Finding the silver lining: 20 good things from 2020

It’s no secret: 2020 has presented us with some pretty heavy challenges — wildfires, murder hornets, a pandemic, and toilet paper shortages just to name a few. When terrible things happen to us, it is certainly easier to focus on all that has gone wrong, especially when it hurts and feels so consuming. Though it’s important to remember: More often than not, there’s a silver lining. Sometimes you just have to look a little harder for it. Here are 20 good things that happened in 2020.


  1. In early February to mid-march when stay at home orders were just starting to be enforced, China’s carbon emissions were reduced by approximately 18%, allowing the world to be spared from about 250 million metric tons of carbon emissions.
Courtesy of The Verge

2. A BBC News article from March 11 stated that due to the lockdown orders in Venice, the famous canals that run through the city were cleaner and clearer. The orders resulted in less water traffic allowing sediment in the canals to settle leaving the water clearer and with visible fish! 

Satellite images of Venice’ canals in April 2019 (left) and in April 2020 (right). Courtesy of the European Space Agency.

3. On March 1, the state of New York instituted a ban on plastic bags, such as those from retail shops and grocery stores. New York City citizens alone use more than 10 billion single use plastic bags every year, and on average these types of bags are only used for 12 minutes before being thrown out. It seems that more often than not, single-use plastic bags end up everywhere but the recycling bin. By eliminating plastic bags, it will reduce litter, decrease pollution, and limit the destruction of ecosystems.

4. Baby sea turtles are thriving! With stay at home orders and beach closures, baby sea turtles are able to make it to the water safely. Less crowded beaches also mean less litter and harmful plastics that can hurt or kill sea life.

The Arts

5. Drive in theaters have made a comeback. With many movies theaters having to close due to the coronavirus, drive in theaters became the perfect solution since they allow for social distancing protocols to be followed.

Image courtesy of USA Today.

6. In July, Crayola launched a new pack of crayons consisting of 24 different colors, covering different skin tones. Crayola stated that all children should be able to “accurately color themselves into the world.”

Image courtesy of Crayola.

7. In February, Parasite (Directed by Bong Joon Ho) became the first non-English language film to win Best Picture in Oscar history. Parasite was also the first South Korean film to be nominated in the International Feature Film category at the Academy Awards.

Image courtesy of The Atlantic.


8. In August, the World Health Organization declared Africa to be free of any new poliovirus cases. Africa hasn’t been polio free since 2016.

9. Pandemic puppies. An SPCA in Los Angeles reported that their adoptions doubled the usual rate in June, resulting in 10 to 13 adoptions per day. In NYC Animal Care Centers, 25% of people who chose to foster dogs at the start of the year ended up adopting them by late June. In a survey released in late July by Nielsen Holdings, 20% of respondents said they adopted pets between March and July, which is a 5% increase from the same time last year.

10. With former Vice President Joe Biden winning the presidential election in November, he will bring his dog Major to the White House in January making history by being the first rescue dog to reside in the nation’s capital.

President-elect Joe Biden and his rescue dog, Major. Image via The Delaware Humane Society on Facebook.

11. Two days before what would have been Breonna Taylor’s 27th birthday, the Public Safety Committee of the Louisville Metro Council approved “Breonna’s Law.”  Taylor was a 26-year-old African American woman who was fatally shot six times by Louisville police officers when they forced entry into her residence. The implementation of Breonna’s Law would ban no-knock warrants in Louisville.

“Breonna’s Law” would ban no-knock warrants in Louisville. (Image via The New York Times.)

12. Back in May, the New York City Department of Transportation stated that the city had gone 58 consecutive days without a pedestrian death, making it the longest stretch since 1983.

13.  In June, San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced that San Francisco will no longer send police officers to respond to non-violent, non-criminal calls. Instead, unarmed and trained professionals will respond to calls relating to mental health, minor altercations, school disciplines, and more to limit police confrontations.

14. In early November, Oregon became the first U.S. state to decriminalize hard drugs. With Oregon’s new law, those found with hard drugs will have the option of paying an $100 fine or attending an addiction recovery center whereas before they would face trial and potential jail time.

15. Sydney Barber will become the first Black woman to serve as brigade commander in the U.S. Naval Academy, a title similar to Student Body President. Barber is the first Black woman and 16th woman overall to fill this position. To be a brigade commander is to hold the highest student leadership position in the Academy.

16. A 37-year old Asian elephant by the name of Kaavan was considered to be the ‘World’s Lonliest Elephant’ as he resided in a practically abandoned zoo in Islamabad, Pakistan. In late November, Kaavan was moved to an animal sanctuary in Cambodia where he will be cared for and live with three other elephants.

Kaavan (left) who was once the world’s loneliest elephant, touches trunks with one of his new playmates in Cambodia.

17. Vanderbilt soccer player Sarah Fuller made history by becoming the first woman in a Power Five conference to play in an NCAA football game. Fuller made her debut with a 35-yard kickoff in the Vanderbilt vs Missouri game on Nov. 28.

Image courtesy of VarietyTv.

18. Starbucks is offering free tall drinks to healthcare and frontline workers for the whole month of December to show appreciation for those keeping us safe.

19. An end to period poverty; in November, Scotland became the first country in the world to make period products free for everyone. The bill states that period products must be given to anyone who needs them doing so with reasonable dignity.

20. UPS lifted its ban on facial hair and traditionally black hairstyles such as afros and braids. UPS said in a statement that they are “determined to continue to make UPS a great place to work.”

See, it wasn’t all that bad was it?

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