing machine! A needle and thread or some fabric glue will do just fine for most projects. Even if you have absolutely no sewing experience there are so many non-sew ideas out there, the internet is a great place for inspiration and free tutorials! 

I love the feeling I get when I finish a new project. Not only do I know that I kept something out of our landfills, but I also have something that is completely unique to myself. Designing has been a creative outlet for me and has kept me sane throughout the past year. If I can do something I love and help reduce my carbon footprint while I’m at it, it’s a good day for everyone (polar bears included). 

The effect of plastic pollution

By Greta Nordal, Age 13

The effects of plastic bottles are barbaric, there are over 8 trillion bottles in the ocean. With the way things are going it is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic bottles in the ocean than fish. 

There are many ways to help and reduce the amount of plastic polluting the earth. A simple and cost effective way is by decreasing the amount of plastic entering your house. Some examples are; buying glass bottles instead of plastic, using reusable bags, trying to buy less plastic packed fruits and vegetables, and growing a small veggie garden.

Me and my family stopped buying plastic bottles completely, within a year we would use about 420 plastic bottles, so when we no longer used them we saved roughly $800 and over 300 fish and birds.

Every 6 bottles someone buys, only 1 gets recycled, and it takes over 1,000 years for a single bottle to decompose, leaking pollutants into our soil. Each second over 1,000 plastic bottles are in the US, and each day over 60 million are thrown away ending up in landfills, litter on the streets or in the ocean.

Because the production of plastic uses fossil fuels, not only does that make them an environmental hazard, but also an enormous waste of valuable resources that could be used for so many more life saving and changing things.

If you like to learn more about the planet and the effect of pollution I would suggest watching a few David Attenborough movies or TV shows.

I have to like this book, being a Greta! Are all Greta’s cool? Yes!!!!

Instead of buying drinks in plastic bottles, my family puts tap water into glass bottles and puts them in the refrigerator. This makes nice cold, ‘fridge water,’ which tastes delicious.

David Attenborough is one of my favorite tv personalities. He has made many films about animals and the planet, including the tv series, “Blue Planet,” which shows how we are destroying our beautiful oceans.

Plastick and the Oceans

By Annika Nordal, age 8

Keeping up the hope for our children

Reflections of a Mom

By Dana Brown, Age: Old

I was in the midst of folding the endless piles of laundry generated by my three girls when I noticed out the corner of my eye that my youngest, Annika, was lingering nearby. “What’s up?’” I asked. She was unusually somber and looked to the floor. “I have some bad news,” she said, and then tears started streaming down her face. I dropped the clothes on the floor and took her in my arms. “Tell me all about it.”

Annika told me then that she had learned on social media of the death of the last male Northern white rhino and the likely extinction of this species. She had seen a video explaining that the extinction was caused by people who killed the rhino for money and pleasure. “Why would anyone do that?” was her first question. It was one of those questions that is impossible for mortal parents to answer. I tried explaining that people did it for money, but this made no sense at all to an 8-year-old, who has more sense than most people. “Money for life?!” she asked with a look of immense skepticism.

Then she started sobbing. “I’m scared, mama. What if the earth has no animals again? I don’t want to live on an earth without animals. Will our pets die? What will happen then?” It was another list of questions for which I had no good answers.

Instead, I wept with her. We should be sad. We should be scared. Tears are perfectly understandable.

Yet, our children deserve hope for their future. They don’t deserve to worry about whether they will have animals and grass, food and the beauty of nature around them. We cannot put the burden on them to change the world either. And anger and blame is not always helpful.

Let’s be our children’s allies in turning things around. It starts with seeing things as our children see them. How many adults read about the Northern white rhino and felt as despondent and devasted as Annika? It’s human nature to worry more about the immediate threats (a robbery around the corner, an impeding storm) than most serious ones (loss of species, climate change) even if one is more life threatening than the other.

I have confidence that our children will make it their mission to save the planet. It is our job to show them the way, to let them cry hard for what we are losing but to fill their hearts with hope and love for their precious lives.

Book Review

Stephen M. Meyer. End of the Wild. MIT Press. 2006.

While doing my PhD at MIT, I had the immense pleasure of working with Professor Stephen M. Meyer as his teaching assistant. I helped out with two courses over two years. We taught ‘Environmental Policy’ together three times and ‘Health Policy’ once. Half way through the first year of teaching with Professor Meyer, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He shared the news and his grief with his students with the greatest of dignity and openness.

I often think about how much I learned from Professor Meyer. He was probably the first real environmentalist I had ever met. In the early 2000s, the threats to our planet and biodiversity were not popular knowledge. He shocked all of his students when he spoke, yet he spoke with sadness, not anger. Very often he would reflect on work that he and his wife were doing in their spare time, counting local frogs. He was passionate and caring, and he was wise.

His book is at once a source of information, which we now know but don’t always acknowledge. And it is a call to action. It is a great book for teenagers in that it is short and concise but gets the message across that we are losing life very quickly on our planet, putting ourselves and all that we cherish in peril. A great gift for a young person! (Available at Amazon) – Dana Brown

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