Why this July we’re going plastic-free and how you can join us

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It's no coincidence that Starbucks decided to ditch straws this month. It's the month of the #plasticfreeJuly challenge. Time to #ChooseToRefuse.

According to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, there could be, by weight, more plastic in our oceans than fish by 2050. 50 percent of this plastic is single-use, meaning that it is discarded once it’s used.

The most evident example is straws. We use them for 15 minutes to sip our iced coffee but it takes up to 200 years to decompose a single plastic straw. And just the USA consumes 500 million of them daily.

It’s a staggering amount and that’s why Starbucks just announced that it will eliminate plastic straws from its stores worldwide by 2020.

It’s no coincidence that the American coffeehouse company announced this decision in July. Indeed, this July, over 2 million people from 159 countries are choosing to go plastic-free joining the Plastic-Free challenge.

It all started in 2011 when a small group of employees from the Australian non-profit initiative Earth Carers decided it was time they had reduced their consumption of single-use plastics.

The small initiative quickly became a global movement that raises awareness on one of the greatest environmental challenges: plastic waste.

At Kinder, we’re all about reducing plastic consumption and that’s why we’re joining the challenge. We will be writing about easy ways to ditch single-use plastic and share the experiences of friends who are undertaking the same challenge.

Going plastic-free is often described as an expensive choice that only the privileged can afford. In part, that's true. And it's also true that the issue can only be completely solved at a political level.

But it's equally true that a grassroots movement, fueled by the media, can help push the reforms that are needed.

As for the expensiveness of a plastic-free lifestyle, over the next weeks, we hope that we will be able to show you how to ditch single-use plastic without breaking the bank.

Follow us on Instagram to receive daily updates on how, all together, we can make this world a little more sustainable.

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  • How these Indian pink vigilantes are sticking it to the patriarchy

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    Uttar Pradesh in India is not a great place to be a woman. Quite the opposite in fact. The northern Indian state has high levels of violence against women, who are often failed by the police and the legal system leaving them waiting a long time for a fair trial and justice.

    Tired of the poor justice system, Sampat Pal Devi founded the Gulabi Gang, an organisation that aims to challenge the deeply patriarchal structure of her society.

    As a group that now boasts 400,000 women who wear pink saris and carry large sticks to beat offenders, they have not gone unnoticed and are making a mark in Northern India. 

    "Yes, we fight rapists with lathis [sticks]. If we find the culprit, we thrash him black and blue so he dare not attempt to do wrong to any girl or a woman again."

    However, Gulabi Gang isn’t just about beating local abusers. The group’s main focus is on empowering women, promoting equality and challenging stereotypes. This is carried out through several practices including training women in self-defence, persuading families to educate girls and putting an end to child marriage.

    The Gulabi Gang also hope to empower women by providing them with resources that'll help them gain economic freedom. They organise events with companies where women can be hired. They currently collaborate with a local business, which employs over 500 women and allows them to earn up to 150 rupees a day.

    Considering only 27 percent of Indian women are in the labour force Gulabi Gang's work is quite impressive.

    Pal definitely knows what she wants for the women in India and is not afraid to be considered a controversial figure in order to get it, saying:

    “Society will only change if we eliminate the inherently subordinate role given to women. This is a revolution that has to come from us. Therefore, besides having established self-help and legal counselling groups to address individual cases, we focus on programmes to achieve their emancipation... If we women don't save ourselves, nobody will”

    The Gulabi Gang are really taking women’s rights and empowerment into their own hands and are considered a force to be reckoned with across the globe. Although Sampat Pal Devi’s direct approach might be seen as controversial in some circles, there is no denying she is making an impact. 

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  • This Palestinian engineer is literally rebuilding Gaza from its ashes

    Solutions

    After graduating from Gaza’s Islamic University with an engineering degree, Majd Mashharawi looked around in her city to see high unemployment rates, war-torn infrastructure and blockades limiting the supply of resources and materials.

    In 2016, Mashharawi and her friend Rawan Abddllaht decided to do something about the state their city was in and invented a new form of brick made from rubble and ash in order to, quite literally, rebuild the city from its ashes.

    Costing just half the price of traditional bricks, Mashharawi’s replaces sand and aggregate with her new formula called "GreenCake" to produce a lightweight brick from materials that would have otherwise been wasted. 

    Not only materials needed to produce GreenCake are easy to find and cheap: GreenCake also has a positive environmental impact. The innovative brick uses ash from local restaurants and factories that would have otherwise been dumped into a landfill, posing environmental threats. 

    Mashharawi and Rawan’s efforts did not go unnoticed and the pair won first place in a local startup incubator, supplying them with funds to create their first 1,000 bricks in 2016. 

    Mashharawi didn't stop with building Gaza from its ashes but also decided to work on saving it from darkness. She and her team are expanding into renewable energy technologies for people in Gaza. The city only receives three to six hours of electricity a day, which affects it's residents severely in many ways, from the quality of life to education, from socialising to economic growth.

    But According to Mashhrawi, "[T]he region has a resource that can be harnessed: an average of 320 days of sunshine a year, making solar energy an ideal source of electricity production."

    The SunBox, one of her projects, aims to address this: it is a solar energy technology that generates 1,000 watts of electricity, enough to power four lamps, two laptops, two phones, an internet router and a small refrigerator for a full day.

    Mashharawi made it to Fast Company's Most Creative People in Business 2018 list, and rightfully so. She is finding sustainable and realistic solutions to her local communities problems that can be extended to many other places in the world, and she's doing all of this while sticking it to the patriarchy.

    Listen to Majd talk more about her projects here and follow GreenCake on Facebook to stay up to date with their work. 

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  • This biotech startup promises to deliver lab-grown burgers in three years

    Solutions

    Three years from now, you may be able to buy a very special brand of meat in your neighbourhood supermarket. In that, no defenceless animal was raised and slaughtered to produce it.

    Yes, thanks to the efforts of some brilliant minds in biotechnology and meat production, cultured meat is finally on its way towards becoming a commercial reality.

    Mosa Meat, a Dutch startup, recently announced that it had raised 7.5 million euros to commercialise cultured meat — meat produced from animal cells rather than slaughter — and bring it to the market by 2021. In this initiative, the startup collaborated with Bell Food Group, a Swiss meat producer, and M Ventures, a venture capital firm.

    “Replacing traditional meat production with cultured meat would have a huge impact on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, it would free up a large number of resources that are now used for meat production worldwide and will completely disrupt an old-established and currently unsustainable industry,” said Alexander Hoffmann, principal at M Ventures. “We’re incredibly excited to be leading this investment into Mosa Meat, a company at the unique cross-section of food and biotech.”

    It’s clear that the global livestock will not be able to sustain the exploding world population for long, which is why the idea of cultured meat could be a lifesaver in the coming decades. Professor Mark Post, a pathfinder in cultured meat production and the co-founder of Mosa Meat, realized this early when he began trying to create the world’s first cultured beef burger, succeeding in 2013.

    This marks yet another giant stride in finding sustainable alternatives in terms of food consumption. Here’s hoping that more such brainwaves follow soon.  

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