Climate anxiety is real, and it's easy to feel overwhelmed by some of the headlines you see in your newsfeed. That's why we're celebrating the "planet wins" that often get overshadowed to show just how bright the future can be.
Over the last few weeks, we've seen numerous wins that better the planet and its inhabitants, from giant pandas ditching the endangered species list to Colorado's plastic bag ban. Here's some good news to brighten your day.
7 Planet Wins You Should Know About
1. Giant Pandas Are No Longer Endangered
As of September 2021, China has officially declared giant pandas aren't endangered anymore. While the population is still small, panda communities are on the path to recovery.
Experts say saving the panda population from extinction is all about saving their natural habitat. BBC reports restoring the panda's habitat means restoring bamboo forests. Protecting China's lush bamboo forests allows giant pandas to safely reproduce with plenty of food to live on.
The giant panda population was at an all-time low 30 years ago, but with public awareness (and overwhelming conservation efforts), panda numbers have been slowly—but surely—increasing.
2. Colorado Will Ban Plastic Bags and Styrofoam in 2024
In June, Colorado passed a bill banning single-use plastic bags and styrofoam takeout containers. Though the ban won't officially be enforced until 2024, it's still a huge sign that governors are listening to their constituents' environmental demands.
Considering we produce around 300 million tons of plastic each year with 91% of plastic ending up in landfills, the bill in Colorado is sure to have a massive impact. But you can make a difference no matter where you live, starting with bringing your reusable bag to the grocery store.
3. North America Is Getting a Whale Sanctuary
In 2019, Canada passed a bill preventing the capturing and breeding of whales and dolphins after years of public concern for how the animals were treated. Now, a non-profit organization called The Whale Sanctuary Project will officially open North America's first-ever whale sanctuary in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Sometimes, whales can't return to the ocean if they've been in captivity for too long. This protected space in the ocean—more than 100 acres—will allow whales who can't return to their normal habitats to live safely under protection. The Whale Sanctuary Project is hoping to accept its first whales in 2023.
4. Over 40 Countries Agreed to Stop Using Coal
At the COP26 conference, more than 40 countries promised to stop using coal. The goal is to quit coal usage altogether over the next 20 years.
Considering coal has been a major resource for countless countries, this pledge is big deal. Coal power could be replaced by sustainable opinions like wind, solar, hydro, or geothermal energy. The United States didn't sign the pledge, but many other countries are ready to use renewable resources, which is still a step in the right direction.
5. Deforestation Could Soon Be a Crime
U.S. lawmakers have been looking to implement new policies to help the planet, and new legislation has been proposed to curb large-scale deforestation in America. Under the FOREST Act of 2021, imports and profits made from deforestation would be prohibited.
Combatting deforestation is essential to stopping climate change because trees and other plants absorb harmful carbon dioxide and create necessary ecosystems for biodiversity to thrive.
6. Bill Gates Raised $1 Billion for Clean Energy
Bill Gates is making climate headlines again for his role in funding clean energy. He founded Breakthrough Energy in 2016, but the venture-capital fund has gained huge interest in the last year.
The company recently raised $1 billion to continue funding clean-energy startups. Additionally, partnerships with leading corporations will help reduce emissions, create jobs, and help reach climate goals. This funding makes clean energy more accessible and widespread to businesses that normally would be unable to fund it.
7. Volunteers Removed 63,000 Pounds of Trash From the Ocean
We're cleaning our oceans, little by little. There's a spot in the ocean not-so-lovingly called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The water in this spot in the North Pacific Ocean creates a current where floating garbage gets pulled into one massive patch.
There's so much marine litter that the pile has formed an island, but thanks to some amazing volunteers, the patch may finally get cleaned up. According to USA Today, volunteers took out 63,000 pounds of garbage, and the goal is to have the entire patch cleaned in a few years.
It's a huge task: Experts estimate the patch is twice the size of Texas. But because of technological advancements and dedication, cleaning it up is possible.