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big-box solar, solar panels, climate change

Solar panels being installed on a Walmart in Chula Vista, California.

There are a lot of reasons to be concerned for the planet’s future. One bright spot in the fight against climate change is the rise in solar power use in the United States.

Solar power is more affordable than ever before. The cost of the average solar panel has dropped by 70% since 2014 and the country’s total solar capacity has risen from 0.34 gigawatts to an impressive 97.2 gigawatts since 2008. Today, more than 3% of the electricity generated in the U.S. comes from solar panels.

The best way to expand on solar power growth is by finding new surfaces to place panels. One of the most underutilized are the roofs of America’s big-box retail stores. According to a report by Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group, the average Walmart has 180,000 square feet of rooftop, which is about the size of three football fields.

Just one Walmart rooftop could generate enough solar energy to power 200 homes.


via Walmart/Flickr

There are more than 100,000 big-box superstores in the United States with about 7.2 million square feet of rooftop. If every one were outfitted with solar panels, they could generate enough electricity to power almost 8 million homes.

That change from dirty to clean power would cut annual greenhouse gas emissions the equivalent of removing 11.3 million cars off the road.

One big-box retailer that has made a significant commitment to solar power is Ikea. According to The Grist, Ikea has solar installations on 90% of its U.S. locations. In 2019, Ikea made a huge commitment to alternative energy by purchasing 1 million solar panels, 535 wind turbines and two solar parks.

A solar installation at a location in Baltimore, Maryland—not the sunniest spot in America—was able to cut the amount of energy the store purchased by 84%.

via Scott Lewis/Flickr

How do we get the rest of America's big-box retailers to do the same?

The Biden Administration is currently working on extending the federal investment tax credit for rooftop solar for 10 more years, which would put direct payments into the hands of retailers. However, the tax credit extension is part of the Build Back Better Bill that has stalled in the U.S. Senate.

"Every rooftop in America that isn't producing solar energy is a rooftop wasted as we work to break our dependence on fossil fuels and the geopolitical conflicts that come with them," Johanna Neumann, senior director for Environment America's Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy, told CNN. "Now is the time to lean into local renewable energy production, and there's no better place than the roofs of America's big-box superstores."

Solar panels have become so affordable they are a total no-brainer for residences and businesses alike. If there’s anything we’ve learned over the past few years, it’s that major corporations want us to think they care about what we care about. They should know that one of the best ways to show they care about the planet is to prove it by utilizing every square foot on their roofs to help fight climate change.

Education

Teacher of the year explains why he's leaving district in unforgettable 3-minute speech

"I'm leaving in hopes that I can regain the ability to do the job that I love."

Lee Allen

For all of our disagreements in modern American life, there are at least a few things most of us can agree on. One of those is the need for reform in public education. We don't all agree on the solutions but many of the challenges are undeniable: retaining great teachers, reducing classroom size and updating the focus of student curriculums to reflect the ever-changing needs of a globalized workforce.

And while parents, politicians and activists debate those remedies, one voice is all-too-often ignored: that of teachers themselves.

This is why a short video testimony from a teacher in the Atlanta suburb of Gwinnett County went viral recently. After all, it's hard to deny the points made by someone who was just named teacher of the year and used the occasion to announce why he will be leaving the very school district that just honored him with that distinction.

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Joy

Tea time: how this boutique blends cultures from around the world

Ethically sourced, modern clothes for kids that embrace adventure, inspire connections and global thinking.

The Tea Collection combines philanthropic efforts with a deep rooted sense of multiculturalism into each of their designs so that kids can grow up with global sensibilities. They make clothes built to last with practicality and adventure in mind. But why "Tea"?

Let's spill it. Tea is a drink shared around the world with people from all different cultures. It is a common thread that weaves the world together. The Tea Collection was born from a love of travel and a love of sharing tea with different people in different places. Inspired by patterns from around the world, these clothes help children develop a familiarity with global communities.

Tea sources their materials ethically and ensures that each of their partners abide to strict codes of conduct. They have a zero-tolerance policy for anything "even slightly questionable" and make sure that they regularly visit their manufacturing partners to ensure that they're supporting positive working conditions.

Since 2003, The Tea Collection has partnered with the Global Fund for Children and has invested in different grassroots organizations that create community empowered programs to uplift kids in need. They donate 10% of their proceeds and have already contributed over $500,000 to different organizations such as: The Homeless Prenatal Program (San Francisco, CA, USA), Door of Faith Orphanage (Baja California, Mexico), Little Sisters Fund (Nepal) and others in Peru, Sri Lanka, India, Italy and Haiti.

But the best part about the Tea Collection? They're also an official member of the Kidizen Rewear Collective, which believes that clothes should stretch far beyond one child's use. They have their own external site for their preloved clothes that makes rewearing affordable. Families can trade in gently used Tea clothes and receive discounts for future products. Shopping the site helps keep clothes out of land fills and reduces the environmental impact of the fashion industry.

By creating heirloom style clothing made to last families can buy, sell, and trade clothes that can be reworn again and again. Because "new to you" doesn't always have to mean never been worn. And let's be honest, we all know how fast kids grow! Shopping preloved clothes is a great way to keep styles fresh without harming the environment or feeling guilty about not getting the most out of certain styles.

But don't just take our word for it! Head over to the Tea Collection and see for yourself!

Upworthy has earned revenue through a partnership and/or may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through links on our site.

Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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