Heroes

Meet the plane that's making its way around the world without using a single drop of fuel.

Modern-day Wright brothers are reinventing what it means to fly.

Meet the plane that's making its way around the world without using a single drop of fuel.

Imagine being able to fly from New York to London without using a single drop of fuel.

It may sound far-fetched, but that's exactly what a group of engineers and pilots are hoping to make a reality — and soon. How? Solar energy.

Meet the Solar Impulse 2, the world's most advanced solar-powered plane.

The single-passenger plane collects solar energy via panels atop its wings, storing that in four batteries located behind the pilot. This allows the plane to fly at night and, in theory, means that as long as the equipment allowed, it could go on flying, well, forever.



A lot has changed in how we've flown over the past several decades, but rarely has there been a shift like this.

Commercial passenger aircraft — which, it needs to be noted, the Solar Impulse 2 is not — have varied in size, shape, and design over time.

From the wide-bodied Boeing 747 to the narrow Boeing 737, dozens of models have rolled out in the post-World War II era, each coming with their own unique features.


The first 747 is unveiled to the public on Sept. 30, 1968. Photo by AFP/Getty Images.

The Solar Impulse 2's 236-foot wingspan is wider than that of the 747, which has a 229-foot wingspan.

While using solar power for large commercial jets would be wonderful, right now creators have more attainable goals.

In most situations, circling the globe would be a monumental accomplishment, but the makers of the Solar Impulse are on pace to making that happen.

In March 2015, pilots took off from Abu Dhabi, making stops in Oman, India, Myanmar, and China.

The team's next goal is to fly from Nanjing, China, to Hawaii. This trip, roughly 4,000 miles, will set new records for the longest distance flown by an electric plane and longest flight duration for a single pilot (over 100 hours).


From there, the team hopes to make a few stops in the U.S. before flying from New York to southern Europe/northern Africa. Then it's back to Abu Dhabi, completing the circuit.

It'll be a long time before us normal folks are able to hop a solar-powered flight, but some groups are looking into the possibility of adding hybrid engines on commercial jets.

In April 2014, Airbus announced plans for a hybrid regional plane with a capacity between 70 and 90 people.

They estimate that this type of aircraft will be ready for commercial use sometime in the next 15 to 20 years. This fuel-saving measure wouldn't have quite as much an impact as going completely solar-powered, but it's certainly a step toward a cleaner, more environmentally friendly mode of travel.

If there's one thing the Solar Impulse team is teaching us, it's that what once seemed impossible is anything but.

Like modern-day Wright brothers, the team over there is reinventing what it means to fly, and maybe within our lifetimes, we'll see some of their concepts being incorporated into mass transit.

Bloomberg put together a short video of the Solar Impulse 2 in action as it makes its way around the world.

Check it out:

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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.

Of the millions of Americans breathing a sigh of relief with the ushering in of a new president, one man has a particularly personal and professional reason to exhale.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has spent a good portion of his long, respected career preparing for a pandemic, and unfortunately, the worst one in 100 years hit under the worst possible administration. As part of Trump's Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Fauci did what he could to advise the president and share information with the public, but it's been clear for months that the job was made infinitely more difficult than it should have been by anti-science forces within the administration.

To his credit, Dr. Fauci remained politically neutral through it all this past year, totally in keeping with his consistently non-partisan, apolitical approach to his job. Even when the president badmouthed him, blocked him from testifying before the House, and kept him away from press briefings, Fauci took the high road, always keeping his commentary focused on the virus and refusing to step into the political fray.

But that doesn't mean working under those conditions wasn't occasionally insulting, frequently embarrassing, and endlessly frustrating.

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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.