Despite being flooded by a constant wave of disheartening headlines, there is still good news out there, and it’s our job to find it for you. To help cheer your spirits, we’ve compiled a list of 50 good things that happened during 2021.
1. Plastic Bans and Laws Have Been Made In Several Countries Around the World
Throughout the year, several places around the world either started or planned to enforce plastic bans and laws surrounding sustainable packaging. To name a few examples, the UK announced plans to ban single use plastic plates, cutlery and cups starting in 2023. A law in Maine was passed which will make companies pay towards the cost of recycling their produce, in an effort to encourage companies to come up with more sustainable packaging solutions, as well as reduce their non-recyclable waste.
On the 15th of September UK Supermarket Lidl announced they were going to introduce compostable fruit and veg bags in their stores. Other companies such as Unilever and UK supermarket Aldi are just two other companies who are starting to head in the same direction. This is encouraging news for our planet, as it shows leaders are finally starting to take more responsibility. Now, we just need to push for others to do the same.
2. Billions Has Been Raised in Funding To Protect Our Planet and Fight Climate Change
Plenty of money has been raised this year for environmental causes, with more and more leaders funding organisations and those wanting to make a positive impact on the climate. The Jeff Bezos Earth Fund granted $443 million towards net-zero plans, whilst nine other organizations announced $5 billion in funding in September, and those are just two of many.
3. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is Being Cleaned-up
The Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit organisation, announced its largest clean-up project of all time. Their new system plans to clean-up and eventually eradicate the ‘Great Pacific garbage patch’, a large area of rubbish which lurks in the Pacific ocean. So far, their latest technological development, System 002, has collected and removed a total of over 28,659 kilograms (63,182 pounds) of rubbish from the patch. This is certainly encouraging news for the wildlife in our oceans.
4. Endangered Animals Were Released Back into The Wild After Breeding Success
There were also plenty of wins for some endangered animals throughout the year, with many being released back into the wild, including: Sumatran Slow Lorises, Tasmanian Devil Joeys , harvest mice and a range of different seabirds such as little terns and Mediterranean Gulls.
5. Breathable Oxygen Was Made For The First Time on Mars
The NASA Perseverance Rover succeeded in making oxygen of 98% purity for the first time in 2021. An instrument called MOXIE inside the rover sucked in the CO2 from the martian atmosphere, separating the oxygen atoms from the carbon dioxide molecules. The waste product, carbon monoxide is then released back into the martian atmosphere.
You can read more here.
6. China Was Declared Malaria Free by WHO
After 70 years, China has been officially declared malaria free.
7. ‘Extinct’ Species Were Rediscovered
Throughout the year of 2021, several species which were thought to be extinct were rediscovered. Some examples include a species of bird from Indonesia, known as the ‘black-browed babbler’, which was rediscovered after 170 years. Another animal that was rediscovered after 66 years was the ‘Rainbow-hued crab’, which was found in the rainforests of Sierra Leone. Other species that were rediscovered include:
- A species of freshwater crab in Sierra Leone, which hadn’t been sighted since 1796.
- ‘Little Tiny Shrek’ bird in Venezuela.
8. Mini Homes Have Been Built For Homeless People in The UK
Cambridge University teamed up with the New Meaning Foundation to build a series of mini homes to help homeless citizens, offering them support and helping them to get their lives back on track. The charity offers the citizens cooking classes as well as addiction counselling, to help build essential life skills. As a result they found there was a decreased use of alcohol and drugs, as well as strengthened family bonds for some.
9. 97% Success in HIV Vaccine Clinical Trial
Lead by IAVI and Scripps Research, a phase one clinical trial for a HIV vaccine yielded extremely positive results, where the targeted response was detected in 97% of the 48 participants. If further trials are successful, the vaccine could be used to treat the on-going spread of the virus, which is becoming an endemic in certain parts of Africa.
10. An Animal Feed Made of CO2 Was Created
More positive climate news for 2021. Biotech company Deep Branch has formulated a new animal feed which will be produced using CO2 from industrial emissions. Using microbes, the CO2 will be converted into a new type of single-cell protein called Proton™, a powder which will be used in the animal feed. Using this feed as a substitute should produce far less CO2 than current traditional feeding methods, such as fishmeal and soy, which is how poultry and fish are mainly fed. You can read more here.
11. There Was An Elephant Boom in Kenya
After an analysis of data gathered over several years, it was reported that there has been an elephant boom in Kenya thanks to protective measures that had been put in place.
12. Researchers From NASA Think There is Potential to Grow Food in Space
After analysing data and research gathered from studies, researchers from NASA concluded that there could be strong potential to grow plants in space. Currently scientists are working on the ‘BRIC’ facility, running it through final validation tests before they hope to use it for further studies.
13. India Planted Over 250 Million Saplings in One Day
On July 4th in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India, over 250 million saplings were planted in a single day. This incredible community effort is admirable, and together the state hopes that they can have a third of their total land areas covered in forest by 2030.
14. Some Airlines Are Beginning to Use Sustainable Aviation Fuel
Several airlines have been testing selected fleets of their aeroplanes with sustainable aviation fuel to power their journeys. British Airways has announced in December they would be using sustainable fuel to power a number of its flights starting in 2022, which they predict should cut life-cycle carbon emissions by roughly 80% when compared with traditional fossil fuels.
15. Scientists Have Found an Antimicrobial Coating That is Effective at Fighting Against Drug Resistant Bacteria and Fungal Cells
Researchers from RMIT University in Australia have developed a new superbug-destroying coating, with the potential to be used on wound dressings and implants to prevent and treat dangerous bacterial and fungal infections. Already the researchers have begun experimenting with different formulations to test the efficacy on a range of medically-relevant surfaces, and are keen to collaborate with potential industry partners to help further develop the technology.
16. We’ve Vaccinated Over Half of The Worlds Population
To date, we have now vaccinated over 8 billion people with at least one dose, with almost 50% of the world fully vaccinated.
15. There Were Some Positive Things About Lockdown
Lockdown did come with some positive changes for some, giving many people time to reflect on their work-life balance, leading to one of the biggest resignations in history, with around 1 in 4 people planning to leave their jobs either in search of another or to focus their time elsewhere. Others felt the extra time gave them more opportunity to focus on making positive changes for themselves.
16. Positive Effects of Lockdown on The Environment
Whilst lockdown was challenging for many, there were also some positive benefits that came of it. The most notable impact was improved air quality, due to a huge drop in CO2 emissions, which in turn, cleared smoggy skies. This allowed people to witness magnificent views, such as the Himalayan Mountain Range in Northern India.
17. There Were Some Notable Things That Happened in 2021
During 2021 there were also some notable moments of history, including Kamala Harris becoming the first black, Indian female Vice President of the United States.
18. A Company Has Started Turning Old Antique Cars into Electric Cars
London Electric Cars converted a classic 1993 Rover Mini into an electric car. They also offer services for a range of other cars.
19. New York Will Ban Fossil Fuel Vehicle Sales by 2035
The state of New York signed a legislation which will ban the sale of all new fossil fuel vehicles and trucks by the year 2035, aiming to slash the states carbon emissions by around 85%.
20. The UK Will Be The First Country to Require New Homes to Have Built-In EV Chargers
More good climate news! The UK has announced they are planning to bring in a new law, which they hope will help to lower their carbon footprint. Electric vehicle charging points will be installed across homes, motorways and public streets, taking the current levels of 3,000 chargers up to 150,000 in various locations across the country. The new law will also require homes and offices to have ‘smart’ charging stations as well as installing one EV charger per every five parking spaces.
21. Researchers At a University in South Australia Have Developed a System That Could Help to Combat Water Vulnerability
The system would use sunlight to deliver clean water to our glasses, through a technique known as ‘solar evaporation’. You can read more here.
22. Heat Resistant Corals Give Hope For Coral Survival
Coral projects and studies throughout 2021 have given some hope for the survival of corals, showing us how they can become more resistant to climate induced changes in the ocean. One particular study by the University of Eilat harvested some exciting results, showing that some corals gathered from the Gulf at the tip of the Red Sea were resistant to up to temperature increases of seven degrees celcius.
23. ‘Gray’s Beaked Whales’ Could Be Resistant to Eco-System Changes
A study conducted by the Universities of Exeter and Copenhagen shows how a species of whale ‘Gray’s beaked whales’ is particularly resistant to eco-system changes, highlighting how they can easily adapt themselves over long distances.
24. Plenty of Animals Have Been Rescued From Cruel Conditions Around The World
Throughout 2021 animal rescues have continually been conducted around the world, from dog rescues in China to helping bears escape cruel bile farms, there is always people looking to help our furry companions.
25. Air-Capture Technology is Advancing and Could Help Reduce CO2 Emissions
Direct air capture technology company Climeworks has been working on a solution to reduce the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere to help our battle against climate change. Their latest machine Orca, which removes CO2 from the air and turns it to rock, was introduced in September 2021.
26. IVF Discovery of ‘Golden Window’ Could Help to Improve Success Rates
IVF success rates could potentially be boosted thanks to a discovery by researchers at RMIT University. Thanks to the identification of a molecule that makes implantation of an embryo more challenging, researchers discovered a ‘golden window’ when a womb is ready for pregnancy and success is more likely. This is because levels of this molecule are considerably lower during this period.
27. Scientists Discover Plastic-Eating Bacteria Cells Could Help to Reduce Plastic Waste
Despite the ever growing problem of plastic waste, this solution being developed by scientists at the University of Manchester could certainly help. The key protein that the scientists are working with, is involved in the cellular uptake of a TPA, which is what would essentially help to break down the plastic. There’s some good news for the climate!
28. Scientists Discovered a Supercooling Technique That Advances The Preservation of Human Tissue
Researchers at Berkeley Engineering, California, successfully revived human heart tissue after it had been preserved in a subfreezing, supercooled stated for 1 to 3 days. However this was only possible thanks to their new supercooling technique, isochoric freezing, which prevented any cell-damaging ice from forming even at below-freezing temperatures.
29. Traction is Gaining in South Korea For a Ban on Dog Meat
During 2021, The South Korean government announced they were considering a ban on dog meat, following ever increasing support towards the cause. Year-on-year views are changing, as people begin to see the animals as fellow companions rather than food.
30. Sustainable Products Are On The Rise
During the pandemic the demand for sustainable products rose sharply, alongside the number of companies vouching to do better for the environment, continuing from the previous five year upward trend. Demand for more sustainable products can only be a good thing, as it could mean that there are less potentially harmful products returning into the ecosystem.
31. A Couple Donated $100M To Preserve 30 Million Hectares Of Biodiversity In Africa
Couple Rob and Melani Walton donated $100m, one of the largest donations ever made, to support Africa’s efforts to protect 30% of protected areas and biodiversity. The donation will also help many children continue their education and get the support they need.
32. The US Announced a New Methane Rule That Could Help to Reduce Pollution
On the 2nd of November 2021, the Environmental Protection agency announced strict regulations to clamp down on methane levels. The introduction of these regulations could result in better air quality and a reduction of 74% in methane levels by 2030 in comparison to 2005 levels.
33. Poverty Has Decreased in India And China Between 2010 - 2021
Between 2010 and 2021, over 407 million people across India and China moved out of extreme poverty, according to devinit.org. The number of people living in extreme poverty globally is expected to continue following a downwards trend, from 740 million to 525 million by 2026. That equals a drop to below 10% of the global population.
34. Scientists Created A Sustainable Glitter
Scientists from Cambridge University have developed a glitter which is sustainable, made from cellulose found in fruits, vegetables and plants. The new glitter would be vegan, sustainable, biodegradable and non-toxic, therefore it is much better for the environment than current options on the market.
35. Worldwide Tobacco Use Has Decreased
The latest global tobacco trends report by WHO shows that the amount of smokers worldwide had decreased from 1.32 billion (in 2015), to 1.30 billion in 2021. In another five years it is predicted this number will fall even further to 1.27 billion.
36. Use of Renewable Energy Is Increasing
Renewable energy growth records will exceed previous years, with an expected end to the year at around 290GW, smashing previous records, according to the International Energy Agency. Even better, the IEA predict that ‘exceptionally high growth’ will become the ‘norm’ for renewable sources of electricity.
37. There Could Be a Needle Free COVID Vaccine
Professor Jonathan Heeney at the University of Cambridge is working on developing a ‘needle-free’ COVID vaccine, delivering the vaccine through the skin via a ‘blast of air’. This is good news for those who have been previously hesitant over fears of needles, as well as lower and middle income countries.
38. Scotland Blew-Up Its Last Coal-Fired Power Plant
Going out with a bang, Scotland have made a statement to showcase their positive transition towards net-zero and make a stand against climate change, by blowing up their last remaining coal-fired power plant. In 2020 alone, renewables supplied an impressive 97% of Scotland’s power, according to World Economic Forum.
39. Wind Power Was Spain’s Main Power Provider in 2021
Another piece of good climate news! Around half of 2021’s renewable energy came from wind power, with an additional 10% from solar. The remainder was from hydropower and other sources.
40. Malaria Vaccine Gets Approval by WHO
In October, the World Health Organization announced approval for the Malaria vaccine, which showed around 77% efficiency in an Oxford University trial. After being in development for over three decades, this news comes as a huge relief and will provide help to many African children who are at risk.
41. River Blindness Eradicated in Niger, Africa
On the 10th of December, it was announced that through joint efforts, that Niger had finally eradicated River Blindness, an infection spread by flies near fast flowing rivers. This is yet another example of how joined efforts can help to achieve great victories.
42. WHO Announced The End of The Polio Outbreak in The Philippines
Through community and organizational efforts, the outbreak was defeated successfully in June 2021 after initially flaring up in 2019. Only now being present in two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan, there is certainly potential for it to be the second disease to be completely eradicated, after Smallpox.
43. Global Electric Vehicle Sales Rose 80% in 2021
BNEF (Bloomberg New Energy Finance) stated that 2021 was a record year for the sales of EV vehicles, with over 5.6 million sold, an extremely sharp increase since 2019. Even better news, according to Utility Dive car companies Ford and GM also made zero-emission commitments.
44. Oil And Gas Company, SHELL, announced plans to install 50,000 Electric Vehicle Charging Points By 2025
Announced in 2021, the company plans to install 50,000 EV charging points to give electric vehicle owners more access points and encourage an uptake in electric vehicles. This contribution will help push towards the goal of 150,000 chargers in total.
45. Rapper Ludicras Has Been Giving Homeless Citizens Food Gift Cards in Disguise
During December 2021, American rapper Ludicras disguised himself and took to the streets to donate food voucher gifts to homeless citizens.
46. Portugal Made It Illegal For Your Boss To Text You After Work Hours
In November, Portugal introduced a new law which makes it illegal for your boss to text you after work hours. In addition, employers will not be able to monitor employees who work from home, and will face fines if caught breaking either of these rules, according to EuroNews.
47. The First Mars Rock Sample Was Collected
On September 6th, 2021, NASA collected their first ever rock sample from Mars. This is an extraordinary feat, especially considering the extraction was completed by nobody other than NASA’s famous Mars Perseverance Rover.
48. Yale Researchers Are Developing a Lyme Disease Vaccine
Scientists from the Yale School of Medicine published a paper on the 17th of November, discussing their research and progress on their development of a vaccine to protect against Lyme disease, a disease that effects many in America. If clinical trials are successful, they could be potentially helping millions of people.
You can read the whole article by Yale Daily News here.
49. Barbados Plans Universal Income For All
According to Barbados Today, the government of Barbados would like to provide its citizens with universal income in efforts to help reduce poverty, as well as ‘replace other need-based social programs that potentially require greater bureaucratic involvement.’ They hope this can be a form of stress-release for those who are less well off.
50. ‘The Ring Finders’ Have Recovered Hundreds of Rings During 2021
A small US company known as ‘The Ring Finders’, has recovered hundreds of lost rings throughout 2021. Since setting up the company twenty seven years ago in 1994, the team has retrieved over $10 million in lost jewellery from various locations, with one of the most peculiar places being at the bottom of a lake! For many, the joy of being reunited with such a sentimental item is a feeling they’ll never forget. Hats off to these guys for doing such a remarkable job for their community.