A man built water collection systems to combat California’s drought

California has been going through a historic drought for what feels like a decade at this point and to address it people are beginning to get creative. 

Buzz Boettcher didn’t want to see any water go to waste and started planning on how to recycle water.

“I’ve done a lot of offshore sailing and racing over the years, and it didn’t make sense that ten people could live on a boat for 15 days out in the ocean and survive on 200 gallons of water, and you come ashore, and you use 20,000 gallons a month,” Buzz said.

So he started building a device that would collect rainwater and convert it into grey water. That water, which would most likely end up washing down the gutter then could be used to do things like flushing toilets.

After starting his first one at the Santa Monica Pico branch library he’s started opening water collection systems around Southern California even making it to an Eately restaurant.

The systems are expanding outside California as well like one where they’re working out how to recycle truck wash water for much of the same purpose.

“It doesn’t make sense to use nice, clean, potable water to flush toilets,” Buzz said. “Talk about good water going after bad.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action among others.


‘Bubble barriers’ are helping keep our oceans plastic-free

Bubbles. You love them in the bath, in a bottle, in your flavoured water.

But now, there’s an even better reason to love these fun and whimsical miracles of science.

 The Bubble Barrier at Oude Rijn river at Katwijk in the mid-western Netherlands.

Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic ends up in our oceans – and as much as 80% of that plastic is estimated to have arrived there after being dumped into rivers.

A team of Dutch inventors came up with the Great Bubble Barrier back in 2019 and the first one was deployed in the mouth of the Oude Rijn (Old Rhine) river at Katwijk in mid-western Netherlands.

Locals have been upset by the plastic littering nearby beaches for a long time and, finally, there is an invention that will do something about it.

The bubble barrier in Amsterdam

The Great Bubble Barrier works by creating a ‘bubble curtain’ using a perforated tube placed diagonally on the bottom of the waterway. Air is pumped through this tube, creating bubbles!

The bubble curtain prevents plastics from passing through and instead pushes them to the surface of the water and to the edges of the waterway where there is a catchment system. After this, the plastic can be appropriately disposed of, preventing it from polluting oceans and beaches.

An illustration of how the bubble barriers work.

The bubble curtain allows fish and otherwildlife to pass through unhindered, and the whole system works 24/7, 365, regardless of what the water levels are like.

Since the success of the bubble barrier in the Netherlands, another has been deployed in Amsterdam, and two more are planned for Portugal and Germany.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.


New ‘smart tampon’ to help detect cervical cancer sooner

John Hopkins University has made a huge technological advancement that can help protect people from cervical cancer.

The advancement, called a “smart tampon,” aims to replace pap smears, while being used to detect cancer. The smart tampon would instead detect the disease using artificial intelligence.

The idea came from Madeleine Howard and Hayley Hoaglund during an artificial intelligence course lab. The device looks and feels like a tampon, but at its top, there’s a highly sensitive camera that takes images of the cervix to screen for cancer. 

“It would compare your cervix cells with abnormal cervix cells and be able to assess if you have any irregularities and prompt you to visit a doctor if needed,” said Hoaglund.

Since cervical cancer is preventable if caught early enough this sort of development is massive.

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


‘Skip The Tip’ and give your trash another life

A campaign is encouraging people to embrace the circular economy this January – and Skip the Tip!

Skip the Tip?

#SkipTheTip is a new campaign by YoungPlanet, created by parents Jason and Emma Ash. YoungPlanet is a platform and app designed to ‘declutter, give joy, save the planet’, by encouraging people to embrace the circular economy.

So how does it work?

Just like many apps and websites that help you sell your unwanted items, YoungPlanet allows you to create listings of items you no longer need. People can then browse the app, request an item they want, and get it completely for free!

Not only does it mean people are getting items for free, it means we aren’t creating waste in the same way.

YoungPlanet has already helped over 150,000 people save £1 million worth of children’s items from landfill by encouraging families to make cashless exchanges.

If you’re interested in YoungPlanet, take a look at the website here.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.


‘Champing’ is saving historic buildings

‘Champing’ is saving historic buildings. In fact, it has had a record year in churches across England and Wales.


Launched in 2016 by the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT), what is now known as ‘champing’ is … camping in churches.

Camping … in churches?

The initiative helps to protect Anglican churches that have been closed down and are now considered at risk.

People wanting to travel get unusual (and fun!) accommodations, while the churches are provided with money to keep the ancient buildings in good condition.

They’re even happy to let your furry friends come along for the trip – even better!

How do I sign up?

If you’re interested in champing, take a look at the CCT website.

Rates start at £49 a night, with 25% off for groups of 8-11 (£36.75) and 30% off for groups of 12-16 (£34.30).

This article aligns with the UN SDG Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.


City retrofits underused church classrooms to house homeless

Looking to transform an unused section of a church into 16 condos, a Wisconsin town is aiming to help homeless veterans find shelter.

Using $1.14 million in covid relief funding, the town of Eau Claire is turning the classrooms in the Grace Lutheran Church into condos suitable for living.

“It’s something that we hadn’t planned on doing,” Chippewa Valley Habitat for Humanity Executive Director John Dawson said. “We were looking more at doing homes, ground-up homes that we buy or homes that are tired that we fix up. But this opportunity came about. We looked at it and we just kept moving the ball down the road.”

The proposal for the condos came from the local Habitat for Humanity and must receive final approval from the Eau Claire city council with a vote planned for February 14.

Some of the final decisions are being worked out. For example, it’s still not decided if the veterans will rent or own the condos and if they’ll be able to use Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing vouchers through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help with housing costs. 

“That’s a leg up on finding a decent, safe and sanitary place to live,” said Eau Claire Housing Authority Executive Director Keith Jonathan. “It only makes sense. It’s like a win-win, as far as I’m concerned.”

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


Teenager raises £55k for charity through random acts of kindness

One teenager’s random acts of kindness have raised thousands for charity.

Amazing! Tell me more.

During the pandemic in March 2020, Sebbie Hall pledged to raise £1000 for charity by performing a kind act every single day for a month. 

Three years later and he has smashed that target, raising over £55,000, and has even set up his own charity – the Sebbie Hall Kindness Foundation.

What random acts of kindness has he done?

Everything from buying lottery tickets for strangers to giving teddies to Ukrainian orphans, Sebbie is nowhere close to stopping in his quest to spread joy and happiness to others.

The aim of the Sebbie Hall Kindness Foundation is to bring happiness to others and to help disabled and vulnerable people because Sebbie doesn’t want anyone to feel lonely. We love it.

Joining Sebbie as patrons of his charity are actors Richard Brake and Eddie Marsan – but has had support from other celebrities too like Ant and Dec and Catherine Tate.

This article aligns with the UN SDGs Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions and Partnership for the Goals.


Rugby teams donate stem cells

A rugby team in Australia is on a very important mission – to donate their stem cells.

The Melbourne Rebels are the first professional team to sign up on mass to become Australian bone marrow donors with Tackling Leukaemia Inc.

Tell me more.

Tackling Leukaemia is a grassroots charity in Australia aiming to increase the survival rates of Pasifika and Indigenous populations that have been diagnosed with leukaemia. Leukaemia is a type of blood cancer that can be terminal – the main treatment is a stem cell transplant.

The best chance of a match comes when from a biological relation – such as a sibling. If they are not a match or cannot help, then the only option is to turn to a bank of donors – who are mostly white Europeans.

What’s the problem with that?

After a full sibling, your best luck is for a patient and donor to have a similar ancestral history – something that is unlikely to be shared between people of two different ethnic backgrounds. 

Australia has one of the lowest rates of bone marrow donation in the world, and it’s even harder for people of Pasifika and Indigenous backgrounds. 

That’s why Tackling Leukaemia has ‘teamed up’ with rugby teams in Australia to encourage more people, particularly those with Pasifika and Indigenous backgrounds, to sign up.

The initiative has been a huge success so far, and will hopefully save the lives of so many more people.

Fancy doing something good? Consider signing up today.

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


Oregon to help protect bees with artistic license plate

Oregon is home to a large variety of crops, ranging from grapes for an incredible array of wines and sweet cherries, to coastal cranberries, red clover, pears, lavender, and more.

Those plants – and many more of the flora in Oregon and around the world – wouldn’t be possible without pollinators like the honey bee.

To highlight their importance and to help contribute to protecting bees, Oregon is releasing specialty license plates, called the Pollinator’s Paradise, that feature the insects, and proceeds will go to the Horticulture Department at Oregon State University to fund research.

The plate will be an extra $40 every time you renew your tags for your plate, 35 of which will go to the aforementioned research fund and five to the DMV.

The art for the plate was made by 16-year-old Marek Stanton who is the youngest member of the Oregon State University Extension Service’s Master Melittologist Program, which is the term for someone who studies bees.

The Oregon Bee Project asked Marek to try and design something after seeing some of his other artwork.

“I think most Oregonians know that bees are important, but may not realize what makes the state such an amazing places for these creatures,” says OSU Extension pollinator health specialist, Andony Melathopoulos.

For the plate to become a permanent fixture there need to be at least 3,000 pre-orders, and at the time of writing, there are about 2,400.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Life on Land among others.


Comedian and stuntman Steve-O helps older dog get adopted

Famous for his comedy, stunts, and long-running series “Jackass” Steve-O made Idaho headlines for helping a dog find a home. One of the long-term dogs of the Idaho Humane Society, an older pup named Quartz was able to find a home thanks to Steve-O. 

Quartz’ adoption was part of a larger event during Steve-O’s comedy show at The Egyptian Theatre as part of his ‘The Bucket List Tour,’ where he brought out a group of adoptable dogs on stage with the goal of some of them being adopted. 

“We had the incredible opportunity to join Steve-O on stage at his Bucket List Tour last Friday and Saturday night to highlight some adoptable dogs,” the Idaho Humane Society wrote in a Facebook post.

“Because of this exposure, one of our long-term pups, Quartz, went home yesterday! Thank you for being an animal welfare advocate and for using your platform to help raise awareness about local shelters! It was an awesome experience; we appreciate it.”

Steve-O has four dogs himself and writes on his website that he plans to open an animal sanctuary in the future with his fiance, Lux.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Life on Land.