2020 has been a challenging year for everyone. But amid the onslaught of bad news, there have also been incredible stories of progress, resilience, humour and hope. Yes, 2020 was the year of bushfires and COVID-19, but it was also the year when new ocean clean-up records were set, states and nations banned single-use plastics and glossy black-cockatoos bounced back from the devastating Kangaroo Island fires.
Take a stroll down memory lane with us as we reflect on some of the best positive environmental news stories that broke this year. In no particular order, here are the yarns that made us cheer, warmed our hearts and made us hopeful for a better 2021.
1. South Australia becomes first state to ban single-use plastics
The South Australian parliament has passed laws banning the use of plastic straws, cutlery and stirrers. South Australia is the first Australian state to ban single-use plastics. The ban, which comes into effect in 2021, prohibits the sale, supply or distribution of plastic cutlery, straws and beverage stirrers.
2. Rare cockatoo chicks emerge from burnt bushland on Kangaroo Island
Glossy black-cockatoo chicks hatched this May on Kangaroo Island despite the summer's devastating bushfires, boosting hopes the endangered species can be saved from extinction.
3. Pakistan government provides green stimulus package for unemployed
The national government of Pakistan has expanded an innovative scheme aiming to reforest the nation to provide work for those unemployed as a result of the coronavirus. The government has created more than 63,000 positions for unemployed labourers by relaunching an ambitious national tree-planting scheme that had been brought to a grinding halt by the pandemic.
4. Urban Green Spaces in high demand during coronavirus lockdown
A new survey has found the use of green spaces in Sydney increased dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic as people sought their exercise fix.
5. New record set for world's largest ocean clean-up
A dedicated clean-up crew from Hawaii has set a new record for the largest ocean clean-up event in history. A total of 103 tonnes of fishing nets, debris and consumer plastics were successfully hauled out of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by the Ocean Voyages Institute (OVI).
6. A stewardship scheme for safety seats
Australian car seat manufacturers have pledged to take action on a growing waste stream that is showing no signs of letting up. At least one child car safety seat is bought for almost every child born in Australia. As a result, they have now become a massive waste stream with around 1.2 million seats, capsules and boosters sold in Australia each year.
7. China announces plastic bag ban
The world’s biggest plastic polluter is cracking down on plastic waste as it seeks to tackle one of the nation’s most significant environmental issues.
8. After over a century as Australia's coal capital, Newcastle is going renewable
The Australian city, long notorious for being home to the largest coal exporting harbour in the world, has announced it will embark on a complete transition away from dirty energy.
9. Diego: the frisky tortoise who saved a species
A captive breeding program for a Galápagos tortoise has been officially brought to a close after one prolific breeder brought them back from the brink.
10. Bin outings get creative in wake of coronavirus isolation
The weekly journey to the kerbside with your bins – complete with trips, curses and flapping lids – isn’t generally a highlight of one’s week. But, much like the rest of our lives, coronavirus has changed that.
11. Tasmania is now powered by 100% renewable energy
Tasmania is living up to its reputation of being Australia's greenest and cleanest state this week with the announcement that it has achieved its goal of 100 per cent renewable electricity. (Did you know that Tasmania's Cape Grim Peninsula is where you'll find the cleanest air in the world?). The state is now able to generate all the power it needs through wind and hydroelectricity projects.
12. Critically endangered orange-bellied parrot population shows signs of recovery
Over one hundred orange-bellied parrots will fly north from Tasmania for the winter this year after numbers fell to just three adult breeding females in 2017.
Thank you for being part of the positive environment news community in 2020, here's to a great 2021 for people and the planet!