From a reduction in light pollution to eco-friendly routes, here’s what’s making us smile in the world of sustainability this week…
Morrisons is set to become the first UK supermarket to completely remove plastic carrier bag options from its stores, in a new plan to scrap its “bags for life”. Instead, customers will be offered 30p paper bags which are reusable, recyclable, water-resistant, tear-resistant and can hold up to 16kg alongside additional reusable options including string, jute, cotton and woven bags costing between 75p and £2.50.
Despite taking away 5p single-use plastic carrier bags in 2017, Morrisons has reported evidence of some plastic “bags for life” being purchased for single-use. As a result, it is reported the move will save 3,200 tonnes of plastic and almost 100 million plastic bags every year. The plan is set to trial in eight stores in the upcoming summer before national expansion.
The British electricity grid was the greenest it has ever been on Easter Monday, with 80 per cent of energy coming from zero-carbon energy sources at their peak. Low demand from the Easter holiday, as well as sunny and blustery conditions aided renewable energy sources in dominating the energy mix with wind making up 39 per cent, solar at 21 per cent and nuclear accounting for 16 per cent.
As a result, there was no coal generation on the grid with only 10 per cent of power produced by gas plants, with levels of carbon pollution for each unit of electricity consumed decreasing to just 39 grams of carbon dioxide – the lowest ever recorded for the grid. With more renewable energy projects coming to Britain, it is clear we will see a continuing decline in carbon pollution.
Light pollution drops thanks to lockdown restrictions
Lockdown has led to a significant drop in light pollution in the UK, inspiring more people to look to the skies according to organisers of Star Count, a citizen science project that asks people to count the number of stars they see in the Orion constellation.
The nationwide star count was conducted for two weeks with 51 per cent of the 8,000 volunteers noting 10 or fewer stars, compared to a similar count at the same period in 2020 which recorded this at 61 per cent. As a result, the number of stars visible in the skies above Britain increased in this year’s annual count, indicating a lessening of light pollution due to quieter than usual urban areas and less human activity taking place as a response to lockdown.
In a commitment to fight climate change, Google Maps will now direct drivers to the eco-friendliest route by highlighting journeys that generate the lowest carbon footprint using factors consisting of traffic data and road inclines.
Launching first in the United States on Android and iOS platforms later this year, a global expansion is set to follow with the default route to be set as the eco-friendly option unless users choose to opt-out. However, if alternative routes are significantly faster, Google will allow users to compare their estimated emissions and select the appropriate route.