Discover the country covering one-third of its entire land in trees to beat climate change

There are some people who don’t do things by halves, and when it comes to climate change, India are leading the way.

Not only are a whopping 2million people helping to plant 250million trees to protect the environment, they are also aiming to cover 30% of the entire country by the year 2030.

That’s quite some feat considering India is ranked seventh as the largest country in the world, behind only Russia, Canada, China, United States, Brazil and Australia.

For context, the United Kingdom ranks at a lowly number 80.

[Credit: Lyndsay Abel]

Thanks to Uttar Pradesh, a northern state, the locals and volunteers from other areas managed to kickstart the challenge while maintaining social distancing due to COVID-19.

Once the trees are fully grown, the goal is to cover 15% of the landmass in order to provide cleaner air for India’s most densely-inhabited state.

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It is not only natives who will benefit, but the rest of the planet too as the country emits a significant amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere due to its booming economy.

The reason for this is because currently, most of the energy consumed in India is from non-renewable resources i.e. coal and oil, as opposed to green alternatives.

The gas has far-ranging environmental and health effects; causing climate change by trapping heat and also contributing to respiratory disease from smog and air pollution.

[Credit: Lewis J Goetz]

Trees have also been planted along the Ganges riverbanks – a trans-boundary river of South Asia which flows through India and Bangladesh – in the hope it becomes cleaner.

The water is heavily polluted yet is one of the most holy places for Hindus and Buddhists who believe that bathing in the river causes the forgiveness of sins and facilitates Moksha (liberation from the cycle of life and death).

Tree planting is one of the most fruitful ways to combat air pollution as they give us oxygen, store carbon, stabilise the soil and give life to the world’s wildlife.

If humans do not continue to act, it is believed that global temperatures will increase by 5°C by the year 2100 – consequently, the polar ice caps would melt, sea levels would rise, and more extreme weather conditions would be endured such as mass drought.

[Credit: Snowscat]

Woman, 25, transforms lives by helping deprived kids get an education at school

An aspiring philanthropist is helping underprivileged kids get a kickstart in their education to make sure that they all reach their full potential.

At just 20-years-old, Lena Palm began her one-woman crusade to also alleviate poverty so that future generations can live a life without fear of unemployment or disease.

Speaking about her mission, Lena, now 25, explained that her goal is to start “with the smallest among us” so that all children can grow up with equal opportunities.

Her organisation Wadadee Cares now runs kindergartens, pre-schools and food distribution centres in southwest Africa to reach those hardest hit by poverty.

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Lena explained: “I think that education is the highest good in our society and starts with the smallest among us.

“Although school attendance is compulsory in Namibia, there aren’t enough school places for all the children in the town of Katutura. So many children don’t have the opportunity to go to school, especially if they don’t speak English.”

Lena always felt a connection to Namibia, having visited several times as a child with her mother who worked as a researcher in the country.

Talking to Global Citizen, she continued: “This is where the private initiatives we work with come into play, to help prepare the majority of all children in Katutura for school, teach them English, and make sure they get a school place.

“Without these kindergartens and pre-schools, many children would be completely denied access to education. Without education, no child can go far, and they are then threatened with the devastating cycle of poverty, unemployment, and disease.”

Despite her hopeful vision of the future, the work does not come without its struggles.

Lena explained the biggest hurdle for many children is the assumption that they can’t escape poverty anyway, and consequently that impacts their wellbeing and ambition.

She said: “From hunger and language barriers, to destitution, disease, racism, and violence, it’s all there…

“In society, the image is often conveyed that living in Katutura is a bad thing and that therefore children have no chance of accessing education and getting a good job.”

However, Lena remains undeterred and remains committed to the cause.

The German humanitarian concluded: “My wish for the future for all of our children is the same as for my younger siblings in Germany; to have the freedom to choose how they want to live, to have all options open to them, regardless of their skin colour or origin.”

Stray dog ‘hired’ as salesman after he wanders into car dealer showroom

They say dogs are a man’s best friend, and apparently, they’re a car dealership dream too.

So much so, that one pooch has been hired by a showroom as an ‘employee’.

It all started when a stray pup found his way into a branch of Hyundai, a multinational automotive manufacturer, in Brazil.

What was initially a chance encounter soon turned into regular visits, before one rainy night when the staff invited the dog in from the streets so he could stay dry.

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It wasn’t long before the Hyundai Prime branch manager, Emerson Mariano, realised that the hound may no longer just be a stray but in fact part of the family.

Speaking about his new pet, Emerson explained to a local magazine: “The company has always been pet-friendly. We decided to embrace this idea in practice too.”

The World Health Organization estimates that in Brazil alone, there are over 30million abandoned animals – 20million of which are dogs.

There is one dog for every five inhabitants in large cities, with 10% of them abandoned.

It seems adoption wasn’t quite enough for Emerson though, and he wanted to extend the olive branch to his newly-named Tucson Prime with a job offer.

That’s right, Tuscon P is now the store’s official ‘Meeter & Greeter’.

Thanks to his caring and docile nature, staff say he is a natural at enticing customers through the door and entertaining them as they shop around.

Not only is he proving popular to the locals, Tucson is also quite the hit online.

The canine cutie has already amassed an impressive 157k followers, at the time of publication, keeping them updated on his 9-5 lifestyle.

We bet it won’t be long before he lands a role in a Hollywood film.

Woman buys coffee for stranger before finding heart-breaking thank you in mailbox

When it comes to looking out for other people, it can often feel overwhelming if we don’t have the finances, the knowledge or the time to help.

But never underestimate how small acts of kindness can go a long way.

And one woman is living proof that it’s the little things that count, after randomly buying a stranger a coffee at Starbucks.

The Ohio native, named Mackenzie Mauller, took to Twitter to reveal the impact of what she believed had been a tiny gesture to help out the lady behind her in the queue.

Mackenzie tweeted: “I bought coffee for the lady behind me at Starbucks, later in the day I found this is my mailbox.

“Small acts can make a big difference folks, spread some kindness.”

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She also included the letter which the stranger, a lady named Nicole had written her, going on to amass 20,000 shares and 80,000 likes.

The letter read: “Thank you for the coffee! I rarely go to Starbucks and treat myself, but the last couple of months have been a bit of a struggle.

“My father just passed away and he was also my babysitter. My family and my children have had a really hard time.

“This morning my babysitter called off sick and I had to take the day off work. I decided to buy my kids breakfast and get myself a coffee with total guilt because I am going to be a stay-at-home-mom for a while.”

The note continued: “Since I was not planning to go this route in my life, I was not emotionally and financially prepared to quit working.

“I cried when I found out you were so sweet to buy coffee and thrilled to see you pull in a couple of houses down from where I live.

“I felt it necessary for you to know that what you did for me was more than just a coffee.

“It was something that has turned my whole day around, put tears in my eyes, and a smile on my face and I feel so grateful. Thank you.”

So, even if volunteering or donating to a cause feels like a burden, remember that a small £2 gesture could make a big difference.

[Credit: Omar Lopez]

Breathtaking ballet and circus art shows light up London – and it’s all totally free!

If you’ve ever tried to book a ticket for a West End show in London, you’ll know it costs a small fortune – especially if buying for all the family.

Though you might be in luck if you’re searching for something to entertain you during the final weeks of summer that won’t break the bank.

And thanks to the Royal Ballet, performances are now springing into life every weekend along the canal by Hoxton Docks.

Not only are the performances entirely free of charge, they are also all outdoors meaning that you can honour social distancing while watching the beautiful artistry.

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The new project, named DistDancing, features a series of performances ranging from pirouetting ballet dancers, aerial hoops, circus arts, and contemporary dance.

During lockdown, the Royal Ballet in Covent Garden was forced to close its doors and they have been unable to perform to live audiences since March 17.

[Credit: Instagram @dancersdiary]

However, they are continuing to capture the public’s imaginations with their innovative Hackney programme on Saturdays and Sundays with shows at 3pm, 5pm or 7pm.

The brainchild of Chisato Katsura, a first artist of the Royal Ballet, and Valentino Zucchetti, a first soloist, the shows are to not only entertain the public but also to give the professional dancers a chance to perform in front of an audience again.

Speaking about the response, Chisato said she was overwhelmed by the warm reception and said the intimacy of the shows means artists can also interact with locals.

[Credit: Instagram @dancersdiary]

Chisato, 23, said: “It’s amazing to hear people scream and cheer. You don’t get that at the Royal Opera House.

“We struggle in the bigger companies and theatres to get that younger generation in, but in the feedback I get, the people in their 20s tend to be the ones that love the ballet and they’re very surprised after watching it.”

She added: “Every time the ballet dancers come on, it’s total silence, everyone puts down their phone and they just watch and it’s amazing to see that.”

By a twist of fate, Japanese dancer Chisato moved to a new flat during lockdown, with her landlord also owning the Hoxton Docks, and suggesting she curate a performance for the canalside after discovering she was a dancer.

For more dazzling snaps, click here: DistDancing.

How poetry brought two musicians together and dared them to try something new

There’s no denying that the music industry has been hit hard by the events of 2020, but when life gives you lemons…

Two musicians who found each other during the months of lockdown are Tom and Tyan…. and what has been born is Tranquilo Tempo: a totally unique musical collaboration inspired by their love of poetry.

Tom, a self-confessed “dreamer and music fanatic” has been playing music since the age of 16 and first discovered Tyan whilst listening to a podcast during lockdown.

Speaking to Uspire, Tom said: “During lockdown I’d been reading poetry, watching documentaries, re-visiting music that was more beats driven and then the idea was born… I’m gonna throw myself down an avenue I’ve always seen but never explored.

“I heard Tyan reading a poem on a podcast and knew immediately that was the voice I wanted. Thankfully she said yes when I asked her if she’d work with me and Tranquilo Tempo was born. I think the stars brought us together.”

As well as a singer, Tyan is also a teacher, a mother, and a trained actress and admits that lockdown gave her the opportunity to slow down and think about what she wanted to do.

“In what is normally an extremely busy world for me at times, I was able to create in my own space with no boundaries of time or routine,” she told Uspire.

“Some ideas that only exist within my mind were being shared with the world through platforms I was blessed to have.

“I was rehearsing lines for postponed plays and teaching children through a virtual platform and it was disheartening to begin with as I am a people person and thrive on physical contact and just being around energy!

“Getting together virtually, which at times we were up close and personal more so than in real life, gave me the space to share ideas on where I could step it up a level and soon I found myself taking part in virtual plays; podcasts; screen concerts.”

Tyan’s collaboration with Tom came when she decided to step outside of her comfort zone and voice her feelings alongside music.

“We shared a few of our written pages and so the idea to create a different sound inspired by spoken word, poetry and singing came about,” Tyan continued.

“And as soon as the lockdown rules became a little relaxed we ran, hopped and skipped to that studio and started to express all of these feelings in the booth. What we created was a freedom of sound bound by no boundaries and so Tranquilo Tempo was found.”

But what makes this process of creating music so different to anything else Tom has done before? “The great thing about what we do is that all the rules get ripped up when we go into the studio,” he explained.

“The idea is formed in the moment and it just happens… and because we’re having so much fun doing it, its always gonna work. Creatively, this is the most freedom I have ever felt. I’m not writing on the guitar, anything goes.”

The pair have created nearly half an album in a month, with their first release entitled ‘Summertime Vibe.’

“Since the weather changed so did our mood and one day we went in the studio on a whole Summer Vibe and so our first track was created filled with the light-hearted sunshine we felt in our souls on that day,” Tyan revealed.

“I cant believe how quickly it was created, mastered and finished fit for release for Summer 2020. They say time flies when you’re having fun and we can hear the fun and laughter in the song.

“We are artists that definitely create for the moment or the mood we are in. Some could say our style is ‘mood’ music.”

Tom added that the track “captures a moment” and it’s just the beginning for Tranquilo Tempo.

“The future? We make it up as we go. We are tomorrow’s people… this is the sound of our world, our atmosphere. And we’re here to share it with you.”

Dad saves the day after EasyJet pilot goes missing – by flying the plane himself

After the frantic final check for passports as the clock ticks by, there’s nothing quite like the buzz of leaving the house for a holiday.

Though you will know the crushing feeling of arriving at the airport only to be told your flight has been delayed, or worse, cancelled.

Yet one man refused to let a little delay come between him and his family getaway – and decided to fly the plane himself.

So, when Michael Bradley arrived at Manchester to discover his flight to Spain was delayed for hours due to a pilot going AWOL, he entered the cockpit and saved the day.

[Credit: Daniele Resti Dndo]

Before you start hatching plans for when this might happen to you though, you may need to enrol on an aviation course as Michael is a fully-qualified pilot himself.

Not only does Michael hold a pilot’s licence, he also works for EasyJet – the same airline group he booked on for his Alicante adventure.

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Sharing his story with the passengers, Michael spoke over the loudspeaker to reveal what had happened and to reassure them they were in safe hands.

Michael said: “My wife, who’s on row 15 with my little boy – hopefully he’s asleep by now, I should keep it down or else I’ll get told off – said, ‘Our flight’s delayed by two hours because they are minus one captain for the flight.’

“So, just before we went through security, I thought I wonder if this is worth a phone call, I think it is because I’d like to go on holiday.”

Michael continued: “I phoned up EasyJet and said, ‘Hiya, I’m standing in the terminal doing nothing. I have got my licence with me. I have got my ID with me and I’d very much like to go on holiday, and if you need a favour, I’m standing here ready to go.’

“They said, ‘We’ll phone you back.’

“Thirty-eight seconds later, they phoned me back and said, ‘Please, please pretty please with a big cherry on top, can you fly the aeroplane to Alicante?’”

The flight’s delay was due to the knock-on effects of an air traffic control failure in France over the weekend, meaning the airline was forced to rely on standby cabin crew.

Consequently, the pilot who was believed to have gone AWOL had actually been on standby and had to make his way from Liverpool to Manchester before flying the plane.

Next time, Michael need not bother turning his out-of-office on.

Stacey Solomon shows off her stretch marks as she supports Skin Unfiltered body campaign

Just when we thought we couldn’t love Stacey Solomon more than we already do, she goes and proves us wrong.

Already known for being a down-to-earth celeb, Stacey has now joined forces with Dove for their Skin Unfiltered body campaign – and we are loving it!

The mum-of-three took to Instagram to reveal all about Dove’s new mission – which is encouraging women to post unfiltered photos of their skin to celebrate the beautiful story it tells.

[CREDIT: Instagram/staceysolomon]

Stacey, 30, kicked off the campaign by showing off some unedited parts of her body whilst she relaxed at home with her one-year-old son Rex.

“I thought I’d kick mine off by showing you my favourite stretch marks,” she told her 3.7 million followers on her Instagram Story.

RELATED: How one woman is teaching us to accept our bodies

“These are my favourite, not just because my hips had to grow so big so I could get you (talking to her son Rex) and your brothers into this world. But because in the sunshine they sparkle like glitter and I just love them!

[CREDIT: Instagram/staceysolomon]

“They go all the way around the back and they’re my absolute favourite!” the former X Factor star added.

New research from Dove found that the majority (83%) of women have cellulite, scars and stretch-marks, but only 16% have posted a photo of themselves on social media with these so-called ‘skin imperfections’ visible.

In fact, a quarter of women use digital distortion apps and filters to erase these ‘imperfections’ before posting on social media, with this figure more than doubling (51%) for young women (18 – 24-years-old).

[CREDIT: Instagram/staceysolomon]

Meanwhile, half of women agreed they received more ‘likes’ and positive comments on pictures where they have filtered out their ‘flaws’, compared with unedited images.

Stacey later shared another unfiltered snap which showed off her bare tummy and thighs, as well as her signature Cheshire Cat grin.

“Never be ashamed of who you are. Every tiny detail of your body tells a story of everything you’ve been through,” she captioned the picture.

“Over the past few years, I’ve learned to embrace and love the body that I live in and I know that seeing other women’s real bodies is so empowering. I’m going to keep sharing images of my skin, unfiltered and hope other women will join me,” the Loose Women star added.

Unsurprisingly, the research from Dove confirmed the importance of visibility, with more than two-thirds (65%) of women wanting to see more people posting unedited and unfiltered images of themselves, which 73% said would help them feel less pressure to have ‘perfect skin’.

So, what are you waiting for? Love the skin you’re in and join Dove in un-filtering YOUR body!

Miracle bridge in Singapore to help wildlife safely cross the road

If you’ve ever driven along the motorway and felt your heart sink as you see a fox or deer that didn’t quite make it to the other side, you will be in awe of this new bridge.

A new wildlife crossing has been created specifically for the use of animals, in order to keep them safe and help reduce roadkill.

The 140m-long bridge will make its grand opening in December, by Singapore’s Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) to help animals cross the busy Mandai Lake Road.

[Credit: Gabe Pierce]

Named the Mandai Wildlife Bridge, the crossing will boast an abundance of vegetation to encourage the animals – including deers, wild boars and pangolins – to manoeuvre over.

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With 31,000 plants, including 1,000 native trees from 25 species, and more than 30,000 shrubs from eight species, the vegetation will make the animals feel protected.

There will also be fences to not only help direct the animals towards the bridge, but also stop them from crossing the road.

[Credit: Scott Carroll]

Other animals expected to use the bridge include the mousedeer and civets [cat-like, though more closely related to mongooses], and colugos – a gliding mammal. For the colugos, six poles have been erected to help them glide across the bridge.

The bridge will have a significant impact on saving lives, as tragically last year a leopard cat, critically-endangered Sunda pangolin [anteater], and Sambar deer died in accidents.

Speaking of the project, assistant vice president of the Mandai Park Development, Ms Chua Yen Kheng, said: “This area is quite rich in biodiversity, but it is in fragmented patches because of Mandai Lake Road.”

Consequently, the bridge will help re-connect the buffer areas on both sides of the road.

[Credit: Uriel Soberanes]

And it’s not just the animals who will benefit from the new handiwork, a visitor arrival area and a bird park are also being created.

By 2023, the development will feature an impressive five parks – the Rainforest Park, the Bird Park, the existing Singapore Zoo, the Night Safari and River Safari.

Plenty of time to plan our next holiday, then.

Transform your diet and discover the benefits of intermittent fasting

We’ve long been told that eating little and often could be the key to keeping our energy levels stable, but what about the alternative?

Fasting is quickly (excuse the pun!) becoming a popular option for people looking to improve their overall health and also lose weight.

The benefits of intermittent fasting in particular are never-ending, and it’s not as difficult to introduce into your everyday life as you may think.

Steve Katasi of AdapNation is a nutritionist and spoke to us about the benefits of intermittent fasting, including the physiological ones.

“It is completely natural and evolutionarily consistent for humans to experience prolonged periods without food,” Steve explained. “It’s our survival advantage to store energy in the form of body fat and to tap into it between feeds.

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“We’ve evolved to be metabolically flexible, meaning we can efficiently and effectively switch between blood glucose, dietary fat and stored body fat as needed.”

He continued: “Today, however, we are too dependant on a constant stream of glucose from carb-heavy diets, which causes blood glucose dis-regulation and difficulty in leveraging stored body fat.

“This means that many people have a biological urge to eat frequently, because their glucose levels have crashed shortly after eating, and they need an urgent energy top up as their body fat is metabolically unavailable.”

Explaining the downsides to this, Steve said it can lead to insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, type 2 diabetes and more broadly metabolic syndrome.

“Moreover, always being in a fed state, especially with a diet high in refined carbs, means your body is stuck in growth mode.

“Cancers need fuel and an anabolic environment in which to proliferate. If you remove the fuel, these malfunctioning cancer cells would be gracefully destroyed by a spring cleaning process in the body called autophagy,” he added.

“Fasting, which in essence is about extending the periods between your meals, is a powerful evolutionarily consistent way of maintaining metabolic flexibility and allowing for regular spring cleaning of our damaged, old or malfunctioning cells.

“You need not be dogmatic and rigid with a particular fasting protocol, as the body is designed to be flexible,” Steve revealed.

Types of fasting:

  • Intermittent Fasting – The most common is 16:8. You compress your 2-3 meals within an eight hour window, say 12-8pm.
  • One Meal A Day – For those that enjoy big nutrient-dense meals, they eat just once a day – effectively a 24 hour fast.
  • Multi-day Fasts – Typically 2-3 days, but can be safely extended to 4-5 days. Used as a metabolic reset or as a quarterly longevity practice.