Horrified by how much plastic is in the ocean, this girl ramped up her recycling game.

Anyone can be an environmental superhero.

Miranda Legg has always known the recycling basics, but she didn't realize just how harmful plastic can be if not recycled properly until she visited a sea turtle hospital in Florida.

At the time, she was a sophomore in high school, and she recalls seeing helpless sea creatures living with injuries, sometimes permanent ones, that were the result of plastic garbage in the ocean. Miranda has carried the experience with her ever since.

A turtle stuck in the plastic rings that hold soda cans. Photo by Stefan Leijon/Flickr.


It was a closeup view of a worldwide epidemic. According to a study published in Science Magazine, more than 8 trillion tons of garbage makes it into the ocean every year. And, if things don't change soon, that number could increase 10 times over in the next decade.

The harrowing statistics hit Miranda hard. She was determined to do something to try and counteract them.  

Thankfully, she was already in touch with DoSomething.org, a nonprofit that helps people, especially younger generations, make a positive impact on the world. The organization is essentially an online tool that connects people with social good campaigns that speak to them, making it easier than ever to get up and help.

Miranda had already participated in a few of DoSomething's campaigns in the past, so when she received an email from them alerting her to Garnier and TerraCycle's Rinse, Recycle, Repeat College Competition, she immediately applied to take part.

DoSomething is currently partnered with Garnier's Rinse Recycle Repeat campaign, which is educating the younger generations about how to recycle their beauty products the right way. Half of Americans don't recycle them at all which is part of why beauty and personal care products make up approximately one-third of the trash in landfills. This campaign is working to shrink those statistics.

"I really wanted to participate because, one: I love a good competition, and two: I loved the cause," writes Miranda in an email.

Photo by Miranda Legg.

The rules were simple — starting April 1, 2018, the 50 national colleges that had made it into the competition would compete to collect as many empty beauty and personal care plastic containers as they could. Whichever college team had collected the most empties by the end of April would be named the winner, and rewarded with a green garden for their community. The team leader would also receive a $2,000 scholarship.

Motivated by competition and the desire to inspire positive change, Miranda put out rallying cries on social media for friends, students and teachers to bring her their bathroom bottles.

She sent emails around to everyone she knew who either went to Winston Salem State University or lived close to her home. She set up recycling boxes all over campus and at both her parents' places of business. She also encourages people to get rid of old products that were just taking up space.

"One thing that really helped was I asked everyone to go through their space under the bathroom sink and see what is expired," explains Miranda. "For example under my sink I found a sunscreen that had expired in 2007."

We're all guilty of holding onto products for months or even years after their expiration date. So not only was Miranda helping the environment, she was giving tons of people the perfect opportunity to de-clutter.

Thanks to an incredibly supportive network of family, friends, teachers, and classmates, by the end of the competition, Miranda had collected over 5,000 empties.

But was that enough to win her the title of #1 college empties recycler?

DoSomething had a leaderboard going throughout April on their website so people could see how the college teams were doing. While Miranda was often in the lead, there was a point towards the end where she sat firmly in second place. Scared she wasn't going to pull out ahead, she once again implored her recycling troops to bring her anything and everything they had left.

Tomorrow (Sunday) is the last day to turn in recycling for my #rrrsweepstakes campaign! We have a total of 4,213 so far!...

Posted by Miranda Legg on Saturday, April 28, 2018

That final motivating push turned out to be more than enough — by the last week in April, Miranda's final empties count was almost double that of the team in second place.

Now that Miranda's won the competition, she can't wait to help turn empties into a green garden for her school. If all goes according to plan, the garden should open in either September or October with a commemorative ribbon cutting ceremony and volunteer day.

"I am so excited to see how it is going to turn out, but it really wouldn’t be possible without Garnier and Terracycle," writes Miranda. "I’ve seen some of the gardens they have made before and they are amazing."

But don't think for a second that just because the competition's over, Miranda's going to stop working for a cleaner planet. She's got bigger plans.

She's doing a Plastic Free July, which is simply refusing single-use plastic like bags at convenience stores or plastic straws at coffee shops. While these may sound like little, inconsequential things, Miranda knows more than most just how much of an impact these adjustments make on the environment.

Armed with knowledge like this, Miranda's now that person who always takes plastic bottles out of the trash and recycles them. She also advocates for reusing and proper recycling whenever she can.

But most importantly, Miranda wants people to know that large-scale change can and does start with one person. It's just about making small adjustments and incorporating them into your day to day life. If you can do that, you're helping all of us get closer to a cleaner planet.

If you want to join Miranda in being a better recycler, start collecting empty beauty containers. Once you've accumulated 10 pounds, mail them to TerraCycle. So far, Garnier's Rinse Recycle Repeat campaign has kept over 10 million empties out of landfills.

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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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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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via KGW-TV / YouTube

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