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Good News Saturday

Updated: Jan 14, 2023

Rounding off the year with an uplifting bundle of good news nuggets.

Long distance view of the Eiffel Tower, Paris
Vive la Révolution

Fast-food chains in France are preparing for one of the biggest changes to their restaurants in decades as the government bans disposable plates, cups and tableware for anyone eating or drinking on-site. Chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Starbucks and Subway are facing what environmentalists have called a “revolution” on 1 January as pioneering new measures come into force in France to combat waste. Under the new rules, any restaurant with more than 20 seats – including work canteens, bakery chains, fast-food and sushi outlets – will have to provide reusable, washable cups, plates, dishes and cutlery for customers eating in. French environmental groups called it a “complete paradigm shift” for the sector.

US Plastic Roads

Problematic plastic waste such as printer cartridges and plastic bags are being turned into aggregate material for asphalt road mixtures around the US. Plastic roads have built up a head of scientific steam recently, with scientists and regulators seeing roads as a decent place to reutilize plastic that is difficult to recycle in a cost-effective manner. Pilot programs are ongoing in Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia, California, and Hawai’i - and all showing positive results. Perhaps counter-intuitively, plastic roads could be a big part of future societies.


Marine biologists in Quebec have had the pleasure of studying a fascinating phenomenon: a narwhal traveling, eating, and living with a pod of young male beluga whales as they cruise down the province’s famous St. Lawrence river. Drone footage indicates this unique 'black sheep' is male - and well-fed, suggesting that he’s been adopted into the pod. Biologists are fascinated to see if the adopted narwhal has integrated enough to breed, and produce a hybrid known colloquially as a “narluga,” though OGN feels an opportunity has been missed to call them “narwhales.”

Human Progress

This is one of the least celebrated stories of human progress: Fewer teenage girls as a proportion of the global population are giving birth today than at any point in human history, reports the World Health Organisation. Oh, and 357 million women and girls are using modern contraception in low and lower-middle income countries, and in the last year alone, their use averted 135 million unintended pregnancies, 28 million unsafe abortions, and 140,000 maternal deaths.

Better Air Quality

US air quality is improving. Since 1990, reports NRDC, fine particulate matter pollution has declined by 41% and concentrations of O3, a precursor to smog, have declined by 22%. The result? 370,000 avoided premature deaths, 189,000 fewer cardiac and respiratory hospital admissions, and 8.3 million fewer lost school days... every year.

Across the pond, the European Environment Agency revealed that improved air quality has saved millions of lives in the last few decades. In the early 1990s, nearly a million premature deaths a year were caused by fine particulate pollution. By 2005, that number had been more than halved to 450,000, and in 2021 dropped to around 300,000. Whilst Reuters reports that China's air pollution was down by 9% from last year. Air pollution has fallen by 42% since 2013, which means China has achieved the same reduction in eight years as America did in three decades.


“Here’s something to think about: How come you never see a headline like ‘Psychic Wins Lottery’?” Jay Leno

On this Day

31 December 1857: Ottawa, located in Ontario at the confluence of the Ottawa, Gatineau, and Rideau rivers and whose area was first described by Samuel de Champlain in 1613, was named the capital of Canada by Queen Victoria.


Mood Booster

Brain beats brawn: Unlike the buffalo who dig through tonnes of snow, this crafty fox has a unique way of hunting its prey in winter.

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