Woman in eco friendly fashion dress standing on top of a mountain of textile fabrics what would become waste if sustainable fashion practices are not adapted. In reference to a topic covered in this article.
Jan 2, 2024
weekly eco news

Environmental Milestones Achieved: A Promising 2023 Recap of Global Collaboration for Eco-Friendly Living - 8th Issue

Pinterest Icon.Instagram icon

World leaders joined forces to protect our watery world

A close-up of bright blue ocean waves demonstrating the beauty of clean water.

Hand in hand, nations united to create global initiatives that combat climate change, conserve nature, and reduce water pollution. These powerful accords highlight the importance of collaboration among countries to safeguard marine and freshwater ecosystems. 

The Freshwater Challenge was launched in March. With the support of 43 countries, the goal is to restore 300,000km of rivers and 350 million hectares of wetlands by 2030. Nearly one-third of wetlands disappeared over the last 50 years due to pollution, climate change, and other pressures. This initiative aims to combat the degradation of these freshwater sources.

In June, after 20 years of persistent efforts, the United Nations adopted the “High Seas Treaty” to protect marine biodiversity in international waters, which make up more than 50% of the planet. Before this monumental win for the ocean, these isolated areas could be exploited for resources and polluted without consequence. 

Environmental protections, such as marine protected areas, can now extend beyond borders. In December, both of these initiatives were solidified during the climate summit. The world is now back on track to protect 30% of the Earth by 2030.

Brazil’s deforestation rates decrease for the first time in 6 years

Aerial view of the the lush amazonian rainforest in Brazil to be preserved.

Home to over 3 million unique species, the Amazon rainforest is considered the most biodiverse tract on Earth. Unfortunately, this tropical habitat is under intense environmental pressures. 

Fortunately, in the last 12 months, the new president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has made a remarkable shift in the deforestation of the Amazon. Deforestation plummeted to a six-year-low under his new reign. Brazil holds more than half of this rainforest within its borders.

Using satellite images, a real-time deforestation detection system reported a 22% decrease by July, which only continued to drop throughout 2023. This is a stark contrast to previous right-winged leader, Jair Bolsonaro, who rolled back protections and turned a blind eye to deforestation. During his tenure, two billion trees were burned.

Listed as a top priority in his campaign, Lula is committed to eliminating illegal deforestation within Brazil's borders by 2030. He has strengthened environmental programs and policies, as well as formed alliances with other tropical forest nations.

Additionally, during the COP28 climate summit, Brazil pledged a $204 million fund, dubbed the Arc of Restoration program. It aims to replant the forest and capture billions of tons of carbon.

This is a huge step forward not only for the Amazon but for the planet as a whole, since the fate of the rainforest is critical to slow climate change. Let us hope that this trend continues in 2024!

Five species that took a stand against extinction

An illustration of endangered species inside of gears that would rotate on another, demonstrating their importance in a healthy eco-system.

In 2023, researchers tracked down five species for the Lost Species initiative – the highest number within a single calendar year since the search began in 2017. Over the course of the initiative, a total of 11 species have been rediscovered. Lost to science, these impressive discoveries include various flora and fauna, including plants, insects, and mammals.

Here is the group of species took a stand against extinction in 2023:

  1. Rediscovered in the dunes of the African drylands after 80 years, the De Winton’s golden mole eluded its search parties by swimming beneath the sand. Thanks to an innovative environmental DNA (eDNA) technique, this discovery tapped into a new frontier to search for this lost mole species. 
  2. A team of researchers rummaged through the dense vegetation of the Cyclops Mountains to find the ‘extinct’ long-beaked echidna. Feared extinct, a particular species, named after the well-known naturalist and narrator, Sir David Attenborough, was last documented in 1961. These primitive mammals lived amongst the dinosaurs.
  3. Over the last two decades, ornithologists listened for the calls of the dusky tetraka in the tropical forests of Madagascar. This year, the calls returned. Researchers spotted the ground bird amongst the undergrowth. Located at a lower elevation, this small songbird may have altered its behaviors due to deforestation. 
  4. After years of meticulous work, searching through leaf litter, a team of scientists uncovered the characteristic horizontal burrow of the Fagilde’s trapdoor spider. Behind a circular door, the burrow housed a female spider guarding its 10 babies. The only evidence of this spider’s existence was its original description almost 100 years ago.
  5. First described in 1861, the Pernambuco holly is a rare Brazilian tree species that blooms small white flowers. The team located four trees, two male and two female plants, on the fringes of a sugarcane plantation. The trees are a part of the disappearing Atlantic Forest ecosystem. Botanists plan to collect the seeds for future germination. 

In a world on the brink of its sixth extinction crisis, these revelations bring hope to conservation efforts. 

A push for eco-friendliness in fashion

Woman in eco friendly fashion dress standing on top of a mountain of textile fabrics what would become waste if sustainable fashion practices are not adapted.

Over the last 15 years, clothes production doubled in the name of fashion. This gobbled up valuable resources and produced tons of emissions. Now, with changes in consumer demands, industry regulations, and shipment practices, the fashion industry seems determined to shift to this new standard.

Driven by the environment commitment

With a demand for quality over quantity, consumers are willing to pay more for eco-friendly products. Brands with a sustainability program, like Hugo Boss, are also sought out by consumers in hopes to reduce their climate footprint through their purchase. They search for sustainable choices that use recycled materials or cruelty-free textiles. 

Tackling textile waste

The EU announced a legislative push for all sustainable fashion regulations to be in place by 2028. Throughout the supply chain, textile consumption has a huge negative impact on water and land use. 

The Commission is set to draft up to 16 pieces of legislation that place responsibility for the environmental impact of clothing in the hands of fashion companies. The main regulations will reduce textile waste and ban destruction of unused goods.

Going green with transportation

To combat billions of tons of transportation emissions, the fashion industry spearheaded efforts to use clean fuels for shipments. This skyrocketed the demand for green fuels to curb carbon emissions, pushing companies to order new fleets of green cargo ships. 

Fashion companies accounted for 26% of the low-emission shipment services – the largest group to use this alternative fuel to transport products. With the popularity of online sales, green transportation will continue to be critical to prevent the use of more fossil fuels.

Halt greenwashing

To stop the use of misleading eco-labels, the EU will implement a digital product passport system for goods to improve transparency in the textile market. 

Textile suppliers must use electronic labels on their products to detail their composition, manufacturing process, and best recycling practices. This will allow customers to see if brands overstate their sustainability efforts. To meet future EU requirements, brands began to adopt these tags as an opportunity to appeal to eco-conscious customers. 

Sustainability is a commitment to a better future – just not a fashion statement. It is important to align with brands that support the environment for the long haul. 

A record year for renewables

Solar panels installed on a roof on a residential home with blue clear sky in the background.

With the fall of the fossil fuel empire, clean energy resources are on the rise in the fight against climate change. For each dollar spent on fossil fuels, there is $1.70 invested into clean energy production. Five years ago, these funds were equal. 

In 2023, solar projects were projected to outpace fossil fuel investments for the first time. With improvements in technology, solar is now the cheapest form of electricity in a majority of countries with the price drop for solar panels. 

​​"This crowns solar as a true energy superpower. It is emerging as the biggest tool we have for rapid decarbonization of the entire economy," said Dave Jones, the Head of Data Insights at Ember, a think tank for clean energy transition.

Wind is another clean energy with a record year. The world installed enough infrastructure to power more than 80 million homes. Though China installed most of the wind power, the U.S. hit a milestone with its first off-store wind turbine sending electricity to the grid. 

China surpassed both the U.S. and Europe in clean energy investments, accounting for more than half of the new solar power and most of the wind growth. There is still a lack of equity in the transition of resources in developing countries. Part of the COP28 did pledge to give funds to developing countries for the climate crisis. 

To wrap up this growth in clean infrastructure, the historic COP28 agreement created an action plan to phase out nonrenewable energy resources to achieve net zero by 2050. This December declaration showed that nearly 200 countries acknowledge the damage done by fossil fuels and the need to phase out nonrenewable resources. 

With this landmark legislation and the growth in renewable infrastructure, the future of clean energy looks even more bright.