People are sharing things they would 'dis-invent' if they could, and it's food for thought

Even the inventors themselves regretted making some of these things.

Photos by Jisu Han on Unsplash (left) and Renz Macorol on Pexels (right)

Some things haven't turned into the great inventions they were meant to be.

Humanity is amazing, truly. The way we're continually advancing in nearly every arena of learning, the scientific discoveries we've made, the technologies we've created, the innovative improvements that are constantly being made—it's all quite remarkable.

But in all of this forward movement, we haven't alway struck a healthy balance. Technological and scientific advancements are only a net positive when they are tempered with wisdom, thoughtfulness and conscientiousness of the greater good, and there are notable times when those virtues have been lacking.j

Reddit user /leo_78 asked, "If you could dis-invent something, what would it be?" and people's responses highlight how vital it is to think about the consequences of innovations and inventions before they get put out into the world. (In fact, as we'll see, some of the people who came up with these inventions even regretted it later.)

In no particular order, here are some of the top answers:

1. Pop-up ads

"The creator of them even apologized creating them." – ChefExcellent13

"I remember when they went away for a bit and then made a resurgence with mobile. Trying going to any website now that sells something and give it 2-3 secs and you have a “Want 15% off?!” Pop up. Infuriating." – drhiggs

"Any intrusive ads really. Usually when I'm watching Twitch, there will be ads randomly playing right in the middle of the actions/fun parts." – Claudia-Roelands

2. Household appliances tied to subscription services

"We're looking at YOU, H.P.!" – SuperEP1C-FA1L-GUY

"Yo, wait, wtf? When did this happen? You telling me I have to pay $9.95 a month or something so that my dishwasher works? I'm so confused." – Parada484

"A friend of mine had a CPAP that would stop working if you stopped paying. She's dead now. Those two things are not directly related but her health issues that led to her death were certainly not helped by her sleep apnea." – PixelOrange

"Yo, what? I'm hacking anything that comes into my house so that it's dumb as rocks, I don't need super intelligent robots, I want dumb hammers hammering away at dumb nails." – TheUnkindledLives

3. Coffee pods

"Coffee Pods -- they are disgustingly wasteful." – Anim8nFool

"The k-cup inventor regrets how much extra trash they cause." – LittleOrangeBoi (It's true, he does.)

"I won a Keurig through a work raffle. I already hated the idea of it and did some research. The guy sold all his shares in the company before it took off. He tried making reusable ones but Keurig got all legal on his ass before there was enough pressure for them to make their own, but most people just use the disposable ones anyway.

In 2015, enough k-cups were made (and dumped into landfills) to wrap around the planet over 10 fucking times. What an environmental disaster.

I donated the machine to a non-profit my wife works with and they are adamant about using reusable k-cups and not the single use pods. Also I don't drink coffee so it was wasted on me anyway." – vonkeswick

4. Landmines

"Landmines. Seriously. They f**k up people long after wars are finished." – NaughtyDaisyDelight

"There’s an estimated 800,000 TONS of unexploded ordnance still in Vietnam, that would take hundreds of years to clear out. For context, the bomb dropped in Hiroshima had a yield of about 15,000 tons of TNT." – Redshift_1

"There is also the so called red zone or zone rouge in France - from Word War 1...

The zone rouge was defined just after the war as "Completely devastated. Damage to properties: 100%. Damage to Agriculture: 100%. Impossible to clean. Human life impossible" (Wikipedia) – Drumbelgalf

"I think it’s the most nefarious war machine ever invented. Infrastructure can be rebuilt, land can heal, people can forget and move on. But landmines are forever until some poor child or civilian steps on them and is maimed or killed. You can argue that nukes are worse, but at least we don’t really use them." – WeatherfordCast

5. Impossible-to-open plastic packaging

"The packages they put scissors in… that you need scissor to open. Wtf?" – AnxiousTelephone2997

"Out of everything you could've chosen you chose this one and I 100% get it.." – waveradium

"i get so many papercuts trying to open that sharp strong plastic sealed packaging." – i4mknight

"I would expand that to all single-use plastic packaging." – boondoggie42

6. On-screen tipping prompts…or just tipping in general

"The tipping option when I check out on those computers at the checkout counter." – PotatoshavePockets

"Maybe tips in general. Just pay people for the work they do." – Euphoric_Wolf7227

"This is getting so bad in Canada the default options are starting at 18% and go as high as 25%. I have to hit "other" to enter the long time cultural standard of 15% nevermind that I'm being prompted this on take out and fast food." – ReeG

"It's so refreshing travelling outside of NA to countries that don't do tipping. You go to a restaurant or to just do stuff and the price is what it actually costs you." – 0neek

People added plenty of other things like child beauty pageants, the 24-hour news cycle, the medical insurance industry, HOAs, vapes, reality television and more.

With most of the things people shared, it seems like someone could have or should have foreseen the problems they would create, which highlights how care and compassion for humanity must be at the forefront of innovation and an integral part of the decision-making process of what gets produced and what doesn't.

What would you add to the dis-invention list?

Maybelline New York Beauty & Beyond

For most of her life, Balanda Atis has had trouble finding a foundation that matches her skin tone. And she's far from the only woman of color to have this problem.

Growing up in a Haitian community in East Orange, New Jersey, she often heard women in her community voice their frustrations over it. There simply weren't enough specific foundation colors out there for non-white women, so they'd end up using shades that didn't really suit their skin tone.

Even after Atis started working in makeup development at L'Oréal over 18 years ago, this skin tone issue remained prevalent. It actually wasn't until 2011 that their foundation line got the diversity makeover it needed. And that's largely thanks to her.

Atis working in the lab. All photos via Upworthy.

Back in 2006, Atis began the challenging task of fixing the diversity gap in the brand's foundation line.

Their research and development team had just shared a slew of new foundations that were meant to do just that, but when Atis tried them, she told her department head that she still couldn't find her skin tone match. So he turned to her and said, "fix it."

With that, Atis began traveling all over the country collecting data on the wide spectrum of skin tones out there.

Atis and two colleagues ending up doing a lot of their reconnaissance work during their time off on nights and weekends — mostly because it had become a labor of love. As a result, it took several years to collect all the information they needed to start creating more shades. However, in retrospect, the effort was more than worth it.

She wasn't just working to correct an issue at L'Oréal — deepening and expanding foundation shade range has been an industry-wide challenge for decades.

"What drove us on those 12-hour days was knowing that we were solving a problem for women," Atis says.

Atis and a colleague testing foundation pigments.

For example, they learned that adding ultramarine blue, a less widely used color, to certain shades created deep, pure foundation colors that maintained their vibrancy. Previously, darker foundation colors tended to look flat and dull on skin.

When Atis presented their revolutionary findings, L'Oréal put her on the task of developing multi-cultural beauty products full-time as part of a new lab dedicated exclusively to this work. That lead to the creation of more than 30 new foundation shades, which were implemented across L'Oréal in 2011. Needless to say, her involvement was a total game changer.

Several of L'Oréal's brands have since utilized her research including Maybelline, Dermablend, L'Oréal Paris and Lancome.

Moreover, with more women of color becoming the faces of beauty brands, the industry is making it clear that representation matters to them. And thanks to chemistry pioneers like Atis, their image can be accurately enhanced.

That said, Atis and her team are always working to expand the L'Oréal library of shades for women of color. But Atis also has another important focus.  

Today, as head of the Multicultural Beauty Lab at L'Oréal, Atis is showing girls how they too can make a huge difference in the world using science.

Together with her chemistry team, Atis explains to these avid students how they mix and create new foundations, taking into consideration factors like texture and the way light affects different pigments. The hope is that they're inspiring these chemistry enthusiasts to pursue a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math fields).

The benefits of this learning program are two-fold for L'Oréal — they're infusing the STEM world with much-needed diversity and possibly increasing the pool of beauty chemists who see what's lacking in the makeup department.

Atis teaches young women about the chemistry behind making foundations.

"I think it's really important for young girls to learn about STEM, and the opportunities are so big," explains Shauna-Kaye Scotland, senior chemist at L'Oréal. "They need to know that they exist."

The experience seems to do just as much good for the scientists themselves.

"I realized the little bit I was able to share really has a huge impact on them and their future," Atis says.

There's so much possibility that comes with learning the science behind how things are made. As long as women like Atis keep opening the door to interested young women, there's no telling how diverse the spectrum of new women scientists will become.

Learn more about Atis' work with the Multicultural Beauty Lab here:

UCLA Optimists

Earlier this year, a Swiss startup began removing CO2 from the atmosphere using a large vacuum-like machine.

Their ultimate goal is to start reversing the damaging effects of climate change by reducing CO2 — a major component of atmospheric pollution — on a global scale.

While the machine's development is a huge step forward, one little problem remains — where does all that collected CO2 go?

Gaurav Sant, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at UCLA, has one solution: turn it into cement.

(And we're not just talking about any old cement.)

Gaurav Sant. Photo via UCLA.

Sant has figured out how to make a stronger, more lightweight, more structurally sound cement out of — wait for it — CO2.

Believe it or not, the regular construction of cement is responsible for 9% of the world's CO2 emissions. And it is widely accepted that CO2 emissions play a huge role in global warming and, by effect, climate change.

Sant, along with his team at UCLA, decided to try to turn two negatives into a positive. They found a way to integrate CO2 into the production of cement, thereby keeping it out of the atmosphere and upcycling it into something useful and even profitable.  

It all started from tiny cement cylinders created by Sant's 3D printer.

Sant with his 3D printer. Photo via UCLA.

Well, that and a pretty important discovery of how CO2 can help accelerate the cement-making process.

In simplest terms, Sant's team discovered that the CO2 in flue gas streams from coal and natural gas power plants accelerates the mineral-making processes that can be used to create cementing agents. They decided to use CO2 to produce a new type of concrete that they've named CO2NCRETETM.

Curious how they did that? Here's the breakdown.

When a mineral called portlandite absorbs CO2, it turns into limestone, which is a cementing agent. While this process normally takes years to happen naturally, Sant's team figured out how to make it happen quickly — 450 pounds of CO2 into several tons of CO2NCRETETM quickly — and efficiently using their 3D printer.

Unlike traditional cement-making on a construction site, 3D technologies allow them to create basic construction pieces out of their new CO2-based concrete that fit together perfectly.

This means they can make cement pieces that are stronger, more lightweight, and more structurally sound.

Sant with a fellow researcher creating cones of CO2NCRETETM. Photo via UCLA.

"As a child that played with Legos, I have long recognized that the idea of constructing buildings and infrastructure like a large Lego set is (a) fast, (b) intuitive, and, (c) offers improved quality control since 'factory made' pieces are simply assembled on site," Sant explains in an email.  

What sort of impact could this have on reducing global CO2 emissions? Turns out, a pretty big one.

[rebelmouse-image 19475646 dam="1" original_size="600x338" caption="Traditional concrete being poured. Photo by Circe Denyer/PublicDomainPictures.net." expand=1]Traditional concrete being poured. Photo by Circe Denyer/PublicDomainPictures.net.

According to Sant and his team, if CO2NCRETETM were to be mass-produced globally, it could reduce CO2 emissions from traditionally made cement by 50%. And since those emissions currently make up 9% of all CO2 emissions on the planet, that's no small amount.

What's more, since there's been little change made in the construction industry over the last two centuries, it's primed for an efficiency makeover.

"CO2NCRETETM has the potential to serve as an example of how CO2 emissions — even those associated with dilute CO2 streams — can be repurposed to create value and minimize environmental impact," writes Sant.

[rebelmouse-image 19475647 dam="1" original_size="1280x854" caption="Photo by Robert Jones/Pixabay." expand=1]Photo by Robert Jones/Pixabay.

And it's not like this goal is a faraway dream. They've made incredible progress on this new cement and are starting to shop it around.

They've figured out how to streamline the cement-making process so it takes much less time and energy than it did initially. They've also done an analysis of the construction market and see huge potential for such a sustainable product.

"This is especially significant as jurisdictions, globally, including states and nations, seek to limit CO2 emissions and impose CO2 penalties on industrial processes," writes Sant.

And in terms of progress with CO2 capture, Sant's work could offer an economically viable alternative to storing the CO2 underground, which can get pretty expensive.

If the world recognizes the economic value of upcycled cement along with the environmental impact, this discovery could revolutionize the future of construction.

[rebelmouse-image 19475648 dam="1" original_size="1280x720" caption="Photo by Pexels/Pixabay." expand=1]Photo by Pexels/Pixabay.

Engineering solutions like this can offer a way to mitigate climate change and be profitable at the same time. Now it's just about keeping an open mind and seeing the enormous potential in a small, concrete cylinder.

As for Sant and his associates, they're just thrilled to be on the precipice of real, necessary change.

"As humans, we all want to make positive impact," says Sant. "To be a part of the solution is a very empowering accomplishment that we wish to socialize."

Dust off your rompers, cue up "Steal My Sunshine," and fill up on froyo because summer is on its way.

Go ahead and do your summer shimmy. I'll wait.

GIF via "BAPS."

With summer fun comes summer sun, and while it feels so, so good after a long winter, the rays can wreak havoc on your skin.

That's why everyone needs sun protection. White people. Black people. Brown people. Seriously, everyone needs sun protection.

Because black and brown people can get sunburns too.

GIF via "Modern Family."

Let me say this one more time for people in the back: Black and brown people get sunburns too.

The melanin, or pigment, in our skin does provide a certain degree of protection, but it doesn't make us immune to sunburns, skin damage, or skin cancer. In fact, a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology showed black patients are often diagnosed with later stage melanoma and have the lowest survival rates by ethnicity.

The first line of defense against the sun's harmful rays is typically sunscreen, but for those of us with more melanin, the white cream leaves an unsightly residue on our skin.

The culprit? Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, two common sunblock ingredients that help reflect sunlight. If you have a darker complexion, it's not a good look. Basically, we go to the beach looking like ashy ghosts in a flour factory.

This is my skin with and without sunscreen. And yeah, that's what it looks like rubbed in. Notice the difference? Photo via Erin Canty/Upworthy.

This, coupled with the fact that many people of color mistakenly assume they're not at risk for skin damage, may explain why 63% of black participants in one survey said they never used sunscreen.

That decision is killing us. Thankfully, one company came up with a fresh solution.

Chinelo Chidozie and Ndidi Obidoa developed a sunblock specifically for black women.

Go ahead and do your black girl magic shimmy. I'll wait.

GIF via Chloe and Halle.

Chidozie and Obidoa are the cofounders of Bolden, a skin-care brand built by and for brown women and girls to meet the needs of our unique skin and complexions. The women are skin-care and beauty enthusiasts with MBAs, so starting their own business in 2015 was a natural fit.

"We're here to solve the skin-care problems that black women face," Obidoa says.

Chidozie (left) and Obidoa, the founders of Bolden. Photo via Bolden, used with permission.

A common problem for many black women is hyperpigmentation, which can become exaggerated with sun damage. Bolden's solution? SPF 30 Brightening Moisturizer is a facial sunblock that guards against UV damage, keeps skin moisturized, and dries clear. (Yep, no more ashy ghosts at the beach.) Down the road, they hope to release a body sunblock too.

"I think there's a lot of education that needs to go on around the need for sunscreen," Chidozie says. "[Melanin] gives you a false sense of protection or safety that 'I don't need to wear sunscreen.' But you do."

So this summer: Have fun, rock your favorite swimsuit, eat your weight in watermelon, and use sun protection.

Keep your melanin poppin', now and forever. You'll be glad you did.

Cue the sun protection shimmy. GIF via "Oprah."