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23rd Nov - 7th Dec: Solar panels made from food waste and the power of laughter

Following years of campaigning for the cause, The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act has passed, which will provide free and universal access to period products to solve Period poverty (the inability to pay for sanitary products on a monthly basis) in Scotland. (The Guardian)

Where burning toxic plastic is common, Local school founder’s have found a much more productive use for it - Their scheme invites students to bring a bag of plastic waste to school, in exchange for a day of lessons.

The alternative school fees policy quickly resulted in 100% compliance from parents who also signed a pledge to stop burning plastic. This innovative scheme paves the way to improve both education and the environment. (The Guardian)

Judit Giró Benet has won the 2020 international James Dyson Award for her design of The Blue Box, which has been created to test for breast cancer at home using a simple urine sample alongside an algorithm to detect early signs of disease.

The product, still in the prototype phase, hopes to offer women a more accessible and less invasive test for breast cancer. (Dezeen)

A new study has shown that air quality in Europe has improved dramatically in recent years as a result of better environmental policies. It is estimated that around 60,000 fewer premature deaths in Europe have occurred over the last decade due to fine particulate matter pollution. In addition, according to the EEA’s Air Quality in Europe 2020 report, nitrogen dioxide related deaths have decreased by around 54% over the last decade. (EEA)

Over the past 12 years, Pristine Seas has helped create 22 marine reserves, from the giant kelp forests south of Cape Horn to the humpback whale nurseries of Gabon. These make up two-thirds of the world’s fully protected marine areas—covering more than two million square miles in all. Now Sala and his team have set an even more ambitious goal: to see more than a third of the world’s ocean conserved for the purpose not just of sustaining biodiversity but also of replenishing fish stocks and storing carbon. (National Geographic)

SignGAN has been developed by Ben Saunders at the University of Surrey in the UK to convert speech into sign language using a 3D skeletal model. This new technology could help improve the accessibility of sign language interpreters by removing the need for humans.

27 year old engineering student, Carvey Ehren Maigue, has won the James Dyson award for sustainability with his system called ‘AuREUS’. Made from rotten fruit and vegetables, this system creates solar panels (of all different colours) which are then attached to windows and generates electricity from the sun’s UV light, even on a cloudy day.

When we laugh we activate neural pathways that not only improve your mood, but can reduce your response to stress. The power of laughter has also been shown to improve our social skills and relationships. It’s been a tough old year but if we can find ways to laugh a little more, it may do us lots of good.

Cambodia has made huge progress in its fight against malaria. Comparing the first nine months of last year to this year, the country saw a 70% decrease in malaria cases. "This is a proud achievement for Cambodia, and our biggest step made so far to eradicate the disease."


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