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Seeing Trees Can Make You Feel Healthier

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Living in a green neighborhood is good for your health. Trees and other urban plants remove pollutants from the atmosphere, reduce stress, and support better overall mental health. In fact, being around more trees can make you feel as healthy as someone seven years younger, according to a 2015 study in the Nature journal Scientific Reports. 

Psychologists compared data about differences in street tree coverage across Toronto with how healthy people felt, according to a survey called the Ontario Health Study. The long-term study included self-reported data from more than 30,000 individuals, which the researchers used to determine how people perceived their health. 

People who lived in neighborhoods with a higher density of street trees (not just parks) reported feeling healthier than people who lived in areas with fewer trees. In terms of how people viewed their health, living on a block with 10 more trees was the equivalent of earning $10,200 more a year, or being seven years younger. 

While these findings only applied to how people felt about their health, not how healthy they actually were, people living near more street trees also reported fewer cardiac conditions like high cholesterol or heart disease. A 10-tree per block increase across Toronto would only require about a 4 percent more trees total in the city. 

Because Canada has a universal health care system, the same results might not hold true in countries like the U.S., where the private system means that health care access can vary dramatically based on income and place of residence. But all other factors being equal, it appears we have yet another reason to love trees

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environment
To Encourage Responsible Trash Disposal, a Startup in Nigeria Pays People for their Waste
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Nigeria is home to more than 180 million people, who produce more than 32 million tons of waste per year and just 20 to 30 percent of this garbage is collected, according to one estimate. To provide Nigerians with incentive to dispose of their trash responsibly, Junks, a Nigerian waste management startup, provides people with the chance to exchange their trash for cash, according to Konbini.

The company offers to pay for items and materials like discarded electronics, glass, plastic, aluminum, books, and clothes. Once purchased, these materials are re-sold to wholesalers and recycling companies, according to Techpoint. Potential users who want to sell their trash are required to register on the startup's website, Junks.ng, and fill out a form with a description of the trash they're selling, along with their asking price and contact information. Once this information is received, representatives from Junks are sent to pick up and pay for the waste.

Computer programmer Bradley Yarrow founded Junks.ng in August 2017. Based in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, Nigeria, the company currently has just three employees, in addition to Yarrow. That said, the tiny startup appears to be doing big business, judging from a growing list of sold junk—which includes laminating machines, old laptops, and scrap car parts—already listed on Junks.ng.

[h/t Konbini]

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architecture
High-Tech Skyscrapers Could be Built with Low-Tech Wood
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When we think of wood construction, we often think of log cabins, tree houses, or the framework of residential properties. But if a new start-up has its way, we might soon be gazing up at 12-story buildings made almost entirely out of Douglas firs.

In a report for CityLab, journalist Amanda Kolson Hurley profiled Portland, Oregon's Lever Architecture, a firm attempting to revitalize wood-based towers that reduce the carbon footprints of conventional buildings. Their offices are located in a four-story property made from wood; their next major project, titled Framework, is expected to be 12 stories and slated to debut in Portland in 2019.

Part of Lever’s goal is to reduce concerns over wooden structures—namely, that they’re prone to fire hazards or might not be structurally sound in an earthquake. Developers use a building material called mass timber, a special type of strengthened wood in which timber panels are glued together to make beams and cross-set layers for walls and floors. Fire tests have shown the mass timber doesn’t ignite easily: It chars, which can insulate the rest of the panel from the heat. Strength testing has shown the layers aren’t easily jostled by outside forces.

Lever’s architects hope that wooden buildings will lessen the environmental impact of commercial towers that use concrete and steel, which are responsible for 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions during their manufacturing.

Other firms have designs on taller buildings, including one 35-story tower in Paris and a 24-story building in Vienna.

[h/t CityLab]

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