Good News This Week: Mushrooms, Beer, & Free Haircuts - April 15 2023

A photo collage of a plant-based house, Pattie Gonia, a girl with 3D Toy Shop Teddy Hospital flyers, a side view of a man, and a group of women at a brewery

Every day the Good Good Good team collects the best good news in the world and shares it with our community. Here are the highlights for this week!

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The Best Positive News We’re Celebrating This Week —

An innovative plant-based “plastic” is helping build safe, dry homes for refugees

In the aftermath of an extreme weather event or a conflict that forces people out of their homes, refugees need safe, temporary, transitional housing — something current solutions, like tarps and tents, don’t offer.

A scientist in Bangladesh had an idea to create a solution made out of jute, a long-harvested plant in the country which once was also a key export — but was eventually replaced by petroleum-based alternatives (ahem, plastic.) He partnered with a bioplastics company in Austin, Texas to create plant-based building blocks called BTTR Board.

The blocks are designed to be made by hand, can withstand the elements, is quick to manufacture, and are inexpensive.

Why is this good news? In Bangladesh specifically, there are more than 900,000 Rohingya (a Muslim ethnic minority which the UN has called “one of the most discriminated people in the world”) refugees are now living in Bangladesh in the world’s largest refugee camp. These blocks are currently being used to help shelter those displaced people.

And for the rest of the world, as the impacts of the climate crisis get increasingly severe, it’s estimated that one billion people will be forced to flee their homes by 2050. We need to be working on these solutions now to ensure we’re prepared to help people.

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Australia’s Victorian government is funding a trial using oyster mushrooms to break down cigarette butts

Cigarette butts are one of the most abundant and pervasive forms of plastic littering communities around the world. In Australia alone, an estimated 9 billion butts are discarded every single year.

Now, Sustainability Victoria is funding a program that will keep an estimated 1.2 million butts out of landfills and waterways, where they pollute the soil and water with microplastics and toxic chemicals like arsenic.

The program is run by Melbourne-based Fungi Solutions, which has been training oyster mushrooms to consume cigarette butts for years. Their process mimics one that occurs naturally in the wild. According to the program, the mushrooms can break down a butt in 7 days — they would take around 15 years to break down in a landfill.

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Drag queen Pattie Gonia is producing and co-hosting a climate drag show in honor of Earth Week

In honor of Earth Week next week, drag queens Pattie Gonia and VERA! are co-hosting an environmental drag show in San Francisco, aptly titled “SAVE HER!” Themed around sustainability, the show will feature seven guest performers and will be the first stop of many upcoming performances.

Pattie Gonia (whose off-stage name is Wyn Wiley) is a drag queen environmentalist and community organizer. Pattie’s mission is to build a more inclusive, diverse community for LGBTQ+ folks, allies, and the planet, all through the beauty of drag and environmental education.

Her work to celebrate both LGBTQ+ culture and the outdoors in style makes her a leader in both spaces and brings joy, action, and hope to issues that are often clouded in fear, threats, and uncertainty. This drag show is the latest in the line of her uplifting and inclusive work.

Why is this good news? By emboldening other drag performers and creating a safe and affirming space in the name of Mother Earth, Pattie Gonia’s drag show provides a glimmer of hope in an otherwise glitter-less political landscape — and puts the spotlight back on diverse, fabulous communities who love the planet.

→ ​​Read more

A school district in Washington is helping students experiencing homelessness graduate high school

Only 59% of homeless students in Washington State graduate in four years compared to 83% of all students, and a similar disparity exists nationally.

And this has a snowball effect: Not having a high school degree is the greatest single risk factor for experiencing homelessness after school. Also, the longer a person remains homeless, the more difficult obtaining stable housing becomes.

But at North Thurston Public Schools, the 661 students experiencing homelessness are graduating at nearly the same rates as their peers. That’s because six years ago, North Thurston hired staff, called “student navigators,” whose sole function is to attend to each homeless student’s needs, whether that’s housing or food, feeling like they belong at school, or planning for the future beyond graduation — and it’s working.

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More good education news:

A dad in England makes 3D-printed “toys that don’t exist” for kids with disabilities

Nick Hardman is a single dad and 3D printing hobbyist who loves a good project. In 2020, he made PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic and soon began a new endeavor — the “3D Toy Shop Teddy Hospital.”

“We make toys that don’t exist — like little pacemakers and little tracheostomies so children who are going through the hardest time can have a friend like them,” he said in a viral TikTok.

Based in Leeds, England, Hardman has shipped over 2,300 bears all over the world with features like prosthetic limbs and heart transplants. He does the 3D printing work, and other volunteer “surgeons” help sew and assemble teddies when the demand is too high for Hardman alone.

One of his designs is now even EU toy safety law-compliant and can be shipped to families and children’s hospitals around the world to be sewn onto a patient’s favorite plush toy.

Why is this good news? Not only do Hardman’s toys provide a representative and inclusive option for kids experiencing difficult medical conditions, but they also help them better understand what is happening in their bodies.

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An all-woman-owned-and-operated brewery in Colorado is using its craft beer to empower the community

Just like tiki-themed cocktails aren’t just for bachelorette parties, craft beer is not a gendered drink, either. Unfortunately, the beer industry tends to keep diverse libationists from success: according to the Brewer’s Association, only 2% of breweries in the United States are owned by women.

Lady Justice Brewing, an all-woman-owned community-focused brewery in Aurora, Colorado, on the other hand, shows that there is power in reimagining the industry.

In addition to honoring historical icons with murals and beers in their name, Lady Justice dedicates its time, space, and money to nonprofit partners that support and empower women, girls, and nonbinary people in Colorado. The brewery offers a “Community-Supported Beer” membership, with 100% of profits going directly to these organizations.

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More good brew news:

On his day off, a Cincinnati barber opens his shop and gives free haircuts to some VIP clients: children with special needs

A couple of years ago, Vernon Jackson heard horror stories from parents about taking their special needs children to barber shops where the stylists had no patience with their children. Jackson wanted to do something to help.

Since 2021, he’s been opening up his barbershop on his day off to provide haircuts to children with special needs. He does it on his day off because the empty shop can help some children who are sensitive to new environments and sounds. It also helps him give them his full attention.

And another thing: the haircuts are free. Jackson wanted to be able to offer the haircuts to families free of charge. Soon, his customers got wind of what he was doing and started “sponsoring” haircuts — he ended up setting up a GoFundMe for what he calls the “Gifted Program” to keep providing the cuts for free.

Read more

More good news of the week —

From Toledo to Chicago, local governments are using federal aid to cancel medical debt in their community. Using funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, Toledo is using $1.6 million to acquire and cancel $240 million in medical debt through RIP Medical Debt.

Scientists report late-stage RSV vaccine trials are showing “exciting” promise. RSV is prevalent in children under 2, and while most infections are mild, for groups like infants and the elderly, it can be serious enough to cause hospitalization or death.

A new vegan milk brand in India is using its profits to rescue and relocate cows to a farm animal sanctuary. India is home to the world’s largest dairy sector, and Dancing Cow’s new Oatish product aims to eradicate dairy animal exploitation.

The Washington state Senate just passed a law to ban the sale and manufacture of assault weapons. Only a few states have passed such a ban, which would impact future firearms sales like the ones used in the recent mass shootings in Nashville and Louisville.

Nashville’s metropolitan council unanimously voted to reappoint Justin Jones to the Tennessee State House. Jones was one of the three members of the House who were expelled last week for participating in a gun violence protest.

A rewilding charity just purchased its first plot of land as part of its plan to establish a nature reserve in every English county. Heal’s new £5.25 million site will tackle the nature and climate crises while creating new jobs and facilities for local people.

A study found that new green spaces planned in Barcelona could improve mental health for 30,000 people.  The researchers that even just increasing green space by 5 or 6% could also save more than 45 million euros in mental health-related costs.

A collaborative shirt between the Red Cross and Snoopy is going viral and driving blood donations. The shirt is going viral on TikTok and has encouraged first-time blood donors to give blood (and document their visit, of course).

The largest EV battery recycling plant in the U.S. is now open in Georgia. The plant is processing used lithium-ion batteries and manufacturing scrap into useful materials for the clean energy transition.

According to new research from UNSW Sydney, "nature prescriptions" can improve both physical and mental health. It found that contact with nature reduces harms (like poor air quality, heat waves, and chronic stress) and encourages healthy behaviors (like socializing and physical activity).

A few dozen high schools in the U.S. are helping kids heal from addiction and get an education. The recovery high schools are combining education with treatment for substance abuse disorders to keep kids in recovery — ​​and in school.

Malaysia just ended mandatory death penalty sentences for serious crimes. The country has had a moratorium on executions since 2018, and more than 1,300 prisoners with death penalty sentences can soon seek to have their sentences reviewed.

Uganda’s “first vegan school” was just recognized with an international compassion award. The Atlas Community School received two awards for its commitment to kindness.

The unemployment rate for Black workers has reached a record low of 5%. It breaks the previous 5.3% record set in August 2019, and is a huge lift from the pandemic, when the Black unemployment rate soared to as high as 16.8 percent.

A first-of-its-kind mRNA treatment could completely eliminate a peanut allergy. Peanut and tree nut allergies affect around three million Americans, yet there’s only one approved treatment and it only tackles its severity.

Article Details

April 15, 2023 5:00 AM
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