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Starbucks is ditching straws. Here are 5 other ways to keep plastic out of the ocean.

Starbucks is the latest company to ditch plastic straws as a way to help clean up our oceans.

A single straw may seem like a tiny blip on the radar of environmental blights, but then consider that 500 million straws are used by Americans — just Americans — every day. According to CNN, that's enough plastic straws to fill 125 school buses. Every. Single. Day.

Plastic straws are a perfect size and shape for marine life to ingest, and since most of those straws end up in the ocean, that tiny blip multiplied by billions each year equals a significant problem.


Some cities have banned single-use plastic straws — though not without legitimate controversy — and many restaurants have stopped handing them out as a rule. McDonald's has plans to phase out plastic straws in its U.K. restaurants. And now Starbucks says it plans to phase out plastic straws by 2020 and redesign their drink containers to create a better strawless drinking experience.

But straws aren't the only plastic problem for our planet.

We all know by now that our oceans are in dire need of a cleanup. Thankfully, we have some promising technologies designed to help clear the garbage patches — which are largely made up of plastic debris — that have built up in the ocean's gyres.

Cleaning it up is important, but so is the fact that we need to stop contributing to the problem. Humans use and toss away tons of plastic — like straws — that many of us simply don't need to use in the first place. And despite our efforts to make sure we throw away and recycle things properly, far too much of that plastic ends up in the ocean, altering the ecosystem and threatening marine life.

Here are some ways — in addition to skipping the straw — that we can all keep more plastic out of the ocean.

1. Shop with reusable bags. Some states and cities have banned plastic grocery bags in an attempt to encourage people to bring their own. There are lots of affordable, durable alternatives to plastic grocery sacks, and they're easy to keep on hand. Though it takes some time to develop the habit of remembering to bring your own bags into the store, it's worth the effort.

2. Stop using Ziplocs. This one is tough, as few things are more convenient than a Ziploc bag. But miraculously, people survived for millennia without them, so it's definitely possible to go without. If a hard reusable container just won't cut it, try a beeswax-lined cloth snack pouch. All the convenience of a plastic bag, but without the ecological footprint.

3. Carry a reusable water bottle. Not only are plastic water bottles you buy in the store a waste of plastic, they're also a waste of money. We live in a developed nation where clean, drinkable water can be found around every corner, yet we spend up to 1,900 times more money than we need to on buying bottled water — and many of those bottles end up on beaches or floating in the ocean. Stainless steel or glass water bottles are great alternatives.

4. Buy in bulk. That little plastic bottle of oregano in the spice section of your grocery store has a high environmental and financial cost. Look for stores that sell items in bulk bins, and ask the store if they will "tare" a container you bring from home. (That means they weigh the empty container and subtract that weight from the final total after you've added your bulk item.) Spices in particular are usually far cheaper to buy in bulk, and other items, like flours, grains, and beans, often are too.

5. Pick up trash when you see it. This may seem like a no-brainer, but many of us are squeamish about picking up garbage out in public. We all pass garbage on our sidewalks and streets all the time, and much of it will eventually end up being washed into the sea. Make it a goal to pick up trash every time it's in your path and place it in the appropriate receptacle. (But don't put garbage in overflowing cans with no lid — it will end up blowing right back out.) An extra hand washing is a small price to pay for keeping trash out of the ocean.

Small changes in our collective habits can make a difference.

Though we all enjoy convenience, when it comes to plastics, our comfort has a high cost. Reducing our consumption, recycling when we can, and reusing as often as possible is still the trifecta of environmental stewardship. If we all do our part, we can keep our oceans clean, healthy, and beautiful for generations to come.

Family

Dad takes 7-week paternity leave after his second child is born and is stunned by the results

"These past seven weeks really opened up my eyes on how the household has actually ran, and 110% of that is because of my wife."

@ustheremingtons/TikTok

There's a lot to be gleaned from this.

Participating in paternity leave offers fathers so much more than an opportunity to bond with their new kids. It also allows them to help around the house and take on domestic responsibilities that many new mothers have to face alone…while also tending to a newborn.

All in all, it enables couples to handle the daunting new chapter as a team, making it less stressful on both parties. Or at least equally stressful on both parties. Democracy!

TikTok creator and dad Caleb Remington, from the popular account @ustheremingtons, confesses that for baby number one, he wasn’t able to take a “single day of paternity leave.”

This time around, for baby number two, Remington had the privilege of taking seven weeks off (to be clear—his employer offered four weeks, and he used an additional three weeks of PTO).

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Photo by Bambi Corro on Unsplash

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For University of British Columbia student Tim Chen, that "easy commute" is more than 400 miles each way.

Twice a week, Chen hops on a flight from his home city of Calgary, flies a little more than an hour to Vancouver to attend his classes, then flies back home the same night. And though it's hard to believe, this routine actually saves him approximately $1,000 a month.

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Tony Trapani discovers a letter his wife hid from him since 1959.

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After his wife passed away when Tony was 81 years old, he undertook the heartbreaking task of sorting out all of her belongings. That’s when he stumbled upon a carefully concealed letter in a filing cabinet hidden for over half a century.

The letter was addressed to Tony and dated March 1959, but this was the first time he had seen it. His wife must have opened it, read it and hid it from him. The letter came from Shirley Childress, a woman Tony had once been close with before his marriage. She reached out, reminiscing about their past and revealing a secret that would change Tony's world forever.

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Internet

Man goes out of his way to leave tip for a server after realizing he grabbed the wrong receipt

Instead of just brushing it off and moving on, the man wrote out a note explaining what happened with a sincere apology along with a $20 cash tip and delivered it to the restaurant.

Man goes out of his way to leave forgotten tip for server

Being in the service industry can be hard. People have to spend long hours on their feet, deal with repetitive movements that can create pain and sometimes interact with not so nice customers. When you rely on tips for survival on top of everything else, it can feel like a bit of a gut punch when someone decides not to leave you one despite how good your service was.

One customer must've realized the disappointment that can occur after not receiving a tip when serving tables because he went out of his way to give one. In a post shared on Reddit, a customer revealed in a letter that he realized he took the wrong receipt after leaving. Instead of taking the blank one, he took the merchant's copy which holds the tip amount and his signature.

The error was discovered when he was checking his bank account and saw the amount taken off of his card was not the amount he expected. That's when he decided to check the receipt from that day and saw the error.

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Science

Scientists have finally figured out how whales are able to 'sing' underwater

The physical mechanism they use has been a mystery until now.

Baleen whales include blue, humpback, gray, fin, sei, minke whales and more.

We've long known that baleen whales sing underwater and that males sing in tropical waters to attract females for mating. What we haven't known is how they're able to do it.

When humans make sound underwater, we expel air over through our vocal chords and the air we release rises to the surface as bubbles. But baleen whales don't have vocal chords, and they don't create bubbles when they vocalize. Toothed whales, such as sperm whales, beaked whales, dolphins and porpoises, have an organ in their nasal passages that allows them to vocalize, but baleen whales such as humpback, gray and blue whales don't.

Whales are notoriously difficult to study because of their size and the environment they require, which is why the mechanism behind whale song has remained a mystery for so long. It's not like scientists can just pluck a whale out of the ocean and stick it in an x-ray machine while it's singing to see what's happening inside its body to create the sound. Scientists had theories, but no one really knew how baleen whales sing.

Now, thanks to researchers at the University of Denmark, that mystery has been solved.

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There are countless situations in life where we have to figure out how someone really feels, but they have a good poker face that keeps their feelings well-hidden. According to body language expert Terry Vaughan even the most deceptive people in the world have a tell: the left and right sides of their face don’t usually match.

So, which side do we believe? Vaughan says the left.

“The reason this is a powerful hack is because the left side of the face is more likely to reveal the ‘true emotion’ or the ‘dominant’ emotion if there’s a mix,” Vaughan says. The reason? “The right hemisphere of our brain does more heavy lifting in dealing with processing emotions. The left hemisphere…is a little more analytical or ‘strategic.’”

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