Good News This Week: September 30, 2023 - Ice Cream, Trees, & Groceries

A photo collage of a garden, a kid in a chair being pushed on skis, a woman holding a knife, and a European Union flag

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 —

The Biden-Harris Administration just set up the first-ever White House office designed to specifically work on gun violence prevention

Late last week, President Joe Biden announced the creation of the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention. The office will be overseen by Vice President Kamala Harris with the help of gun safety advocates.

Among its tasks, the office will work to implement existing gun violence prevention laws, like those passed earlier this year in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, and work with local authorities to pass gun safety legislation at the state level. It will also help support communities impacted by gun violence, and look into further action the administration can take to prevent gun violence.

Gun safety advocates are celebrating the new office, drawing the parallel to FEMA responding to hurricanes and earthquakes — having a dedicated office to respond to the public health crisis of gun violence is an essential government service.

Why is this good news? Gun violence continues to threaten the safety and security of people in communities all across the U.S. According to Gun Violence Archive, there have been 31,745 gun deaths so far this year, and 518 mass shootings. There are proven, effective ways to reduce these numbers — and this office will be dedicated to implementing them.

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A data scientist is helping the world notice and celebrate progress — and be inspired to continue making a difference

We're taking a slightly different approach to this week's good progress to celebrate. Rather than celebrating a specific piece of good progress — we're looking at progress as a whole.

Hannah Ritchie is a data scientist at Our World in Data, and while she may have once found herself in the “camp of doomsday” when it came to the state of the world — once she started looking at the data, there was a lot more to be hopeful about than she’d perceived.

Our World in Data doesn’t just point out what's wrong with the world; it offers readers the tools to understand the problems deeply and identify where change is possible. It’s data for good. And in her recent TED Talk, Ritchie combatted the recent surge in climate doom with data to prove we’re anything but doomed.

In an interview after her talk, Ritchie told us, “The common phrase we use around data is that three statements can be true at the same time: The world is still awful. The world is much, much better. And the world can be much better.”

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A new, state-of-the-art adaptive ski and snowboard center in Utah was designed and built specifically for adventurers with disabilities

The National Ability Center, a nonprofit that provides adaptive recreation and outdoor adventures for disabled individuals and families, is celebrating the opening of the McGrath Mountain Center at Park City Mountain in Utah.

The brand new state-of-the-art facility will cater to the needs of adventurers with disabilities. And its 9,400-square-foot footprint is a monumental upgrade compared to its humble beginnings in a double-wide trailer decades ago.

Plus, ADA-compliant accommodations can be challenging in the mountains — but with this new space, there’s now plenty of room for storing adaptive equipment, putting on snow gear, six accessible restrooms, and more.

Why is this good news? While ski and snowboard lessons will still be a focal point of the new facility, this new space will elevate the NAC’s offerings with improved programs and year-round seasonal activities and events. It will allow them to reach more people and provide meaningful and dignified outdoor adventures to all.

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An Ohio businesswoman paid off the school lunch debt at a local elementary school so all students could enjoy ‘Ice Cream Friday’

In planning for its first-ever “Ice Cream Friday” event, an elementary school in Ohio shared a post on Facebook detailing that students with a negative balance in their lunch account would not be able to purchase ice cream, nor could they bring $1 cash or have a classmate pay for theirs.

The negative feedback was swift (and the school district promptly apologized for the “lack of empathy and sensitivity” in the post, which “fell short of our values”) — and so was a local businesswoman looking to help.

Naiyozcsia King, who owns Mz. Jade's Soul Food, contacted the school looking for a way to help — she ended up paying off all $411.15 of lunch debt owed by students. King said she’s been “a parent that has had a balance with a school system before,” so she was able to relate to the families and students.

What’s the nuance? We’ll always celebrate a Helper stepping up to make a difference in a heartbreaking, unfair situation — even when that situation shouldn’t exist in the first place. Providing meals to students at school shouldn’t put families in debt, and we’ve been excited to see more states implementing universal free school meals.

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Two recent college graduates are building a grocery store that works around SNAP rules for food purchases

Under U.S. Department of Agriculture rules, SNAP (which stands for  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits cannot be used to purchase hot food. As a result, most program participants are forced to purchase packaged food as opposed to hot, prepared meals.

Two recent graduates from the University of Pennsylvania, Alex Imbot and Eli Moraru are (legally) disrupting that model. They’re building The Community Grocer, which will stock usual grocery staples ​​— as well as raw ingredient “meal kits,” like chicken with potatoes and vegetables.

Their customers will be able to purchase the uncooked meal kits with SNAP benefits, and then take them to a separate shop in the rear of the grocery store building — where there’s a kitchen.

There, the customer exchanges their meal kit for a recently cooked version of it at no charge. The meal kit they just handed over will then be cooked by a worker into another meal for another customer.

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The European Union just reached a deal to ban ‘climate-neutral’ and other greenwashed product claims

To empower consumers and crack down on false, misleading advertising, the EU just passed a law to ban companies from using “generic” environmental and “climate-neutral” claims without proving those claims.

The new law comes at the longtime urging of activists, who argue the unsubstantiated claims are confusing and misleading for consumers looking to purchase more sustainably-made products.

Under the new law, which will go into effect in 2026, any “eco,” “natural,” or other environmental claims will have to be backed by evidence. For example, airlines will no longer be able to advertise “climate-neutral” flying with cheap carbon offsetting offers.

Why is this good news? Greenwashing is a dishonest practice that dupes consumers into thinking they are supporting an eco-conscious brand. Because the terminology is currently not regulated, companies can use it without having to prove any of the claims they make — leading consumers to think they’re purchasing or consuming a sustainable product, when they’re really not.

This move by the EU could have global implications for eliminating greenwashing in product advertising.

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In the past year, the National Forest Foundation has reforested 21,000 acres of land and planted over 8 million trees

Since it was chartered by Congress in 1992, the National Forest Foundation has been a leading force in forest and grassland restoration and reforestation efforts — and it’s been a landmark year for the organization.

The NFF just announced that in the past year, it’s planted over 8 million trees — of 25 different species — and reforested over 21,000 acres of land. That’s about the equivalent to “roughly 198,450 NBA basketball courts worth of public lands.”

The NFF also does important wildfire prevention work, and in the past year has also raised $117 million towards fire mitigation in the North Yuba Landscape of the Tahoe National Forest. The mitigation efforts involve reducing a large number of trees (overcrowded forests lead to weaker trees) to prevent wide-spread forest fires.

Why is this good news? Pest infestations, drought, and wildfires make it difficult for forests to regenerate on their own, which is why NFF’s grant work is so vital. Tree planting and reforestation efforts lead to cleaner air, cleaner water, and healthier ecosystems.

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When he realized he couldn’t install them on his own home, an Indiana man started helping nonprofits invest in solar panels

In 2019, John Smillie was feeling particularly anxious about the slow progress being made in addressing the climate crisis. In addition to volunteering with climate organizations to turn his eco-anxiety into action — he started the process of decarbonizing his own home.

Smillie replaced windows, sealed ducts, added insulation, installed heat pumps, and cut his home’s fossil fuel use by 84% — but when he went to install solar panels, he realized his roof wasn’t a good candidate for them. Ones on the buildings around him were, though.

After helping a nearby nonprofit organization install a solar panel system on their own roof, he expanded his efforts.

Smillie, who also has a finance degree, learned all about the incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act, and has since helped the local Boys & Girls Club install panels, and hosts workshops to teach other nonprofits about the benefits — and savings! — that come with switching to clean energy.

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More good news of the week —

Thanks to an anonymous donation, a pristine 1,200-Acre preserve in Texas just opened to the public for the first time ever. Texas conservationists are especially thrilled about the news, since the newly opened Pecan Springs Karst Preserve is home to a handful of threatened and endangered species.

Lawmakers in California just passed a bill to make it easier for consumers to delete their online personal data. The Delete Act allows consumers to have every data broker delete their personal information, like address and spending habits, in just a single request.

Activists rallied in New York City ahead of a United Nations High-Level Meeting on the fight against tuberculosis. TB is the world’s deadliest, yet entirely curable disease and this rally built on the momentum of recent treatment victories, like the price reduction of life-saving test kits.

New data shows heavy-duty electric cargo trucks are driving farther and charging faster than they were a just couple of years ago. The range and the recharging speeds of the 21 trucks being tracked have roughly doubled compared to 2021, which is a good sign for cutting trucking emissions.

The Biden-Harris Administration announced the first steps in removing medical bills from credit scores. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said that including medical debt in credit scores is problematic because “mistakes and inaccuracies in medical billing are common.”

Brazil's Supreme Court just rejected efforts to restrict Native peoples' rights to reservations on their ancestral lands. The ruling sets a precedent for hundreds of Indigenous land claims and is expected to have widespread consequences for Indigenous land rights.

Thanks to conservation efforts, Africa’s white rhino population has increased for the first time in a decade. The species is classified as “near threatened” and new data shows populations rose by 5.6% — the first increase since 2012.

An eight-year-old in the U.K. just became the first to receive a kidney transplant that does not require her to take anti-rejection drugs. Doctors said the breakthrough was made possible by reprogramming her immune system using bone-marrow stem cells from the girl’s mother before giving her the new kidney.

A church in Texas just launched a new program to help fund health care for transgender youth. With no requirement for religious beliefs or church involvement, the program assists local families who need to travel out of state for healthcare for their children with a $1,000 grant.

San Diego just closed 150 yards of coastline to people and animals for seven years to protect sea lions and their cubs. Every summer, sea lions come ashore around La Jolla Point to give birth, nurse and breed, but tourists have been harassing and getting too close to them.

Massachusetts just became the first state to ban the purchase of single-use plastic bottles by state agencies. Currently, the state buys about 100,000 plastic bottles per year, and the executive order was combined with a second that will set state biodiversity conservation goals for 2030, 2040, and 2050.

According to its latest report, the The Global Fund partnership has saved a record 59 million lives since 2002. The success of its malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV is thanks to U.S. investment and rapid acceleration of treatment and prevention initiatives globally.

A new California law will double taxes on gun and ammunition sales to pay for school safety measures. It’s now the first state to place a separate tax on guns, and another new gun safety law will ban people from carrying guns in most public places.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Service just voted to ban wildlife killing contests in the state. Environmentalists, animal rights advocates, and hunters supported the ban, and research has shown that the contests don’t actually reduce predator populations.

New EU battery recycling regulations could lower demand for mining and improve battery recycling worldwide. Recycling the metals used in batteries has the potential to limit the need for environmentally damaging mining while also reducing electronic waste and switching to renewable energy.

Article Details

September 30, 2023 5:00 AM
A photo collage of a fisherman, vegetables, a Feel Good Fridge from Whirlpool, a chart about blood types, and solar panels

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