Michaela Haas

Michaela Haas, Ph.D., is a Contributing Editor at Reasons to be Cheerful. An award-winning author and solutions reporter, her recent books include Bouncing Forward: The Art and Science of Cultivating Resilience (Atria). Visit www.michaelahaas.com

For the Housing Market’s Greenest Buyers, ‘Earthships’ Are Taking Off

10 min read

Long dismissed as hippie havens, off-grid communities are getting a fresh look as wasteful construction practices come under scrutiny.

“If You Can’t Say It, Write It”

4 min read

The white mailboxes in schools and sports clubs were to encourage kids to write about their sorrows. They became a powerful tool for stopping child abuse.

For More Sustainable Affordable Housing, Just Add Mushrooms

7 min read

Architect David Benjamin is bringing his biology-inspired recipe for construction materials to an affordable housing project in Oakland, California.

Where Do Abandoned Bicycles Go? In Some Cases, Madagascar

6 min read

In a largely unseen system, abandoned bikes are repaired and shipped to people across the US — and around the world — who can use them to travel to school or work.

What If Extinction Wasn’t Forever?

6 min read

At the frontier of conservation, scientists are learning how to bring back “functionally extinct” species using cryogenically frozen cells from the past.

San Diego’s Frozen Zoo Is Bringing Species Back from the Brink

7 min read

In what sounds like science fiction, geneticists are using cryogenically frozen animal cells to stop species from going extinct.

What If Donated Food Was Delightful?

6 min read

A Chicago nonprofit is reinventing the food bank with better-than-store-bought produce, friendly delivery and an emphasis on client satisfaction.

A Call for Help Answered

6 min read

Abuse survivors can call helplines to stop the violence. Now abusers can, too.

‘Open Source’ Seeds Loosen Big Ag’s Grip on Farmers

5 min read

A handful of companies own the patents on virtually every seed planted in the US. Now, a new crop of unowned seeds is bringing biodiversity back to farming.

Making a Desk with 10,000 Recycled Chopsticks

4 min read

A German engineer asked restaurants for their used chopsticks — and a sustainable furnishings business was born.

The Voluntary Gun Law Preventing Suicides

6 min read

Utah, Virginia and Washington allow people to ban themselves from impulsively buying a gun. Many more states could follow their lead.

The Sky’s the Limit

2 min read

How a last-ditch attempt to save the few remaining California condors became a conservation victory for the ages.

Inside the ‘Energy Villages’ Powering Germany’s Green Transition

9 min read

“We believe citizens taking responsibility for their own energy supply is the future.”

Want Safer Streets? Cover Them in Art

5 min read

With traffic deaths rising in the US, some cities are turning crosswalks and intersections into eye-catching murals — with life-saving results.

How America’s First ‘Heat Officers’ Are Cooling Miami and Los Angeles

7 min read

For the first time, two US cities are treating extreme heat as a crisis — and dealing with it accordingly.

‘Ventilation Corridors’ Funnel Cool Mountain Air Into Steamy Stuttgart

5 min read

With strategically placed channels for air flow, the birthplace of the automobile is using urban design to lower the temperature.

Want Fewer Abortions? Legalize Them

7 min read

The countries with the lowest abortion rates have one thing in common: access to safe, affordable abortion.

These Farms Are Living a Double Life

6 min read

Energy-hungry societies are confronting a dilemma: use precious land to harvest crops or green energy? A new kind of farm says you can do both.

Home Is Where the Art Is

7 min read

In Düsseldorf, revenues from sales of works by famous artists are used to buy apartments for those who need them most.

What Growing Up in Rural Germany Taught Me about Guns

6 min read

In the Bavarian village where I was raised, guns are a part of life. Mass shootings are not.

The Little-Known Tool Protecting California Towns from Polluters

7 min read

Most Californians have never heard of the CalEnviroScreen — even those whose communities it has shielded from ecological disaster.

Does This Water Have Legal Rights?

6 min read

Threatened by development, five bodies of water are suing the State of Florida, making the unprecedented argument that nature has legal rights, too.

Psychedelics Show Promise as a Treatment for Alcoholism

5 min read

As alcohol consumption surges, groundbreaking new experiments are showing the vast potential of psilocybin to treat addiction.

In Sweden, Drones Are Beating Ambulances to the Scene — and Saving Lives

5 min read

New technology is intervening in the moments where speed matters more than anything. Welcome to the future of emergency medicine.

Through Online Platforms, Thousands Open Their Homes to Ukraine’s Refugees

6 min read

Airbnb-style home sharing is changing what it means to be displaced.

A Bicycle Is an Anti-Poverty Machine

5 min read

Giving people bicycles may be one of the cheapest, easiest ways to support them. One group is distributing them by the thousands.

“If You Can’t Beat Them, Eat Them”

6 min read

A Berlin catering and food truck company is turning invasive species into haute cuisine. Will “invasivorism” be the next step in the sustainable food movement?

The Eco-Friendlier Future of the Disposable Spork

5 min read

As cities and countries ban single-use plastics, sustainable alternatives are emerging.

A Bridge Will Help Humans and Lions Coexist in Los Angeles

6 min read

As the only major Western city that is home to lions, L.A. is breaking new ground in infrastructure designed for big wildlife.

In the World’s Fastest Drummer, Scientists See a Bionics Breakthrough

6 min read

The same A.I. technology that runs Jason Barnes’ prosthetic arm can teach people how to read Braille or play the piano in a matter of hours.

Palm Oil Is the Worst. Could This Replace It?

5 min read

Environmentally destructive palm oil is in countless products. Sustainable yeast oil offers a tantalizing alternative.

Want Drastic Climate Action? Maybe It’s Time to Sue the Government

5 min read

When political leaders dither, “the only instrument that leads to non-negotiable results is the court ruling.”

A Diet Rich in Probiotics Could Climate-Proof Coral Reefs

5 min read

New research shows that the “gut health” microorganisms can enhance the immune systems of living coral.

A Tall, Cool Glass of Air

5 min read

For drought-stricken places, pulling drinkable water from the atmosphere could become one of the easiest ways to stay hydrated.

The App That Lets You Lend Your Eyes to a Blind Person

5 min read

If you have a phone, you can be one of the 5.4 million volunteers who help the visually impaired with their daily tasks.

Should We Protect Children or Privacy?

5 min read

Technology exists to scan people’s devices for evidence of child abuse. Should we use it?

The Library Where the ‘Books’ Are Human Beings

6 min read

With branches in 80 countries, the Human Library allows you to borrow a person — a rugby player, a refugee, a sex worker — and ask them anything you want.

Amsterdam’s Instant Fix for Getting Rid of Junk Mail

4 min read

By only delivering it to people ask for it, the city is saving thousands of tons of paper per year.

Would You Compost Your Body to Create Life after Death?

6 min read

Three U.S. states have legalized “natural organic reduction,” in which the dead are returned to the earth to help nourish its growth. 

How One Woman Protected Millions of Acres

8 min read

Kristine Tompkins has conserved more land than any other single individual, calling it “capitalist jiujitsu” for the planet.

How to Turn a Desert into a Forest

6 min read

A group of “holistic engineers” wants to return the arid Sinai peninsula to the lush, green landscape it once was.

Could Products Made of CO2 Help Cool the Planet?

6 min read

The growing carbontech industry is capturing CO2 from the air and turning it into everything from bras to vodka to fresh baked bread.

The Movement to Give ‘Personhood’ Rights to Animals

6 min read

Legal systems around the world are beginning to confront an existential question: What rights does an animal have?

Locked Up and Finding Their Way Together

6 min read

In California’s prisons, lifers — both human and canine — are setting each other free.

Doctors Are Soothing Pain with Virtual Reality Worlds

5 min read

Some patients are undergoing difficult procedures while surrounded by fluffy bouncing bears and winter wonderlands.

You May Already Be Wearing the World’s Most Sustainable Jeans

5 min read

A family-owned Italian denim manufacturer is turning one of fashion’s most toxic staples green, one global brand at a time.

Can We Suck Up Enough CO2 to Cool the Planet?

6 min read

As we speak, giant machines are removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in an urgent attempt to slam the brakes on climate change.

L.A.’s New Reflective Streets Bounce Heat Back into Space

5 min read

The air in these neighborhoods is getting cooler — with huge implications for sweltering cities worldwide.

Meet the World’s First Carbon-Neutral Soccer Club

5 min read

An all-vegan stadium. A field fertilized with seaweed. How the owner of the sport’s most sustainable team is cultivating “a new kind of soccer fan.”

America’s Star Teenage Scientist Is Catalyzing Generational Change

6 min read

At 15 years old, Gitanjali Rao has half a dozen inventions to her name. Now she wants to reinvent the world of science itself.

Cleaning Up Rivers Is Saving the Oceans

5 min read

When an architecture student’s dazzling ocean cleanup concept fizzled, she started thinking smaller — and tackled the problem at the source.

When Oil Spills Strike, Call in the Hair Force

5 min read

Human hair is becoming a major player in ocean cleanups as a free, highly effective resource that never runs out.

“Menstruation Vacations” Are Adapting Work for Women’s Health

4 min read

“I call it a ‘do-what-you-can day’ — stay at home, take it easy, cancel all your appointments, or come in and work as usual.”

The Sounds of Healing

6 min read

When musician Yoko Sen ended up in the hospital, she was overwhelmed by the cacophony of noise. What if all those beeps and alarms could sound like music instead?

Notifications Off! The Distraction-Free Benefits of Five-Hour Work Days

5 min read

By minimizing wasted time, companies are increasing productivity — and workers are going home before lunch.

Ask Me Anything! Our New Contributing Editor Michaela Haas

3 min read

From the farmlands of rural Bavaria to the beaches of Southern California, our new colleague’s life has been a fantastic journey.

The ‘Cosmetics Shop’ Using Code to Help People Escape Their Abusers

4 min read

“When a woman places an ‘order’ and gives us her address, that’s the signal for us to send the police.”

Inside the L.A.P.D.’s Experiment in Trust-Based Policing

5 min read

Can the notoriously hardline force become an ally to Black communities?

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