COVID-19 Lockdown: Staying Mentally And Physically Healthy

Staying put in a confined space for weeks as one of the COVID-19 lockdown measures can be very uncomfortable for many of us. There is only so much Netflix we can watch, and there comes a time when our bodies will be screaming to be let out and move for an hour or so.

Here’s how the Spanish have been keeping mentally and physically healthy. We can all do this.

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Plant Pods Grow More Lettuce Than a 1/2 Acre Farm

I always encourage my friends to grow their own produce, not only to save up on their budget for grocery, but also to find healthier options and maybe even to develop a new hobby. I even wrote some tips for all of you who are interested in doing the same. Luckily, devices like this automated indoor system called OGarden are helping more people achieve their home gardening goals. And I’m happy to update your available choices with Aggressively Organic’s lettuce pods.

The Indiana-based company offers Micro Growth Chamber Systems that can grow more lettuce in a 10-by-10-foot room than an organic farm can grow on a half-acre. The systems use less water, too — a typical Aggressively Organic plant only requires watering once every few weeks.

The global situation of food production is currently not at its best form. In fact, it has to increase by 50% by the year 2050, so that all the people in the world may be sufficiently fed. Aggressively Organic’s answer to the world hunger problem is to inspire people to produce their own food, hence the innovation of the lettuce plant pods.

Whether you want to grow your own garden in your office or apartment, and whether you are an experienced or inexperienced gardener, their plant pods seek to make the process more convenient for you.

Aggressively Organic’s systems . . . [consist] of a foldable cardboard chamber, a liner, a coconut coir disc in which seeds are planted, reusable net cups to hold the plant, and a nutrient solution. There’s no electricity required . . . The system is extremely water efficient — it takes 25 gallons of water to grow a head of lettuce in the ground, but Aggressively Organic can produce the same amount of lettuce with 16 ounces of H2O.

I’m sure more home gardening innovations are in store for us in the next few years. While I wait for the next automated home gardening device or the next amazingly efficient lettuce plant pods, let me just enjoy this delish salad for dinner.

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Discarded Electronics Are Literal Gold Mines

If you have seen any dystopian film or have read any piece at all of dystopian literature, you would know that a landscape made of metal offers intense horrors that bank on some of the deep-seated fears of today’s society.

Realistically speaking, we have been inventing ways to address the problem of metal such as recycling laptop batteries into a source of alternative energy or something as strangely innovative as making stylish backpacks out of car parts, but there is a need to push further. A trio of researchers recently took a shot at that and conducted a study which tries to answer how profitable it is to recover metals from old electronics.

In 2016 alone, the world discarded 44.7 million metric tons of unusable or simply unwanted electronics, according to the United Nations’ 2017 Global E-Waste Monitor report. That’s 4,500 Eiffel Towers-worth of phones, laptops, microwaves, and TVs. Only 20 percent of this e-waste was properly recycled that year. The rest was likely either incinerated, pumping pollution into the atmosphere, or added to a landfill somewhere, with its toxins now leaking into our soil and water supply.

It turns out, urban mining costs much less than traditional mining. The researchers from Beijing’s Tsinghua University and Sydney’s Macquarie University published their results in a scientific journal after collecting data from recycling companies in China. While the cost of recycling might vary from country to country, China’s status as the world’s biggest producer of e-waste makes light of the truth that the practice of urban mining could have a big impact on both economic and environmental matters.

[W]e already knew electronics contain precious metals in addition to all that glass and plastic. While a single smartphone might not contain all that much, consumers buy about 1.7 billion of the devices each year. In just one million of those, you’ll find roughly 75 pounds of gold, 35,000 pounds of copper, and 772 pounds of silver.

Necessary reminder though: this is no reason at all to justify our technological consumption practices. If anything, it should make us ask more conscientiously, what do I do with my smartphone once I find a new replacement that has great upgrades and loads informative online articles (like this!) much faster?

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Oxford Street To Become Full Pedestrian Zone

The streets of London have been getting some serious makeovers. Select popular boulevards are now energy-harvesting, which are not only high-tech, but also sustainable. To further counter traffic and lower carbon emissions, London mayor Sadiq Kahn is pedestrianizing shopping capital Oxford Street.

“Oxford Street is world famous with millions of visitors every year, and in just over a year the iconic part of the street west of Oxford Circus could be transformed into a traffic-free pedestrian boulevard.”

With over 500,000 visitors daily, Oxford Street is a breeding ground for potential vehicular accidents. (One every week, to be specific) Renovations will also allow easier access to the Elizabeth Line. The project will likely be rewarding — but at a cost of £60 million and years of remodeling.

The western section is due to finish by the end of 2018, with the eastern section between Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road going traffic free by December 2019. The final part, by Marble Arch, will then be turned over to pedestrians after 2020.

Without the hazard of passing vehicles, Oxford Street may be double the hot spot it is today.

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New Zealand To Test Humanitarian Emigre Visas

While environmental groups are tackling climate change on a grander scale, startups are handling smaller projects. Though it’s clear that innovations like Off Grid Box and SkyCool are making an impact, change can’t come quickly enough. To assist Pacific islanders displaced by natural disasters, New Zealand hopes to distribute refugee visas.

“There might be a new, an experimental humanitarian visa category for people from the Pacific who are displaced by rising seas stemming from climate change,” [said] James Shaw, New Zealand’s climate change minister… “and it is a piece of work that we intend to do in partnership with the Pacific Islands.”

The country is recovering from the repercussions of denying sanctuary to two deposed Tuvalu families. It seems the 1951 refuge convention, which defines a refugee as someone at risk of persecution, is making room for climate change as a legitimate oppressor.

“The lives and livelihoods of many of our Pacific neighbors are already being threatened and we need to start preparing for the inevitable influx of climate refugees,”

In the coming years, New Zealand will also up its refuge quota to 5,000 per annum. Looks like a storm of change has come.

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New York Students Receive Free Supply-Filled Backpacks

Christmas has come early for public schools in New York City. After the entire school system declared cafeteria lunches completely free of charge, a Brooklyn establishment took a step further. As a back-to-school treat, P.S. 276 provided 600 students with free supply-filled backpacks.

“When students have the basic supplies, their attitude, their behavior and even their self-esteem increases,” Dave Smith of KINF (Kids In Need Foundation) said.

Popular pen brand Bic was also in on the action. On average, Americans spend around $78.5 billion on back-to-school supplies annually. That’s literally a ton of notebooks.

“They were so happy and I’ve never seen them this way. They were so excited. I can see the excitement on their faces, they were thrilled!” teacher Alice Whitaker said. “They were so happy and they were looking at stuff that they never saw before.”

Over 22 years, KINF has donated $900 million worth of school supplies to children under the poverty line. Remember — there’s more to a pen than just ink.

 

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Your Career Can Benefit Others Too

There are an endless number of ways to help others. You can run a restaurant for the poor or raise money for children with disabilities. When it comes to helping others, it doesn’t matter who you are — middle class or part of the 1%. You can be a total busybody and still give back by using your career as a means of benefitting others. Here’s how you can do it.

Especially for university students, fearing that your future occupation may be a selfish one is completely natural. After all, being a creative writer or interior designer may seem, in a way, limited. This is far from true, as many jobs can be platforms for sharing knowledge and information with others. If you are a chef, you can use your expertise to educate other aspiring chefs, whether this means charging for a workshop or doing it for free.

Offering your services pro bono is another awesome way to do good. It may not profit you financially, but the simple joy of giving others a means to learn is almost always enough. Reach out to charitable institutions and figure out where you can be an asset. Who knows? You may be part of the success story of an aspiring engineer.

If you’re unsure of how your job can help others directly, use it to advocate for something. If you’re a graphic designer promoting mental health, make an infographic. If you’re a farmer promoting animal welfare, grow organic, vegan food. Somehow, things always fall into place, even when partnerships seem odd. Especially today, there are so many different ways to do one thing. Now is the time to be innovative and resourceful.

If you are fairly established in the working world, a sensible option would be to earn to give. Figure out how much of your salary you can set aside for a cause you are truly passionate about. Decide whether you are financially stable enough to commit to a charity for a certain amount of time. Do research to ensure that your money is being distributed fairly and doing exactly what it is meant to. Of course, sticking to a group will require some involvement. Engage with your charity every now and then via visits or events.

If you feel your vocation should be directly involved with a cause, don’t hesitate to go for it. This way, you can make helping others your career. Still, decide where you think you can be most useful and what problems, to you, are most urgent. If you are great with computers, you can opt to do research regarding statistics or patterns that may be of use to your advocacy. Maybe you’re a fearless public speaker who would do best promoting your cause. If you are brimming with passion, chances are, you’ll find your place within whatever field of work you choose.

Picking out the perfect job may be a case of what earns the most or what line of work your family is in. But keep in mind that it is also about your personal desires and strengths, as well as its potential to impact others.

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If You’re Not Natural In A Skill You Can Learn It

Learning a new skill is on everyone’s agenda. Whether it’s becoming fluent in a foreign language or simply having something as an asset, skills are undeniably valuable. While being able to teach yourself something instantly is the Facebook community’s most desired superpower, it isn’t all that easy. However, it’s definitely possible.

Firstly, find a skill you are passionate about. What is something you’ve always wanted to learn to do? Forget difficulty levels for now, and go beyond a “just for fun” mindset. Consider the skill as something that will be vital to your life (and anyway, it may be).

Things may be easier if you consider your own skills. Some activities require good memory retention or an ability to accurately follow instructions. If you can already check certain “pre-requisites” off a list, your chances at becoming an expert at your new skill are significantly higher.

Once you’ve picked your skill, set realistic goals. Figure out what your primary motivation is. Do you want to learn to draw because a university elective requires it? Or do you want to impress a colleague? Whatever the case, make these goals meaningful to you, however shallow they may seem. Your bar should be at a defined level of expertise. If you want to become knowledgeable in a language, are you seeking full comprehension or get-by conversation? Gauge your own strengths and weaknesses in regards to this particular skill.

If you’re training yourself to become proficient in something you’ve never done before, chances are, you want to learn fast. If you can’t, don’t let your pace discourage you. On the ground, sloths move 2 meters a minute. It’s a stretch, but they get the job done. Manage your expectations and also set a deadline. When will this skill be most useful to you? Figure things out far in advance. If your chosen skill is writing fiction and you’re keen on entering a short story contest, don’t hesitate. Dive in!

Break down the skill. If you’re into photography, you’re going to have to learn the ropes of using cameras and editing tools. Skills can be two or even three-fold — making a list of what you have to tackle will come in handy. It’s kind of like throwing together a deconstructed meal. Be visual about it. Build graphs and brain maps (they may sound pretty juvenile, but they are useful — I promise!).

Remember, practice makes perfect. Make it your mantra and remember: consistency is your friend. You can learn a perfect Pachelbel Canon on the piano but fail to retain certain strokes because you don’t practice enough. On that note, don’t overwork yourself. It’s the same principle as studying too hard for an exam. While it’s great for your short-term memory, the stress will tire your mind.

Every now and then, you’ll feel like giving up. “It’s too difficult,” is a phrase that nobody is alien to. Identify your pain points. What do you know you’ll struggle with? If it’s hand-eye coordination or remembering sequences, figure out the best way to overcome these struggles. Most importantly, remember your motivation.

Maybe there is a charm that comes with being a natural at something. However, it doesn’t mean making the effort is any less attractive!

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Cosmetic Brand Lush Is Funding Permaculture Farms

Cosmetic brand Lush, known for its scrumptious bath bombs, is on a roll with its eco-initiatives. Since turning trash into packaging, it is also now funding permaculture farms at £1 million a year.

“For us, the work we focus on is often regenerative, as opposed to sustainable – we want to give back more than we take,”

The said permaculture farms provide the beauty brand with organic ingredients such as aloe and shea butter. While Lush can count on a stable supply of materials, it is also helping communities thrive.

“We started the fund in 2010, with the idea that there can be a different, more supportive way of doing business,” [says creative buyer Gabbi Loedolff.]

The initiative, called the SLush Fund, has reached out to groups in Ghana and Peru. It is creating jobs and providing new technologies while being mindful of the environment. On that note, I think a relaxing soak in the tub would be doing myself and Lush some good.

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