A Look at 2017’s Top Environmental Protection Trends

Supported by Ara Chackerian

Environmental protection has become an increasingly crucial priority. The human population continues to grow, and scientists keep discovering more harmful effects of pollution. For instance, researchers recently learned that tiny plastic particles have contaminated massive amounts of drinking water. Businesses, governments and individuals must find new ways to safeguard the ecosystem. The latest trends in environmental protection could help improve the situation.

Artificial Leaves

Plant leaves began to collect and store solar power long before anyone even imagined photovoltaic panels or rechargeable batteries. They convert solar photons into sugars and use them as a long-term energy source. Humans have started to do the same with a new technology that creates “bionic leaves.” It uses solar rays, water and bacteria to generate a special type of alcohol. This fluid holds considerable amounts of energy and has the potential to power various machines.

Aquatic Robots

Invasive species often cause significant damage to the ecosystem. They can harm the water quality and kill numerous native animals. A new type of underwater robot uses electricity or poisonous substances to eliminate invasive sea creatures. The waterproof automatons recently began performing this task in two ocean locations; they target invasive starfish and lionfish. This project could help prevent further harm to the Great Barrier Reef.

Online Solutions

Although computer hardware consumes significant amounts of electrical power, it also plays a positive role. The internet continues to provide more and more methods to reduce an individual’s environmental impact and learn about new ways to achieve this goal. For example, computer users may estimate their personal environmental impact levels or buy carbon credits that compensate for specific actions.

Carbon Offsets

When people can’t avoid traveling long distances by car or airplane, they have the option to help the environment by purchasing carbon credits. Among other things, the money pays for projects that generate green energy, plant trees or protect undeveloped land. Many airlines have started to sell carbon offsets. Passengers can buy them when they book flights on Delta, United Airlines or Jet Blue planes.

Carbon Calculations

Various organizations have created online calculators that let people quickly assess their impact on the environment. Internet users can find these tools on the Conservation International and Environmental Protection Agency websites. They only need to provide some details about their personal shopping, energy and travel choices. The calculators supply helpful tips on ways to shrink a person’s carbon footprint.

Electricity Providers

A number of state governments recently began allowing Americans to choose the companies that supply electricity to their homes and businesses. Some firms exclusively provide green energy from hydroelectric, wind or solar plants. The internet makes it easy to find and compare them. However, it’s vital to read the fine print. An alternative electric supplier may charge higher rates or late fees.

Floating Wind Turbines

In 2016, workers began to construct the first major wind-power plant that floats. Alternative energy companies plan to build around 40 additional floating wind farms. Offshore locations experience high winds much more frequently than most inland sites, so the turbines can generate impressive amounts of power. Unfortunately, they also pose a danger to aquatic wildlife.

Last Straw

In September, British media reported that a chain of pubs will soon cease to supply customers with straws. Wetherspoon’s plans to eliminate these superfluous plastic tubes as 2017 comes to an end. It estimated that the decision would save about 70 million straws per year. This will stop decaying plastic from entering landfills and the environment.

Some individuals have decided to take similar action. A group known as the Lonely Whale Foundation urges the public to give up straws. It wants people to take a pledge to stop using them. Its website also provides easy ways to share this campaign on social media networks. The organization estimates that Americans throw away 3.5 billion straws every week. This not only depletes finite resources but pollutes the air and water.

Conserving Plastic

Some retailers have found ways to banish other wasteful uses of plastic. The major British supermarket chain Tesco recently stopped providing shoppers with disposable bags. A few smaller stores decided to completely eliminate plastic from their merchandise and packaging materials. Customers can minimize waste by avoiding single-serving food products, foam trays and disposable utensils. Some people bring reusable containers when they order takeout meals.

Green Drones

New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation utilizes 22 drones to gain valuable information that helps it protect the state’s ecosystem. These devices can quickly detect chemical spills from the air. They also enable officials to track the growth of invasive plants. Drones can even identify places where bats hibernate. They accomplish some of the same surveillance tasks as helicopters while producing far less pollution.