3 of everyone's favorite cities are getting serious about trash.

Big cities have a lot of trash.

Right now you're probably thinking, "Yeah sure, handsome guy, tell me something I don't know."


A trashy city. Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images.

But the problem is actually way worse than you think.

In 2012, the world's cities produced about 1.4 billion tons of garbage. Which is really hard to imagine.

Picture a large, fully grown polar bear:

From left: polar bear, lady. Photo by Sebastian Bozon/AFP/Getty Images.

Now picture 1.3 billion of them. In terms of weight, that's about how much we're trash we're talking about.

Again, it's hard to imagine.

Besides being unsightly, smelly, and an obstacle we step over on our way to the subway, the trash problem in our cities is pretty serious.

In general, when we throw something in the garbage, it's either burned or relocated, and both of those processes come with a host of problems for the environment.

A trash incinerator in Amsterdam. Photo by John D. McHugh/AFP/Getty Images.

Burning trash can release toxic fumes into the air, which contributes to air pollution and even acid rain, which is a very harmful chemical reaction in the sky (not a Frank Zappa album).

When we relocate trash to a landfill or dump, it just sits there, festering, which isn't good either. Some of it can take literally millions of years to break down, and the rest can release big clouds of methane gas, which causes a greenhouse effect.

In its current form, our trash situation is a real lose-lose.

Cities around the world have to majorly step up if they want to get their trash problems under control.

Luckily, a few of them have.

San Fransisco is tackling the trash problem through a recently approved ban on Styrofoam.

It's the biggest ban of its kind in the country, stopping all uses of polystyrene foam (which is commonly, albeit incorrectly, referred to as Styrofoam) in the city.

The ban is set to take effect next year and is an extension of the city's already strict bans on plastic shopping bags and nonrecyclable or noncompostable to-go food containers.

San Fransisco also has some of the strictest recycling and composting laws in the country. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Some have spoken out against the foam ban, saying that it will hurt small businesses and even cut jobs, as the alternatives to polystyrene packaging (such as compostable or reusable packaging) tend to be more expensive.

Still, the damaging effects of polystyrene use, especially on a city-wide scale, are too big to ignore. Polystyrene doesn't decompose, animals can die from ingesting it, it can leach chemicals into food, and it makes that annoying squeaky sound when you you rub it.

Meanwhile, in New York City, the mayor challenged businesses to cut their waste in half — and, incredibly, they did.

That's right. In just five months, 31 major businesses around New York, including Whole Foods, Viacom, and Anheuser-Busch, managed to keep 35,000 tons of trash off the streets.

This is great news because if you've ever been to New York and opened your eyes, you've probably seen firsthand how bad the trash problem can be.

Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images.

New York City produces way more trash than any other city in the world — twice as much garbage as Tokyo, a city with 12 million more people.

In early 2016, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio challenged New York's businesses to cut their waste in half by June as part of an ongoing effort to eventually become a zero-waste city. So far, it's been successful.

Businesses have switched to reusable materials, cut packaging, and donated leftover food to rescue organizations like City Harvest, which donated hundreds of tons of leftover food to pantries and homeless shelters.

Finally, Londoners are pushing their city to handle food waste in a more environmentally friendly way, in a facility separate from the trash system.

You probably don't have a separate garbage can just for food, right? Even if you do, are you sending that waste to a facility that's specifically outfitted to treat biodegradable compost instead of regular garbage? Probably not.

Bio Collectors, a food recycling organization, says that only 18 of London's 33 boroughs have facilities specifically for handling food waste, and many of them aren't operating at full capacity. About 980,000 tons of food goes into the regular garbage system, where it contributes to those harmful environmental effects I mentioned earlier.

Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

Bio Collectors thinks London can do better. It launched a campaign to put pressure on London councils to use the plants more effectively and address food waste from the ground up (pun very intended).

Responsibly handling food waste is all part of what Bio Collectors' managing director Paul Killoughery calls the "circular economy."

“The focus of shopping locally and eating locally sourced food should extend to how we deal with our food waste," Killoughery says. "This would then feed into the circular economy of food that travels from farm to fork, then back to farm."

Let's face it: You probably don't spend a lot time thinking about garbage.

If you do, you're either a weirdo or a garbage collector! In which case, have fun hanging onto the back of that truck! It looks super cool.


Photo by Ilvy Njiokiktjien/AFP/Getty Images.

Most of us just throw our trash into the bin and don't think about where it goes or how it all adds up. Those of us who live in big cities probably see the piles of bags on the street every week but don't necessarily think of them in a broader context.

That's understandable. But you do need to know that this waste problem is huge and needs to be addressed. In cities, especially, there is a massive amount of work that needs to be done to cut down on trash.

It's awesome to see that some of our biggest cities are having success through programs like these — but this is just the start.

Responsibly handling trash and waste is the big, smelly, disgusting key to our future on Earth.

Other cities should learn from what New York, San Francisco, and London are doing — and do what they can to get ahead of the game too.

Heroes

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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Culture