Give Thanks for Environmental Progress in 2016

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There’s no way to get around it, the world right now feels rather … bleak.

Nonetheless, Thanksgiving has arrived and we thought it might be a good idea to do here at Earth911 the very same thing that families across the nation will be doing this weekend: give thanks.

The truth is, there is plenty to be thankful for. We’ve gathered a handful of the brightest, most positive environmental stories we could find, because despite the immense challenges we face, there are millions of people fighting every single day to make our world a better place. Let’s take a few minutes to share our gratitude for them and what they’ve achieved.

We are grateful for Patagonia, a company that is turning the greed and consumerism of Black Friday on its head and donating 100 percent of its sales — both in store and online — to grassroots environmental groups. Patagonia has a long history of supporting environmental initiatives, including offering product repair and recycling through its Worn Wear program, and we’re glad to see this support continue while making a pointed statement about Black Friday, too.

We are grateful for the glorious Elon Musk, who continued his passion for bringing futuristic eco-tech within our reach by debuting his solar roof tiles earlier this year. Not only can the incredibly attractive solar tiles be easily installed on virtually any roof,  Musk revealed a few days ago that installing a new roof with Tesla’s solar shingles may actually cost less than a conventional one, even before calculating the savings of producing your own electricity. Sidestepping rhetoric and empty promises, Musk is making technology work — and work for all Americans — and is doing a huge part to tackle the energy crisis head on.

We are grateful for the fact that, in a time when bees are going extinct in mass numbers across the globe, the New Zealand Defence Force helped assist a man in rescuing approximately 30,000 bees from his home apiary after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the New Zealand town of Kaikoura earlier this week. When it comes to the bees that pollinate our crops and help our food grow, every little bit helps. We are immensely thankful that both the bees and their thoughtful owner are safe and sound.

We are grateful that the cirl bunting — an adorable-looking British farmland bird we never even knew existed — has been saved from extinction. Cirl buntings, which are described as small and finch-like, numbered below 200 pairs in the late ’80s, but thanks to conservation efforts and the support of local farmers, the population has bounced back to over 1,000 pairs. We take this story as proof that even the smallest, most finch-like cause is one worth supporting.

We are grateful that despite U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to revive the coal industry here at home, governments the world over are doing the opposite. French president Francois Hollande has doubled down on his country’s commitment to combat climate change, announcing that France would shut down all coal-fired power plants no later than 2023 (just seven years from now). Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna gave a lengthier timeline but echoed France’s commitment to phasing out dirty energy, saying Canada would phase out coal by 2030. Moving forward from polluting and environmentally catastrophic coal mining is a huge step in the right direction, one we’re very thankful to see.

And last but definitely not least, we are grateful for all the faithful readers who visit this site every month eager to search for recycling locations, read about the latest environmental developments, share information, and learn new ways to bring eco-friendly living home. We are so thankful to have such a diverse, committed and engaged readership.

We’ll send you off to your Thanksgiving gatherings with the wise words of Margaret Mead, appropriate for these times and especially this occasion:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at Earth911.

What will you give thanks for this holiday?

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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Madeleine Somerville

Madeleine Somerville is the author of All You Need Is Less: An Eco-Friendly Guide to Guilt-Free Green Living and Stress-Free Simplicity. She is a writer, wannabe hippie and lover of soft cheeses. She lives in Edmonton, Canada, with her daughter. You can also find Madeleine at her blog, Sweet Madeleine.