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Each year, the U.S. tosses $11.4 billion worth of recyclable containers and packaging.

Just flinging bills into the air...


And, believe it or not, the recycling rate in the U.S. has lurched along at about 34% for two decades, far lower than other industrialized countries.

That's serious money down the drain. Take aluminum cans. Making cans from recycled aluminum requires 95% less energy and creates 90% less greenhouse-gas emissions than virgin aluminum, yet more than 40 billion cans hit America's landfills every year. 40 billion.

Plastic is a particularly gnarly issue. We not only emit greenhouse gases when we create the stuff, but the environmental impacts of plastic waste (and we often toss plastic items out after only a single use) are gut-wrenching.

We've created an archipelago of plastic in the middle of the Pacific. Talking globally, plastic pollution in the oceans costs at least $13 billion a year. This is just not nice.

So why don't we do a better job of recycling?

Every recycled material (aluminum, plastic, glass, etc.) has its own story, but here's the gist:

  • A lot of U.S. plastic has been recycled in China. We get tons of fun consumer stuff from China in big shipping containers. Rather than ship the containers back empty, we've been filling them up with recyclables and sending them to China where the recyclables are sorted and recycled into more fun consumer stuff. This is changing though, since — surprise! — they don't want our smelly, gooey, dangerous recycla-mess anymore.
  • Most of our recycling plants are outdated and can't handle the mix of all the different materials we send them.
  • Our recycling system is all over the place. City recycling plants operate very differently from each other making sourcing recycled materials difficult for any company wanting to use a recycled material.
  • We don't charge high enough landfill fees. Towns and cities can still “afford" to throw stuff away.
  • 25% of us don't even have curbside recycling at all. And that's just plain sad. :(
  • Even the green-blooded enviros among us still throw recyclables away. When the recycling container isn't convenient, we use the trash.

There's a bright spot in this garbage heap of sad news.

Recycling technology has improved, in part thanks to a secret weapon called optical sorting, which uses cameras and lasers to separate out which things are not like the others. You know, like separating frogs from green beans headed for the supermarket.

I'm not kidding, this is a real example.

More relevant to recycling, we are using optical sorting to separate different types of plastic and different colors of glass. So a stream of multicolored glass bits...


...can be mechanically sorted to be all of the same color...

...bottle to bottle. Has a nice ring. Here's how that works:

[vimeo_embed https://player.vimeo.com/video/67692057?title=0&byline=0&badge=0 expand=1]

Let's keep pushing for more and better recycling. And any time you're tempted to use the trash can — think money!

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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People have clearly missed their free treats.

The COVID-19 pandemic had us waving a sad farewell to many of life’s modern conveniences. And where it certainly hasn’t been the worst loss, not having free samples at grocery stores has undoubtedly been a buzzkill. Sure, one can shop around without the enticing scent of hot, fresh artisan pizza cut into tiny slices or testing out the latest fancy ice cream … but is it as joyful? Not so much.

Trader Joe’s, famous for its prepandemic sampling stations, has recently brought the tradition back to life, and customers are practically dancing through the aisles.


On the big comeback weekend, people flocked to social media to share images and videos of their free treats, including festive Halloween cookies (because who doesn’t love TJ’s holiday themed items?) along with hopeful messages for the future.
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She's enjoying the big benefits of some simple life hacks.

James Clear’s landmark book “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” has sold more than 9 million copies worldwide. The book is incredibly popular because it has a simple message that can help everyone. We can develop habits that increase our productivity and success by making small changes to our daily routines.

"It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis,” James Clear writes. “It is only when looking back 2 or 5 or 10 years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones becomes strikingly apparent.”

His work proves that we don’t need to move mountains to improve ourselves, just get 1% better every day.

Most of us are reluctant to change because breaking old habits and starting new ones can be hard. However, there are a lot of incredibly easy habits we can develop that can add up to monumental changes.

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