Is trying to be eco-friendly stressing you out? These tips may help.
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Savers

Taking care of the planet can feel like a monumental task.

For those of us who want to reduce our footprint, it can be hard to know where to start. Does recycling need to be separated? Should you get a hybrid? How do you get rid of old clothes? What to do with all of those odds and ends that you know shouldn't be trashed but aren't sure are recyclable?


Image by woodleywonderworks/Flickr.

Honestly, if you're even thinking about these things and asking yourself these questions, you're well on your way.

Don't feel overwhelmed!

Becoming an eco-friendly superhero won't happen overnight, but you can make a few improvements that'll help you to feel better and help the planet to thrive longer. Baby steps.

Image by Bill G./Flickr.

If taking care of the planet were easy and intuitive to our lifestyles, it wouldn't be an issue in the first place. Start small and once those things become routine, feel free to build from there!

Here are five ways to be eco-friendly that won't leave you feeling overwhelmed or inconvenienced.

1. Heading somewhere? Carpool!

According to the United States Census Bureau, as of 2013, "about 86% of all workers commuted to work by private vehicle." That's a lot of cars.

Cars are major contributors to air pollution, but for so many people, there simply aren't other viable options for getting around daily. But there's one small and easy way to help out: carpooling.

Image by Prayitno/Flickr.

Carpooling is the best of both worlds. You're helping the environment, and there are many incentives that make carpooling an attractive option for commuters. From special lanes to splitting gas and city programs that offer cash rewards, it's a wonder that more people aren't doing it.

2. Textile recycling: Savers and their nonprofit partners can pick up your old clothes; you just need to place them outside.

On their Facebook page, Savers reminds us that "clothing and textile recycling has a greater impact on reducing greenhouse gases than the recycling of yard waste, glass, and plastic." So how can you try to be a part of the solution?

The Savers family of thrift stores and their partners make it pretty easy. All you have to do is set an appointment and place your clothes outside your door. They'll show up, grab the bag, and make sure your best items find a new home and any remaining items get recycled. Easy.

Image by Andy Lyon/Flickr.

Is home-pickup not offered in your town? No worries! There are many clothing donation bins dispersed throughout neighborhoods. If there aren't any bins in your area, you can throw the bag in the back of your car and take your donation to a store. No fuss, minimal hassle, and nothing goes to waste.

3. Is this recyclable? Here's how to tell.

Have you noticed the little recycling arrows on some of your containers and bags? You may be sad to know that the symbol doesn't automatically mean that an item is recyclable. The materials used to package so many of our everyday items are not made equally. Some of them have been too chemically altered during their manufacturing process and simply can't be recycled.

Image by Alan Levine/Flickr.

So how do you know which items can be recycled and which can't? Greenopedia offers cheat codes. Plastic items with the numbers 1 or 2 in the little triangles are safe. 4 and 5 are maybes. 3, 6, and 7 are a no. All of that a little overwhelming? Try focusing on the items you know can be recycled. When you get used to identifying them, graduate to the maybes. There are those baby steps mentioned earlier. Don't beat yourself up if you can't become a master recycler immediately.

4. Composting: What is it and how should we do it?

Home Composting Made Easy shares that it's estimated "about one-half of all food that is produced or consumed in the U.S. is discarded." World Food Day USA reminds us that "in the USA, 30-40% of the food supply is wasted, equaling more than 20 pounds of food per person per month." That's a lot of food getting thrown out.

Here's the thing: A lot of that excess food could be composted! So the next time you're about to toss out a spotted banana, think about composting it instead.

There are a few different options for creating your own compost, from a sealed pail that you empty into a compost bin to a worm bin. If you're feeling crafty, you can even build your own! Some cities let you put food waste right into the yard waste bin to be picked up for composting (but make sure your city is one of them before giving it a try).

Image by Lindsay/Flickr.

What's good to compost? All of the below, according to Home Composting Made Easy.

  • All your vegetable and fruit wastes, (including rinds and cores) even if they are moldy and ugly
  • Old bread, donuts, cookies, crackers, pizza crust, noodles: anything made out of flour!
  • Grains (cooked or uncooked): rice, barley, etc.
  • Coffee grounds, tea bags, filters
  • Fruit or vegetable pulp from juicing
  • Old spices
  • Outdated boxed foods from the pantry
  • Egg shells (crush well)
  • Corn cobs and husks (cobs breakdown very slowly)

5. Crafty? Try DIY recycling projects.

If you're the sort of person who loves making new things, then your used wine bottles, water bottles, cans, and more can become your new project. The options are limitless. From paintings to sculptures to horticultural endeavors, where there's a will, there's a way. These pictures can speak for themselves.

Image by John Lambert Pearson/Flickr.

Image by Erika G./Flickr.

Image by Giles Williams/Flickr.

Up for trying one or two or all of these tips? The planet and future generations will thank you for making an effort to keep this planet that we call home safe from the waste we've created.

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This year, we've all experienced a little more stress and anxiety. This is especially true for youth facing homelessness, like Megan and Lionel. Enter Covenant House, an international organization that helps transform and save the lives of more than a million homeless, runaway, and trafficked young people.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is Delivering Smiles this holiday season by donating essential items and fulfilling AmazonSmile Charity Lists for organizations, like Covenant House, that have been impacted this year more than ever. Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a charity of your choice or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down...in the most delightful way.

There are certain songs from kids' movies that most of us can sing along to, but we often don't know how they originated. Now we have a timely insight into one such song—"A Spoonful of Sugar" from "Mary Poppins."

It's common for parents to try all kinds of tricks to get kids to take medications they don't want to take, but the inspiration for "A Spoonful of Sugar" was much more specific. Jeffrey Sherman, the son and nephew of the Sherman Brothers—the musical duo responsible not just for "Mary Poppins," but a host of Disney films including "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," "The Jungle Book," "The Aristocats," as well as the song "It's a Small World After All"—told the story of how "A Spoonful of Sugar" came about on Facebook.

He wrote:

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Courtesy of Macy's

Brantley and his snowman

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"Would you like to build a snowman?" If you asked five-year-old Brantley from Texas this question, the answer would be a resounding "Yes!" While it may sound like a simple dream, since Texas doesn't usually see much snow, it seemed like a lofty one for him, even more so because Brantley has a congenital heart disease.

On Dec. 11, 2019, however, the real Macy's Santa and his two elves teamed up with Make-A-Wish to surprise Brantley and his family on his way to Colorado where there was plenty of snow for him to build his very own snowman, fulfilling his wish as part of the Macy's Believe campaign. After a joy-filled plane ride where every passenger got gift bags from Macy's, the family arrived in Breckenridge, Colorado where Santa and his elves helped Brantley build a snowman.

Brantley, Brantley's mom, and Santa marveling at their snowmanAll photos courtesy of Macy's

Brantley, who according to his mom had never actually seen snow, was blown away by the experience.

"Well, I had to build a snowman because snowmen are my favorite," Brantley said in an interview with Summit Daily. "All of it was my favorite part."

This is just one example of the more than 330,000 wishes the nonprofit Make-A-Wish have fulfilled to bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses since its founding 40 years ago. Even though many of the children that Make-A-Wish grants wishes for manage or overcome their illnesses, they often face months, if not years of doctor's visits, hospital stays and uncomfortable treatments. The nonprofit helps these children and their families replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope.

It's hardly an outlandish notion — research shows that a wish come true can help increase these children's resiliency and improve their quality of life. Brantley is a prime example.

"This couldn't have come at a better time because we see all the hardships that we went through last year," Brantley's mom Brandi told Summit Daily.

Brantley playing with snowballs

Now more than ever, kids with critical illnesses need hope. Since they're particularly vulnerable to disease, they and their families have had to isolate even more during the pandemic and avoid the people they love most and many of the activities that recharge them. That's why Make-A-Wish is doing everything it can to fulfill wishes in spite of the unprecedented obstacles.

That's where you come in. Macy's has raised over $132 million for Make-A-Wish, and helped grant more than 15,500 wishes since their partnership began in 2003, but they couldn't have done that without the support of everyday people. The crux of that support comes from Macy's Believe Campaign — the longstanding holiday fundraising effort where for every letter to Santa that's written online at Macys.com or dropped off safely at the red Believe mailbox at their stores, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. New this year, National Believe Day will be expanded to National Believe Week and will provide customers the opportunity to double their donations ($2 per letter, up to an additional $1 million) for a full week from Sunday, Nov. 29 through Saturday, Dec. 5.

There are more ways to support Make-A-Wish besides letter-writing too. If you purchase a $4 Believe bracelet, $2 of each bracelet will be donated to Make-A-Wish through Dec. 31. And for families who are all about the holiday PJs, on Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1), 20 percent of the purchase price of select family pajamas will benefit Make-A-Wish.

Elizabeth living out her wish of being a fashion designer

Additionally, this year's campaign features 6-year-old Elizabeth, a Make-A-Wish child diagnosed with leukemia, whose wish to design a dress recently came true. Thanks to the style experts at Macy's Fashion Office and I.N.C. International Concepts, only at Macy's, Elizabeth had the opportunity to design a colorful floral maxi dress. Elizabeth's exclusive design is now available online at Macys.com and in select Macy's stores. In the spirit of giving back this holiday season, 20 percent of the purchase price of Elizabeth's dress (through Dec. 31) will benefit Make-A-Wish.You can also donate directly to Make-A-Wish via Macy's website.

This holiday season may be a tough one this year, but you can bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses by delivering hope for their wishes to come true.

Anne Owens and Luke Redito / Wikimedia Commons
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When Madeline Swegle was a little girl growing up in Burke, VA, she loved watching the Blue Angels zip through the sky. Her family went to see the display every time it was in town, and it was her parents' encouragement to pursue her dreams that led her to the U.S. Naval Academy in 2017.

Before beginning the intense three-year training required to become a tactical air (TACAIR) pilot, Swegle had never been in an aircraft before; piloting was simply something she was interested in. It turns out she's got a gift for it—and not only is she skilled, she finds the "exhilaration to be unmatched."

"I'm excited to have this opportunity to work harder and fly high performance jet aircraft in the fleet," Swegle said in a statement released by the Navy. "It would've been nice to see someone who looked like me in this role; I never intended to be the first. I hope it's encouraging to other people."

As Swegle's story shows, representation and equality matter. And the responsibility to advance equality for all people - especially Black Americans facing racism - falls on individuals, organizations, businesses, and governmental leadership. This clear need for equality is why P&G established the Take On Race Fund to fight for justice, advance economic opportunity, enable greater access to education and health care, and make our communities more equitable. The funds raised go directly into organizations like NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, YWCA Stand Against Racism and the United Negro College Fund, helping to level the playing field.

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Blackface has a long and shameful history in this country. We think—we hope—after numerous call-outs and emotional explanations, Americans get the message: blackface is not okay. But that isn't the case, as many were re-made painfully aware, when Dr. Regina N. Bradley, a professor and critically acclaimed writer, shared the shocking auditory version of her new essay, "Da Art of Speculatin'", on Twitter.

Due to outrageous oversight, Fireside—a progressively minded short-story magazine who claim, in their About page, to resist "the global rise of fascism and far-right populism"—hired a young, white male voice actor to read and record Bradley's essay—an essay that identifies its writer, in its very first line, as a "southern Black woman who stands in the long shadow of the Civil Rights Movement."

According to the Washington Post, Rineer spoke in an accent that listeners interpreted as something that would appear in minstrel show, an American form of entertainment developed in the early 19th century, in which white people lampooned Black people, often portraying them as dim-witted and buffoonish, with stock characters including the dandy, the slave, and the 'mammy.' It's incredibly, incredibly offensive. So it's no wonder that, upon hearing the clip, a horrified Bradley fired off an outraged tweet, asking Fireside and Rineer if they honestly thought this is what she sounded like.



How could something so offensive have been approved, one wonders, especially in a year defined by reckoning with racial injustice? For the answer, look to Pablo Defendini, the publisher and editor for Fireside, who claimed, "nothing insidious in his decision… he just didn't listen to the recording before posting it."

"The blame for this rests squarely with me, as the person who hires out and manages the audio production process at Fireside," Defendini said in a statement. "In the interest of remaining a lean operation, I've been hiring one narrator to record the audio for a whole issue's worth of Fireside Quarterly, and I don't normally break out specific stories or essays for narrating by particular individuals."

"My personal neglect allowed racist violence to be perpetrated on a Black author, which makes me not just complicit in anti-Black racism, but racist as well."

As for Rineer, he regrets not breaking a contract rule and contacting Bradley directly about her work. His gut instinct told him not to proceed—that he was the wrong person for the job. Still, upon expressing his doubts to Fireside, he was ignored, and so proceeded with the recording—he'd already signed the contract.

"I made the mistake of reading Dr. Bradley's work and assuming an accent that was not representative of her voice," he said. "I had tried to find a different narrator who would be a suitable representative in my network and via public forums, to no avail, in the week-long time frame I had."

As for Bradley, Defendini's apology isn't cutting it. "Not listening" isn't an excuse—it's deepening the wound. Black Women have been "not listened" to since the dawn of this nation's founding.

"I am angry," she wrote. "Seething from centuries of silenced Black women angry."