The wine industry produces more wasted corks than you could possibly imagine. Interestingly enough, cork can actually be an effective material to build with. Just look at this beautiful building in Berlin, which has a facade and roof clad with waste cork. The rectangular-shaped panels of cork provide a thermally efficient skin for the house, while also creating a bold aesthetic and great acoustics. What’s more, the process for turning waste cork into facade panels is a sustainable one that only requires heating and pressuring. Whether more homes will start being built with waste cork will have to be seen, but it shows what can be done with a material that's commonly wasted. 

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Emergency contraception, like Plan B, can prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of having unprotected sex. It has been available without a prescription for people above 18 since 2006, and it’s been available to people of all ages without an ID since 2013. But in some pharmacies, emergency contraception is still kept behind the counter, which can be a major hurdle for anyone who feels awkward or anxious about purchasing the pill. The barriers to access are even higher for people who live in a place where pharmacists can refuse access to emergency contraception as they see fit. For students on isolated college campuses, distance is an additional hurdle, which is why an engineer at Stanford University helped develop a high-tech vending machine that allows students to confidentially get access to emergency contraception (and condoms) at any hour of the day. With the installation of the contraception-selling vending machine, a national conversation has sparked about normalizing emergency contraception to make it more readily accessible. Since the machine’s debut in 2017, many universities around America have installed or have plans to install these vending machines.

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With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal spearheading the most dramatic shift in American climate politics in decades, New York City is preparing to vote on a bill that would create an agency with the sole focus of managing climate change. The legislation proposes the creation of a new commissioner-led department, which would be called the Department of Sustainability, to carry out and enforce the city's sustainability policies, including a historic bill to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Seeing that rising sea levels pose a significant risk to this sprawling coastal metropolis, such an agency could ensure the safety of a city that has already felt the rage of climate change through Hurricane Sandy seven years ago.

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We are constantly berated with alarming reports that forecast a gloomy future for our planet, giving us two options for how we can react. Either we become paralyzed and give up, or we unite together in the face of adversity to enact change. The Bavarians of southern Germany chose the second option following a massive report highlighting the drastic decline of insect and bird populations, which could cause an ecological collapse. For weeks, Bavarians have been standing in lines, sometimes quite long ones, to sign a petition designed to save bees, other bugs, and the birds that eat them. The petition consists of four pages of detailed amendments to Bavaria’s nature protection law which, taken altogether, would fundamentally change how farming is done in the state, with the overall goal of creating a connected web of wildlife-friendly habitat. Now with over 10 percent of Bavarian voters having signed the petition, it will now be sent to Bavarian legislature for approval. For the many environmental groups trying to enact similar laws that protect wildlife habitat around the world, the people of Bavaria provide a textbook example for how to get this done.

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As you go through your day, you probably don’t notice your breathing too much. That is, until you start feeling stressed. When you’re under stress, you often hold your breath or breath very fast, causing your nervous system to fall out of sync and leading to even more symptoms of stress. By focusing on soft, deep breathing, you can bring a sense of calmness about you and enhance your ability to relax. It can help you worry less and put in a state of tranquility. In order to bring some calm, conscious breathing to your life, have a look at these 4 soothing techniques.

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