5 Positive News Stories to Lift Your Spirits This Week

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Positive News is an ongoing series from The Latch turning the spotlight on all the good in the world that you may have missed.

Life is tough and the news cycle ain’t helping anything right now. Disaster, drama, and death sell papers and get eyeballs on the page but they don’t do much for our mental health.

If you’ve felt like simply switching off from the constant barrage of updates charting the world’s lurch from one crisis to the next, we’re here to provide you with a much-needed antidote.

Good stuff happens all the time. It just doesn’t get quite the same coverage as bad stuff. That means we end up thinking that everything that’s going on in the world is terrible when it really isn’t.

Here are five of the best news stories we’ve seen this week to put a spring in your step and make the world feel just that little bit brighter.

Australia Hits 80% Vaccination Rate

This week, Australia passed a huge milestone, with 80% of the eligible population over the age of 16 now fully vaccinated. We currently stand at 81.9% fully vaccinated, with 89.9% with a single jab.

Of course, this means that in reality only 67% of the total population is fully vaccinated, but with the 12-15 category, who got a late start, coming up fast, it shouldn’t be too long before we see those numbers climb to new targets.

After a bit of a stumble out of the gates, we’ve been racing up the charts and are now more vaccinated that the US, Israel, Germany, Sweden, the UK and Brazil, making us the 28th most vaccinated country in the world.

At 80% federally, the country moves to the consolidation phase of it’s vaccine rollout programme, with the repeal of the international border ban, the use of lockdowns only in highly targeted areas, and the loosening of restrictions around clubs, pubs, and mask wearing.

It’s been a long and painful road but finally Australia is coming out of the pandemic.

Not Such a COP Out

Although the COP26 conference in Glasgow, Scotland, has dominated headlines this week with worrying concerns about a lack of global ambition or commitment, it’s not all been bad. Some real progress has been made this week with the declaration of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance of 11 nations who have signed up to phase out the production of fossil fuels.

The US and China, two of the world’s biggest emitters, also made a surprise deal to work together to limit carbon emissions and stay within the 1.5C target of the Paris Agreement.

While the cogs keep turning at COP26, elsewhere the environment has had some major wins, with the US state of Florida rejecting an application to drill in the historic Everglades. The move will protect the vast waterways, home to the elusive Florida panther.

At home, South Australia broke new records in October by managing to run almost entirely on renewable energy. Wind and solar met 100% of the energy demand in the state for all but two days last month, possibly breaking world records for energy use.

“The South Australian government is proof” that Australia can run on renewables, said Renew Economy.

Mushrooms Trained to Eat Cigarette Butts

Cigarette butts are one of the most difficult pieces of litter to deal with. Collectively we throw away 4.5 trillion of them each year and most of them do not break down or take years to decompose, releasing microplastics into the environment.

Now, researchers from Fungi Solutions have come up with a novel new way to break them down: mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms have been trained to feed on cigarette butts, absorbing and breaking down the microplastics in them and turning them into reusable mycelium products.

Fungi Solutions have partnered with Wollongong City Council in NSW to collect cigarette butts from bins around the city and, instead of sending them to landfill, use them to grow oyster mushrooms that detoxify and clean the waste.

Portugal Makes It Illegal for Bosses to Text Employees After Work

The amount of coverage that this story received this week is a good indication of how much of an issue the out-of-hours text is for workers around the world.

Portugal has become the first nation in the world to ban employers from contacting employees out of hours in a bid to protect the mental health of the country’s workforce and sure up the divide between work and life.

The ruling Socialist Party of Portugal has said that employers could now face fines for contacting their staff out of hours and, separately, will now have to help cover some of the costs of remote work like electricity and phone bills.

The new laws also grant employees the right to work from home once they have children without having to clear it with their bosses until their kids are eight years old. The new measures also seek to tackle loneliness by making sure that companies with fully remote staff organise face-to-face meetings every two months.

Boy Uses “Make-A-Wish” Gift to Feed People Without Homes for a Year

In an incredibly heartwarming case of selflessness, 13-year-old Abraham Olagbegi from Jackson, Mississippi has used his wish granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation to feed people without homes in his town for the next year.

Olagbegi was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder and required a bone marrow transplant, qualifying him for a wish from the organisation that provides critically ill children with wishes, often granting things like ‘meet Batman’ or ‘go to Disneyland’.

Instead, Olagbegi wanted something that he said would last, and so worked with the charity to provide free meals for people without homes once a month for the next 12 months.

On their first day, they managed to feed 80 hungry people sleeping rough.

“When the homeless people get the plate, some of them would come back and sing to us and thank us,” Olgabegi said.

“And it just really feels good, it warms our hearts. And my parents always taught us that it’s a blessing to be a blessing.”

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