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Heroes

It started with a futon in a dumpster. Now this student org is changing how we see waste.

It started with a futon in a dumpster. Now it's a a nationwide resource that's changing the way students think about campus waste. Heck yes.

Alex Freid was moving out of his dorm after his freshman year of college when something caught his eye: a futon.

It was still in excellent condition, sticking out of a dumpster on his University of New Hampshire campus. "That's perfect!" he thought. "I can grab that futon and use it for my apartment next year."

Upon further inspection, he saw that the dumpster was chock full of usable items — and there were dozens of others just like it all over campus. What was up with all this "waste"?


Every year, millions of college students in the U.S. pack up and head off campus, leaving tons (literally) of stuff behind.

And only a small fraction of it really belongs in a dumpster.

So Alex and a group of his friends at the University of New Hampshire started a campus organization called Trash2Treasure.

Students pick out things at a move-in yard sale at the University of New Hampshire. Image by John Benford.

Here's how it works: They collect usable dumpster-bound items during move out in May.

They put everything in storage over the summer.

And then — here's the kicker — they sell it all back to the students the next fall at a yard sale.

How genius is that? Better yet, the money they make from the move-in sale cycles back into the program, allowing them to run it again the next year, too.

The move-in sale is HUGE. Image courtesy of UNH Trash2Treasure.

But move-out day isn't the only time colleges are producing a sh** ton of waste.

Spurred by the success of Trash2Treasure's move-out program, Alex founded a national nonprofit called the Post-Landfill Action Network, or PLAN. As they like to say, "When the only solution is a dumpster, everything looks like trash" — it's become a sort of motto for the group.

"When the only solution is a dumpster, everything looks like trash."

In part, PLAN's goal is to encourage students all over the country to set up programs that diminish waste on campus — move-out programs like the one led by Trash2Treasure at UNH, electronics recycling drop offs, compost programs, you name it.

But the arguably more important goal is to set up a national network of student groups within what PLAN calls the student-led zero waste movement. That way, no individual school has to reinvent the wheel.

PLAN resources walk through things like how to start a compost program. Image courtesy of PLAN.

“[PLAN has] been working with hundreds of students on campuses across the country," Alex told me, “and they're constantly asking the same questions."

Questions like: Whose approval do I need to start a compost program on campus? What should I use for bins? Who should collect the bins? Where will the compost go?

That's where PLAN comes in.

In 2015, PLAN raised more than $11,000 (111% of their original goal) to set up an online resource for students all across the country.

Since PLAN was founded in 2013, it has expanded to 50 campuses nationwide, and it's rapidly growing. But they want to make it even bigger — to take things online and create a massive online network of resources and information.

“A lot of campuses are constantly reinventing the wheel and creating the same documents, same resources, doing the same research," Alex said.

“Basically," explained Alex, “[It will be] an online space where students can collaborate and coordinate, discuss programs, develop logistics, upload and download resources for free, and share information with each other."

So, that move-out program that students run at UNH — Trash2Treasure? Things like that will be able to spread across the country so much faster, and so much more efficiently, than ever before. Now that is something to get excited about.

And in a way, it can all be traced back to that lonely futon in the dumpster after Alex's freshman year.

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

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Pop Culture

Linda Ronstadt's 1970's ballad is a chart-topping hit once again thanks to 'The Last of Us'

The iconic 70s song "Long, Long Time" was an integral part of an unforgettable episode that fans are calling a masterpiece.

Linda Ronstadt (left), Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett (right)

HBO’s emotional third episode of the zombie series “The Last Of Us” became an instant favorite among fans, thanks in no small part to Linda Ronstadt’s late 1970s ballad, “Long, Long Time.”

Using the song as the episode’s title, “Long, Long Time,” moves away from the show’s main plot to instead focus on a heartbreakingly beautiful love story between Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett), from its endearing start all the way to its bittersweet end.

The song makes its first appearance during the initial stages of Bill and Frank’s romance as they play the tune on the piano, just before they share their first kiss.

We see their entire lives together play out—one of closeness, devotion, and savoring homegrown strawberries—until they meet their end. The song then plays on the radio, bringing the bottle episode to a poignant close.

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Pop Culture

13-year-old ventriloquist sings incredible, sassy version of 'You Don't Own Me' on 'AGT'

Ana-Maria Mărgean only started her hobby in 2020 and is already wowing audiences on "America's Got Talent."

America's Got Talent/Youtube

Ana-Maria Mărgean singing "You Don't Own Me" on "America's Got Talent"

It’s not every day a ventriloquist act is so jaw-dropping that it has to be seen to be believed. But when it does happen, it’s usually on “America’s Got Talent.”

Ana-Maria Mărgean was only 11 years old when she first took to the stage on “Romania’s Got Talent” to show off her ventriloquism skills, an act inspired by videos of fellow ventriloquist and “America’s Got Talent” Season 2 champion Terry Fator.

Using puppets built for her by her parents, the young performer tirelessly spent her quarantine time in 2020 learning how to bring them to life, which led to her receiving a Golden Buzzer and eventually winning the entire series in Romania.

Mărgean is now 13 and a competitor on this season of “America’s Got Talent: All-Stars,” hoping to be crowned the winner and perform her own show in Vegas, just like her hero Fator.

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Joy

34-year-old man is learning to read on TikTok in series of motivational videos

His reading skills have improved so much that he plans to read 100 books this year.

@oliverspeaks1/TikTok

Oliver James is the biggest star on BookTok.

With over 125,000 followers, 34-year-old Oliver James is a star in the BookTok community. And it all started with a very simple goal: Learn to read.

For most kids, school is a place where they can develop a relationship with learning in a safe environment. For James, school was the opposite. Growing up with learning and behavior disabilities subjected him to abusive teaching practices in special education, which, of course, did nothing to help.

"The special education system at the time was more focused on behavioral than educating," he told Good Morning America. "So they spent a lotta time restraining us, a lotta time disciplining us, a lotta times putting us in positions to kinda shape us to just not act out in class."

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Pop Culture

Buffy Sainte-Marie shares what led to her openly breastfeeding on 'Sesame Street' in 1977

The way she explained to Big Bird what she was doing is still an all-time great example.

"Sesame Street" taught kids about life in addition to letters and numbers.

In 1977, singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie did something revolutionary: She fed her baby on Sesame Street.

The Indigenous Canadian-Ameican singer-songwriter wasn't doing anything millions of other mothers hadn't done—she was simply feeding her baby. But the fact that she was breastfeeding him was significant since breastfeeding in the United States hit an all-time low in 1971 and was just starting to make a comeback. The fact that she did it openly on a children's television program was even more notable, since "What if children see?" has been a key pearl clutch for people who criticize breastfeeding in public.

But the most remarkable thing about the "Sesame Street" segment was the lovely interchange between Big Bird and Sainte-Marie when he asked her what she was doing.

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via Pexels

A couple celebrates while packing their home.

One of the topics that we like to highlight on Upworthy is people who are redefining what it means to be in a relationship. Recently, we’ve shared the stories of platonic life partners, moms who work together as part of a “mommune” and a polyamorous family with four equally-committed parents.

A growing number of people are reevaluating traditional relationships and entering lifestyles that work for them instead of trying to fit into preexisting roles. It makes sense because the more lifestyle options that are available, the greater chance we have to be happy.

A recent trend in unconventional relationships is married couples "living apart together," or LATs as they are known among mental health professionals.

Actress Helena Bonham Carter and director Tim Burton, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and producer Brad Falchuk, and photographer Annie Leibovitz and activist Susan Sontag are all high-profile couples who’ve embraced the LAT lifestyle.

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