The Brightside Blog: volume 2

As COVID-19 vaccines continue to be rolled out across the UK, we’re here with our own healthy dose of positivity — proven to be 100% effective against feeling down in the dumps.

(Go and read volume 1 first if you haven’t already!)

Building for better

Meet Nzambi Matee, the Kenyan woman who has developed a way to turn plastic waste into bricks that are suitable for construction. And get this… they’re 5-7 times stronger than concrete bricks!

Tired of seeing our shores and landfill sites overflowing with plastic, the Nairobi-based entrepreneur decided to take matters into her own hands. She founded Gjenge Makers, a company dedicated to sourcing waste plastic from factories and recyclers and transforming it into durable bricks. Since lots of the source material is acquired for free, Gjenge Makers is able to offer these bricks at a low price point, too — just $7.70 per square metre.

Matee and her team at Gjenge Makers have already recycled more than 20 tonnes of plastic and created over a 100 jobs in her local community in the process. With the capability to produce 1,000–1,500 bricks per day, those numbers are only set to increase.

Matee with her plastic-recycled bricks. Image from Colossal

That famous Southern hospitality

The stereotype across the pond is that those in the southern states are kind, warm and welcoming — the type to invite you in from the cold and fix you up a hot cup of cocoa while the storm blows over. But one man, spurred on by a state-wide crisis, has gone above the call of duty to support his community.

Storm Uri has rocked Texas. The power grid is down, leaving hundreds of thousands without heating and electricity, while the cold snap has frozen water pipes. The situation is bad, but heroes are often born out of disaster. Enter Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, a Houston furniture store owner who’s turned his business premises into a makeshift warming station/food kitchen/hotel. In just a few days, McIngvale served over 3,000 hot meals and provided accommodation for around 700 residents.

Mattress Mack, we take our hats off to you, sir.

Compound in green tea can fight cancer cells

The health benefits of green tea are well documented, but this latest discovery could prove to be the most important yet.

Green tea contains a compound called epigallocatechin gallate — or EGCG — which has been shown to increase levels of p53 in our body, according to research conducted by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. What’s p53, I hear you ask? Well this handy little gene HATES tumours and does everything in its power to suppress and destroy them, earning it the moniker of “Guardian of the Genome”. So anything that gives our natural p53 levels a boost is good news all round.

This discovery has got scientists and cancer researchers across the world talking, with many optimistic that the properties of EGCG can be mimicked and developed into a treatment. Cancer affects almost all of us in one way or another; hopefully this moves us one step closer to defeating it. 

Easing the pane

Some of the beautiful window displays. Image from Good News Network.

Lockdown fatigue has well and truly set in for most of us, and there’s only so many times you walk the same route without the novelty being lost. So shout-out to the people of Wotton-under-Edge, a picturesque town in the Cotswolds, who’ve come up with a unique way to lift spirits.

Residents have been turned their boring old windows into bright and beautiful displays. Some are decorated with touching messages of support, others have created colourful animal designs, and each one is original and genuinely heart-warming. With 500 displays (and counting!), it’s thought to be the UK’s current largest outdoor art display.

It’s reassuring to see community spirit is still alive and well after the year we’ve had. Well done Wotton-under-Edge. I wonder if more places will now follow suit…

Protecting your pooch

My dog, Reggie. How could you say ‘no’ to THAT face?

What lengths would you go to protect your dog? I would say, with 1,000% confidence, that I would walk to the ends of the earth for mine. And it seems that plenty agree with me…

Most of us consider our dogs as full-fledged members of the family, which probably makes the results of a recent study slightly less surprising. In a survey carried out by JustFoodForDogs, it was revealed that 72% of dog owners would put themselves in harm’s way to protect their pooch. And some of the respondents went to incredible lengths, including climbing scaffolding at construction sites and diving into frozen lakes.

Other findings from this VITAL piece of research include 34% respondents admitting to cooking a Thanksgiving meal for their four-legged friend, while almost half (47%) say they share a bed with their barking bud. Oh, and 53% of non-single respondents revealed that they kiss their dog more than their partner. No comment…

If you’re wondering if I wrote this section as an excuse to talk about dogs then you’re absolutely correct. But in all seriousness, pets are proven to relieve stress and give your day structure — two important aspects of life right now. Just remember, a dog is for life, not just for lockdown.

Got five minutes? Here’s the whole survey.

Stay tuned for the next edition of the Brightside Blog! And in the meantime, be sure to follow us on Instagram.

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