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.
So, here are five of the best news stories from the past week that will put a spring in your step and give you a little something to smile about.
Sydney Emerged From Lockdown After More Than Three Months Indoors
It feels like a world away now, what with NSW opening international borders without quarantine restrictions, but it was only five days ago that, after 108 days, Sydney emerged from lockdown.
Pubs, hairdressers and, uh, Kmart opened at 12:01 on Monday morning, welcoming vaccinated people back in. Sydneysiders have been celebrating their new found freedoms throughout the week, with hospitality venues packed out across the city.
Western Sydney, whose residents were subjected to the harshest restrictions in the state, saw people counting down the minutes to midnight on Sunday outside Kmart stores in Casula and Mount Druitt.
With rising vaccination rates across the state, it could be just days before NSW is granted further freedoms as it hits the 80% target.
France to Ban Plastic Packaging for Most Fruit and Vegetables
France is set to ban the use of plastic packaging for nearly all fruit and vegetables from January 2022 in an effort to reduce plastic waste.
The Environment Ministry confirmed on Monday that it would be implementing a law passed in 2020 that could prevent more than a billion pieces of plastic waste being created per year.
The list includes leeks, aubergines, tomatoes, apples, bananas and oranges. Cut and delicate fruit like berries will still be sold in plastic but these will be phased out by 2026. France is also banning plastic toys with fast food meals as well as disposable cutlery over the coming years.
The Ministry said in a statement that “We use an outrageous amount of single-use plastic in our daily lives”.
“The circular economy law aims at cutting back the use of throwaway plastic and boost its substitution by other materials or reusable and recyclable packaging,” the ministry said in a statement.
Study of Over 22 Million People Finds Vaccines Cut Severe COVID Risk by 90%
The largest ever study on COVID vaccine efficacy has found that vaccines reduce the risk of dying or being hospitalised by COVID by 90% in a survey of 22.6 million people over the age of 50.
The research, published on Monday, also found that vaccines appear to protect against the worst effects of the delta variant.
In other good COVID news, the former director of epidemiology at the US Food and Drug Administration has said that vaccines are very unlikely to cause long-term side effects because of the fact that they only stay in your body for a few days before being broken down.
Possible unknown long-term side effects are one of the key reasons why some people are hesitant about getting the vaccine, however virologists are confident that vaccines present no risk of side effects after six weeks.
And, in another good news story from the pandemic, a report has found that lockdowns improved the air quality in 84% of countries across the world.
Mosquito Eradication Trials a Success
Mosquitos: Little whining bastards seemingly put on this Earth solely for the purpose of annoying the sh*t out of everyone and ruining an otherwise perfect summer evening.
Not only are the tiny blood-sucking insects incredibly frustrating, particularly when they deny you a good night’s sleep with their signature high-pitched hum, they’re also been one of humanities biggest enemies, killing millions each year with blood-borne diseases.
Now though, scientists from the University of Queensland, CSIRO, and James Cook University have combined forces to wipe these critters off the face of the planet — and the plan seems to be working.
Trials in Northern Queensland have shown impressive results and appeared to eradicate mosquitos from some areas. The team have bred mosquitos inoculated with a naturally occurring bacteria that makes them produce sterile offspring. Releasing three million of them into the wild, they’ve seen a 97% reduction in mosquito populations.
While Australia has a poor history of interfering with the natural order of things, the team are confident that because the bacteria occurs in mosquito populations anyway, it shouldn’t have an impact on the environment.
“A Nice Break”: Two Men Rescued After 29 Days Lost at Sea
Two men from the Solomon Islands got caught in a storm on their way to another island 200kms away. Although the pair were experienced seamen, they quickly lost their way and turned off their motor to conserve fuel. Then their GPS tracker stopped working.
They ended up floating in the ocean for nearly a month, surviving on oranges, coconuts, and collected rainwater, before being picked up by a fisherman in Papua New Guinea — 400kms away.
They were taken in by a local family and have been living with them happily as they prepare for the return journey. Although they arrived very weak, the pair said they were just happy to get away from everything for a while.
“I had no idea what was going on while I was out there. I didn’t hear about Covid or anything else,” one of the men said.
“I look forward to going back home but I guess it was a nice break from everything.”