It wasn't all bad...

The week's good news: February 28, 2019

Catherine Garcia
A tortoise.
RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP/Getty Images

1.

Floating trashcans could soon be cleaning all of the Earth's oceans

Plastic, cigarette butts, fishing lines — nothing's safe from the Seabin. The Seabin is a floating waste receptacle that can be installed in calm water. It pulls in debris, which is trapped in a bag that can hold up to 44 pounds of trash. Because it makes noise, sea creatures stay far away, making it safe for wildlife. The device was created by Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski, two surfers from Perth who were tired of finding so much garbage in the ocean. The city of Cockburn in Western Australia recently placed a Seabin in the Port Coogee marina, and in about a week, more than 12 types of plastic were caught. Nicki Ledger, the city's waste education officer, told ABC the Seabin has captured "a lot of little plastics, lots of polystyrene beads, cigarette butts. We're getting these out of the water so they can't do any harm to our local wildlife." [ABC]

2.

Retired engineer refurbishes, and then donates, power wheelchairs

He used to work on classic cars, but now, Bill Waldschmidt is fixing a different mode of transportation. The Randolph, Minnesota, resident and retired engineer refurbishes power wheelchairs and gives them to people who cannot afford to buy one. "Life has been really good to me," Waldschmidt told KARE 11. "So, I've got to pass it on." As a child, Waldschmidt contracted polio; 10 years ago, due to post-polio syndrome, he had to start using a wheelchair. That's when he began restoring wheelchairs, and he'll go anywhere local to pick one up that's in need of some refreshing. Don Johnson, a veteran who lost his right leg, uses one of Waldschmidt's wheelchairs to get around. "I've never had a gift like this, never," he said. Waldschmidt, he added, is the "kindest man on the planet. He does all this out of his heart, just out of the kindness of his heart." [KARE 11]

3.

Teacher finds poem from 1893 in used book, tracks down author's family

A corn husk, an Elvis stamp, and a nail file are just some of the strange things Emma Smreker has discovered inside used books. A high school French teacher in Oklahoma, Smreker has been collecting used books for some time, and noticed that previous owners used interesting items to keep their place. One item, found inside a book of poetry she bought in December, stood out: It was a piece of paper, and handwritten in "beautiful cursive" was a poem, addressed to Ohio's Lancaster Gazette, from 1893. It was written by a man named Ed Ruffner, and Smreker tracked down his great-granddaughter on Instagram. The poem was published this month in the paper. "Their whole family is kind of spread out throughout the United States and they've been able to kind of reconnect over this letter," Smreker told News 4. "Honestly, it made me tear up a little bit when I heard about that." [KFOR, Instagram]

4.

Montreal man walks the city streets, donating coins he finds to charity

When Young S. New walks down the street, he's typically looking down, trying to spot a forgotten coin. The Montreal resident, a 77-year-old grandfather, searches for change on the ground, as well as inside pay phones and by parking meters. This is good exercise, but also something he does because as a child, he was taught to "respect the penny," New told CBC News. "It costs about 11.2 cents to make a nickel. Losing one nickel means 16.2 cents is gone." New started a coin-collecting club, the Montreal Hainneville Collectors, and has taught members all about stamps and currencies. Over the last 12 years, he's found hundreds of dollars worth of change, donating it to the homeless, his church, and The Montreal Gazette Christmas Fund, which helps the needy during the holidays. [CBC News]

5.

Tortoise thought to be extinct found in Galapagos Islands

A species of giant tortoise thought to be extinct was found on the Galapagos island of Fernandina this week, Ecuador's ministry of the environment announced. The last time a Chelonoidis phantasticus, also known as the Fernandina giant tortoise, was seen alive was in 1906. The tortoise spotted on Sunday is a female, and likely more than 100 years old. Researchers took the tortoise to a breeding center on Santa Cruz Island, and she is now living in a special pen. The researchers think it's possible there are other Fernandina tortoises on the island. "This encourages us to strengthen our search plans to find other tortoises, which will allow us to start a breeding program in captivity to recover this species," Galapagos National Park Director Danny Rueda said in a statement. [The Guardian]