March Good News Round-Up

In what appears to be a barrage of constant negativity imposed by news and media platforms, it is often hard to stay positive, or to find a reason to continue to stay up-to-date on current affairs. While discussing this sad phenomena, the Her Campus St Andrews team decided that there is an urgent need for the sharing of more positive news. Hence: this new monthly round-up of good news from around the globe!
Whilst not all of these headlines are as urgent as other, more negative ones, they are equally important to read and celebrate.​​
  1. This month, the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy released new greenhouse gas emission figures for 2020, which constitute the largest drop in greenhouse gasses since records started to be taken in 1950. Thanks to low rates of road use and transportation emissions over lockdown, the UK is now almost halfway in its legal goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

  2. COVID Vaccine

    Due to its recent acquisition of 10 million extra vaccines, the UK will now be able to start delivering second doses of jabs, without slowing the delivery of first doses. This is amazing news, as it means that under-30s will start to be contacted for vaccines from April. 

    Additionally, as of 20 March, half of all adults in the UK have received their first dose of the (coronavirus) COVID-19 vaccine. To see more data on the UK’s administration of Covid-19 vaccines:

  3. Recent reports have emerged that the UK’s fastest growing online retailer faces serious threat of US import ban due to their inability to address the ‘substantially true’ claims of ‘illegally low wages and poor working conditions’ in its supply chain in Leicester, where 40% of its clothes are manufactured. 

    Although Boohoo has denied any awareness of the US Customs and Border investigation, SkyNews, The Guardian, and other reputable news sources have reported that the serious infringements of worker rights and poor conditions have made a strong case for an investigation.

    However, whether the investigation is underway or not, and whether Boohoo will face an import ban in the US aside, the story is incredibly important. Publicly acknowledging and addressing the legitimate exploitation of the fast fashion brand is an overdue but vital step in the right direction to condemn such actions. Boohoo is part of a much larger problem of human rights and worker abuses, but the potential investigation is critical to spotlight the routine exploitation by fast fashion brands that comes as the price of mass purchasing cheap clothes.

  4. Currently, there are an estimated 6.8 billion disposable face masks being used across the globe each day. While this is great in terms of using PPE to safely combat the spread of the virus, the effect is catastrophic for the environment.

    Fortunately, researchers at RMIT University in Australia have come to the rescue. In a world-first study, engineers found that face masks could be recycled into material to build roads. In fact, ‘just one kilometre of a two-lane road would use up about three million masks, preventing 93 tonnes of waste from going to landfill.’

  5. Spanning 7.1 acres, with 2,500 edible and medicinal plants, a new food forest has opened in the city of Atlanta, Georgia to help combat food deserts and inspire healthy eating. The food forest is not only the first to be planted in the city, but is the largest in the entire country.

    The city-owned and managed forest is in the Browns Mill neighborhood, which is a food desert ‘where the closest grocery store is 30 minutes away by bus and 1 in 3 residents lives below the poverty line’. With its nut trees, fruit trees, berry bushes, vegetables, and herbs, the forest has been grown in a way that mimics nature, according to certified arborist Michael McCord. What’s more, over a thousand volunteers keep the forest up and running by planting, watering, and harvesting crops.

    To get a glimpse of the food forest and some more information: 

  6. For some of the US population’s most vulnerable, securing an appointment for the Covid-19 vaccine hasn’t been easy. Between a long virtual queue, limited numbers of appointments, multiple email chains, and competitive demand, it is not difficult to imagine that getting signed up has been especially daunting for older generations, especially when they might not have access to a computer or a reliable internet connection.

    Noticing this problem after making appointments for his grandparents, Benjamin Kagan, a fourteen-year old Chicago resident, was inspired to start Chicago Vaccine Angels, a group where volunteers secure appointments for people in need of assistance. It hasn't been easy though. Speaking to CBS Chicago, Kagan said, “appointments are so scarce. If you’re not on the ball and getting them as soon as they are released, they’re gone.” Since launching Chicago Vaccine Angels, Kagan has helped more than 119 people, mostly seniors, get appointments, and more than 24,000 people have joined the Chicago Vaccine Hunters Facebook group, where members plead for help finding appointments and drop leads to potential openings. One of these seniors was Lisa Lorentzen, a 70 year old Heart Bypass patient, who lost her husband 10 months ago due to Covid.

  7. The small, 58,000 person city has become the first in the US to ban the ‘creation, expansion, reconstruction, and relocation’ of gas stations in the area. In addition to tackling climate change, the law hopes to encourage gas stations owners to convert their facilities into ones that serve electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles.

    "We need to do our part to help mitigate and adapt to our changing weather patterns that exist because of all the carbon we put in the atmosphere," Councilwoman D'Lynda Fischer, who spearheaded the initiative, said last Tuesday.

    "I hope other cities will follow suit, and if they have existing fossil fuel stations that satisfy the needs of their community, they too will decide that they don't need any more," Fischer said.

  8. In 2016, the strongest cyclone to ever make landfall in the southern hemisphere was recorded in Fiji. Causing $1.4 billion worth of damage, tropical cyclone Winston wreaked  massive destruction both on land and underwater, reducing the reefs across Fiji to rubble. 

    However, a recent dive expedition led by the Wildlife Conservation Society Fiji found that the coral has recovered well beyond the scientists’ expectations, and are once again ‘teeming with fish and colour’. The director of the Wildlife Conservation Society Fiji, Sangeeta Mangubhai, explained, “I was surprised at how quick the recovery has been … The fast recovery likely reflects these reefs have good natural recruitment and they are well managed.”

  9. In 2019, HSBC launched Serai, an online business-to-business platform that has enabled suppliers to input data on the products they are handling at each stage of the supply chain. The aim is to provide companies, buyers, and suppliers greater transparency regarding the origins of their goods. Not only is this revolutionary for the apparel sector, it also has the potential to help tackle unethical supply chains. The platform has been increasingly powerful recently, as it can help track cotton coming from producers in Xinjiang, China, which have recently come under international scrutiny in relation to allegations of forced labour and human rights abuses.

    “What we want to do is to build a platform that makes it easy for businesses to share information with each other, and get information from each other and build relationships with each other,” Serai CEO Vivek Ramachandran told the South China Morning Post.

  10. Mimicking the Magna Carta, Prince Charles has launched Terra Carta to safeguard the planet by putting sustainability at the heart of the private sector. Aiming to direct $10 billion (£7 billion) towards safeguarding nature by 2022, the sustainable finance charter hopes to attract businesses to meet around one hundred sustainability goals by 2030. Furthermore, the charter is backed by several international institutions, including BlackRock, Bank of America and HSBC. The commitment is particularly important as it signals an intention to transition to a low-carbon future that also backs biodiversity restoration.

  11. After a 60-year hiatus, Israeli archaeologists have discovered over 80 Dead Sea Scroll fragments, which date back to around the first century. Ancient Jewish religious manuscripts, the Dead Sea Scrolls are one of the earliest known copies of Biblical texts.

    The texts are written entirely in Greek, and it is believed the scrolls were hidden in the cave by Jewish rebels fleeing a Roman advance.