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Leading the Change: Clean Air and Oceans
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I'm reading
Leading the Change: Clean Air and Oceans
Pass it on
Pass it on
I'm reading
Leading the Change: Clean Air and Oceans
Pass it on
Pass it on
Articles
30 May 2022

Leading the Change: Clean Air and Oceans

We highlight just some of the many exciting initiatives around the globe that are playing a part in changing the system.

By themselves, they might seem small and insignificant compared to the global corporations they stand against. But when their numbers increase – when there is small scale on a large scale – they may yet tip the balance. In the meantime, they are invaluable lifeboats of tangible regeneration, as we navigate our way out of a fraught, degenerative global economic system.

Written by Dumbo Feather

This story originally ran in issue #69 of Dumbo Feather

Discussed in this Story

SeaTrees restore underwater forests, seagrass meadows and coral reefs

SeaTrees

Founded by Californian surfers who were witnessing ocean degradation first-hand, SeaTrees is an initiative created by non-profit organisation Sustainable Surf to plant and restore underwater forests, seagrass meadows and coral reefs – from Californian kelp forests to mangrove forests in Indonesia, Kenya and Baja. The leading motivator is that marine plants sequester a huge amount of carbon (to the tune of 50 million tonnes per year) – far more than any land ecosystem. Through SeaTrees, people can donate to plant 10, 20, 30, 50 or 100 sea trees. To date, one million sea trees have been restored around the world, and the flow-on effects of the scalable model include the creation of jobs in coastal communities and increased biodiversity in marine habitats. 

Seabin Project 

Seabin started out as a trash skimmer placed in the water to capture floating marine debris like microplastics and plastic fibres. Thanks to a viral video that attracted more than 1.2 billion views, the small Australian clean-tech startup managed to scale into 53 countries in only two years. But as Seabin grew, the initiative also started to understand that the problem of plastic pollution in our oceans is symptomatic of human behaviour. With this revelation, Seabin ceased to sell products on a global scale and instead focused on data, prevention, community activation, creating employment, social licence and clean up. Seabin’s focus is now on cleaning up entire cities, 100 cities by 2050 to be more exact, using Sydney as its first case study. The formula is simple: obtain social licence from the community, back it up with data, and then support policy-making and new legislation at local, state and federal government levels.

This story originally ran in issue #69 of Dumbo Feather

This story originally ran in issue #69 of Dumbo Feather

Pacific Bio’s RegenAqua farm transforms wastewater

Pacific Bio

Australian biotechnology company Pacific Bio uses its cutting-edge RegenAqua technology to harness the detoxifying power of algae to remove pollutants (such as nitrogen and phosphorus) from wastewater in marine and freshwater environments. The circular process creates nutrient-rich products, such as PlantJuice (a powerful biostimulant for farmers that helps plants establish quicker and resist stress), and a GM-free animal feed – meaning that the model has the potential to address issues around water purity, food security and sustainability. Pacific Bio operates RegenAqua technology at its aquaculture facility to responsibly farm black tiger prawns, ensuring the removal of harmful nutrients from wastewater created in the farming process before it enters the Great Barrier Reef catchment, protecting one of Australia’s most precious assets.

Takachar

At the nexus of technology and the environment is Indian social enterprise Takachar, which has championed a concept known as “oxygen-lean torrefaction” that reduces carbon emissions while turning waste into sellable products. By hitching a ride on the back of a tractor, the low-cost technology converts crop and farm residue into fertiliser and fuel so that farmers don’t wind up burning this agricultural waste out in the open, where it releases an enormous amount of carbon emissions, causes wildfires and dramatically impacts the life expectancy of locals. Once transformed into useful products, this biomass represents a $10 billion market and a 40 percent increase in the potential income of rural communities.

Coral Vita

Based in the Bahamas, Coral Vita is a coral “out-planting” initiative in which coral from degraded reefs is restored in a land-based farm, where it is said to be able to recover and grow at a rate 50 times faster than it would if left in its natural environment. Corals are made more resilient in the process, and then replanted in their original habitat to imbue the reef with life (or, vita). The farms triple as centres for marine education and ecotourism. In turn, the project helps protect and sustain the coastal communities where Coral Vita operates. One farm can restore millions of corals, and the bulk of profits are reinvested in coral restoration.

The Wind Hunter

The Wind Hunter is one of the first of its kind: a cargo ship powered solely by sails (around 12 of them) and underwater turbines. It has been developed as an experiment in how we can mitigate the large amount of carbon emissions released by the shipping industry (which contributes three percent of global emissions). The ship uses a blend of old and new technologies: the underwater turbines generate electricity so the vessel can operate without relying on wind. A handful of test sailings have been conducted in 2021; the next phase is to test the technology on a 60-metre vessel. The group’s mission is to see the entire shipping industry become zero-emission as soon as possible.

Greening Australia

The work of Greening Australia covers a fair amount of terrain (literally and figuratively) across Australia: reef aid; reforestation; rewilding urban areas; and partnering with First Nations knowledge-holders in conservation. Among their many important projects is wetland restoration. Wetlands are often overlooked in landcare but are enormously important in storing carbon, encouraging biodiversity, stabilising the climate and keeping waterways clean. They play a vital role in safeguarding reef health and in supporting vulnerable species such as fish, birds and turtles. Wetlands across the country have been damaged by modern farming and fire practices, and Greening Australia works alongside traditional owners to revise some of these practices, reduce pollutants and remove invasive plant species.

SunButter

Each year, up to 14,000 tonnes of sunscreen slips off our skin and into oceans and waterways, where it contributes to coral bleaching and damages marine life (this is why Hawaii and Palau have both banned toxic sunscreens in the last couple of years). SunButter, which has been developed by a pair of marine biologists, is Australia’s first plastic-free, reef-safe sunscreen. Rather than using chemicals, it contains non-nanosized zinc (meaning it’s free of microplastics), which acts as a physical barrier against the sun. The sunscreen is also palm oil free, packaged in a reusable aluminium tin and manufactured locally in a solar-powered factory.

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