The week's good news: May 13, 2021
It wasn't all bad!
Study: In 2 decades, nearly 146 million acres of forest have regrown naturally across the world
Over the last 20 years, so many forests have regenerated worldwide that they could fill up France, according to a new World Wildlife Fund study. There were different ways the forests were regenerated — in some areas, nothing was done, while in others native trees were planted, invasive plants removed, and livestock fenced off, BBC News reports. Natural forest regeneration is "cheaper, richer in carbon, and better for biodiversity than actively planted forests," WWF's William Baldwin-Cantello said. The documented forest regeneration occurred in northern Mongolia, Canada, central Africa, and Brazil, where an area about the size of the Netherlands has regrown since 2000. These regenerated forests could absorb the equivalent of 5.9 gigatons of carbon dioxide, which is more than the U.S. emits every year.
Company keeps millions of pounds of waste out of landfills through repurposing
RepurposedMaterials gives new life to commercial waste that is otherwise bound for the landfill. The Denver company estimates that every year, it keeps 3 million pounds of refuse out of dumps across the United States. Its founder, Damon Carson, accepts all kinds of industrial waste — think hundreds of pounds of rope, used fire hoses, and street-sweeper bristles — and connects these castoff items to new owners. The bristles, for example, can be put out in a field so livestock can use them as backscratchers, and the fire hoses can be used as bumpers to protect boat docks. Recycling takes energy, while repurposing does not, so RepurposedMaterials makes sure the items stay in their original forms. "Why grind something up," Carson asked Popular Science, "why melt something down, if it still has value?"
High schooler who got college full-ride uses his savings to help another student
His hard work paid off, and now, Joshua Nelson wants to give a boost to another deserving student. Nelson, 18, is a senior at St. Charles West High School in St. Charles, Missouri, and he received the President's Scholarship at Southeast Missouri State University — a $43,000 award that will cover tuition and boarding for four years, as long as Nelson meets the criteria for renewal. He had saved $1,000 for college, and is now using that as the foundation for the Joshua Nelson Leaders in Action Scholarship, which will be given to a well-rounded student active in community service. "I really thought it was important to give back to my community that poured in so much to me," Nelson, who will study biomedical sciences, told KSDK. It is Nelson's hope that other individuals and businesses will donate to the scholarship fund, so multiple awards can be distributed to students for years to come.
Son turns his mom's bucket list adventure into a documentary
When his mother called to tell him she had been fired from her job as a hotel housekeeper, Sian-Pierre Regis knew it was time for her to stop worrying about taking care of everyone else and start focusing on herself. His mom, Rebecca Danigelis, was fired at age 75 — by that point, she had been working hard for decades, and Regis was concerned that without a job, she would feel adrift. "She worked her hands to the bone," Regis told CBS Evening News. "She deserved to feel joy. And that's what I wanted to give her." Regis had his mom share with him her bucket list — things she had always wanted to do, but couldn't because of work. Soon, they were on the road, milking cows in Vermont and jumping out of airplanes. Regis filmed their adventures and turned the footage into the new documentary Duty Free, which is about their journey, ageism, and financial insecurity.
Minnesota man turns knack for making ice cream into new career
Zach Vraa turned his quarantine hobby of making ice cream into an actual business, with his one-of-a-kind creations regularly selling out in 60 seconds. Vraa is the founder of A to Z Creamery in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. At the beginning of the pandemic, he started using the ice cream machine his mom bought for his birthday, posting photos of his concoctions online. People asked if they could buy his ice cream, and Vraa started selling a few pints of each flavor. The demand was there: For every 10 pints he had available, Vraa received 100 messages. "That's when I kind of figured out, 'Wow, I need to start doing this full scale in a full commercial kitchen,'" Vraa told KARE 11. Now, he can make 300 pints a week. No flavor is too out there — Vraa has made an Everything Bagel ice cream, topped with a garlic cream cheese swirl — and the week's pints typically sell out in a minute.