Image for 10 things we learned while making issue 110 of Positive News magazine

10 things we learned while making issue 110 of Positive News magazine

Overland travel beats taking to the skies, protests are becoming more inventive, and scallops like discos, plus more

Overland travel beats taking to the skies, protests are becoming more inventive, and scallops like discos, plus more

1. ’Gleaning’ is 2022’s answer to the beach clean

Picking up the leftovers after harvest was a practice we all thought was consigned to the history books. But in recent years there has been a massive revival, with ‘gleaning’ groups springing up across the country. Why? They’re saving thousands of tonnes of fresh food from rotting in fields – and taking it to food banks. As the cost of living bites, it’s an ancient tradition well worth reviving, said our cover star, Holly Whitelaw (pictured), founder of the Cornwall Gleaning Network.

Image: James Bannister

2. Many high flyers have suffered childhood trauma

They may be at the top of the tree today, but an extraordinary number of our politicians, as well as many of the world’s most successful high flyers, experienced traumatic childhoods. From the stroke that finished off the career of Tony Blair’s father when he was just 10 (an event that ‘shaped his childhood’) to the traumatic childhood of poet Lemn Sissay (pictured, centre), an array of Britain’s most famous people told our journalists, Alice Thomson and Rachel Sylvester, that their success is because of, not despite, their early struggles. We find it deeply reassuring to know that an imperfect past can be a springboard to a better future.

Image: Lemn Sissay

3. ‘Trespassing gigs’ are a way to reconnect to the land

Just 8 per cent of England is open to ordinary people, and author and artist Nick Hayes believes it’s time we reclaimed “what was once ours”. He’s leading people on trespassing gigs – the most recent featuring activist musician Beans on Toast at a secret ‘forbidden’ location in Berkshire – as part of his Right to Roam campaign. “Act as if you’re already free,” he urges in his interview in our new issue. “Take a picnic or book of poetry to undermine the myth that we’re all vandals”.

Image: Antonio Olmos

4. Scallops love discos

These little shellfish have 200 eyes and love to party, marine scientist Dr Rob Enever has found – a discovery that he hopes will lead to new, less invasive fishing methods. Almost 30,000 tonnes of scallops are dredged annually from UK waters, damaging sensitive habitats. But Dr Rob’s accidental discovery – when he tried using LED lights to bait lobster pots and instead caught masses of scallops – could finally give seabeds a rest. “It was so exciting I could hardly sleep for a few nights,” he told Positive News.

Image: Gianluca Milanesi

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5. Sea spray lifts your mood

It sounds seriously woo woo, but it turns out that crashing waves and waterfalls release water particles into the air with a tiny electric charge. This charge, scientists believe, improves breathing conditions and can even reduce depression. Perhaps that’s why so many people have found healing through Sea Sanctuary, a pioneering ‘blue health’ charity whose founder, Joe Sabien (pictured), we interviewed for the new issue. He takes people with mental health problems on four-day sailing trips aboard a 100-ft ‘ketch’ around the Cornish coast, accompanied by an onboard therapist.

Image: James Bannister

6. Compostable polyester is about to hit the shops

More than half (52 per cent) of all fibres produced in 2020 were polyester, which is made from petroleum (bad) and doesn’t decompose for thousands of years (double bad). Thankfully, a renewably sourced, compostable polyester – Kintra – is about to be rolled out extensively across the fashion industry. It shows a 95 per cent emissions reduction compared with traditional polyester and degrades naturally. It’s one of six cutting edge green textiles we’ve covered in the new issue of Positive News, all of which are available now or imminently, which means grape leather trainers, mushroom handbags, seaweed sweaters and closed-loop anoraks, made with minimal damage to the planet.

Image: Pangaia 

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7. That a ‘floatest’ is a thing worth doing

Pack a placard, a seaworthy vessel and a swimsuit – a floating protest is the latest way to make your voice heard. For too long, the UK’s rivers have been polluted by water companies releasing sewage into them unchecked. We spoke to the grassroots campaigners who are part of a growing movement holding them to account, taking them to court, and forcing them to finally begin cleaning up our beautiful waterways.

Image: Will Elsom

8. ‘Chopped liver’ brings joy to actor Miriam Margoyles

It’s not your usual choice, but the gleefully outspoken octogenarian is never one to toe the line. To launch our new Life Lessons column, where we hear from well-known people about their inspirations in life and what they’ve learnt thus far, we spoke to national treasure Miriam Margolyes, who was characteristically outrageous.

Image: Claire Sutton

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9. You can be a travel editor who doesn’t fly

When newspaper travel editor Helen Coffey decided to give up flying her colleagues were aghast. But she soon discovered – as she writes in her comment piece for our ‘For the Love Of’ section – that this was when the real adventures began. As she travelled to Croatia by train or to Morocco by boat, she realised that slow travel imbued every trip with an exhilarating sense of the intrepid.

Image: Louis Hansel

10. You can pick your own fruit at Saltaire train station

Commuters at this little train station in West Yorkshire can pick up a healthy snack on the way to work in the form of fresh figs and apricots. It’s just one of the many tiny, neglected slivers of land that people are transforming into abundant flower and veg-filled community gardens. From a roundabout in Bristol to a back alley in Belfast, we meet the growers who see promise in spaces that others ignore.

Image: Jared Subia
Main image: Hendrik Cornelissen

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