In the fast-paced world we live in, let’s slow down and take a moment to appreciate what our planet has accomplished. Every year has its ups and downs, but let’s end 2023 on a good note by reading about some of the best plant-related news.
The buildings are coming alive! Green roofs and vertical forests are still popular choices in modern architecture to transform concrete jungles into refreshing oases. Not only do they make our cities prettier, but they also improve air quality, regulate temperatures, and promote overall well-being. Although it was developed in the 90s, Passivhaus design is also seeing a resurgence. This particular building standard promotes energy efficiency, natural ventilation, and passive heating or cooling. These projects also tend to utilize older structures as a form of recycling and use locally sourced materials, which reduce the carbon footprint.
Community gardens gained significant traction in 2023, with around 29,000 gardens sprouting in the United States alone. These communal spaces provide fresh and organic produce and encourage social interactions, bringing residents together. In the United States, it’s estimated community gardens raise property value by almost 10%, promote healthier eating habits, encourage gradual weight loss, and provide food security.
Plant-Based Alternatives on the Rise
2023 witnessed a rapid evolution in the plant-based food industry, as more people embraced environmentally-friendly lifestyles. It’s estimated that retail sales of meat alternatives will reach 162 billion dollars by 2030. In commercial fast-food restaurants, vegetarian options are also becoming more common, catering to different tastes and offering a wider range of nutritional menus. These advancements not only provide for the growing demand for plant-based diets but also reduce the carbon footprint associated with the meat and dairy industry.
Fungi Eat Microplastics
Microplastics (also called forever chemicals) are tiny particles of plastic that seep into our environment, from the ocean to the soil. They permeate our food chain (including plants), thereby affecting our health. Although fungi were studied before as a wastewater treatment, this year was the first time they were applied to help remove microplastics. Recent research has shown that at least 3 different fungi strains have the ability to break down and potentially assimilate microplastics from the environment. The US-based research agency Texas A&M Agrilife Research is also working on making new plant-derived materials that can be used in water treatment facilities that’ll help eat up these forever chemicals.
Deforestation in Brazil on the Decline
Deforestation in Brazil in 2023 has shown to be at an all-time low compared to previous years. One of the key reasons behind this positive change is the increased enforcement of environmental laws and stricter regulations by the new government. This has resulted in stronger monitoring and penalties for illegal logging. A notable shift has also taken place toward more responsible land management, including sustainable farming techniques and indigenous reservation protection. These positive developments demonstrate the potential for change spurred by public awareness and the effectiveness of environmental policies.
The Ozone Layer Continues Healing
Slowly but surely, the ozone layer continues to recover, bringing fresh hope for our planet. This positive outcome is primarily attributed to the global implementation of the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement that aimed to phase out the production and consumption of ozone-depleting products. This symbolizes the power of international cooperation and serves as a shining example of how collective action can reverse the damaging effects on our planet.
As we look forward to 2024, let’s find solace and excitement in the positive plant and nature-related news that awaits us. From reforestation efforts to sustainable agriculture practices, these advancements reflect our collective determination to create a greener planet. Happy New Year, plant lovers!