Gina Miller Back With a Vengeance, Serena Williams is Expecting and George Osbourne Exits the Stage: a week of good news

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Gina Miller’s campaign to prevent an extreme Brexit has raised more than £115,000 in two days and is rising rapidly, while More United’s crowdfund for progressive candidates has raised £50,000 and counting.

George Osbourne is standing down as MP, after accepting the job as editor of the Evening Standard.

Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly has been given the push after 21 years as the host of it’s biggest show, following allegations of sexual harassment. The sacking follows protests, and a boycott from 50 advertisers.

North Korea’s latest nuclear missile test has failed…….again.

Meanwhile Donald Trump has softened his stance towards China and is now no longer saying that NATO is obsolete.

Also in Trumpland, the President’s plans for a vanity wall along the border with Mexico (which still has no funding) have hit another snag – it’s first lawsuit. The suit , which has been filed by a congressman and an environmental group, would require a lengthy environmental impact assessment to take place before any work could begin, potentially delaying the plans indefinitely.

Thousands of people protested to demand Trump release his tax returns.

Also in the US, the Supreme Court has blocked a plan to execute eight prisoners in eight days.

In South East Scotland, a wonderful new scheme is using windpower to generate income to deliver new homes. Also in Scotland, Coca-Cola now says it supports a drinks bottle deposit return scheme, which would involve customers returning their drinks bottles to collect a small deposit, in order to reduce packaging waste. The scheme has already raised collection rates in Germany, Denmark and Sweden.

Andy Murray and Will Young are among several high-profile figures and organisations who have written to Theresa May urging her to honour commitments to the wildlife and the environment during negotiations with the EU.

Serena Williams has confirmed she is pregnant, meaning that she was around 8 weeks pregnant when she won her 23rd grand slam title in January.

See these beautiful pictures of the Californian wildflower superbloom.

A Feminist Economic Model to Save the Planet and ISIS in Retreat: a roundup of all the latest good news

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Oxford economist Kate Haworth has just published a revolutionary book proposing a new economic model to bring about social and environmental justice, based on the latest environmental and feminist thinking.

According to the Iraqi military, Isis has lost most of it’s territory in the country and now controls just 7%. It has also lost ground in Syria.

In California, the sun produced so much power that electricity prices turned negative.

In a surprising twist, Donald Trump has chosen a pro-immigration economist to lead his council of economic advisors. Kevin Hassett has previously criticised Republicans for being the ‘Party of White’ and said it had too often appeared ‘hostile to immigrants.’ He has also said that the US should double it’s intake of immigrants. This comes after Trump’s Muslim ban has twice failed and Steve Bannon has been kicked off the National Security Council. Breitbart is said to be unhappy at the news .

An emergency fund for people made homeless by the fire at the Dunkirk Refugee camp has reached more than £16,000.

Thousands attended a ‘Love Manifestation’ peace demonstration in Stockholm.

In Switzerland, 86 year-old Louise Schneider spray-painted ‘Money For Weapons Kills’ on a billboard surrounding the Swiss National Bank, as part of a popular initiative to ban Swiss financing of any company that produces arms. The group hopes to raise enough petition signatures for the issue to go to a national referendum.

In Rome, the Pope is opening a free launderette for homeless people. It even provides free fabric softener.

Scientists have found a way to make cells resistant to HIV.

New spring buds and bluebell woods: check out this success story – the first forest to be planted in the UK for 1000 years is now a quarter of a century old

Zero Waste Teeth


The first toothbrush you ever had still exists somewhere in landfill, and will still be there when your great-great-grandchildren are teething.

You probably want to see an end to this. In which case, you have two options:

1. Get yourself a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush, of which there are many different brands. There is a bamboo brush for every mouth, but my personal favourite is Humble Brush. As well as being good to use, it’s available in adult and child sizes and comes in a compostable wrapper and a box made from recycled cardboard.  It’s available in some branches of Waitrose or Holland and Barratt, or order online.

Otherwise, there are many types of bamboo toothbrushes on the market –  google is your friend here. (Just be wary of brands claiming their bristles are biodegradable).

Two more things to note: the toothbrush won’t decompose if it’s put in the general waste bin. It should go to the compost pile or food waste collection, if it is ever to be returned to Mother Earth. Also, make sure you rinse and dry it when you’ve finished using it. A wet bamboo brush will do what it is designed to do, which is, to rot.

2. If a biodegradable toothbrush doesn’t suit,  a conventional toothbrush with a replaceable head will still go a long way to reducing waste. Source make theirs from recycled materials, or Yaweco  do them for a lower price. Both of these are available in health food stores or online.

Toothpaste

Sigh. A tooth-friendly zero waste solution to the problem of toothpaste tubes still eludes me. Some zero wasters make their own toothpaste from bicarbonate of soda, and Lush do a tooth powder containing bicarb in a recycled plastic pot. However, my dentist tells me brushing every day with the stuff will do your teeth no good.

It is possible to get toothpaste in glass jars that could be reused or recycled, but I’ve never found a brand yet that contains fluoride, another point which dentists tend to insist upon. Personally I’m not willing to risk tooth decay in order to prevent a relatively small amount of waste.

Dental Floss

First, is it worth bothering about such a tiddly piece of waste?

Some people worry about animals or birds being strangled by waste pieces of floss (although I’m not sure how likely this is to happen if you dispose of it properly in a bin). You might also want to find a zero waste alternative if you’ve given up your waste bin and have no wish to hang on to pieces of used floss in your landfill container. Or maybe zero wasters are just perfectionists.

Whatever your reason, the best zero waste option on the market is biodegradable dental floss made from silk and beeswax.  The packaging is biodegradable, according to an email from the manufacturer. (Like the toothbrush, though, it will need to be composted, not thrown in the landfill bin, to decompose). For vegans, EcoDent  do standard floss in cardboard packaging, which can at least be recycled.

For interdental brushes, your plastic-free option are these by Dent-O-Care.

Otherwise, if sourcing zero waste floss seems like too much hassle, don’t worry. It’s just dental floss.

10 Easy Ways to Dramatically Slim Your Bin

Depressed by how much you throw away? Follow these 10 steps to shed unsightly waste.


  1. Ditch the paper towel habit

Nothing fills your bin faster than cleaning up with paper towels. Forests were cut down for this, and quitting is easy. Cloths, rags or reusable kitchen roll will do the job and they don’t have to be re-bought and schlepped home from the supermarket every week.

For a super skinny bin: Swap paper tissues for hankies (or, kindest on the nose, old t-shirts cut up into squares) and exchange your foam washing-up sponge for a reusable unsponge or biodegradable one.

2. Boycott superfluous sachets

Porridge in single-use pots, coffee pods, cubes of washing powder in individual plastic packets…..have these people never heard of spoons? And the cost! A recent survey* found that porridge oats in superfluous sachets costs between 4 and 10 times the price of the same bought loose or in a simple recyclable cardboard box. Someone is having a laugh. Let us reclaim our right to decide our own portion sizes.

3. Wash with……soap and water

Wet wipes can be really useful when outdooors without easy access to running water. When indoors, however, their utility is less clear. Packets of these things also take up storage space and have to be continually re-bought. If you use wipes to remove make up, using coconut oil and a washcloth will leave your skin feeling soft and lovely and also save you cash. If you use wipes to clean the house, a rag or a cloth with the eco-friendly cleaner of your choice will do the job, and costs less. Single-use baby wipes can be replaced with reusable ones  or use cut up towels (wet them before you leave the house and carry in a waterproof bag).

We are SO lucky to have easy access to clean water – let’s use it.

For a super skinny bin: You can also swap cotton wool pads for reusables and plastic cotton wool buds for biodegradable ones.

4. Get your milk and juice delivered

Rinse and return. It’s the zero waster’s dream. See that mountain of plastic cartons disappear from your life, and you don’t even have to wash the bottles yourself. If it comes in an electric van, even better.

These people do cow’s milk and a range of fruit juices in returnable bottles, or see what’s available local to you.

5. Beware the fruit and veg danger zone 

The fruit and veg aisle of your local supermarket is nothing less than waste central. Multipacks containing more than we can eat, all wrapped in voluminous plastic. Pointless stickers and, as you’ve probably heard by now,  mountains of fruit and veg are thrown away for failing to pass a beauty contest.

Enough is enough. The fightback against food waste and fruit fascism starts here.

1. Buy only what your household will eat. 2. Buy fruit and veg loose in your own reusable produce bags. 3. Learn to love fruit and veg in weird shapes, and support shops that sell them (which includes some supermarkets). 4. Remember that ready-chopped fruit in plastic tubs with plastic single-use cutlery is an enviro-crime. Refuse to be complicit.

6. Pay attention to the packaging, before you buy

As Bea Johnson puts it, paying for ‘disposable’ packaging is just investing in landfill – all we are really doing is buying poor quality bags and containers over and over again, and paying to have them all sent to landfill over and over again. Remember that plastic is rubbish, and ‘not currently recyclable’ should more accurately read ‘destined for landfill.’

For a super-skinny bin: See if there is anywhere local to you where you can take your own bags and buy goods loose.

7. Say goodbye to tampons

It’s not just the waste, but the carbon footprint of all that cotton.  And why continue to buy them and throw them away,  buy and throw away,  for years, when a menstrual cup can be bought just once and will save you £££s?  According to Mooncup, it pays for itself in 6-8 months. Available in pretty designs, what’s not to love about it?  And reusable pads are available everywhere.

8. Detergent Refills

See what’s available in your local health food store. If you shop in a major town, there will be somewhere that offers refills of washing-up liquid, laundry liquid and fabric conditioner.  Or order refills online via Splosh.

For a super-skinny bin: Keep an eye out for places that refill other products, such as wine, olive oil and shampoo.

9. Just say no to crap

Don’t allow rubbish into your world in the first place. You are worth more than this. Leaflets and brochures you know you’ll never read, novelty pens, ugly merchandise you only accepted because it was free, the cheap-but-not-designed-to-last fashion accessory – our earth is being polluted and factory workers exploited so we can fill our lives with junk. Just say no.

10. Use the bin as a last resort

Only throw away what cannot be reused, donated, recycled or composted. And remember, recycling is for life, not just when you happen to be in the kitchen. So keep recycling bins in every place you currently have a waste bin (including at work). Eventually you will free your space of waste bins altogether.

 

* I made notes as I was going round the shops: 20p for 100g loose oats in my own bag from the health food store, 22p for the same in a recyclable cardboard box from the supermarket, 74.7p in non-recyclable sachets, and a full £1.91 for 100g porridge in a carton designed to be used once then sent to landfill.

Huge Surge in Women and Millennials Considering Standing for Office, and Easter Returns to Iraqi Town: all the latest good news

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Around 8000 millennials in the US have taken the first step to become political candidates since the November election, according to political action committee Run For Something. This follows the news that 10,000 US women have expressed a desire to run for office, also since November. Meanwhile, Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff has now raised more than $8 million to fight for a recently-vacated Republican seat in Atlanta.

A 13 year old girl has become the first child in the UK to receive an artificial heart implant. Chloe Narbonne had heart failure aged 11 and almost died, so doctors installed the device for a few weeks until a human heart became available.  She was also the first person in the world to be transferred from one hospital to another with her chest open and while on a life-saving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine, which delivers oxygen to a patient from outside the body.

Pret and Paul and both now offering discounts to customers who bring their own cups. Starbucks and Costa have already been doing this for a while.

Thousands have taken to the streets in Budapest to oppose new laws that would mean the closure of the Central European University. They are also protesting against attempts by the government to pressure human rights and environmental groups which support refugees. Meanwhile Venezuela has also seen huge protests, lasting 10 days, demanding the departure of unpopular President Nicolas Maduro. Amid the pressure the Supreme Court has already reversed a decision to strip the country’s Parliament from most of its powers.

Back in the US, Islamophobic conspiracy theorist K T McFarland has been given the push from the National Security Council, making her the third Trump ally to be forced to resign. Meanwhile, a coalition of government watchdog groups plans to sue the Trump administration with the aim of compelling the White House to release logs of lobbyists and others who visit the complex.

And yet another week has passed without Trump managing to ban Muslims, deprive anyone of healthcare, or get anyone to pay for his vanity wall.

See these beautiful pictures of Iraqi Christians in Qaraqosh celebrating Palm Sunday for the first time in three years, following the town’s liberation by Iraqi forces.

 

Feminist Towns, Anti-Fascist Tea Parties and the Return of Gina Miller: all the good news from the last few days

Birmingham Mosque Tea PartyBirmingham Central Mosque has responded to a far-right demo by holding a tea party and inviting everyone round. A cross-party statement from the city council said ‘The English Defence League is not welcome in Birmingham. They will never be welcome in Birmingham.’ Meanwhile Europe’s chief Rabbi has called for solidarity with Muslims to defend religious freedoms.

More than 8,000 people have emailed the CEO of Marks and Spencer asking his company to stop funding the Daily Mail over it’s xenophobia.

Gina Miller is back! She says thousands of people contact her asking her to continue challenging the government, and she is prepared to take Theresa May to court over the proposed use of Henry VIII clauses.

A suburb of Stockholm is being redesigned to make it more feminist. The housing company hopes to attract more women to the area and make women feel safer. Meanwhile the province of Punjab in  Pakistan has passed new measures to improve rape laws and improve support for victims.  Also, the province of British Columbia in Canada has passed legislation to prevent employers forcing women to wear high heels at work.

The European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator has told Theresa May that European Union wants to make a “generous” offer to people in the UK who want to keep their EU privileges. The EU Parliament has already begun to explore what this offer might look like.

Pepsi pulled it’s insane ad less than 24 hours after it’s release, following an outcry over it’s insensitivity. Nivea also speedily pulled it’s ‘White is Purity‘ ad following criticism.

In the US, shady Devin Nunes has stepped aside from the enquiry investigating Trump’s links to Russia. He now faces an ethics investigation.

Internationally, the growth in renewable energy capacity broke records last year.

Flowers, lambs and bunnies: enjoy these pictures of the signs of spring.

The Beginning of the End for Coal Power and Marmite is Good for You: several days of good news

Steve Bannon has been sacked from the US National Security Council.

In the EU, 26 out of 28 member states have pledged not to build any more coal-fired plants after 2020. Climate Action Network Europe called it “the beginning of the end for coal.” In the US, yet another report suggests that Donald Trump’s attempt to revive the coal industry appears to be doomed, as no-one wants to use coal and some big investors opposed to climate change have been pressuring U.S. utilities in which they own stakes to cut coal use. Meanwhile, even Fox news have been giving Trump-appointed head of the Environmental Protection Agency a hard time over his executive order dismantling the Clean Power Plan.

Tomorrow the Gender Pay Gap Regulations come into effect, which means that larger companies are legally obliged to publish their pay gap figures.

Men in the Netherlands  , including politicians, have been holding hands to show support for gay men assaulted in a homophobic attack.

A new survey  has found that the majority of Tory voters want EU environmental regulations to be maintained or even strengthened after Brexit. ‘The polling found support of 90% or more for the maintenance or strengthening of regulations connected to water quality and beach cleanliness, habitats protections, and targets for curbing air pollution and combating increasing household waste…. renewable generation targets saw 85% backing.’

A crowdfunder for a community-owned, corporation and mogul-free media organisation has made more than £600,000 so far.

Science says Marmite is good for your brain.

In the US, Trump is losing support amongst his base, the Massachusetts City of Cambridge has passed a resolution calling for an impeachment investigation into his business interests, a senator said he would not vote for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee because of the possibility that he could be impeached soon, and someone hung this ‘Impeach Trump’ banner at a baseball game.

Here is a video of the rebounding wildlife at Zakouma National Park in Chad.

Enjoy the rest of your week.