2016 had a lot of ups and downs. After a shocking U.S. election, the Brexit referendum, and mixed reports on Pizza, dubbed the world’s saddest polar bear, we could all use a reminder on the good news and progress made by countries around the planet.

A lot of good stuff, happened too — like when France banned super skinny models and picnics became a lot more eco-friendly. Here are 13 times countries banned things for the better.

1. Zimbabwe Banned Child Marriage

Zimbabwe made child marriage illegal. The ban came after two women brought a case to the Constitutional Court claiming child marriage resulted in a lack of education and ensuing poverty for both.

"This judgement offers serious protection to children and women who are the unfortunate victims of early marriages," said Tendai Biti, a lawyer for the women, Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi.

Time to follow suit and close up those loopholes in 2017, Tanzania.

2. France Banned Super Skinny Models

2016 saw the rise of stunning, brave, and beautiful models breaking the traditional mold. In addition to women who have suffered acid attacks, or live with a disability, France made it a law to have a healthy body mass index (BMI) on the catwalk or a doctor’s note of approval. If modeling agencies don’t comply, they can face jail time or a €75,000 fine.

Read More: The Burkini Ban Battle Isn’t Over Yet

3. France Banned Supermarket Food Waste

In a big win for food waste and hunger, France passed a law making it the first country to ban supermarket spoilage. The new law requires supermarkets to donate all unsold food about to go rank to charities and food banks. This adds up to 10 million meals for the hungry in France each year.

4. Hamburg Banned Plastic Coffee Pods

Image: Flickr: Joe Shlabotnik

In a win for landfill of Europe, the German city of Hamburg banned those tiny little plastic pods for modern coffee machines. This new law will help make a positive dent for the planet amongst the 9.8 million value packs of pods Keurig sold in 2014.

5. Barcelona Banned Cars From 60% of City Streets

Image: Illustration: BCNecologia

Barcelona was sick and tired of city pollution, which is a growing and seriously concerning issue in Delhi, Paris, and other cities. The difference in this Spanish city was that in 2016, Barcelona took action, creating a plan to make the city less stifling and more enjoyable for citizens. As more people move to cities in the future, developers could learn a lesson from 2016 Barcelona.

6. France Curtailed Weekend Work Emails

2016 made many of us tired of looking at news, computer screens and smartphones. Millennials spend 6.3 hours checking email each day according to one survey in the US. No longer in France will that be the case. A workplace law was amended to mitigate the effects of constantly being “plugged in.”

7. London Banned Body-Shaming Ads on Public Transport

“Are you beach body ready?” exclaimed a loud yellow sign with a slim blonde woman standing in the middle, advertising weight loss pills in the London underground system. The ad was revoked after London mayor Sadiq Khan instated a law banning ads that “demean people, especially women."

Read More: 11 Groups Fighting to End Food Waste and Feed the World

8. Morocco Bans Plastic Bags

Morocco said goodbye to plastic bags in 2016. The ban officially transitioned from a bill to a law on July 1, 2016. Morocco joins Uganda, Somalia, Rwanda, Botswana, Kenya, South Africa, and Ethiopia among African countries who’ve banned plastic bags.

9. UK Took Steps to Ban Microbeads

This was a huge win for marine health and oceans across the globe. Microbeads are those teeny tiny dots found in many personal face wash soaps with the sole purpose of exfoliating and destroying the planet.

"Adding plastic to products like face washes and body scrubs is wholly unnecessary when harmless alternatives can be used,” said Andrea Leadsom, in a statement banning the beads.

10. Stanford Banned Tuition Costs for Students From Families Making Less Than $125K

Not a country, but the number three top university in the U.S. decided to go tuition free for students whose families make less than $125,000 dollar in a year. Stanford will also now cover the cost of room and board from students from families with incomes lower than $65,000. And they banned Brock Turner from ever setting foot on campus again. That’s one campus taking progressive action this past year.

11. France Banned Plastic Cutlery, Cups, and Plates

Picnics in France just got even more romantic. Starting in 2020, barbeques, picnics, and park adventures will be a little more fancy, and a lot less wasteful. In August, the French government outlined a policy banning plastic utensils. France sips through nearly 5 billion plastic cups each year, but from 2017 on, the country will invest more into biodegradables.

Read More: Will the US be the Next to Ban Body-Shaming Ads and Photoshop?

12. Italy Banned Wasting Unsold Food

Italy’s version of banning unsold food in supermarkets varies from France. Instead of punishing stores with fines, Italy will now give tax breaks to businesses who donate food to charities instead of letting it sit sadly and misshapen in dumpsters.

13. Pakistan Banned “Honor Killings”

Image: Facebook / Qandeel Baloch

Global Citizen and CHIME FOR CHANGE, with Equality Now, advocated in support of our #LevelTheLaw campaign to close egregious loopholes existing in Pakistan’s law which previously allowed family members of a victim to pardon a murderer who killed on behalf of the family’s honor. A mandatory sentence term of 25 years is now required. 


Demand Equity

13 Times Countries Banned Things for Good Reasons in 2016

By Meghan Werft