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.

Heroes
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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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