The world got a roadmap for kicking its plastic habit, England’s ‘motor city’ eyed a post-car future, and a fashion magazine struck a pose for inclusivity, plus more good news
This week’s good news roundup
Calling time on our throwaway culture could save the planet $4.5tn (£3.6tn) in just 17 years, according to the UN’s new vision for slashing plastics.
The UN Environment Programme has outlined a roadmap for an 80 per cent cut in plastic pollution by 2040, ahead of talks in Paris to thrash out a global agreement on the crisis.
After “eliminating problematic and unnecessary plastics”, the report recommends embracing the three Rs: reuse, recycle and reorient – the latter focused on using alternative materials.
The trillions in savings would come from recycling revenues and avoided costs such as health problems, air pollution and ocean degradation – but the report cautions we’d still be left with 100m tonnes a year after implementing its suggestions.
“If we are to truly tackle the plastic crisis, we must move to solutions including permanent packaging and prefill systems, which will necessitate a true reinvention of our take, make, waste systems,” said Sian Sutherland, co-founder of the campaign group A Plastic Planet.
Image: Sirlenys Paut/iStock
Housing campaigners have given a cautious welcome to a planned overhaul of England’s private rental sector.
The Renters’ (Reform) Bill would end ‘no fault’ evictions, where landlords can evict tenants at short notice without giving reason. It would also give tenants the legal right to keep pets and ban landlords from turning away families or people on benefits.
Matt Downie, chief executive of homeless charity Crisis, hailed the proposals as an “important moment”. However, some have pointed out the bill would make it easier for landlords to repossess from anti-social tenants, warning the measure could be used as a loophole.
“The millions of people renting in England are at last one step closer to fairer, more secure housing,” said Polly Neate, chief executive of the housing charity Shelter . “The bill must truly deliver change for renters when it becomes law, and it should be as strong as possible with every loophole closed.”
Image: Anastasia Shuraeva
Scientists hope to unlock the secrets of ageing by body scanning tens of thousands of volunteers in the world’s largest human imaging study.
Some 60,000 people were MRI-scanned nine years ago as part of the UK Biobank project, which has created the most comprehensive health research database on the planet. Now, by rescanning volunteers’ bone density, brains and other vital organs, researchers hope to get a clearer picture of how our bodies age, with the aim of spotting markers for illnesses like cancer, heart disease and dementia.
“The collection of a repeat set of whole-body scans on such a large scale will enable many more fundamental discoveries, better understanding of early disease stages and their diagnosis, and support the development of new treatments for diseases of mid-to-later life,” said Prof Paul Matthews of UK Biobank.
Image: Barbara Olsen
Iconic fashion title Vogue has published a braille edition of its magazine for the first time in its 107-year history. May’s edition also features disabled cover stars including Ellie Goldstein – a British model with Down’s syndrome – and is available in audio format.
Vivienne Francis of the Royal National Institute of Blind People, which collaborated with Vogue, said: “We hope that the impact of this issue leaves a lasting legacy in rethinking disability, and that other people, and other brands, pick up the baton to consider how they can contribute to a more inclusive society.”
Vogue will be available in audio and braille for at least a year. Listen to May’s issue or request a braille copy here.
Image: Edward Enninful OBE
A city as green as Vienna – that’s the vision for Birmingham under a transformative 20-year plan to relegate cars to the backseat and create tree-lined parks, cultural spaces and green walkways in England’s second city.
The proposal would double green spaces and transform Brum’s A38 ring road into a ‘green way’. The city’s network of active travel routes would also double to around 124 miles (200km), comparable with Copenhagen.
It’s a remarkable change of direction for a city that was once the heart of the UK’s motor industry. The council said the plan has the potential to create 74,000 new jobs and 35,00 new homes.
“Like all great cities, Birmingham forever reinvents itself,” commented council leader Ian Ward. “Now this framework, the most important strategy for Birmingham this century, is set to supercharge our quest to be a leading international city.”
Image: Birmingham city council
There was more good news for the UK’s rainforests this week. On Monday, the National Trust, a conservation charity, announced a major tree planting project that will join up fragments of the rare habitat in north Wales.
The trust has created its largest ever tree nursery to support the project. It will grow and plant some 30,000 native Welsh trees a year, with a focus on rare species, including black poplar – the most endangered timber tree in Britain.
Growing native trees locally from seed means built-in resilience to the uniquely damp and humid climate of Eryri, where scattered fragments of Celtic (or ‘temperate’) rainforest cling on. David Smith, lead ranger for the National Trust in Eryri, told Positive News that linking these remnants would boost habitats for creatures and super-rare lichens
“We’ve been working on woodland expansion for many years and a lot of areas are already naturally regenerating,” he said. “This planting will give them a boost and move things on more quickly.”
Image: John Haynes
The English county of Devon is riding the crest of a conservation wave after joining the sun-kissed Californian shores of Santa Cruz and Malibu as one of the most outstanding places on the planet to hang ten.
It’s the first site in the UK to gain World Surfing Reserve (WSR) status from the Save the Waves coalition, a charity dedicated to the care of coasts and surf ecosystems.
“We are delighted to have this remarkable coastline recognised for its quality surf and precious ecosystem,” said Kevin Cook, co-founder of North Devon WSR. “We can now work together to protect this area for generations to come.”
The new reserve joins 11 other WSRs across the globe and encompasses 18 miles (30km) of Devon coastline. The designation means a community-led group commits to protecting the surf zone through conservation stewardship.
Image: Surfing Croyde Bay
They might look like crusty old sinks bolted to the sea wall, but for marine creatures on England’s southern coast they’ve become a welcome new home.
Researchers from Bournemouth University installed 114 artificial rockpools over three sites in 2020 – and have announced the results of the experiment.
All pools were colonised by sea creatures. At one site in Sandbanks, Dorset, researchers counted 65 different species, including a protected native oyster. “We didn’t know quite what to expect,” marine biologist Jess Bone told Positive News. “We even found one species – the Montagu’s Blenny – that had never been recorded in Poole harbour.”
Bone said the pools can be bought off the shelf from Isle of Wight-based Artecology, and help mitigate habitat loss caused by overdevelopment and rising sea levels.
“They’re great for wildlife conservation,” she added. “For coastal engineers who want to incorporate habitat into new developments, these retrofitted, bolt-on rockpools are ideal.”
Image: Bournemouth University
Once again, the Positive News community has proven itself to be a font of wisdom.
Last week, we asked readers to share the best advice they’ve received about looking after their mental health – and the responses flooded in.
Thanks to those who felt compelled to share. Here are some of the best replies we received, we hope they prove useful long after Mental Health Awareness Week has passed.
Main image: Adrian Sava/iStock
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