5 min read
Gavin Sheppard (Pinwheel author)

Gavin Sheppard

The Four Pinwheel Plans

Pinwheel’s mission is to secure the future of our planet. We want to achieve this by making it simple for people to fund high-quality projects that protect and restore the Earth, whether that’s providing solar cookers to refugees in Chad or saving the British hedgehog from the brink of extinction. 

All of our projects are placed into one of the four Pinwheel plans, each of which focuses on a specific aspect of planet restoration. This means that as soon as our plans have launched you can fund multiple initiatives in the cause that means the most to you. But what does each plan entail? How should you go about choosing? Let’s take a look below.

Wilderness: high-quality reforestation and species protection

The Wilderness plan is centred on restoring nature to the state of awe-inspiring wonder it should always occupy. Biodiversity has been hit acutely hard by human activity in the past two centuries, with species disappearing at an unprecedented rate from our planet. Not only does this mean we are slowly losing the ecosystems that sustain life on earth, but our planet is being stripped of its natural beauty.

Largely through our own doing, we would lose the chance to see majestic elephants roaming African plains or stealthy tigers prowling through rainforests. This doesn't have to be our legacy. In Wilderness we're working with Brian May's Save Me Trust to rewild Britain and protect one of our most iconic species. The hedgehog.

Through Wilderness, we also want to ensure our planet is prepared for the future. Even if we hit our most ambitious temperature increase targets, extreme weather events are going to increase in frequency. Human activity strips our planet of its natural defences against these. 

Ocean Rescue: protecting vital marine species while scaling up seagrass planting

Our planet’s oceans are home to an endlessly captivating array of biological wonders, ranging from the graceful majesty of whales to the intricate colour palettes of reef-dwelling fish. We are, however, at risk of losing this forever and leaving in its place overfished expanses of plastic-filled water depleted of biodiversity. Restoring and protecting our oceans and its inhabitants is one way we can ensure this doesn’t become a reality. As a result, this is the ethos behind our Ocean Rescue plan.

Eight million tonnes of plastic enter our ocean in a single year. Every single piece has the potential to kill or injure marine life, representing an entirely manmade and unavoidable loss to the natural world. Plastic is now even being found in human stomachs, transferred via the fish we eat and impossible to digest. By working to take plastic out of the ocean, we can turn the tide on this epidemic and slowly put an end to stunning marine creatures choking on discarded carrier bags and food containers.

To support this, Ocean Rescue includes high-quality plastic recovery and recycling projects. These offer every single actor in the supply chain, from the local communities employed to gather the plastic to waste management company owners, value from what was previously harmful waste. This creates jobs and provides a financial motivation to recycle, leading to much greater adoption and more plastic being taken out of our oceans. 

Alongside this, Ocean Rescue also includes projects that directly work to protect marine life. Human activity, for example, is now listed as the leading cause behind six of our seven species of sea turtle being endangered. It would be unthinkable to lose creatures as vital and beautiful as these from our seas - by subscribing to Ocean Rescue, you will be funding the projects working tirelessly to ensure this is never the case.

There is, however, one ocean occupant that could play the biggest role of all in the fight against climate change. Seagrass captures carbon an astonishing 35 times faster than tropical rainforests, as well as providing a home for endangered species, such as seahorses. Our planet was once home to an abundance of these vast ocean meadows, but many have been destroyed in the last century, including 92% in the UK alone. As a result, Ocean Rescue includes seagrass replanting projects, ensuring this wonder-crop and its many benefits can once again flourish.

Clean Tech: ensuring technological advancements don’t come at the expense of our planet

Clean Tech includes projects that address how technology in all forms impacts our planet and its inhabitants. This can range from encouraging e-waste recycling to delivering sustainable cooking equipment to local communities in lower-income countries. 

Of all the Pinwheel plans, Clean Tech has the greatest focus on restoring the lives of people. Over 80% of the world’s e-waste, for example, is shipped from the West and dumped in landfills, where it is picked apart by hand by some of the world’s poorest people. Informal recycling, as the practice is known, leaves these men, women and children exposed to a cocktail of toxic chemicals, including mercury and lead. 

This tragic situation has been fuelled by a combination of manufacturers maximising profits through techniques like planned obsolescence and unprecedented consumer demand. These may take decades to address, but in the meantime, we are using the Clean Tech plan to promote and fund formal e-waste recycling, preserving our planet’s natural resources while ensuring people are not placing themselves in danger just to support their families. 

But while the e-waste crisis has come off the back of the many technological advancements that are now part of our daily lives, not all our planet’s inhabitants have been fortunate enough to benefit from these. For example, in many parts of the world, entire communities still rely on open fires to heat their homes and cook. Not only does this mean carbon is released into the atmosphere, but that life-sustaining trees are routinely felled. Nowhere is this felt more acutely than in refugee camps, where venturing outside the camp to collect firewood can expose women to being attacked or sexually assaulted.

One way to start to address this is by providing biogas and solar powered cooking equipment. This is what you will be funding by subscribing to Clean Tech, a simple change that can protect extremely vulnerable lives and our planet’s environment and ecosystems. 

New Horizons: game-changing projects that could save us from extinction

Through the New Horizons plan, we are funding projects with the potential to change the world. For decades, we have been aware of global warming and its ability to spell the end for humanity, and yet have still made almost no progress in tackling climate change. Emissions are rising year on year and global demand for coal is increasing, with the extreme weather that gripped Europe in 2021 serving as a warning for what this future may hold.

Such a precarious problem can only be solved by bold and decisive solutions, an example of which is rapidly scaling up our carbon capture and storage capabilities. This means we will be able to take harmful CO2 out of the air and lock it away for thousands of years, stopping it contributing to global warming. Doing so will help us keep the planet at a liveable temperature and avoid the very worst effects of climate change.

Through New Horizons, we want to make sure initiatives such as this have the funds needed to deliver on their immense promise to save our planet and humanity from extinction.