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REI to close on Black Friday for its fifth year, takes 'Opt Outside' push one step further

Since 2015, the outdoor gear giant REI has gone the opposite direction of most retailers on Black Friday. Instead of slashing prices and advertising sales on the biggest shopping day of the year, REI has closed its doors, shuttered its online sales, and encouraged would-be shoppers to go outside instead. Employees are still paid as if it were a work day.

For the past four years, the #OptOutside campaign has taken people from crowds and consumerism to the simple joys of nature. But this year, they're taking the idea one step further. Through more than 100 organized clean-up events, REI is asking people to "Opt to Act" for the environment.


RELATED: This short film brings together the beauty of the outdoors and power of paying it forward.

"Leading up to and on Black Friday, we're hosting events with different organization to clean parks, beaches and riverbanks nationwide," the company wrote on its website. "Let's leave the world better than we found it."

A short video shared on REI's Twitter page points out how our reliance on convenience and consumables that make life "easy," has resulted in the demise of the natural world. Images of garbage piles and rubbish washing ashore in the oceans serve as a reminder that our choices have environmental consequences. So it makes sense that a company dedicated to helping people explore the natural world would reject the mad dash to buy more stuff the day after giving thanks for what we have, and ask people to express gratitude for our planet through action instead.

The Opt to Act events Thanksgiving week are just the beginning. REI is offering a 52-week "action plan," with "weekly challenges to reduce your impact, get active and leave the world better than you found it." For example, in December, the challenges include using reusable bags, opting out of junk mail, and choosing sustainable alternatives to traditional wrapping paper. You can even download a printable version of the 52-week action plan or sign up for weekly calendar notifications.

RELATED: Patagonia's CEO is donating company's entire $10M Trump tax cut to fight climate change.

And REI itself is taking on its own action challenges. The company already sources 100 percent green energy for all of their operations, has been advancing toward a zero-waste goal for years, and abides by a high bar of product sustainability standards. But REI President and CEO Eric Artz says "it's not enough."

In a message to co-op members, Artz wrote:

"As we ask you to steward the outdoor places you love this Black Friday, we're also announcing a series of our own commitments. We're rethinking the future of retail and finding ways for every REI member to take part in the circular economy with more used and rental gear choices. We're tackling waste in our own operations and in communities across the country. And we're redoubling our efforts to eliminate unnecessary packaging in our industry. You can read more about these commitments here, and we'll share even more in the coming months about the ongoing ways we'll be stepping up the fight for life outdoors.

As a single company, our impact is limited, but as a community, we can drive change that powers meaningful action beyond our walls. As a co-op, we know that many people taking many small steps together can add up to big changes. Collective intention will drive collective impact.

Because when the next generation asks us what we did when the outdoors and the world needed us most, I want to be able to say, 'we did our best.'"

So great to see a company putting its money where it's mouth is. Ironically, forgoing the potential profits of Black Friday to create a movement for change and environmental action will probably push many people toward supporting REI with our dollars. Businesses can be profitable and responsible at the same time, and it would be great to see more of them follow REI's lead.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Co-sleeping isn't for everyone.

The marital bed is a symbol of the intimacy shared between people who’ve decided to be together 'til death they do part. When couples sleep together it’s an expression of their closeness and how they care for one another when they are most vulnerable.

However, for some couples, the marital bed can be a warzone. Throughout the night couples can endure snoring, sleep apnea, the ongoing battle for sheets or circadian rhythms that never seem to sync. If one person likes to fall asleep with the TV on while the other reads a book, it can be impossible to come to an agreement on a good-night routine.

Last week on TODAY, host Carson Daly reminded viewers that he and his wife Siri, a TODAY Food contributor, had a sleep divorce while she was pregnant with their fourth child.

“I was served my sleep-divorce papers a few years ago,” he explained on TODAY. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to us. We both, admittedly, slept better apart.”

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