Over 20 years, Staten Island’s Fresh Kills Landfill transformed from largest garbage dump in the world to a 2,200 acre green space with rich biodiversity.

Each week we summarize three pieces of news that give us hope for a greener, brighter future. Sign up for our weekly newsletter to have Hopeful Headlines sent directly to your inbox.

How the World’s Largest Garbage Dump Evolved Into a Green Oasis

By Robert Sullivan, The New York Times, August 14, 2020

  • 20 years ago, Fresh Kills Landfill was three times the size of Central Park with 20-story high trash mounds. After twenty years of restoration, it’s become Freshkills Park; 2,200 acres of green space where flora and fauna flourish naturally.
  • 20 acres of the park will be open to humans in Spring 2021, while the rest will be remain off limits until 2036. The Sanitation Department traps and collects methane from the trash festering below the park and uses it for energy.
  • From the article: “My first trip in 2001 was marked by sightings of mostly gulls; that weekend, our group reported 314 species in North Park’s 233 acres. Our bioblitz team was said to be the first to spot a blackjack oak tree on Staten Island, formerly a resident exclusively of the south, now showing up in New York as New York warms.”

Why does it matter: Seriously, that photo above was the world’s largest garbage dump just 20 years ago! Freshkills Park is an example of what’s possible when humans consider the environmental impact of their choices and choose to benefit the biosphere as a whole.

Your future home could be powered by the bricks it’s built with

By Emily Pontecorvo, Grist, August 14, 2020

  • Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis are developing bricks that can store energy and power small devices. Although in a primitive state, the innovation has the potential to transform the energy grid.
  • From the article: “About 40 percent of energy consumption in the United States takes place in buildings — homes, hospitals, stores, schools, restaurants. Right now much of that demand is met by fossil fuels, resulting in about a third of U.S. carbon emissions.”
  • While the bricks currently don’t hold very much energy (it takes about 60 to power a 3-watt light bulb for an hour), they’re able to recharge very quickly.

Why it matters: With enough advancement, this could totally transform how humans construct and power buildings. Imagine a world where each building gathers, stores and deploys its energy without additional piping and wiring.

India Providing Big Incentives to Domestic Solar Businesses To Increase Energy Self-Reliance

By Julia Fine, Our Daily Planet, August 17, 2020

  • The Indian government is taking steps to achieve its ambitious solar energy goals and make renewable energy a key part of its search for energy independence. Officials expect India “to give land near ports to companies that will construct solar equipment factories.”
  • Next to China and the US, India is the third-largest power consumer in the world and “is currently running the largest solar program worldwide.” However, nearly 80% of India’s solar cells come from China.
  • The plan also includes tariffs on solar equipment made in China, which will likely raise the cost of solar.

Why it matters: As one of the top three energy consumers, India’s energy mix ties directly into the well-being of the planet. Let’s hope they continue to push for renewable energy.

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Feature photo by Jade Doskow in The New York Times.