Written by Katie Elizabeth Robinson
Since 2000 The Mental Health Foundation has been raising awareness and fostering a space for us to openly talk about our mental health, providing resources and advice to help us look after it. The campaign focuses on a different theme each year, and in 2021, we’re looking to Nature for a better connection with our psychological and emotional health.
‘Nature is our great untapped resource for a mentally healthy future.’
Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of The Mental Health Foundation
Never before have we all so appreciated nature either; from those of us who’ve spent more time exploring our local green spaces, to those sheltering at home, listening to the birds sing and watching the seasons transform the world around us. In honour of the Mental Health Awareness Week theme of Nature and inspired by The Happy Newspaper, we want to share some happiness through positive stories about our beautiful planet. We hope the following can help shine some light through all the doom-scrolling and often overwhelming news about the climate crisis.
1. Trump is out!
It’s rare that we can so openly celebrate politics as we all have different opinions and motivations, which is a great thing, but for anyone who cares even the teensiest bit about the future of our planet, getting Trump out of one of the most powerful seats in the world is a very, very good thing. The term ‘climate’ wasn't even mentioned on the White House website during his Presidency.
Now, thanks to Joe Biden, the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases has rejoined the Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty signed in 2015 to prevent global warming from rising a further 2℃ above pre-industrial levels. The White House website now lists the climate crisis as a priority second only to the COVID-19 crisis.
2. Kamala Harris is in!
A woman, a woman of colour, a black woman and a daughter of immigrants is the Vice President of America. There is so much in that one sentence to celebrate, especially after the four years America has just had.
‘I may be the first to do many things - make sure I’m not the last’.
Kamala Harris in an interview with Vogue, 2021
In her acceptance speech on the 7th November 2020, wearing ‘a suit so white it glowed’ in tribute to the suffragettes who fought so hard for our ‘fundamental right to vote and be heard’, Harris told the children of America to:
‘dream with ambition, lead with conviction and see yourselves in a way that others may not, simply because they’ve never seen it before, but know that we will applaud you every step of the way.’
Watch the rest of Harris’ goosebump-worthy speech here.
3. A group of ladybirds is called a loveliness.
Because everyone deserves to think of this every time they see a ladybird.
4. Portuguese cats are upcycling old appliances.
Ever heard of cat colonies? They’re quite the common occurrence across Europe with one of the most famous colonies residing in the ancient ruins of Largo di Torre Argentina in Rome. Portugese vet, Ana Silva decided to take action over her concerns for the numbers and poor condition of stray cats in her home town of Monchique, Portugal and launched the Aqui Há Gato Project (which translates to Here is a Cat...sounds better in Portuguese right).
The whole project was inspired by two kittens who darted straight for an old washing machine at Silva’s practice and has since spread across Portugal, just as she hoped it would. Porto is the most recent city to transform disused washing machines and dryers into shelters for the adorable cats of the streets. These newly vaccinated, microchipped and sterilised kitties, who are also fed by local caregivers, will now have somewhere to keep cool in the height of summer and warm over winter.
5. European wildcats come home.
The wildcat is slightly larger than pet-sized and they don’t possess the confidence and sass of our domesticated feline friends. Like most wild animals, they are very shy, easily stressed and avoid all human contact. Due to this and further persecution in a time when predators were branded vermin, England and Wales haven’t seen a European wildcat in over 150 years. They’ve survived in Scotland but are at risk of extinction there too so considerable efforts are being made to reintroduce the species to our island.
Thanks to lessons learned from Marianne Hartmann’s successful reintroduction of the cats in Bavaria, and feasibility studies undertaken by Vincent Wildlife Trust, rural Devon, Cornwall and mid-Wales have been identified as promising habitats to launch the programme. After centuries of diluting biodiversity in the UK through cherry-picking favourable creatures to our habits, reintroduction programmes such as this will significantly contribute to diversifying our ecosystems which is integral to the health of our environments.
6. We say ta-ra to the Tampon Tax!
The words ‘non-essential’ and ‘luxury’ don’t particularly spring to mind to those of us who are menstruating. As of January 2021, these labels were dropped along with the 5% VAT they brought with them. This goes for sanitary pads and menstrual cups too.
It’s a great step towards dissecting the patriarchy and goes a long way to tackling period poverty, something which the UK government is taking further action on by providing schools, colleges and hospitals with free sanitary products. There’s still some campaigning to be done though as sustainable period pants apparently don’t cut it as essential, classified instead as a garment and taxed at 20%.
7. A jolly good laugh boosts mental and physical health.
Laughing feels great right, even when we let loose our weirdest cackle! Turns out that whilst it’s releasing serotonin from our brains, the neurotransmitter that makes us feel happy, it’s also helping us burn calories. According to a study, 10-15 minutes of laughter can burn up to 10 calories. Best exercise ever! So call up a friend you know you can have a good giggle with or check out the stand-up comedy specials on Netflix and laugh till your face is sore.
8. Scotland panic buys trees!
Only joking. They did plant a whopping 22 million trees in 2018 in response to the climate crisis though. It’s estimated that the trees in Scotland absorb as much as 9.5 million tonnes of CO2 from our atmosphere annually. We all know how crucial they are to the air we breathe but they also filter our drinkable water and sustain and encourage biodiversity, also integral to the health of our planet. Check out our partner One Tree Planted, with whom we help to plant trees all thanks to your orders.
Perhaps panic buying trees is actually a very rational response to our climate crisis and will become the trend of 2021, rather than the foolish chopping habits we’ve been practising on mass for centuries.
9. Know your impact with One Wear Freedom’s sustainability scores.
The impacts of Fast Fashion have only relatively recently become widely known and truly understood so if you’re starting off on your sustainable and ethical fashion journey it’s tricky to know what to look out for.
At One Wear Freedom we’re making it super simple with these new impact scores, verified by Compare Ethics, an independent sustainability platform that does all the hard work for conscious consumers who want truly sustainable products and not more greenwashing and buzzwords. The amazing team at Compare Ethics have verified 146 of our garments so when you shop our collections, you know precisely how incredible you are for choosing to rent.
10. Summer is coming!
Wrapping up with some very fresh news for all our keen readers. Next week we’ll launch our Summer Collection! Keep your eyes peeled and start dreaming of what you’ll be wearing in the sun.
We hope at least one of the short stories above has brought a smile to your face and if you could use some more positivity, follow @mentalhealthfoundation and join in with Mental Health Awareness Week.