Facebook / Cierra Brittany Forney

Children in middle school can be super shallow when it comes to fashion. To be part of the in-crowd, you have to wear the right shoes and brand-name clothing, and listen to the right music.

The sad thing is that kids that age can be so creative, but they're forced into conformity by their peers.

Some people never escape this developmental phase and spend their entire lives wasting their money on material goods and judging those who do not or can not.

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Over the past several years, artist Benjamin Von Wong has been on an amazing journey inspiring people to reconsider what they throw away.

It started with a trip to Guatemala and an up-close photoshoot of a massive trash heap there, and quickly morphed into a series of projects designed to confront people with various aspects of the world's waste problem.

As an artist, however, he wanted to do it in a way that would get people to look first before he unloaded harrowing facts about waste on them. There's so much alarmist news out there about what we're doing to our planet that, frankly, after a while, many of us end up turning off to the problem. Von Wong's method of turning trash into something beautiful to get our attention is a different, perhaps more productive approach.

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Like a lot of 8-year-old girls, Maya Penn was all about fashion. Unlike most 8-year-old girls, however, she had an idea to change the industry rather than just buy from it.

With a dad who won NASA awards for solar energy projects and a mom who loved to garden, Maya was always encouraged to be eco-conscious. When she decided to start her own clothing line, she knew she wanted it to be as environmentally friendly as possible.

Of course, like any savvy businessperson, Maya recognized this meant doing a lot of research first.

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9 reasons you shouldn't throw away clothes, and 4 things you can do instead.

Textile waste is a real problem that so often goes overlooked.

It's springtime! The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, and everyone's ready to clean out their closets.

There's something about warmer weather — it seems to make us want to do a complete makeover on our wardrobes and get rid of clutter around the house.

When it comes to unwanted items, sometimes it just feels good to purge and start fresh. No doubt there have been times when you've thrown things in the trash instead of taking them to a donation center. Perhaps you didn't have the time to drop it off, or you thought it was too far gone to be donated.

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