Are you, like most, completely drained with the relentless onslaught of updates about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic? These are difficult times, and if we follow social media, it would appear as if the world is ending.
At a time when we are being inundated with negative news from the world over constantly, some positive and feel-good news would be a refreshing breather, right? So here we present to you some cool and uplifting news stories and facts from across the world that will certainly make you feel a bit reassured.
Image credit: A Doll Like Me
Amy Jandrisevits from Wisconsin is trying to provide comfort to children with disabilities using her talent. Amy, who was a doll collector since childhood, has created an organization called ‘A Doll Like Me’, which aims to create dolls that would have the same features as their owners, and the owners are kids with disabilities, as well as those having different physical conditions.
“Even when I was a social worker, I thought it was important to have dolls available to the kids because everyone should have something to hold. Everyone should have a doll that looks like them,” Amy writes on her Facebook page.
While being unique and adorable, Amy’s dolls have also gone on to create a positive difference in the lives of countless children handling various disabilities.
The village of Piplantri in Rajasthan, India, has set a unique and reassuring example to the world. Every time a baby girl is born here, the villagers celebrate by planting 111 trees. The tradition started when the leader of Piplantri lost his 16-year-old daughter in 2006. To transform his grief into something positive, he decided to start this initiative so that the birth of each baby girl will be treasured. Daughters aren’t valued as much as sons in several rural Indian villages, hence, this little village has set up an amazing precedent. As of now, more than 350,000 trees have already been planted in this village.
Animals have feelings, too. This is something that hordes of animal lovers all over the world have been screaming for years. However, it is New Zealand which has actually recognized this officially. In 2015, the country passed the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill, which states that animals, like humans, are "sentient" beings. "To say that animals are sentient is to state explicitly that they can experience both positive and negative emotions, including pain and distress," said Dr. Virginia Williams, chair of the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee.
This is not all. The bill even bans the use of animals for the testing of cosmetics.
This is a great step towards creating a safer environment for animals that are neglected and have real, true welfare issues. Hopefully, more and more countries will soon follow New Zealand’s example.
In 2018, a report by the United Nations said that Earth’s protective ozone layer is finally healing from the relentless damage that was caused to it by aerosol sprays and coolants. The very next year, they observed that parts of the ozone layer have recovered at a rate of 1-3% per decade since 2000. In fact, according to their report, Northern Hemisphere and mid-latitude ozone will heal completely by the 2030s. The Southern Hemisphere and Polar Regions will follow in the coming decades.
It is being said that the recovery has been made largely because of the global ban on chlorofluorocarbons (CFOs) that were common in refrigerators, aerosol cans, and dry-cleaning chemicals. The ozone layer had been thinning since the late 1970s and had led to scientists raising an alarm about the damage that it can cause. This new development is hence a great relief.
The tradition of children writing letters to Santa Claus around Christmas has been around for ages. While it is indeed heartwarming to see little children pour their innocent hearts out in those letters, how nice it would be to see them get replies from Santa himself? Volunteers in Canada are making this possible.
Canada Post volunteers reply to the millions of letters from children that come in each year to them around Christmas in more than 30 different languages (including Braille). For close to 40 years, thousands of “postal elves” have been logging nearly 200,000 volunteer hours to send responses to countless children from all over the world and help in adding that little bit of magic in their lives.
The letters can be sent to Santa Claus, North Pole, Canada HOH OHO.
Image credit: Rimping Supermarket
A supermarket in Thailand has come up with an ingenious way to reduce plastic packaging - they are wrapping their vegetables and other food in banana leaves! The Rimping supermarket in Chiangmai, Thailand, came up with this idea that has rightfully gained widespread attention.
The United Nations Environment Programme has estimated that by 2050 that the world will have 12 billion tonnes of plastic in landfills, the environment, and oceans. In such a scenario, using banana leaves instead of plastic for packaging vegetables is a novel way to diminish single-use plastic. Banana leaves are great substitutes for plastic as their leaves are large while also being thick enough to cover the vegetable products properly and safely. Though banana leaves aren’t readily available in every region, they are still a great eco-friendly option for places that can make use of it.
Donating blood is a wonderful cause. If you donate blood in Sweden, the blood service will send you a text message whenever your blood is being used. Their message roughly translates to: “Thank you, the blood you gave is now benefiting a patient. Regards, Blood Centre.”
This new initiative was started in 2015 and caught the public eye soon. Donors were understandably filled with happiness upon knowing that their donation is being used successfully.
“We want to give them feedback on their effort, and we find this is a good way to do that,” says one of the authorities from the blood centre. The aim of the initiative is to raise public awareness about blood donation and to get people talking about it.
Did you know there is a competition dedicated to dog surfing? Yes, you read that right. The Dog Surf-A-Thon is an annual puppy competition that is being held in California for the last 15 years. Every year, more than 150 dogs participate in this unique contest at the Del Mar Dog Beach, making for a fascinating spectacle.
The Surf Dog competition started in 2005 with the objective to raise funds for animals in need through the Helen Woodward Animal Center. The dogs are allowed entry into the ocean with their human partners and end up showing some truly incredible stunts on the surfboard. Apparently, apart from their skills on the board, the dogs that win are the ones that show true “surf spirit”.
Don’t we all feel that tinge of guilt when going for that extra bite of chocolate? Chocolate can be irresistible for many but eating too much of it can never be good, right? Well, according to a 2019 review of research by University Health News, "eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate benefits health in many ways.” The report adds that chocolate is now regarded as an anti-aging and anti-inflammatory 'superfood' for the brain and body. Experts say that having moderate amounts of dark chocolate can, in fact, help keep your cardiovascular system pumping while also keeping your mind sharp and alert. Dark chocolate is even said to boost your memory and improve your mood.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that there are about 200 million homeless animals in the world. In this scenario, the Netherlands has set a perfect example by becoming the first country to have no stray dogs. This was possible through implementing a country-wide sterilization program and changes in their legislation. The dogs were also given a medical exam and any vaccinations needed.
Most countries in the world are dealing with stray animals roaming around the streets and reproducing at an alarming rate. Incidentally, the Netherlands, too, had a problem with strays, as many dog owners abandoned their pets due to rabies outbreaks. However, they have now successfully managed to curb the situation through dedicated planning and today 90% of the residents in Holland have dogs.
Hopefully, other countries will follow soon.
In 2019, the city of Atlanta, Georgia, decided to create a public “food forest.” The city council approved the transformation of more than seven acres of land in southwest Atlanta so that residents can have greater access to fresh food. This food forest is the largest in the United States and will feature trees, shrubs, and vines that produce fruits and nuts while also having a community garden, walking trails, and stream-side areas.
This isn't all. Residents will even be allowed to pick their produce from trees in the public park free of cost. The authorities want to promote this space like a community garden and encourage people to spend time there and enhance dinner. The eventual goal is to ensure that 85 percent of Atlanta residents are within half a mile of fresh food by 2021.
In a welcome piece of good news for the world’s endangered wildlife, giant pandas are now officially on the road to recovery. By the 1980s, the population of these beloved pandas had shrunk to just 1,114 in China. They have been the world's most beloved conservation icon for decades, and it was feared that we would lose these adorable animals forever. However, years of dedicated efforts have brought giant pandas back from the brink of extinction, and they were removed from the endangered species list in 2016.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has now changed the panda's status on the Red List of Threatened Species. The Fourth National Survey (2011-2014) estimated the giant panda population to be around 1,864. That being said, the giant panda still remains "vulnerable” and strict measures would need to be followed for the panda's long term future.