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environment

via NASA

Back in the late '80s, NASA was looking for ways to detoxify the air in its space stations. So it conducted a study to determine the most effective plants for filtering the air of toxic agents and converting carbon dioxide to oxygen.



In 1989, their results were published in a clean air study that provided a definitive list of the plants that are most effective at cleaning indoor air. The report also suggested having at least one plant per every hundred square feet of home or office space.


1. Dwarf Date Palm

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2. Boston Fern

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3. Kimberly Queen Fern

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4. Spider Plant

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5. Chinese Evergreen

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6. Bamboo Palm

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7. Weeping Fig

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8. Devil's Ivy

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9. Flamingo Lily

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11. Broadleaf Lady Palm

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12. Barberton Daisy

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13. Cornstalk Dracena

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14. English Ivy

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15. Varigated Snake Plant

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16. Red-Edged Dracaena

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17. Peace Lily

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18. Florist's Chrysanthemum

What's in our air?

Trichloroethylene – Found in printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes, adhesives, and paint removers. Symptoms associated with short-term exposure include: excitement, dizziness, headache, nausea, and vomiting followed by drowsiness and coma.

Formaldehyde – Found in paper bags, waxed papers, facial tissues, paper towels, plywood paneling, and synthetic fabrics. Symptoms associated with short-term exposure include: irritation to nose, mouth and throat, and in severe cases, swelling of the larynx and lungs.

Benzene – Used to make plastics, resins, lubricants, detergents, and drugs. Also found in tobacco smoke, glue, and furniture wax. Symptoms associated with short-term exposure include: irritation to eyes, drowsiness, dizziness, headache, increase in heart rate, headaches, confusion and in some cases can result in unconsciousness.

Xylene – Found in rubber, leather, tobacco smoke, and vehicle exhaust. Symptoms associated with short-term exposure include: irritation to mouth and throat, dizziness, headache, confusion, heart problems, liver and kidney damage and coma.

Ammonia – Found in window cleaners, floor waxes, smelling salts, and fertilizers. Symptoms associated with short-term exposure include: eye irritation, coughing, sore throat.

Please note: Some of these plants may be toxic for your pets, so please do your research to ensure your furry friends stay safe.


This article originally appeared on 08.13.21

Gordon Ramsay at play... work.


Gordon Ramsay is not exactly known for being nice.

Or patient.

Or nurturing.

On his competition show "Hell's Kitchen," he belittles cooks who can't keep up. If people come to him with their problems, he berates them. If someone is struggling to get something right in the kitchen, he curses them out.



His whole TV persona is based on being the world's worst boss.

Ramsay went on Reddit and allowed users to ask him any question they wanted.

So when a fellow cook asked him a sincere, deeply personal question about what to do when you've hit a roadblock in your career, you could probably guess what was coming.

economics, inspiration, mentorship

How do you deal with it Ramsay?

Indeed, I thought the guy was making a terrible mistake pouring his heart out to a chef as notoriously tough as Ramsay:

"My hopes and dreams are nowhere to be found as I scale and portion salmon after salmon, shelling pods after pods of broad beans.
...
Sometimes I look out the tiny window and I can see people walking around the streets, enjoying the sunlight, while I'm here, questioning my dedication to this art as I rotate stock in the cool room, getting frost bitten, but the fear of the chef stops me from stepping outside to warm up.
...
The closest thing to feeling any kind of joy I get is those rare moments when I walk through the dining room near the end of service to get some coffee for everyone, and there will be a few diners left, idly sampling those little petite fours that we've painstakingly ensured are all perfectly round, identical, and just plain delicious. Then, one of them will stop the conversation they're having with their company, look up from their food and say, 'Thank you, chef. This is delicious,' and making the previous 14-hours of sweat and tears kind of worthwhile.

My question is, how did you deal with it? How the fuck did you deal with all the bullshit, Gordon?”

But the way Ramsay responded? Totally amazing. And completely unexpected.

uplifting, chef, labor laws

That’s an amazing question.

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Turns out, real-life Gordon Ramsay? He actually can be a really kind, big-hearted dude.

He's sympathetic to the guy. Not just because he's a good person. But because he's been there.

Working in restaurants is a tough, tough business. As of 2012, the average salary for cooks was less than $23,000/year. And those who are just starting out often have to work unglamorous, tedious jobs that no one else wants to do. Ramsay didn't have fancy culinary school training. He rose up through the ranks putting in long hours for low pay in kitchens all over the world. That's why he gets it.

Which brings up another point.

Diet Dieting GIF by Bobbi DeCarlo - Find & Share on GIPHY

diners, food, job security, restaurants

(Does this salad dressing have black pepper in it?? No tip for you!)

Diet Dieting GIF by Bobbi DeCarlo - from GIPHY.

When we go out to eat, we, as a culture, tend to behave ... how should I put this?

Let's go with "not like perfect angels."

Of course, no one likes getting the wrong order. Or waiting a really long time for a meal. Or eating something that doesn't taste the way you expect it to.

But it's important to remember that the people behind the food, like Ramsay's anonymous letter-writer, might be working 14-hour days. Or might be a recent immigrant who speaks limited English, trying to support a family thousands of miles away. And possibly making very little money. And sure, they screw up sometimes. But we all screw up at our jobs sometimes.

Because they, like the rest of us, are human beings.

Which is why saying...

"Thank you, chef. This is delicious."

Could mean everything to someone.


This article originally appeared on 04.22.15

Science

Artist creates amazing inflatable shower curtain to help save water

If you take long showers you’re in for a rude awakening.

Image via elisabethbuecher.com

Singing in the shower.

Are you the type of person who is always waiting on someone in the shower, or are you the one holding everyone up with your epic shower songs? Either way, Elisabeth Buecher has the perfect shower curtain for you. The London-based artist created an inflatable shower curtain that fills soft spikes with air if the shower is on too long. After four minutes of running water, a sensor on the tap triggers an inflator for the spikes, and the bather is immediately reminded that it's time to get out.

Buecher created the installation to raise awareness about water conservation.


"They aim at provoking a debate around water issues and making people more aware of their consumption," the artist said on her website.

Check out the steps from peaceful showering to an alarming wake-up call below.

bathroom, saving water, room design

Getting the hair wet.

Image via elisabethbuecher.com

artist, environmentalist, going green

My other chosen career.

Image via elisabethbuecher.com

Inflatable shower curtain in dramatic action.

Image via elisabethbuecher.com

protection, responsibility, guardianship

The shower curtain has won.

Image via elisabethbuecher.com


This article originally appeared on 09.23.17

Joy

Texas family takes a $40 million hit to turn their massive ranch into a public park

They chose conservation and the public good over a lucrative private development deal.

RGK Ranch will become a 1500-acre public park outside of Austin, Texas.

Most people will never see a million dollars in their lifetime, much less tens of millions of dollars. Even fewer would pass up an easy opportunity to become $40 million richer, regardless of how wealthy they already are.

That's what a family in Central Texas did when private real estate developers from around the world offered upwards of $130 for their sprawling 1507-acre ranch. Instead of taking one of those huge real estate deals, they chose to sell RGK Ranch to Travis County, Texas, for a reduced purchase price of $90 million—$30 million below its appraised value—so the land could be preserved as a public park.

Nadya Scott and her brother Gregory Kozmetsky inherited the ranch from their parents, George and Ronya Kozmetsky, who purchased the land in 1970. The elder Kozmetsky was a technology innovator and co-founder of Teledyne Inc. who passed away in 2003. He was also an educator and philanthropist who gave away millions of dollars through the RGK Foundation. Now his descendants are donating tens of millions of dollars worth of their family's land rights for the public good.


The ranch sits outside of Austin, which has seen record growth over the past decade as America's fastest-growing metro area. The family credits Nadya Scott, Kozmetsky's daughter, with the vision to make the ranch into a public park.

“I want to preserve the land for future generations because I have seen what happens when the land around a city becomes so valuable that it is sold, and little wild area is preserved,” said Nadya Scott in a press release. “I believe in protecting unique land for the future and I am glad that people before me also wanted to protect land so that I can explore beautiful areas in my travels. The RGK Ranch is a beautiful and unique part of Texas.”

Scott's son, Jordan, told Texas Monthly that she had been inspired by picnicking and hiking at Will Rogers State Historic Park in Los Angeles, on land that had once belonged to the film star’s ranch, when they lived in California. “Those experiences truly planted a seed for [my mother] to see she could create a similar experience for people in Austin,” he said.

Jordan Scott also said in a press release, “Austin and Central Texas are beloved by the Scott and Kozmetsky families. The cherished memories our family created on this land will now be shared with our community. I am honored by my mother’s decision to preserve and protect this land.”

In the U.S. around 40% of land is publicly owned, while 60% is private. But state by state, the percentages vary widely. In Alaska, for instance, nearly 90% of land is public and the rest privately owned. In Texas, less than 5% of land is public while over 95% is privately owned. Public land is a big part of conservation efforts as it can be protected by law. Natural areas that are preserved for the public, such as our National and State Parks, serve to absorb harmful carbon in our atmosphere as well as keep ecosystems healthy. In states like Texas where very little land is protected, public lands are even more important.

The park will play a vital role in protecting the environment, acting as a natural filter, absorbing rainwater to contribute to the aquifer, and contributing excess run-off water directly to Lake Travis—a huge benefit since Travis County faces water scarcity concerns. The park will also serve the wildlife of the area, creating corridors for animals to wander from habitat to habitat.

“Due to the families’ generosity and the foresight of Travis County, a large and very valuable property with significant conservation value will become parkland, benefiting wildlife, water quality, and future park goers in our community,” said Jeff Francell, associate director of land protection for The Nature Conservancy in Texas, an environmental nonprofit organization that helped facilitate the transaction.

County Judge Andy Brown, who helped lead the efforts to acquire the land for the county, added, “The Scott family's generosity also ensures that future generations will have the chance to experience the beauty and ecological value of this land. We look forward to collaborating with the community to develop a park that reflects the diverse needs and interests of our residents.”

The county will create a master plan for the land, but according to Texas Monthly, a home on the ranch is already slated to be turned an events center. The Scott family will retain ownership of 90 acres of land adjacent to what, but Travis County will have right of first refusal to buy that land if the family decides to sell in the future.

The park is expected to open to the public in late 2025.