2018 was somewhat of a whirlwind: the Logan Paul YouTube scandal; the Tide Pod challenge; the legalization of cannabis in Canada; the announcement of the final seasons of our TV favourites Orange is the New Black, The Big Bang Theory, and The Walking Dead; and so much more. However, there were many other notable moments of 2018. Here is a list of 10 of moments of 2018 that both warmed our hearts and advanced the world environmentally, politically, and socially.

1.   The world’s largest ocean cleanup underway

The world’s largest ocean cleanup began on Sept. 8. The system is designed to collect over 1.8 trillion pieces of trash floating in the Pacific Ocean. It is expected to clean up over half of all the garbage in the Great Pacific garbage patch within the next five years.

2.   The #MeToo movement is thriving

Since the beginning of the #MeToo movement in 2017, millions of people are joining victims of sexual harassment and assault in protest and building power. Women are no longer staying silent. The #MeToo movement is gaining major attention in the mainstream media, and at the same time, more and more men are becoming vocal and supportive of gender issues.

3.   Donald Glover, famously known as Childish Gambino, sparked important conversation with his single “This is America”

The words and visuals of Donald Glover’s song are intended to illustrate life in America — particularly as a black person. Glover’s song touches on gun laws and gun violence, police violence, mass shootings and white supremacists. “This is America” encompasses the major issues occurring in America today, and has created a variety of reactions from politicians, American civilians and celebrities.

4.   Restaurants are banning plastic straws

The video released in 2015 of a sea turtle getting a plastic straw pulled out of its nose sparked a public outcry concerning plastic in the oceans. Since then, local restaurants in Fredericton such as RustiCo, Snooty Fox, and Lunar, as well as chain restaurants such as the Coffee Mill, Subway and A&W have banned plastic straws this year.

In 2019, plastic straws will also go extinct in other restaurants such as Swiss Chalet, The Keg, Harvey’s, East Side Mario’s, New York Fries and St-Hubert.

5.   More advances for women around the world:

  • Women in Saudi Arabia can now drive for the first time in history;
  • More women are running for office than ever before, and they’re winning!
  • In May 2018, Ireland voted to legalize abortion, now allowing women to make their own decisions about when they want children;
  • On November 6th, Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids were the first Native American women elected into congress.
A woman celebrates her achievement of being able to drive in Saudi Arabia | Photo by Jaguar MENA on Flickr

6.   The World Bank has announced it will no longer fund oil and gas exploration

The World Bank has made another powerful step in the right direction to reducing world climate change by agreeing to stop funding oil and gas exploration by 2019. The bank has committed to only funding oil and gas in the world’s poorest countries.

7.   Many well-known endangered species were taken off the IUCN red list

2018 has been a great year for many endangered species. Species such as giant pandas, snow leopards, and the Iberian lynx have been removed from the critically endangered species list, and many other species are being moved from critically endangered to lower levels such as endangered or vulnerable.

8.   Whales and dolphins no longer kept in captivity in Canada

On Oct. 24, the Senate passed a bill that bans keeping whale and dolphin held captive in Canada. This is a step in the right direction to keep cetaceans out of theme parks and aquariums.

In Canada, dolphins will no longer be held captivity | Photo by Hans on Pixabay

9.   Marvel’s Black Panther marks major milestones

Black Panther is 2018’s best-selling movie, making over 700 million dollars in theatres, and it is a revolutionary one. Black Panther is the first all-Black Marvel superhero movie. For the first time in a superhero film, Black superheroes are the lead characters, not dismissed to miniscule roles. The film also shows Africa in a positive light. Black Panther avoids the stereotypical depictions of Africa we see in media and film. Instead, Africa is seen as an innovative land with advanced technology and potential.  Lastly, Black Panther gives the female superheroes a key role in the film. All in all, Black Panther is Marvel’s intent to embrace the diversity of modern-day America.

10.   Transgender student-athletes in Canada can now compete with the team with which they identify

Canadian student-athletes are now allowed to compete with the team that either corresponds to their sex assigned at birth or their gender identity. This new policy is an extremely progressive step for Canadian university sports.