Wishing You Well

12 Eco-Stories To Restore Your Faith In Humanity

Posted on: December 29, 2012

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We often hear people complaining that there is much more bad news in the media than good news. This is even frequently the case with eco-news. But when we looked back over 2012, we realized that there were plenty of upbeat eco-stories this year that demonstrate how individuals, schools, companies and even cities are making positive impacts. Keep reading to see a dozen stories that might just help restore your faith in humanity.

1. Artist Makes Purses from Recycled Tents to Rebuild School

Photo: Catherine E. Charlot

Early in the year, we reported that artist and designer Catherine Eduard Charlot had undertaken a project in her native Haiti to help victims of the 2010 earthquake. Charlot met a local pastor who was struggling to educate 150 children in the Kafou Chada region of Croix des Bouquets, a low-income district, and decided she would raise money to help rebuild a school for the kids.

To do so, Charlot, who turned old umbrellas into fashion in the past, decided to turn USAID tents that Haitians were selling or throwing away into handbags, which she would then sell to raise funds. Most of the tents would have ended up in the trash, so not only did her plans help Haitian children, they also eliminated what would have been a lot of waste.

Charlot is passionate about reuse and recycling, and she especially enjoys teaching these techniques to school children. Charlot’s designs can be found at her website.

To learn more, check out the full story.

2. Company Heeds Kids' Call to Recycle Markers

Photo: Flickr/Sir Mildred Pierce

Kids might often feel they don’t have much of an impact on the adult world, but this year, a group of students from Sun Valley Elementary school in San Rafael, Calif. started a petition that made a difference.

The students petitioned Crayola to set up a marker recycling program and to date their petition on Change.org has gotten over 85,000 signatures. In their petition, they claim that “every year, Crayola makes about half a billion markers, enough markers to wrap around the earth more than three times.” In September, Dixon Ticonderoga, another marker company, heard the kids’ complaints and decided to start their own recycling program for used markers.

Visit the petition or check out the full story to learn more.

3. Community Gardens Inspire

Photo: Homeless Garden Project

More and more community gardens have been popping up in recent years, and they’ve been revitalizing neighborhoods and providing local, nutritional food for residents. We’ve talked about community gardens from California to Wisconsin to Georgia, and they’re all addressing unique issues through agriculture.

Take, for example, the Homeless Garden Project in Santa Cruz, Calif., which addresses homelessness in addition to providing fresh organic produce. The garden was founded in 1990 as a way to provide the homeless with job training and transitional employment. Now the garden offers a community-supported agriculture program, a retail store and food for restaurants and farmers’ markets.

Don’t miss any of the other inspiring gardens; take a look at the full list.

4. First Electric Vehicle for Wheelchair Users Rolls Out

Photo: Community Cars, Inc.

Transportation can be challenging for wheelchair users, especially since modifying a vehicle to accomodate their needs can cost upwards of $100,000.

In 2012, though, a new alternative made its way to the U.S. from Hungary. The Kenguru is a small electric vehicle designed specifically for wheelchair users. Drivers can simply open the car’s back hatch and drive their wheelchair inside. The Kenguru can travel up to 60 miles before it needs to be recharged.

Stacy Zoern, a Texas lawyer who suffers from a form of muscular distrophy, raised the money to make the Kenguru available in the U.S.

Interested in learning more? Read the full story or check out the Kenguru’s website.

5. GM Scraps Become Coats for the Homeless

Photo: John F. Martin, General Motors

Plenty of companies have made positive eco-impacts in 2012, and one of those companies is General Motors, who partners with Veronica Scott of The Empowerment Plan to make winter coats for the homeless.

When GM has leftover sound-absorbing materials from the Chevy Malibu and Buick Verano, the company donates that material to Scott. Scott, a graduate of the College for Creative Studios in Detroit, makes weatherproof jackets that double as sleeping bags for the homeless. Scott and her eight full-time employees make about 150 coats per month.

Thanks to Scott and GM, 400 individuals have warm coats this winter.

7. E-Waste Recycler Creates Jobs for Americans with Disabilities

Photo: Shutterstock

You may not think too hard about what happens to your old television or computer after you get rid of it, but one non-profit, Easter Seals of Greater Houston, sees those old electronics as a way to help Americans with disabilities.

In 2012, the organization partnered with CompuCycle, a local electronics recycler, to collect e-waste from September 15 through November 15. All proceeds from the drive went to fund a long-term training program for disabled individuals struggling to find jobs. Easter Seals clients’ will learn how to recycle and refurbish electronics, which are skills that can be used not only at Easter Seals, but throughout a career.

To learn more about Easter Seals’ efforts, read the full story.

6. Volunteers Remove 29 Tons of Waste from Waterways

Photo: Katharine Friedgen/United by Blue

Apparel company United by Blue promises to remove one pound of waste from waterways for every one of their products sold, so to accomplish this task, they convened 1,258 volunteers at 28 clean-up sites to help. The volunteers cleaned up 58,000 pounds of waste from rivers, streams and the ocean.

The company is currently seeking ways to recycle some of that waste rather than send it all to landfills. They currently partner with Method, a company that is turning plastic ocean trash into soap bottles. United by Blue hopes to create more partnerhships in the future.

To learn more about the clean-up, watch the video that accompanies our original story.

8. Two Charities Change the World By Cleaning

Photo: Clean the World

In 2012, the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) helped others around the world through charity partnerships.

They worked with Clean the World, an organization that diverts waste and has socially sustainable goals. Clean the World collects discarded hotel soaps, shampoos and other hygiene products. In the last two years, they’ve distributed more than 9.5 million bars of soap to those in need in more than 45 countries. While something like soap may seem small, distributing it to those in need can help prevent the spread of disease.

Additionally, ACI partnered with Cleaning For A Reason, a charity that provides maid services to women undergoing cancer treatment in the U.S. and Canada so they have one less thing to worry about.

Learn more about these spotlighted charities.

9. Not-for-Profit Recycles Ink Cartridges for Vets

Photo: Flickr/innovate 360

A new, online, non-profit called Recycle4Vets aimed to help veterans in 2012 by collecting used printer cartridges. While ink cartridges may seem small, there are actually 375 million of them disposed of in the U.S. annually, and recycling them can save everyone involved money.

Recycle4Vets recycles cartridges, refills them, sells them and then donates the profits to veterans in need. Donating your spent ink cartridges is an easy way to benefit the community.

Want to do more to help veterans? Check Out: Donate Wheelchairs, Scooters to Benefit Veterans

10. Headphones Made from Reclaimed Wood Benefit Deaf Children

Photo: LSTN Headphones

Small businesses made an eco-impact in 2012, too, and one of those businesses was L.A.-based LSTN Headphones. The company makes headphones and earbuds out of reclaimed wood that would otherwise end up in landfills. But that’s not all.

Through a partnership with Soundseekers, a portion of their proceeds help fund clinics in Africa and India where deaf children are fitted with hearing aids. Additionally, LSTN Headphones donates to a local Los Angeles organization, the John Tracy Clinic, that assists children with hearing loss.

Learn more about LSTN Headphones or purchase a pair at their website.

11. Small Towns Make a Green Impact

Photo: Joah Bussert, GreenTown

You may have noticed this past year that plenty of large cities have made commendable environmental efforts. Small towns have also gone green, too, and in 2012 we put together a list of six small towns doing inspiring green things.

We looked at Greensburg, Kan., where residents rebuilt with LEED-certified buildings after a tornado. We learned about Steamboat Springs, Colo., where the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council strives for zero waste. We even saw that Rock Port, Mo., gets all of its power from the wind. These efforts are worthy of attention, and demonstrate that small efforts do make a difference.

To see the other cities and towns that made our list, read Six Small Towns Make a Green Impact.

12. Brazil's 'Catadores' Turn Collected Trash into Art

Photo: SAP

Last but not least, in 2012 we witnessed some impressive efforts in the arts to turn trash into something worthwhile. One of these projects took place in Brazil, where a non-governmental organization called ASMARE helped connect garbage collectors to training and social services.

These garbage collectors, called catadores, make furniture and art from trash such as discarded tires and plastic bottles. These items are sold to benefit ASMARE and the catadores they assist.

Don’t miss the full story, where you can see a slideshow of art and furniture made by Brazil’s catadores.

Want to know how you can make a difference in 2013? Check Out: 10 Things to Recycle for Charity


via Good News on Huffington Post http://earth911.com/news/2012/12/27/12-heartwarming-eco-stories/

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