The science has been published, but it's everyday human behavior that will make a difference. Hear more about this topic from sustainability consultants, The Bulb.

Scientists are the backbone of research with a nod to household names such as Marie Curie, Benjamin Franklin, and Nikola Tesla paving the way for modern science. But while scientists are the ones researching, analyzing trends, and sharing information about climate change and human health, it is truly the everyday human behavior of coming together to collaborate that creates sustainable change. Unity across interdisciplinary sectors and communities is needed to move forward in the creation of a sustainable future that benefits people and planet.

Across the world, there are many inspiring collaborations, such as the one between The Rockefeller Foundation and the UN Climate Change Secretariat called Momentum for Change: Planetary Health. Years after the commencement of the project, they are highlighting initiatives that have made strides for positive change with health for Planet and People. Collaborations are highlighted on the UNFCCC website to showcase innovation paving the way towards a sustainable future.

The digital wallet Alipay originated in China, and now services millions of customers worldwide. It channeled the power of digital technology to promote climate action called ‘Alipay Ant Forest’. Launched on its mobile app, it rewards its users with Green Energy Points every time the user takes steps towards reducing their emissions. The points add up in a virtual tree in-app, and Alipay partners with local NGOs to plant a tree or protect a conservation area. Since its launch, it has attracted 500 million users and planted more than 100 million trees in Northwest China as well as protecting conservation areas. With this initiative, they also brought 400,000 job opportunities and income to local farmers to not only plant trees, but also develop organic agricultural products and connect them to e-commerce platforms.

Alipay saw the problem – the world currently faces environmental challenges that threaten the livelihood of millions of people. There is a need for both bottom-up and top-down approaches to meet in the middle and engage people directly in behavior change. They did this by taking advantage of their platform to provide a measurable, tradable, and allocable platform to encourage daily behavior change towards a low-carbon lifestyle. There is potential for other e-wallets to adopt this model.

An additional project headed by two global companies, TerraCycle and O2 launched a PPE recycling solution in the O2 retail shops to responsibly dispose of masks, gloves, and face shields. With plastic pollution affecting communities at a global and widespread scale, this project encourages the responsible disposal of hard to recycle items with the TerraCycle Zero Waste boxes. Shorelines across the world have evidence of PPE not being recycled responsibly and local communities are the ones that shoulder the responsibility of cleaning up the affected areas.

Plastic removal has positive environmental benefits that affect every part of the planet, and it also has positive benefits for the people existing on the planet. In one year alone, an estimated 150,000 tonnes of plastic waste washed up in Japan. In other parts of the world, plastic is washing up at alarming rates. In an ideal world, the end of plastic waste would be a priority, but this innovation has many positive benefits stemming from its replicability and encouraging the circularity of plastic materials in everyday items.

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While this may feel daunting, there are many things that the everyday person can do to ensure that they are reducing their daily plastic intake and recycling appropriately. Scientists and companies may be the ones paving the way for innovative change, but it is the daily human behavior that matters the most. We are the ones affected by climate change and plastic pollution on micro and macro levels. A common change is bringing your own cup for water and takeaway drinks. You don’t even need to go out and buy new cups, they are likely already in your household. When shopping, try to purchase second-hand before deciding to purchase new. Check your local area’s recycling and ensure that items are clean before placing them in the recycling bins.

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Additionally, many community organizations are hosting trail, beach or town cleans to clean up their local environment. Many products from those cleans are recycled, but others turn trash into art such as the attention-grabbing ‘Mount Recyclemore’ sculpture made from e-waste to capture the eye of the G7 attendees in Cornwall. Artists around the world are creating innovative works with waste found in their surroundings as well as capturing the community efforts around eliminating waste.

 
 
 
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