There’s a new initiative, launched by TED and Future Stewards, called TED Countdown which exists to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis.
The site has loads of videos and written content that touch on innovation, leadership and solutions. The project aims to bring together all stakeholders, like individuals, cities, businesses and governments. All of the content seeks to find solutions for fundamental issues to do with energy, transport, food, materials and nature.
For us individuals, TED Countdown has partnered with a new initiative called Count Us In. The aim is to galvanise 1 billion people in making pledges to reduce their impact and make positive contributions. For instance, you can pledge to walk or cycle your usual transport route. You can pledge to switch to a renewable energy provider or not fly to your next holiday destination.
These two are some of the coolest initiatives to come out recently because they’re so engaging and they involve all of us, not just government or business. Really worth checking out!
All that glitters is… not gold? Supermarkets are removing all glitter from their product offerings and are pushing for more recyclable festive products.
Why this hate on glitter all of a sudden? A recent major study has highlighted the detrimental impact that glitter has on ecosystems. In response, supermarkets like Morrisons, John Lewis and M&S are banning the stuff.
The study, from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in Cambridge, has shown that glitter is particularly damaging to waterways. The fact that glitter is made from plastic, which does not degrade, and that it is a microplastic, contribute to its negative impact. Their research found that glitter in freshwater systems halved the root length of common duckweed and limited the levels of chlorophyll in water, which reduced levels of microalgae. Basically, glitter messes with the overall functioning and health of these freshwater systems.
Surprisingly - or not! - the study also demonstrates that eco glitter is equally detrimental to duckweed growth and chlorophyll levels. This is because even though they have been sourced using a different input material, such as eucalyptus, they are still coated with aluminium for reflectivity and then topped with a thin plastic layer. Even mica glitter, which is used in cosmetics, disrupts the ecosystem.
So for the winter holidays, we will have no glitter. This will result in fewer plastics overall, even going beyond the festive season. It is sad to learn that even eco glitter is extremely detrimental for our freshwater ecosystems because glitter is pretty incredible. However, if you mix food colouring and salt together you get DIY glitter which actually looks pretty awesome. So, it's not the end of the world or festive season!
Ikea is turning Black Friday on its head by launching a giant resale scheme called Buy Back Friday.
The scheme starts on Black Friday but it will continue indefinitely. Instead of a bunch of deals and discounts, encouraging us all to buy more, Ikea will be buying old and unwanted Ikea items from its customers. Depending on the items being sold back, customers will either receive discount cards (with no expiry date so that we only buy stuff when we need it - smart!), 30% of the original retail price or even 50% of the retail price. Pretty great. The furniture giant will then resell these to shoppers at discounted prices. If they can’t resell the goods, they will be recycled.
This is such a wonderful initiative for so many reasons. It takes a stand against the excessive consumption of our society, especially prevalent on Black Friday. It also contributes to the circular economy whereby items are kept in life or use for as long as possible. Finally, it helps other producers realise that they should be taking back their goods and making sure these don’t go to landfill. Ultimately, it is their product that ends up polluting the environment so they should be doing something about it. Ikea is most likely going to be making a profit from this, so other brands should take note.
Just on a final note, you need to register your item and then bring it assembled to your nearest Ikea store. If that isn’t a possibility for you, you can always try selling your stuff on Facebook marketplace or Gumtree. You could even list it for free on sites like FreeCycle or free stuff Facebook groups. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.
H&M has just launched a really innovative recycling revolution in their flagship store in Stockholm.
They’ve created a machine called Looop which takes your old clothes, adds some new fibres and creates a new item of clothing for you. All of that in just 5 hours.
The fashion giant will start installing these Looop machines more widely and will start licensing the technology to others in the industry so that they can also become more circular. This is also a show of strength from H&M because pre-competitive collaboration is key to elevating a whole industry towards more sustainable norms.
We recommend looking at the video below which explains the technology in more detail. They developed it in partnership with The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA).
It’s actually crazy to think that a machine could just create a whole new garment from an old shirt or pair of socks that you bring. We’re mind blown.
A new study by Tesco and Hubbub has found that we could save £850 on food a year by slashing food waste.
During six weeks, 53 households had to log their food waste and test a series of different initiatives to curb food waste. For instance, they took cooking classes, batch cooked, and learned about more effective food storage. If we were all to learn how to meal prep better and make better use of our freezers we’d be able to save loads of money and avoid food waste ending up in landfill.
If you want to learn more about how to reduce your food waste, we recommend using resources from WRAP’s Love Food, Hate Waste.
If you want to learn more about food waste generally and how it’s managed across the UK, read our piece about it.
Asda has launched a "sustainability store" in Leeds.
The brand will be testing the store during the next few months to see how it is received and how it can perfectly suit everyone's needs.
The store has a bunch of products being sold "loose", meaning without packaging. People can come and fill their containers with more than 50 fresh produce lines and 15 refill stations offering tea, coffee, cereals, laundry detergent, shampoo, fruit and vegetables. Actually, Asda is also providing items from well known brands including Kellogg's, PG Tips and Lavazza so that people can still buy from brands they love but with much less packaging. On that note, this store will help the supermarket save around one million pieces of plastic annually.
The store also provides recycling facilities to help shoppers throw away hard to recycle items like toothpaste tubes, crisp packets, and clothes hangers. There is also a deposit return scheme for cans, plastic and glass drink bottles so that shoppers can bring back used packaging to be recycled (and one would expect to be re-used as well?)