California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed the nation's first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. Here, mixed plastic items are seen at a recycling plant in Vernon, Calif., earlier this year. Reed Saxon/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Reed Saxon/AP

A poultry processing plant in France. Europe banned treating chicken carcasses with chlorine in the 1990s out of fear that it could cause cancer. Christophe Di Pascale/Corbis hide caption

itoggle caption Christophe Di Pascale/Corbis

The rendering industry likes to call itself the world's oldest recycling system. Nearly 100 percent of processed pigs will eventually get used — as meat and in uses as varied as medicine and pet food. iStockphoto hide caption

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Dr. Allan Ropper speaks with residents and fellows as they do rounds at the neuroscience intensive care unit at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. M. Scott Brauer for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption M. Scott Brauer for NPR

Abortions are legal in India. But many are performed by traditional midwives, called dais. Sometimes a dai rubs herbs on a woman's stomach or gives her plants to eat. Poulomi Basu for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Poulomi Basu for NPR

Emily Whittington, a radiation therapist at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, pulls down a mask intended to guide radiation beams into patients with head and neck cancer. Emily Siner/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Emily Siner/NPR

Five industrial wind turbines form part of the Gorona del Viento power plant on the island of El Hierro. By the end of this year, the power plant is set to generate 100 percent of the energy El Hierro needs, making it the world's first energy-independent island powered only by renewables. Lauren Frayer for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lauren Frayer for NPR

A member of the Indian security force keeps watch over a launch vehicle carrying the Mars Orbiter probe at the Indian Space Research Organization facility, in Sriharikota, in 2013. AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption AFP/Getty Images