Plastics pretty much made our modern world. But they're also clogging it up.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Don't get me wrong. I really like having a water bottle that doesn't rust. But we do produce an awful lot of them. One study suggested that 5 to 14 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year, for instance.


There have been a lot of programs to try to get people to recycle more, many of which you've probably been part of. But getting people to recycle is hard. Recycling in many areas is inconvenient, and sometimes it's expensive, too.

One neighborhood in Amsterdam is trying an interesting solution, though: combining recycling and supporting local businesses.

Photo by Robert B. Fishman/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images.

The Noord district sits across the water from the rest of Amsterdam. It used to be pretty industrial — full of wharfs and shipyards — but in the last few decades, it has been revived as a cultural and arts center in the city. As of early 2015, it's also been the center of a cool recycling experiment too.

The neighborhood is turning bags of trash into what are essentially coupons for local shops.

Amsterdam offers recycling centers where people can drop off their stuff, but it doesn't have door-to-door pickup. Wasted, run by the Cities Foundation, helps fill some of that gap.

Households that opt in get special rubbish bags for plastic waste. Once full, the bags go outside and someone comes to pick them up. A few days later, the house gets a package full of special green plastic coins, courtesy of Wasted.

Houses get one coin per bag. Special QR codes on each bag ensure they get to the right people. Image from Wasted/Cities Foundation, used with permission.

The project is subsidized by the city council, which currently manages the weekly collections.

The coins can be used to get freebies or discounts from local businesses. Want a half-price beer? How about some free chocolate? Or discount yoga lessons? Those can all be paid for with green coins.

30 local businesses have signed up so far, and they seem to like it.

At the Al Ponte cafe, overlooking Amsterdam's river IJ, a green coin will get customers a buy-one-get-one-free deal on coffee. Cafe owner Silvia Salani told The Guardian that the program not only boosted her standing but also enticed new customers into her shop.

The project is still small and local — only about 700 households have signed up — but it's had a big effect. Since 2015, Wasted has collected roughly 16.5 tons of plastic rubbish.

Blocks made from the plastic. Image from Wasted/Cities Foundation, used with permission.

The project has also changed hearts and minds. About half of the people in this scheme said they improved their habits. About a quarter said they ended up using less plastic altogether.

This idea might not work in every neighborhood. But it's really awesome to see a community and small businesses team up like this.

That's something worth celebrating.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

via Imgur

"Why does it sound like you're leaving?"

This article originally appeared on 05.25.19


In every relationship we'll ever have, there's going to be a final conversation. Before the digital age, these interactions were usually face-to-face or over the telephone and could only be recorded in our memories. But now, just about every relationship leaves a paper trail of text messages, social media interactions, and voice messages. Sometimes the final communication is a heated breakup, and other times, it's a casual interaction shortly before a person's death.

Now, there's a blog that collects these haunting final messages. The Last Message Received contains submissions of the last messages people received from ex-friends or ex-significant others as well as from deceased friends and relatives. Here are some of the blog's most haunting posts.

"My good friend's dad died around Thanksgiving. Two weeks later he drank himself to death."

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Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.