via Mike Mozart / Flickr

By the end of the decade, over half a trillion single-use plastic bottles will be sold annually. In 2016, fewer than half those bottles were picked up for recycling and just seven percent were turned into new bottles.

The Coca-Cola Company, which owns Coke products and some of the biggest brands in the beverage industry, including Minute Maid, Sprite, Dasani, and Smart Water, is responsible for over 100 billion single-use plastic bottles produced annually.

Americans, especially millennials, are becoming increasingly concerned with the dangers caused by single-use plastics. A study published in Market Watch found 73 percent of millennials would pay more for sustainable products compared with 66 percent among all generations.

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When I found out I was pregnant in October 2018, I had planned to keep the news a secret from family for a little while — but my phone seemed to have other ideas.

Within just a few hours of finding out the news, I was being bombarded with ads for baby gear, baby clothes and diapers on Facebook, Instagram and pretty much any other site I visited — be it my phone or on my computer.

Good thing my family wasn't looking over my shoulder while I was on my phone or my secret would have been ruined.

I'm certainly not alone in feeling like online ads can read your mind.

When I started asking around, it seemed like everyone had their own similar story: Brian Kelleher told me that when he and his wife met, they started getting ads for wedding rings and bridal shops within just a few weeks. Tech blogger Snezhina Piskov told me that she started getting ads for pocket projectors after discussing them in Messenger with her colleagues. Meanwhile Lauren Foley, a writer, told me she started getting ads for Happy Socks after seeing one of their shops when she got off the bus one day.

When online advertising seems to know us this well, it begs the question: are our phones listening to us?

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