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A necklace that fights homelessness and 30 other holiday gifts with a bigger purpose.

At Upworthy, we believe a little generosity can go a long way. And that's especially true during the holidays.

So naturally, we wanted our 2016 gift guide to be tailored just for you — our big-hearted readers who can appreciate a great gift that also makes the world a better place.

We rounded up the hippest, neatest, most unique products we could find that give back to a variety of worthy causes in important ways. From empowering women in the developing world and keeping our planet pristine, to helping pets in need and fighting human trafficking, you and your loved ones can feel great about their presents this year knowing your purchase went to a cause near and dear to their heart.


Here are 31 holiday gifts that give back, separated into three sections — gifts for grown-ups, for kids, and for your four-legged friends.

NOTE: Upworthy has no official business partnerships with the companies and nonprofit organizations featured in this guide. We just think they have fantastic gifts that give back.

1. The lounge pants of your dreams: $54

Inspired by the Sanskrit word "Sundara," which means "beautiful," these comfy jammies are just that. Made of 100% cotton with side pockets, these pants are perfect for lounging the day away. Each pair you buy is also handmade by women who are survivors of human trafficking and now work as seamstresses. Get some Punjammies.

2. A dashing tie that helps military families: $95

When you buy one of these stylish ties, you're helping the families of fallen soldiers through the Folded Flag Foundation. According to the company's website, each purchase helps fund scholarships for the children and spouses of those who've lost their lives in service, with $5 donated for every tie. Get the tie.

3. A power source that spreads the light: $79

The adventurous techie on your list is going to love this. The WakaWaka Power+ is a solar charger and flashlight in one. It provides 150 hours of bright LED light with a single charge from the sun. It can also charge a smartphone, camera, and any other gear with a USB port. Every purchase will also provide solar light to a family in crisis or living without electricity through International Rescue Committee. Get a WakaWaka.

4. A colorful cardigan to keep them warm: $128

This soft cardigan is made from Peruvian Alpaca wool, and it’s guaranteed to keep your loved ones feeling warm and fuzzy all season long. 25% of each item sold goes to UNICEF, and those funds help to provide vaccines, oral rehydration salts, and nourishment to children in need. Get the Blue Chakana cardigan.

5. A bracelet for your BFF: $76

For your conscientious bestie, look no further. Article22 utilizes the talents of skilled local artisans in Laos to turn Vietnam War shrapnel into stunning jewelry as part of their Peacebomb collection. These friendship bracelets are helping to clear out some of the 80 million unexploded bombs still littering Laos.  Get your friendship bracelet set.

6. A selfless statement cuff: $64

Your fierce and fashionable loved one will appreciate this bronze statement cuff by Raven + Lily. The cuff is sustainably made made from upcycled metal by female artisans in Kenya. Each cuff sold helps provide women in the Kibera slum area of Nairobi, with a way to earn a sustainable living. Get Raven + Lily's statement cuff.

7. Socks with a message: $45

Give your loved one the gift of a right step forward by gifting them these Conscious Step socks. The trio of socks provides two schoolbooks through Room to Read and 18 months of clean water through Water.Org. Want even more of a good conscious? The socks are created in fair trade conditions with organic cotton.  Get a Conscious Step box of socks.

8. An everyday necklace with great impact: $56

The Giving Keys employs people transitioning out of homelessness to make these meaningful keys, inscribed with messages like "hope" and "dream." The wearer is encouraged to embrace the word on their key and then pass the key on to someone who needs it more. Get a mini-key necklace.

9. Beanies that help Mother Nature: $20

Perfect for your friend who loves the Great Outdoors. To celebrate 100 years of the National Park Service, Pendleton has launched the National Park Collection, which includes towels, shoes, and accessories like these classic beanies. A portion of proceeds from the collection will benefit two park restoration projects from the National Park Foundation.Get the Pendleton beanies.

10. A vibrant clutch: $35

It holds all your necessities — and gives back to girls who need an education. This beautiful clutch from Bloom & Give is made of durable cotton and comes in four bright prints. Each purchase will also help a girl go to school. To date, Bloom & Give has enrolled over 100,000 girls in school.Get a Kayva Clutch.

11. A worldly windbreaker: $80

This windbreaker might be reminiscent of the 1980s, but it's actually all about the future. Made by Cotopaxi, a certified B-corporation, purchasing this jacket will help fund grants that focus on alleviating poverty, health care, education, and livelihood development around the world.Get the windbreaker.

12. Girl Power T-shirt: $35

1973 was a historic year for women's rights. It was the year the Supreme Court decided on Roe versus Wade — that every woman should have the right to safe, legal abortions. For every 1973 T-shirt sold, Prinkshop will give 30% of the profit to the National Institute for Reproductive Health. Get the T-shirt.

13. Sunglasses that help give sight to others: $149

TOMS has been at the forefront of "one-for-one" giving, and their sleek, new sunglasses line is no exception. We love this throwback design mixed with the modern TOMS feel, a hand-finished frame, and 100% of all the UVA/UVB protection you'll ever need. With every purchase TOMS will help give sight to a person in need through sight-saving surgery, prescription glasses or medical treatment. Get the glasses.

14. Guilt-free sneakers: $130

These minimalist kicks are from Veja, which sources its materials from organic cotton farms and wild rubber producers and production takes place in fair trade factories in Brazil. Bottom line: When you purchase these sneakers, you're buying eco-friendly and fair trade footwear. Get Veja's Velcro Pierre sneakers.

15. A pin to take on the future together: $10

Pins are everywhere this season so why not gift one that gives back? This lovely Together pin from Just Peachy stands up for women's rights and health care for all. When you purchase the pin,  50% of total sales will be donated directly to Planned Parenthood. Get the Together pin.

16. An umbrella that fights for freedom: $23

When it rains, it pours, so protect those who need it. The ACLU is more crucial than ever right now to help defend the rights and liberties of people across the country. Every umbrella purchase supports the ACLU. Get the freedom umbrella.

17.  Earbuds that help others listen: $70

For the music fan in your circle. LSTN created a pretty pair of rose gold earbuds that provide high quality audio. The wireless ear buds have a battery life of over 10 hours and come with a nifty vegan leather pouch. Even better: Your LSTN purchase helps give hearing aids to someone in need through the Starkey Hearing Foundation. Get the rose gold earbuds.

18. The perfect pouch for bookworms: $15

Because we all have a Jane Austen fanatic in our lives. 100% of proceeds from this purple pouch will help fund the renowned New York Public Library. NYPL is the largest public library system in the country, so your purchase is helping a grand institution keep people reading. Get the library pouch.

19. Sweet treats: $30-$120

Get freshly baked cookies delivered in flavors such as lemon sugar, peanut butter chocolate, and triple chocolate chunk. A Cookies for Kids' Cancer purchase will support research at the best pediatric cancer centers across the country. Get the cookies.

20. Body lotion with heart: $8-$28

'Tis the season for dry skin, so keep your friends protected with body lotion. The ingredients in Lush's Charity Pot alone will make them feel amazing with fair trade olive oil and shea butter. And Lush donates 100% of proceeds from the lotion to environmental, animal, and human rights orgs. To date, they have donated over $17 million to great causes. Get the Charity Pot body lotion.

21. A book written by girls, for girls: $20

Girls Write Now is after-school initiative that just published its newest installment of poetry and essays — "(R)evolution: The Girls Write Now 2016 Anthology" — written by the young women who participate in the program. Proceeds from the bookhelp empower underserved teen girls by pairing them with mentors who are professional writers. Previous anthologies have won awards and have been praised by literary figures such as Roxane Gay, Janet Mock, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Gloria Steinem.
Get "(R)evolution: The Girls Write Now 2016 Anthology."

22. Art fighting hate: $10 (and up)

Illustrator Jeff Couturier wants you to donate to some important charities, including ACLU, NAACP, and Planned Parenthood. When you make a donation, email him the receipt and he'll create an original illustration for you. "When it comes to hate and intolerance, I don't want to make a little dent with my small donation. I want to kick the door down with a few million friends," he said of the project. 100% of what you donate goes directly to the cause of your choice and you'll receive handmade art for your friend. It’s truly a win-win.Get the original art.

23. A bottle of wine that helps feed the world: $59

OneHope is an award-winning Napa winery, so you know this bottle of sparkling wine is going to taste great, as well as give back. In the last six years, OneHope has donated over 1.1 million meals to children, along with providing monetary donations, shelter, and vaccines. Every Bottle of OneHope gold sparkling wine equals 15 meals for children in need. Get OneHope gold sparkling wine.

24. A cool cat that fights hunger: $45

Maximus the Cat from Cuddle + Kind is peak kitten cuteness, hand-knitted with cotton yard. His favorite quote — “Start each day with a grateful heart” — is a perfect holiday reminder to all of us to stay thankful, even during the toughest of times. When you buy Maximus, you'll be providing 10 meals to children in need through the World Food Program's School Meals Program. Get Maximus the Cat.

25. A ukulele that keeps America informed: $40

What's more charming than a kid playing a little four-string Hawaiian guitar? NPR's DIY wood ukulele kit is super easy to assemble and made-ready to stain or personalize, whichever way you please. This gift's proceeds will benefit NPR, a public radio station that provides all Americans with thoughtful programming known for broadening horizons. Get NPR's ukulele.

26. A baby hat that helps Haiti: $25

Silky and snug, Haiti Babi's hat is made from the same warm pima cotton as the company's blankets — yet it's durable enough to survive the three Ts: “teething, tumbles, and tantrums.” When you buy this hat, you'll be helping provide a living wage to the Haitian women who make them.Get Haiti Babi's baby hat.

27. The fire hydrant that fights for dogs: $20

Your pup will be all over this smiley toy from PrideBites. It squeaks, it floats, and its sales help fund the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation, a group fighting back against animal cruelty and neglect in all its forms.Get the dog toy.

28. "Ugly" holiday doggy T-shirt: $16

Don't forget — your pets aren't immune to the changing seasons either. Bundle up your little furball with this "ugly" holiday T-shirt (that looks like a sweater). Proceeds from the sale benefit the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an American animal rights organization.Get your pup's "ugly" holiday sweater.

29. Veggie toys good for your (cat's) soul: $9 each

Your cat might not like eating veggies but will definitely enjoy these eggplant- and radish-shaped toys, which are handmade in California using 100% organic catnip. Like the dog shirt above, your purchase of these toys helps PETA fight for animal rights. Get the veggie cat toys.

30. Delicious dog peanut butter: $10

Dogsbutter — yep, peanut butter for dogs — is a healthy way to take your treat-giving game up a notch. It’s made from peanuts and flaxseed, minus any sugar, salt, or hydrogenated oils you may want to avoid, and it works wonders when you're trying to get your pup to swallow some medicine. What's more, for each item you buy, an equal amount of food is provided to a pet shelter, so dogs in need will also benefit. Get Dogsbutter for your four-legged friend.

31. Starchaser cat toy: $23

Is your cat slowly destroying your sofa? This scratch pad with catnip — which comes with a motion-activated LED ball on a circular track — will keep your kitty occupied for hours (instead of ruining your furniture). Your purchase will help the Animal Rescue Site provide food and care for our furry friends in need. Get the Starchaser cat toy.

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Joy

Terrified, emaciated dog comes to life as volunteer sits with him for human connection

He tries making himself so small in the kennel until he realizes he's safe.

Terrified dog transforms after human sits with him.

There's something about dogs that makes people just want to cuddle them. They have some of the sweetest faces with big curious eyes that make them almost look cartoonish at times. But not all dogs get humans that want to snuggle up with them on cold nights; some dogs are neglected or abandoned. That's where animal shelters come in, and they work diligently to take care of any medical needs and find these animals loving homes.

Volunteers are essential to animal shelters running effectively to fill in the gaps employees may not have time for. Rocky Kanaka has been volunteering to sit with dogs to provide comfort. Recently he uploaded a video of an extremely emaciated Vizsla mix that was doing his best to make himself as small as possible in the corner of the kennel.

Kanaka immediately wanted to help him adjust so he would feel comfortable enough to eat and eventually get adopted. The dog appeared scared of his new location and had actually rubbed his nose raw from anxiety, but everything changed when Kanaka came along.


The volunteer slowly entered the kennel with the terrified dog, crouching on his knees for an easy escape if needed. But the dog attempted to essentially become invisible by avoiding eye contact and staying curled in a tiny ball. It seemed like it was going to take a long time for this nervous pup to warm up.

Before long, he's offered a treat. Success! The brown dog takes the treat, and as minutes pass you can see his body slowly relax, eventually coming to sit directly next to Kanaka for pets. In the few minutes of the video, you see such an amazing transformation that proves this little guy just needed some love.

"It was so cute when he started wagging his tail. You could tell his whole demeanor just changed, and he was happy. Just a few kind words and a little attention. That’s all animals need. Well, besides food. Lol," one commenter says.

"That moment when he starts to realize he's actually safe. That gradual tail wag, and the ears perking, the eyes lighting up. You don't have to be an expert to show an animal love and respect," another writes.

"After that first treat his entire demeanor changed. He went from not trusting you to thinking you may be kind and he could feel less stressed. That was really amazing to see," someone gushes.

This sweet scared dog just needed human connection by someone taking the time to sit with him to know he was safe. Once he was sure the shelter was a safe place, the dog even welcomed those who came to visit him after seeing the video.

"I went to the shelter today to visit 'Bear'! Everyone would be thrilled to hear that he seems very happy and energetic! He has a little red squeaky bone toy that he loves. He licked my hand immediately and rubbed his head on my legs and arms, eager for affection. What a sweetheart," a commenter writes.

Thanks to Kanaka's sweet gesture, the dog, now named Shadow Moon, was adopted and is now living his best life with his new human dad and husky brother. You can follow Shadow Moon's journey on his Instagram page.


This article originally appeared on 12.1.23

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

A woman is sad after getting charged a huge junk fee.

Just about everyone has had the depressing experience of sitting through a long queue to get concert tickets, only to find when they were ready to check out, the price was 30 to 40% higher because of service fees added by the ticketing company.

People often have the same experience when ordering food through an app, only to see a massive service fee applied right before they're ready to place their order.

These service fees, known by many as “junk fees,” are popping up everywhere these days, from surprise resort fees charged when checking out of a hotel to a 4% surcharge on a dinner bill that the restaurant added so you can help pay for their employees' healthcare.


The good news for people in California is that a new bill will go into effect on July 1st that bans hidden or unexpected fees on everything from concert tickets to cruise packages. Senate Bill 478 (SB 478) makes it illegal for businesses to advertise or list a price for a good or service that does not include all required fees or charges other than certain government taxes and shipping costs.

“Our price transparency law is about clear and honest communication with consumers so consumers can make the financial choices that are best for them and their families. This new guidance provides information for businesses across California to ensure that clear answers are available, particularly for small businesses,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement. “The law is simple: the price you see is the price you pay. Laws work when everyone can comply. I am pleased that we can offer this guidance to help facilitate compliance with the law and make a more fair and level marketplace for businesses and consumers."

A 2023 survey of Americans found that 2 out of 3 said they were paying more in surprise charges now than they had five years earlier.

The bill is good news for consumers who want to make thoughtful decisions about how they spend their money, especially when inflation has made it a lot harder to stretch a dollar. However, the bill probably won’t make things any cheaper. Businesses most likely won’t stop charging these hidden fees; instead, they will be rolled into the listed price instead of popping up out of nowhere right before you hit the “pay now” button.

State Senator Bill Dodd from Napa, the bill's co-author, stated its goals: “A consumer shouldn’t discover hidden fees made up by a business when they pay their bill.”

As the old saying goes, “As goes California, so goes the nation,” and when companies are forced to alter their pricing and marketing in America's most populous state, it’s bound to create changes for consumers across the country. The new law could be the first shot in a larger war against junk fees.

In 2023, President Biden called out Ticketmaster and others who charge "junk fees" in his State of the Union address, claiming he’ll get “rid of junk fees, those hidden fees at the end of your bill that are there without your knowledge.” In his 2022 State of the Union speech, Biden criticized the hotel industry for surprise fees at checkout. "We’ll ban surprise ‘resort fees’ that hotels tack on to your bill. These fees can cost you up to $90 a night at hotels that aren’t even resorts,” Biden said.

This Federal pressure led several companies, including Live Nation, SeatGeek, xBk, Airbnb, the Pablo Center at the Confluence, TickPick, DICE and the Newport Festivals Foundation, to make their pricing more transparent.


Science

Americans see gardening changes as 'plant hardiness zones' shift across half the U.S.

Here's a quick tool to find out if your zone has changed due to warmer temperatures.

Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash, Map by USDA-ARS and Oregon State University (Public Domain)

The USDA has issued a new Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Millions of American households have a garden of some sort, whether they grow vegetables, fruits flowers or other plants. Gardening has always been a popular hobby, but more Americans turned to tending plants during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic for both stress relief and to grow their own food so they could make less trips to the store. For many people, it's a seasonal ritual that's therapeutic and rewarding.

But a shift is occurring in the gardening world. Now, due to rising temperature data, half the country find themselves in a different "plant hardiness zone"—the zones that indicate what plants work well in an area and when to plant them. Gardeners rely on knowing their hardiness zone to determine what to plant and when, but they haven't been updated since 2012.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture updated its Plant Hardiness Zone Map in late 2023, months before people in most of the country start planning their planting. We saw the 10 hottest summers ever recorded in 174 years of climate data between 2014 and 2023, but hardiness zones are actually determined by the coldest winter temperatures each year. Winters are warming at an even faster pace than summers, according to nonpartisan research and communications group Climate Central, but that may or may not be the entire reason behind the zone changes.

The USDA acknowledges that some of the zone shifts could be due to climate change but cautions against using them as hard evidence for it since factors such as improved data collection also contribute to changes in the map.

people planting flowers

Gardening can be a solo or community endeavor.

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

"Temperature updates to plant hardiness zones are not necessarily reflective of global climate change because of the highly variable nature of the extreme minimum temperature of the year, as well as the use of increasingly sophisticated mapping methods and the inclusion of data from more weather stations," the USDA wrote in November 2023. "Consequently, map developers involved in the project cautioned against attributing temperature updates made to some zones as reliable and accurate indicators of global climate change (which is usually based on trends in overall average temperatures recorded over long time periods)."

At the same time, Chris Daly, director of the PRISM Climate Group at Oregon State University that developed the map with the USDA, told NPR, "Over the long run, we will expect to see a slow shifting northward of zones as climate change takes hold."

As an example of zone shifting, Dallas, Texas, was classified as Zone 8a in 2012, when data showed the coldest winter temperature in the city was between 10 and 15 degrees Fahrenheit on average. In 2023, with data showing the coldest winter temps falling between 15 and 20 degrees Fahrenheit, it's been shifted to Zone 8b.

Some zone shifts resulted in moving to an entirely new zone number, such as Seattle shifting from Zone 8b to Zone 9a. The overall trend was for zones to be pushed northward, but not all areas saw a shift. NPR has a helpful tool here in which you can enter your zip code, see what zone your city was previously in, what zone it's in now, and the temperature changes that caused the shift.

The bottom line is if you have a gardening book with a hardiness zones map printed before 2024, it's time for an updated map. Or check online to see what zone you fall in now to give your garden the best chance of thriving this year.

Health

Neuroscience learns what Buddhism has known for ages: There is no constant self

Buddhist Monks have known for thousands of years what science is just now learning: the mind can be changed by training it.

Ven. Thich Thong Hai prays by a statue of Buddha in the garden at the Ventura Buddhist Center.

Proving that science and religion can, in fact, overlap, University of British Columbia researcher Evan Thompson has confirmed the Buddhist teaching of the not-self, or "anatta," is more than just a theory.

"Buddhists argue that nothing is constant, everything changes through time, you have a constantly changing stream of consciousness," he tells Quartz. "And from a neuroscience perspective, the brain and body is constantly in flux. There's nothing that corresponds to the sense that there's an unchanging self."


This reality that nothing stays the same should be liberating, because if people believe it, they'll no longer define themselves by their thoughts or be limited by a fixed idea of who they are. Their possibilities will be endless.

Buddhist Monks have known for thousands of years what science is just now learning: the mind can be changed by training it. Neuroplasticity, as it's called, endows people with the ability to grow and evolve, triumphing over bad habits and becoming more like the individuals they want to be.

Buddha, religion, self awareness, evolution, enlightenment

Buddha GIF

Giphy Discover & share this Big GIF with everyone you know. GIPHY is how you search, share, discover, and create GIFs.

Still, exactly how consciousness relates to the brain eludes both Buddhism and neuroscience. Buddhists suppose there's an iteration of consciousness that doesn't require a physical body; neuroscientists disagree.

"In neuroscience, you'll often come across people who say the self is an illusion created by the brain," Thompson says. "My view is that the brain and the body work together in the context of our physical environment to create a sense of self. And it's misguided to say that just because it's a construction, it's an illusion."


This article originally appeared on 09.23.17


Categories are great for some things: biology, herbs, and spices, for example.

Image via

But bodies? Well, putting bodies into categories just gets weird. There are around 300 million people in America, but only 12 or so standard sizes for clothing: extra-extra-small through 5x.


That's why designer Mallorie Dunn is onto something with her belief — people have different bodies and sizing isn't catching up.

Dunn has found that the majority of clothing sizes stop at an extra-large, yet the majority of women in America are over that. "And that just doesn't make sense," she says.

All images via Smart Glamor, used with permission.

Human spice rack, only, a LOT more variations of flava. ;)



That's why she started a project around her clothing label, Smart Glamour, to document the bodies of models according to their sizes — and to show how one size can look very different on different bodies.

In pursuit of creating a fashion environment that's kinder to all bodies, Dunn has dedicated herself to educating consumers about sizing.

First, she found 60 people of 12 different sizes and took their pictures.

Then, she put five women at a time in the same size of skirt and shirt to show how diversely beautiful human bodies are and to prove that everyone looks different in clothes no matter what size they have on.

She hoped to show people that 12 sizes don't even come close to capturing the beauty of the human form.

All these models are wearing the same size ... but do they look the same?

"No matter what size you are that's not what dictates your worth or your beauty."

"I had a convo with a friend of mine who was like 'Yeah, if I went from a medium to a large, I'd be fine with it, but if I went from a large to an extra-large, that wouldn't be OK' and I was like, 'Why???' And she had no rational reason behind that," Dunn said, describing a conversation we've all either had, started, or heard. "We've been taught forever that the bigger something sounds, the worse that it is."

Dunn's project also shows just how arbitrary and narrow-minded clothing sizes are.

Sizes really are just numbers.

Unlike the images we are presented both in clothing ads and in entertainment and media, human beings aren't, as Dunn remarked, "robots who come out on a conveyor belt ... we're all shaped differently."

The pressure to look one way is obnoxious. And kinda dangerous.

"We've been taught forever that the bigger something sounds, the worse that it is."

There's so much weight — no pun intended — on being the "right" size.

"You put an 'extra' on top of a 'large,' and suddenly it's the end of the world," Dunn said of her experience in fashion sizing. "... And it really doesn't mean anything, it really only means that there's an extra inch of fabric."

One extra inch of fabric.

3 in 4 girls report feeling depressed, guilty, or shameful after just three minutes of leafing through a fashion mag.

But I'd like to imagine a world where everyone can try on clothes and leave the emotional burden of worrying about fit to the clothes.

Instead, let's focus on what looks good on our bodies. Let the clothes handle the emotional roller coaster of not fitting, and you just live your life in the body you've been given.

Dunn, who has worked for fashion houses for her whole career, puts it bluntly: "Clothes are not made for all bodies. ... We shouldn't then think when something doesn't fit us that it's somehow our fault."

Dunn's models also have a group on Facebook where they support each other, compliment each other, and generally lift each other up. Model Stephanie describes it this way: "We see the beauty in one another and help each other to recognize our own beauty at the same time." Fashion leading to body optimism and confidence? Yes, please.

And Dunn herself drives a hard line when it comes to feeling good in the skin you've been given. Her philosophy is this: No matter what size you are, that's not what dictates your worth or your beauty.

Self-worth not based on appearances. That's a category we can all aspire to "fit" into!


This article originally appeared on 07.27.16