+
upworthy
Science

Sustainably good news: Recycling is getting better and this family is showing us how

What if instead of focusing on what isn’t working, we looked at these stories as an invitation to do better?

Sustainably good news: Recycling is getting better and this family is showing us how
Via Ridwell

Ryan Metzger and son Owen

There is no shortage of dire news about the state of modern recycling. Most recently, this NPR article shared the jaw-dropping statistic that about 5% of all plastics produced get recycled, meaning the rest of it ends up in landfills. While the underlying concerns here are sound, I worry that the public narrative around recycling has gotten so pessimistic that it will make people give up on it entirely instead of seeing the opportunities to improve it. What if instead of focusing on what isn’t working, we looked at these news stories as an invitation to do better?



This question isn’t rhetorical for me; it’s been the motivation behind how I’ve spent the past five years of my life. It started when my son Owen asked me how we could recycle our dead batteries where we live in Seattle. After making a few phone calls and realizing how complicated it was, we made it a weekend project to pick up our neighbor’s batteries along with other hard-to-recycle items.This novel approach of having your hard-to-recycle stuff “carpool” with your neighbors quickly caught on in Seattle. Our rapidly growing community was looking at their junk drawers with new eyes, felt inspired to be part of something bigger, and kept asking what else we could pick up.

This enthusiasm turned my family’s passion project into Ridwell, a company whose mission it is to make it easy to deal with hard-to-recycle materials like plastics, light bulbs, batteries, & more. We pick up where curbside recyclers leave off, providing our members in six states with a way to recycle and reuse materials right from their doorsteps. In 2022 alone, our community kept more than one million pounds of hard-to-recycle plastic film out of landfills. To date, we’ve kept more than ten million pounds of hard-to-recycle materials from going to waste. All of this impact started with a simple, optimistic reframe. Instead of dwelling on what our curbside service couldn’t take, we instead asked ourselves how we could help.

Ryan Metzger, Founder and CEO of Ridwell

Via Ridwell

It’s been a lot of work to be sure, but what’s kept me motivated on this journey has been learning about all of the exceptional efforts happening elsewhere to make recycling work better for everyone. Our elected officials are creating new policies that powerfully shift market incentives, like Maine’s law that makes companies pay for their own recycling or California’s law that creates more demand for recycled plastic. Engineers are developing new ways to recycle tricky plastics, while citizens across the country are raising awareness about the need for government and corporations to do more.

The longer I’ve worked in the recycling space, the more I’ve found allies and collaborators who are finding surprising uses for materials that used to be dismissed as trash. Trex has pioneered a method of turning soft plastics like grocery bags into high-performance decking for homes. Companies like ByFusion and Arqlite are turning multilayer plastic packaging once considered unrecyclable into building materials and hydroponics gravel. The types of innovations we’ll need to solve our recycling crisis are all around us; we just need to keep connecting these pockets of innovation into a more holistic system of reuse and recycling.

So while the news cycle around recycling can often feel overwhelming, I always encourage people to use these grim statistics as motivation to lean into the challenge and look for solutions. For some people, that’s calling their legislators, and for others, it’s coming up with new packaging that has a smaller environmental footprint. For those of us at Ridwell, it’s about how we can help make it easy for households to keep hard-to-recycle materials out of the landfill. As the past decade has shown us, the overwhelming “Pacman-shaped” chunk of the pie chart often shows us where the most impactful innovations must come from and where the next wave of businesses must focus. Yes, we are at an inflection point when it comes to addressing the problems posed by excessive waste in this country. To be honest, I’ve never felt more optimistic that we have what it takes to address this problem, together.


Ryan Metzger is a guest contributor to Upworthy and founder and CEO of Ridwell

Angelina Jordan blew everyone away with her version of 'Bohemian Rhapsody."


At Upworthy, we've shared a lot of memorable "America's Got Talent" auditions, from physics-defying dance performances to jaw-dropping magic acts to heart-wrenching singer-songwriter stories. Now we're adding Angelina Jordan's "AGT: The Champions" audition to the list because wow.

Jordan came to "AGT: The Champions" in 2020 as the winner of Norway's Got Talent, which she won in 2014 at the mere age of 7 with her impressive ability to seemingly channel Billie Holiday. For the 2020 audition, she sang Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," but a version that no one had ever heard before.

With just her Amy Winehouse-ish voice, a guitar and a piano, Jordan brought the fan-favorite Queen anthem down to a smooth, melancholy ballad that's simply riveting to listen to.

Keep ReadingShow less

After Elmo's 'trauma dump' check-in, 'Sesame Street' goes all-in on mental health

Their first PSA offers a simple strategy for managing big feelings.

The Sesame Street gang is here for kids' mental well-being.

Remember when Elmo broke everyone simply by asking how people were doing on X? The viral check-in prompted a flood of responses in which people poured their hearts out onto the beloved Sesame Street character, and the wave of woes was so great all the other Sesame Street friends chimed in with their own words of support.

There's a reason Elmo's check-in hit people so hard. There's something viscerally comforting in the familiar faces and voices of our favorite childhood characters. Over 50-plus years creating high-quality shows for kids, Sesame Workshop has gained and retained people's trust and confidence, so engaging with Sesame Street characters feels safe and cathartic.

The folks behind Sesame Street have always incorporated kids' feelings and emotions into it educational programming, but a new initiative is taking a direct approach to mental health awareness. Teaming up with Huntsman Mental Health Institute, Sesame Workshop and the Ad Council have launched the "Love, Your Mind" campaign with a kid-friendly PSA.

Keep ReadingShow less
Courtesy of Kisha Rose Woodhouse

Man surprises partner by performing haka alone at her graduation


Graduations can be emotional no matter if it's preschool, high school or college. Something about watching a loved one close one chapter to open a new one just does something to you. But sometimes people have a few more challenges getting across the stage that make it feel even sweeter.

One new mom, Kisha Rose Woodhouse, who goes by @kiisha.rose on TikTok, became pregnant and gave birth while finishing up her college degree. Clearly, determined to finish, Woodhouse walked across the stage at graduation with her baby on her hip. But that wasn't what got people all choked up while seeing her video, it was Woodhouse's partner who stood alone in the auditorium.

The man was visibly filled with pride from Woodhouse's accomplishments when he began doing the Tautoko, also known as the haka. Immediately the auditorium fell silent as the man's words and sharp movements filled the air. Seeing him perform such an emotional dance alone to honor his partner is enough to get just about anyone's eyes to water.

Keep ReadingShow less

Can we bring back some 50s fridge features, please?

There are very few things that would make people nostalgic for the 1950s. Sure, they had cool cars and pearl necklaces were a staple, but that time frame had its fair share of problems, even if "Grease" made it look dreamy. Whether you believe your life would've been way more interesting if you were Danny Zuko or not, most would agree their technology was...lacking.

All eras are "advanced" for their time, but imagine being dropped off in the 50s as someone from the year 2023. A recent post by Historic Vids on Twitter of a 1956 commercial advertising a refrigerator, however, has some people thinking that when it came to fridges, maybe they were living in the year 2056. I don't typically swoon over appliances, yet this one has me wondering where I can purchase a refrigerator like this.

Of course, there's no fancy touch screen that tells you the weather and asks how you'd like your ice cubed. It's got more important features that are actually practical.

Keep ReadingShow less
via Pixabay

A middle-aged woman holding a baby.

A story that recently went viral on Reddit’s AITA forum asks an important question: What is a parent’s role in taking care of their grandchildren? The story is even further complicated because the woman at the center of the controversy is a stepparent.

The woman, 38, met her husband Sam, 47, ten years ago, when his daughter, Leah, 25, was 15. Five years ago, the couple got married after Leah had moved out to go to college.

Leah’s mom passed away when she was 10.

Last year, Leah became pregnant, and she wanted to keep the baby, but her boyfriend didn’t. After the disagreement, the boyfriend broke up with her. This forced Leah to move back home because she couldn’t afford to be a single parent and live alone on a teacher’s salary.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

We asked people what they really enjoy that others can't understand. One answer dominated.

Interestingly, research shows that these people are particularly unlikely to be neurotic.

Canva

Some people really enjoy being alone.

We recently asked our Upworthy audience on Facebook, "What's something that you really enjoy that other people can't seem to understand?" and over 1,700 people weighed in. Some people shared things like housework, cleaning and laundry, which a lot of people see as chores. Others shared different puzzles or forms of art they like doing, and still others shared things like long car rides or grocery shopping.

But one answer dominated the list of responses. It came in various wordings, but by far the most common answer to the question was "silent solitude." Here are a few examples:

"Feeling perfectly content, when I’m all alone."

"Being home. Alone. In silence."

"That I enjoy being alone and my soul is at peace in the silence. I don't need to be around others to feel content, and it takes me days to recharge from being overstimulated after having an eventful day surrounded by others."

"Enjoying your own company. Being alone isn’t isolating oneself. It’s intentional peace and healthy… especially for deep feelers/thinkers."

Keep ReadingShow less