Glass cars, sentient spoons, and an inventor who's challenging our idea of normal.
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The CW

What is normal?

Many designers create products that are normal but better — or "super normal," as a Japanese design philosophy calls it.

Dominic Wilcox, a designer and inventor from northeast England, has turned this philosophy on its head by using normal items and twisting them into something whimsical. By using everyday items, he takes things we understand and twists them into something "surprising and inventive."


The results are often playful and humorous, like a tummy-rumbling amplification device:

GIF via Dominic Wilcox/YouTube.

Wilcox explained why playfulness opens up the creative process in an interview for design publication Cool Hunting:

"Sometimes there’s a temptation to think, 'What does it do? How do we sell that?' That closes the idea down. I try to keep it open and push it as far as possible. It’s about playfulness, open-mindedness and taking risks, the freedom to make mistakes, whatever they are."

Many of his playful inventions are actually kind of useful.

It's not all tummy-rumbling amplification devices; many of Wilcox's inventions are designed to solve minor inconveniences with whimsical solutions.

Like a nose stylus for hands-free scrolling:

All images via Dominic Wilcox, used with permission.

Shoes that light up to point you in the right direction using built-in GPS navigation:

Stickers to make your shiny car or bicycle look like junk to would-be thieves:

A spoon that "wakes up" as you eat with it, then "loses energy" and goes to sleep after four hours to let you know it's time for a snack:

A teacup with its own mini cooling fan (sadly, this one's only a prototype):

For Wilcox, it's about playing with our idea of "normal."

At last year's London Design Festival, Wilcox showcased his invention for the future — a future where our roads will be so safe that cars could be made of glass. He created a driverless car prototype with colorful stained glass that includes a comfy bed nestled inside:

Passengers would simply relax or take a snooze in their beautiful car while they're safely whisked to their destination.

It completely reimagines what a "normal" driving experience could be. Wilcox mused to Cool Hunting:

"[In my imagination] the future is super safe, so why not have a glass car? Some people might think it’s ridiculous, but why not?"

Wilcox is even twisting what it means to be an inventor.

Stephen Colbert invited Wilcox to appear on "The Late Show," where he tested a number of Wilcox's inventions, including a cereal-serving head crane device:

GIF via "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert."

When Colbert asked Wilcox, "Are you a sculptor or are you an inventor? Because these things seem like conceptual art at the same time as being inventions," Wilcox replied:

"I just like being imaginative and creative. It doesn't matter how I express it. ... I've tried [to invent a word] many times. I did my business cards ... and underneath my name I [put] 'inventurer' — half adventurer, half inventor — but then I scrapped that one."

Here's to the "inventurer" in us all.

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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.

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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.