Sustainability Summarised - November edition

Our advent calendars are at the ready as the final month of the year is on its way. This time of year is filled with Christmas cheer, and way too much chocolate. However, the festive period has also long been associated with consumerism and wastage, so you might be thinking about sustainability more and more each Christmas. 

But, you can still enjoy The Holiday and Elf while being conscious of the environment and the latest news in the sustainability space. Here are our favourite stories from the past month.

San Antonio Zoo captures video of 10 endangered Komodo dragons hatching 

We’ll begin with some good news from Texas in the United States, as the San Antonio Zoo has welcomed 10 baby endangered Komodo Dragons. The zoo managed to capture the monumental hatching which saw the birth of four female dragons, two males and four yet to be identified. 

Despite beating over 3,000 other species to the title of largest living lizard, the Komodo Dragon's status was moved from vulnerable to endangered in 2021, meaning they’re on the brink of extinction. In fact, there are less than 1,400 mature individuals left in the world. This is due to their particularly limited habitat range. Komodo Dragons are found on six islands in southern Indonesia with a large percentage of the population living on Komodo Island. 

Ikea says it will eliminate plastic packaging by 2028 

The furniture giant Ikea has announced that it will eliminate all plastic packaging on its products by 2028. This comes as part of Ikea’s goal to become a fully circular business. 

However, you can expect to see non-plastic packaging on all of Ikea’s new products by 2025, with the exception of some food products. By 2028 all new and existing products in its extensive range will be plastic-free. 

Paper packaging will be found on many Ikea products, but the Swedish company wants to begin using other materials going forward. 

Maja Kjellberg, packaging innovation leader at Ikea, explains that Ikea has an innovation program which sources startup and scale-up businesses to identify new ways of packaging that don’t require wood and fiber based materials. In fact, Ikea has previously experimented with mushroom-based packaging, but it proved too difficult to be manufactured at the scale Ikea needs.

Want a more sustainable wardrobe? Take better care of what you have 

With Black Friday sales still in full swing and Christmas around the corner, the waste produced at this time of year is particularly high. So, there’s no better time to begin reusing what you have and minimising any unnecessary purchases or wastage. 

Fast fashion brands and the rise of the fashion influencer have only increased the pressure to binge-buy and wear once. But, the Guardian argues we can end this toxic cycle by viewing our wardrobes as a permanent collection and avoiding making any impulse purchases. 

If you are buying new clothes, inspect each piece before you purchase to make sure it’s built to last, and look out for any stray threads that could begin to unravel. A piece that’s built to stand the test of time will be designed with care.

clothes on a rail with plants

These ecosystems could determine our climate future: study

A new study has found that our planet’s hidden stashes of climate-warming carbon are not distributed equally. The study, published in the journal Nature Sustainability, pinpoints the specific ecosystems that need to be protected to avert a climate disaster. It found that half of the Earth’s “irrecoverable carbon” — which is carbon that, if emitted into the atmosphere, could not be restored by 2050 — is located in just 3.3% of the planet’s land area. Experts say the carbon stored in these reserves is equivalent to 15 times the global fossil fuel emissions released in 2020.

Most of this carbon is found in peatlands, mangroves and old-growth forests, and if these ecosystems are degraded or destroyed due to human activity, causing their carbon to be emitted into the atmosphere, it would effectively prevent humanity from limiting global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius, as set out in the Paris Agreement in 2015.

Greenland ice sheet loses more than it gained for 25th straight year 

Unfortunately, the Greenland ice sheet has lost more ice than it gained for the 25th straight year, according to scientists in Carbon Brief. The ice sheet lost 166 gigatons of ice from September 2020 to August 2021.

According to scientists, the ice sheet experienced a little less than average snowfall this past year, which helped to delay the melting season. However the ice sheet also experienced unprecedented rainfall.

The findings have scientists concerned that the impacts of such a significant loss of ice will not be able to be compensated by cool summers and an increase in snowfall forever.

Greenland ice caps

Sixty years of climate change warnings: the signs that were missed and ignored

This podcast, by Alice Bell takes the listener on a journey through time, from when the effects of ‘weird weather’ started being felt in the 1960s, but scientists linking fossil fuels with climate change were being dismissed as prophets of doom. After all, climate scepticism is as old as climate science itself, and in the early days it was an entirely sensible position until the oil industry took this natural scientific scepticism and tapped it to protect their profit margins.

 

But in the 1980s, just as the consensus about the greenhouse effect was starting to harden and the sceptics were starting to fall away, there was a deliberate, organised effort to amplify that natural doubt, extend it, and use it to dismiss and distract from warnings to take action on climate change.

 

As citizens of the 21st century, we have inherited an almighty mess, but we have also inherited a lot of tools that could help us and others survive – solar panels, heat pumps, policy systems and activist groups – along with modern climate science.

 

Have you seen any other stories about sustainability and environmental news and issues that you think we should include? Let us know!

 

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