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A group of NBA players opened the ESPYs with a bold statement about violence.

They called on athletes to use their voices to bring attention to violence.

A group of NBA players opened the ESPYs with a bold statement about violence.

Professional athletes hold a unique position within our culture.

Their job, in its most basic sense, is to be really, really good at a game. For this, top players make tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars. Sounds pretty good, right? They're also idolized by men, women, and children around the world, giving them another form of currency at their disposal: influence.


Fans swarm Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper for autographs before a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 24, 2015. Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images.

For a long time, athletes were loath to use that influence when it came to anything even remotely political for fear of losing endorsement deals.

In the early '90s, the Democratic Party asked NBA superstar Michael Jordan to to support former Charlotte, North Carolina, Mayor Harvey Gantt in his bid to unseat Sen. Jesse Helms. At the time, Helms was one of the loudest voices in opposition to the proposal of making Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a national holiday and had a knack for antagonizing black members of Congress by singing "Dixie," a song about longing for the days of slavery, in elevators.

Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Wrong. Jordan, who attended the University of North Carolina, decided not to show support behind Gantt. His reason? "Republicans buy shoes, too."

Jordan wears a pair of his Nike Air Jordan sneakers before a 1995 game against the Orlando Magic. Photo by Allsport USA/Allsport.

This isn't to say all athletes are apolitical in their public appearance. One of the most famous athletes of all time, Muhammad Ali, bucked that trend. For example, Ali protested the Vietnam War by refusing to join after being drafted.

But with an increased focus on police brutality, some stars are becoming more willing to use their social currency to raise awareness.

After the death of Eric Garner, a black man who died in a chokehold performed by a New York City police officer, a number of NBA players wore shirts reading "I Can't Breathe," which were Garner's final words.

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers wears an "I Can't Breathe" shirt during warmups before his game against the Brooklyn Nets on Dec. 8, 2014. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.

Following the shooting of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson, Missouri, St. Louis Rams stars Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, and Chris Givens entered their Nov. 30, 2014, game against the Oakland Raiders doing a "hands up, don't shoot" pose.

Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images.

The WNBA's Minnesota Lynx donned practice shirts honoring the lives of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the five police officers killed in Dallas.


On July 13, 2016, four of the NBA's top players — LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Paul — opened the annual ESPYs award show by calling on their fellow athletes to take action.

“The events of the past week have put a spotlight on the injustice, distrust, and anger that plague so many of us,” Anthony said in reference to the killings of Sterling, Castile, and the Dallas police officers. “The problems are not new, the violence is not new, and the racial divide definitely is not new. But the urgency to create change is at an all-time high.”

“Enough is enough,” Wade added. “Now, as athletes, it is on us to challenge each other to do even more than we already do in our own communities. And the conversation cannot — it cannot — stop as our schedules get busy again. It won’t always be convenient. It won’t. It won’t always be comfortable, but it is necessary.”

NBA players (left to right) Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, and LeBron James speak during the 2016 ESPYs. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

That same day, Anthony penned an opinion piece at The Guardian titled "We athletes can no longer remain on the sidelines in the struggle for justice."

Why is it important for high-profile athletes to take up the cause? Because they have the power to keep the conversation going.

"What we can do is start [to] bring a continuous awareness and keep this conversation going," Anthony writes. "We can’t keep riding on this merry-go-round where tragedy happens, it’s all over TV and social media, everybody talks about it, then in three and four days it’s over with."

As for the rest of us — those of us who aren't professional athletes — we can help, too.

While it certainly helps to have millions of adoring fans hanging on your every word, most of us don't have that — and that's OK. What we can do is just as important. We, too, can refuse to let these instances of tragedy be forgotten. We, too, can use social media to keep this conversation front-of-mind among our friends and family. We, too, can fight for a world where black men aren't gunned down by police officers and police officers aren't gunned down by a sniper. The world, as it is, is only temporary. It's what we do next that really matters.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.