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Wellbeing

3 foodie do-good businesses that caught our eye

Each week, we round up the businesses putting out good into the world – and what exactly that good looks like.

Up this week, we have yummy treats with deep pockets, every child’s favourite condiment helping the planet, and the cookie dough that supports women in recovery.

It’s nearly December, so let’s get spending – for good.

FUDGE KITCHEN.

Fudge Kitchen makes fancy, artisanal fudges (and a fudge sauce that looks to die for), who are making their name by giving back. So far this year, they’ve raised over £10,000 for various UK charities after partnering with B1G1, the social enterprise encouraging a global business-giving movement.

As well as raising money to support people in Ukraine and Pakistan, Fudge Kitchen have provided clean water and energy to disadvantaged areas, planted sustainably managed trees to combat deforestation, fed rescued wildlife in Australia, and so much more!

HEINZ.

Heinz has spent an immense 185,000 hours of product development and $1.2 million in investment to redesign the lids of their squeezy ketchup bottles. After 45 different versions, the company has finally come out with a version that is just as useful, but far easier to recycle.

While the old lid was made with hard plastic and silicone, which must be recycled independently, but are difficult to separate, this new lid is all made of the same material. This makes it much easier to recycle, and much better for the environment overall!

DOUGHP.

Doughp sells cookie dough in a bunch of different formats (though all delicious) and was founded by Kelsey Moreira (pictured). Kelsey worked in tech but, after getting sober in 2015, decided to focus on her love of baking and all things sweet, and Doughp was born!

A portion of all of Doughp’s sales is donated to the SHE RECOVERS Foundation, which is a non-profit with a mission to connect, support and empower women in or seeking recovery. So far, Doughp has donated over $60,000 to SHE RECOVERS and has designed the Doughp workplace to be completely recovery friendly, for all of its employees. We love to see it.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Responsible Consumption and Production.

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Wellbeing

Mass tree-planting in a city 30 years ago had amazing results

A mass tree-planting event 30 years ago may have had a positive impact on people’s physical health.

30 years?

Yep – and the impact seems to be quite significant. Researchers have found that those who live near the site of a 30-year-old mass tree-planting event in Portland, Oregon, have a much lower risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as other non-accidental deaths.

Wow! What was the event like?

The non-profit Friends of Trees planted nearly 50,000 trees on streets in Portland – and lucky for us they kept incredibly detailed records on where they were planted.

This new study, performed by scientists from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health and the United States Department of Agriculture, took advantage of these records for their investigation.

That sounds like a lot of trees! What exactly did they find?

In neighbourhoods where more trees were planted, mortality rates were lower; 6% lower for cardiovascular disease, and about 20% for other non-accidental deaths. Interestingly, the association was higher the older the trees in the area were, which suggests there are health benefits associated with protecting older trees.

Not only this, but the study found that the annual cost of planting and preserving one ‘street’ tree in each of Portland’s 140 census areas would range somewhere between $3,000 and $13,000, but would generate around $14.2 million each year in lives saved.

If that isn’t a reason to plant a tree, I don’t know what is!

This article aligns with the UN SDGs Good Health and Wellbeing and Climate Action.

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Equality Wellbeing

A village for the homeless in Salt Lake City

More than 580,000 people across the US experienced homelessness in 2021, with that number expected to rise with the cost of living crisis.

States across the country are dealing with that in different ways. In Salt Lake City, Utah, they’re looking to take out two birds with one stone with their newest project: a fully sustainable housing development for people experiencing chronic homelessness, serving an environmental impact goal while also providing housing for those in need.

Living on the Other Side

The organization behind the development is known as The Other Side Village, and has an end goal to provide a permanent housing option for people that are chronically unsheltered in the area.

The program is primarily targeting people dealing with a mental health or drug condition, as those are the people that tend to have the most difficulty maintaining consistent housing.

The village will be split into two smaller neighborhoods both featuring 30 cottage-style homes that are fully equipped with housing amenities. It will have a bodega, and plans to start a donut shop and succulent plant arrangement business. The goal of the businesses is to provide the people living their employment opportunities if they are struggling to find it elsewhere.

People behind The Other Side Village understand the difficulties of life and what makes a place like the village so enticing. For example, Maurice “Moe” Egan, the Director of Neighbor Recruitment for the Other Side, was homeless himself and until he found a place that served him right found it hard to make any changes.

“After many attempts at drug rehabs and serving multiple jail sentences, Moe was accepted to Delancey Street, a place that changed his life,” their website says. “It was at Delancey Street that Moe was finally able to recalibrate his moral compass and overcome traumas of the past.”

The goal is to have the village open by 2023. You can donate to support its mission on the Other Side Village website.

This article aligns with the UN SDG No Poverty.

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Wellbeing

The pup that brings joy to nervous dogs

Even though they’re our furry friends, dogs often come into shelters anxious, lonely, or anti-social. 

That’s where a dog like Lolly comes in. 

Who is Lolly?

Lolly was once a puppy, part of a group of over 500 other puppies rescued from a puppy mill in Iowa, where the ASPCA found the conditions “deplorable.” That was just her beginning though. 

She came into the ASPCA as a nervous dog, like many of those around her, something that she would later come to help other rescued animals come to terms with. 

Today, Lolly is a “helper dog” at the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center (BRC) in Weaverville, North Carolina, where she helps guide fearful dogs through new activities.

“The BRC is the first-ever permanent facility dedicated to the study and behavioral rehabilitation of canine victims of cruelty and neglect,” Darren Young, CPDT-KA, Lolly’s behavioral rehabilitation specialist at the BRC, told PEOPLE.

“After being rescued from the Iowa puppy mill, Lolly needed support with her fear and under socialization, and came to the BRC for treatment.”

Lolly took to the help and within six weeks she was ready for graduation. Now she helps other dogs get through the program.

“Lolly comes to work with me at the BRC often,” Lolly’s adopter, Dr. Ashley Eisenback, DVM, Senior Director of Veterinary Services at the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center, tells Smiley News.

“Since many of the dogs at the BRC come from situations that cause them to be fearful of day-to-day activities, helper dogs like Lolly can provide social confidence for fearful dogs, and can help fearful dogs experience play, joy and even the confidence to approach people.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Life on Land.

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Wellbeing

The ‘Positive Post Box’ spreads kindness throughout the UK

Children can now sign up for a positive pen pal scheme to help combat bullying.

Ooh, how does it work?

The anti-bullying scheme, called The Positive Post-Box Campaign, was created by the Nationwide Building Society with The Diana Award.

And the idea is to empower children to channel positivity either by writing a letter or drawing a picture which will then be posted through the Positive Post Box and sent to another child somewhere in the UK at a partner school.

Children who participate will be encouraged to practice kindness and positivity, as well as mutual respect. It is hoped that the scheme will encourage gestures of goodwill between children, and discourage bullying.

But how do we know it’s safe? Couldn’t anyone be writing the letters?

The scheme is completely safe; applications to the Positive Post-Box Campaign will be filled out by school, meaning that it is totally self-contained. Each child will be linked up with another kid in a school who has also signed up to the Positive Post-Box Campaign, allowing them to send drawings and hand-written letters to someone just like them.

That sounds great! How do we sign up?

Currently sign-ups are closed, but there are plenty of resources that you can find on the Anti-Bullying Pro website that could help you set up something similar in your own schools. Happy writing!

This article aligns with the UN SDG Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

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Wellbeing

The school that banned smartphones

One boarding school has banned smartphones in a bid to help mental health, based on a new study. So what did they find?

Tell me more.

Buxton School, a boarding school in Williamstown, Massachusetts, has banned smartphones on campus – not only for their students, but for faculty members and staff, too. 

Instead, they have provided everyone with ‘light phones’, a mobile device with limited capabilities. You can do things like text and call, but there are no internet capabilities, no social media, and even no cameras.

… And how did it go?

At first, the students were not happy – as you’d probably expect. But now not everyone wants to go back, with some students claiming that they enjoy being able to study or go out into nature without being bombarded with notifications.

Ultimately, many reported being happier because of the ban.

It has become a successful social experiment, helping to encourage students to engage with the ‘real world’, rather than the virtual one – something that has proved difficult in the wake of virtual learning.

Are there plans to reverse the ban?

So far the ban is only temporary, with results being observed throughout the year. But students and staff alike seem to be thriving with their new ‘light phones’, with staff claiming that everyone is far more attentive during lessons.

Not only that, but students are less distracted during mealtimes, now that they can’t remain glued to their smartphones at all times. Maybe we should all think about going smartphone free…

This article aligns with the UN SDG Good Health and Wellbeing.

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Wellbeing

A council has ended all medical debt for residents

It can’t be overstated how widespread medical debt in the US is. Census data from 2019 showed there was at least $195 billion in medical debt across the country.

Much of that debt will never be fully paid off and saddles individuals with payments for the rest of their lives.

A city council in Ohio is trying to do something about it. 

What’s going down in Toledo?

Most city councils are worried about things like local taxes, streets, and maybe parks and recreation but in Toledo, the council has started working towards wiping away millions of dollars in medical debt for its citizens. 

Toledo City Council, along with commissioners of the wider Lucas County, passed a new proposal that is expected to forgive up to $240 million in medical debt for residents.

“Medical debt is the number one reason why people go into bankruptcy,” Toledo councilperson Dr. Michele Grim, who led the effort, told BuzzFeed News. “A lot of people who have medical debt struggle to put food on the table, avoid going to the hospital, or pay their utilities. I hope it’ll help give people the boost they need to go back to the doctor, to pay their rent or mortgage.”

Where did the money come from?

The money originally came from a Biden Covid relief package, totaling $800,000. The county is then aiming to add another $800,000 bringing the total fund to $1.6 million.

The plan is to use that fund to buy the existing medical debt in the county as a large bundle for pennies on the proverbial dollar. 

“We have a broken healthcare system,” Grim said. “We let people suffer, avoid medical care because they can’t pay, and that’s really unfortunate. As a local legislator I can’t fix that system, but I can help people get food on the table again.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG No Poverty.

Categories
Wellbeing

This scientist has found a cure for paralysis

Electric pulses delivered to spinal nerves are helping paralysed people to walk again.

Wait, really? That’s incredible!

Isn’t it? So far, trials have helped 12 people to walk again, including three who were fully paralysed and had no feeling below their legs.

So how does it work?

The treatment is something called ‘epidural electrical stimulation’ or EES. In short, a device that sends electrical pulses to stimulate nerves in the spine is implanted into the spines of people suffering from paralysis.

This is combined with therapeutic training, and so far all 12 people have regained some movement.

That’s fantastic.

What’s even more amazing is that four people no longer need the EES device to walk, suggesting that the treatment isn’t a ‘band-aid’ but a way of reversing the effects of paralysis.

The trials are being performed by Dr. Grégoire Courtine at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Good Health and Wellbeing.

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Wellbeing

Mindfulness benefits reach new heights

Mindfulness is just as effective as medication in treating anxiety, a new study has found. Here’s what you need to know.

Wait, really?

Yes! The study was randomly performed on 208 adults with anxiety disorders, comparing the use of the drug escitalopram vs an eight-week mindfulness course.

So, what happened?

Split down the middle, half of the participants were prescribed escitalopram, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) frequently used to treat depression or anxiety. The other half were assigned an eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course – or MBSR. This included a 45-minute MBSR session every day, ​​a 2 1/2-hour weekly meeting and a daylong retreat during week five or six. 

Researchers found that there was no significant difference in results between the two treatments – in fact, both groups experienced a 30% drop in anxiety levels from their treatment.

Why’s this so important?

Medication doesn’t work for everyone and can have other side effects that may make using it as a treatment for anxiety feel less worthwhile. For others, they may not have access to the medication, whether that is for financial reasons because it interacts badly with other medications they take or for another reason entirely.

Mindfulness sessions may also be much cheaper for healthcare providers and need only be run for a short period of time, rather than the ongoing costs of medication.

There are lots of reasons why mindfulness is a great alternative to medication for treating anxiety – not least because it has a similar effect. But ultimately, it is down to a discussion with your own healthcare practitioner about what is best for you that matters the most. 

Here’s how you can do mindfulness for free:

There are many nonprofits that support people all year around with free mindfulness courses. Why not try one of the below?

Breathworks charity offers free mindfulness courses

Access The Free Mindfulness Project for free mindfulness exercises

The Oxford Mindfulness Foundation also offers free daily mindfulness sessions online from 7pm to 7:30pm.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Good Health and Wellbeing.

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Wellbeing

The woman who spent 100 days spreading good news

TikTok is well known for its popularity but, like any form of social media, it can also be home to negativity and stress. 

That’s why one woman is hoping to change that; one TikTok video at a time.

Meet Victoria Cardenas, better known as A Positive Take. Sick of negative news bringing her, and others, down, the 24-year-old Canadian-turned-Londoner is on a mission to spread good news. Her TikTok channel is a force of positivity in a world where much of the news we read is doom and gloom – and she has more than 50,000 followers on the journey with her. 

“I originally started this channel when Covid-19 started, because I was fed up with only reading really bad news,” she tells Smiley News. “I started focusing on the good and thought others would want to read it too.”

However, she got shy about posting and stopped after just a few videos. Then, in 2021, she decided to give it another go, with a newly-formed ‘100 days of good news’ project. 

“It was a way to force myself to stick with it because I had already started a countdown,” she says.

Victoria would scour the news each morning to find uplifting stories to share with her followers – including animals coming back from extinction, brands moving towards pre-loved fashion, and  the “super grannies” taking some serious climate action

The 100th day – back in July 2022 – captured Bill Gates donating $20 million to a foundation, and a Barbie made out of recycled plastic.

Although those 100 days are over, Victoria hasn’t stopped her quest to bring positive news to your FYP. 

“There have been so many positive comments from people on every single video,” says Victoria, whose videos have accumulated 1.5 million likes. “Some of the comments I love reading the most are when they say, ‘Wow this really made my day,’ or ‘Never stop making these!’ It’s incredible to see how just three good news stories can make a change in someone’s day. 

“I know it can change mine, but clearly, it’s not just me who feels happy after hearing the stories.”

“These positive stories have an important role to play in our lives.”

These positive stories aren’t just a way to keep up with the best of the world – they may have a much more important role to play in our lives. Studies have shown that happiness has a positive effect on our physical and mental health, which goes far beyond a daily pick-me-up.

Good news makes you happy, and, as multiple experiments have shown, happiness equals health. Research has found happiness has a positive effect on you in a variety of different ways, from heart health to your immune system, and even the length of your life

“I noticed a great change in myself,” admits Victoria. “Good news is still dramatically outnumbered by regular news stories, but I will say [that] even reading one or two good news stories a day can really change my mood and spark a different outlook on the world.”

Though there’s been a push to ‘break the bad news bias’, particularly in the UK, it can still feel as though the negative news still reigns supreme in mainstream media. This is just one of the reasons content creators like Victoria are making such a huge difference in people’s lives – people need good news.

“I think creating a better balance can inspire more good in people because it can be very overwhelming to only be exposed to negative stories,” explains Victoria. “So if people are subscribed to newsletters, subscribe to a good newsletter or magazine as well, like Smiley Movement, that can only be a good thing.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Good Health and Wellbeing.