January is known for being a gloomy month, but we’ve just passed Blue Monday (the most depressing day of the year) and things are starting to look up.
There are lots of reasons to be positive about the New Year ahead, even if you haven’t managed to keep all of your resolutions so far.
1. Spring is coming
Although the weather may be deceiving, Spring is on its way. Daffodils are back in season and, with flowers shown to relieve stress and boost happiness, they may just the way to brighten a dull morning.
2. Microbeads are finally banned
The tiny beads of plastic in cosmetic products are harmful to the environment and have now been banned from manufacture. This means no new products containing microbeads will be made, whilst selling them will no longer be permitted from July this year.
3. Oprah’s acceptance speech
Oprah Winfrey accepted the prestigious Cecil B DeMille Award for outstanding contributions to entertainment at this year’s Golden Globe Awards. But her inspiring speech is what really made the headlines, going viral within minutes and even prompting calls for her to run for president in the next US elections. Read the full transcript of Oprah’s speech here.
4. Baby polar bears
It’s good news for wildlife conservation as a polar bear cub has been born in Scotland, the first in the United Kingdom for 25 years. The mother bear, Victoria, was part of the European Endangered Species Programme and her new arrival is a great achievement for the Highland Wildlife Park where she is raising her cub.
5. New species discovered
A variety of plants and animals such as a snail-eating turtle and a new species of mole have been discovered. More than 100 new species found in Greater Mekong, Southeast Asia, were previously unknown, making the region an exciting location of interest for scientists.
6. Drones are saving lives
A company called Zipline has invented drones known as ‘Ubers for Blood’. The devices fly blood and emergency medication needed by doctors to remote areas in Rwanda, Africa. The drones even send alerts when they are one minute away before dropping the life-saving package by parachute.
7. Time’s Up campaign
300 influential women from the entertainment and media industries have come together to campaign for an end to gendered discrimination, harassment and abuse in the workplace. Actresses Anne Hathaway, Emma Watson and Reese Witherspoon are amongst those who have signed the letter of solidarity, which extends to a legal defence fund for women.
8. Plastic pollution is being addressed
All 193 members of the United Nations have signed a pledge to tackle levels of plastic wastage. UK Prime Minister Theresa May has now also established a 25-year plan to tackle the amount of plastic in items such as packaging, which contribute to the high levels of pollution.
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9. Holly Butcher’s letter
A young woman with terminal cancer wrote a letter to be read once she passed. In it she expressed the importance of being grateful for those you have around you and how unimportant material things are in the end. The letter went viral and Holly has inspired people all over the world to be thankful and enjoy life.
10. The last dancing bears have been rescued
Two sloth bears forced to perform in Nepal have now been rescued. Rangila and Sridevi are the last known dancing bears in the country. They are now in the care of a sanctuary where they will hopefully live peacefully and be able to recover.
11. The world goes on
Blue Monday may feel like everything is grinding to a halt, but the world is still moving. In fact, a new discovery has led scientists to believe the universe’s expansion may be accelerating 9% faster than anticipated. Not only this, but NASA has now also seen the first signs that the Earth’s ozone layer is repairing.
Words by Bethan Jenkins.
Photos by Getty Images, Annie Spratt, maxime niyomwungeri, Hermes Rivera and NASA on Unsplash