Nonprofit business: Clean the World

One night at a hotel in 2009, tech executive Shawn Seipler thought about how many bars of soap guests use for a night and then leave. He called the front desk to find out what they did with the used soap and learned that they just throw it away. In the U.S. alone, hotels throw out about 3.3 million bars of soap every day.

So, Seipler started Clean the World, a nonprofit that recycles soap, in his garage. He quickly discovered that major hotel chains, airlines, cruise companies and casinos were happy to pay him to take their waste. The business has since grown into a $750k production facility in Orlando, Florida, with branch operations around the world.

Invisible disabilities at work

It is easy to see that someone in a wheelchair has a disability, and workplaces are becoming much better at making accommodations for them. But what about people whose disability doesn't show? Chronic illnesses like heart disease, lupus, or diabetes aren't visible to others. Neither are mental illnesses like depression or anxiety. Because of this, it's much more difficult for these workers to get the support they need.

Visuals: average height increases

People today are taller, on average, than their ancestors 100 years ago. This is true for every country in the world.

The data shown below is based on a global study. It reports mean height for adults by year of birth, from 1896 to 1996; in other words, people who had reached their eighteenth birthday from 1914 to 2014.

Please look at the chart below and discuss it with your teacher.

Visuals: Cigarette sales in the US

Around 18 billion cigarettes are sold around the world every day. In the United States alone, it is estimated that cigarette-related healthcare costs exceed USD $300 billion per year. However, the sale of cigarettes in the US has had an interesting history over the past century.

Please have a look at the chart below and discuss what you see with your teacher.

Do you know how to rest?

Our society has taught people to always work hard. People are learning how to be more productive, but they also have the idea that they should always be busy. These people think "busy" and "productive" are the same thing. When these people finally rest, they feel bad. They think they are lazy. They might even work until they break down from tiredness. 

American psychotherapist Sarah McLaughlin says 70% of visits to the doctor are because of stress-related issues. She suggests people start taking care of ourselves as much as we try to achieve tasks. She says that we need to think more realistically about ourselves, “If this task does not get done today, it does not mean I have failed. It just means that I will get to it tomorrow.”

Here are some pieces of advice from two psychotherapists, McLaughlin and Pantha Saidipour, on how to forget about work before resting:

Visuals: Falling sperm count

In 2017, Shanna Swan and Hagai Levine, along with six other researchers, estimated the average sperm count for 43,000 men in 55 countries across the world. The data, from 185 previously published studies, suggest that sperm counts fell by about 25% between 1973 and 2011. They found that sperm counts had in fact fallen by about 50% in Western countries over the period. Although the data were less plentiful, similar trends were observed in developing countries, too.

Please have a look at the chart below and discuss what you see with your teacher.

Visuals: Obesity around the world

Obesity is a growing problem around the world.

Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of over 30. BMI is used to determine whether you are in a healthy weight range for your height. For instance, a person who is 180cm and 97kg has a BMI of 29.9. 

The rate of obesity varies greatly around the world. Please have a look at the map below and discuss what you see with your teacher.

Opera helps COVID-19 patients

The English National Opera (ENO) has teamed up with a London hospital to teach breathing techniques to people recovering from COVID-19. One of the common lingering effects of the virus is difficulty breathing. Proper breathing is essential for opera singers, so they're in a unique position to help patients recover. 

When in-house opera concerts were cancelled due to the pandemic, the ENO wanted to find other ways to use their skills to help others. They realized they are experts in breathing, so they created a 6-week program, called ENO Breathe, that uses therapeutic techniques reworked by singers. The techniques help restore lung capacity, as well as lessen anxiety through deep breathing exercises.

The Swiss Cheese model of defense

Human beings are flawed. So no system of defense that depends on human action is going to be able to protect us 100% of the time. But we can prevent most problems. In 1990, Professor James Reason came up with the "Swiss Cheese model" to create defenses that are hard to break through.

Think about Swiss cheese—it has lots of holes in it, right? Well, the Swiss Cheese defense model takes the "holes", or human flaws, into account by using several layers of defense. Each layer has holes, but not every layer has the same holes. So, put enough different layers together and there won't be a complete series of holes that line up to allow something through. Each human failure will be blocked by other successes.