The eco-friendly reason your next delivery may arrive via electric bike.

At any given moment, there are more than 370,000 trucks, cars, motorcycles, and vans delivering packages and mail around the U.S. Then there's Casey Redman.

Redman is pedaling around Portland, Oregon, as an operator of the first and only UPS e-bike in the U.S. That's right, Redman is delivering packages by bicycle.

UPS e-bike operator Casey Redman with the e-bike. Photo by Erin Canty/Upworthy.


But this is not a return to the company's humble beginnings; it's a forward-thinking experiment to see if electric bikes have a place in the American delivery landscape.

An e-bike is essentially a traditional bicycle with some extra oomph in the form of a rechargeable battery.

Pedal-assist bikes, like the UPS e-bike, are akin to a hybrid car. The operator pedals the bike mostly under their own power, but the battery can kick in for a boost when needed, like going up steep hills or carrying heavy loads. It's all the fun of cycling without the pedaling.

"Ultimately and optimally, the bike is operated with human power and electric power simultaneously to get the most out of the energy," says Scott Phillippi, automative maintenance and engineering manager at UPS and the company's e-bikes expert.

The throttle helps Redman build momentum going up hills. Photo by Erin Canty/Upworthy.

The Portland test features just one e-bike designed and built in the city by Truck Trike, a local company. It weighs about 230 pounds, has an 18-mile range, and can haul 600 pounds of payload. The cargo box, where Redman stores the packages, is just under 5 feet long, 68 inches high, and 4 feet wide. It's approximately 100 cubic feet.

"If you compared that to one of our typical delivery vans, it's about a one-tenth of the size," Phillippi says.

UPS declined to share the price of the bike in the test, but similar bikes from Truck Trike range in price from $10,000 to $14,000 depending on features.

While e-bikes are not new technology, this is the first time UPS is trying them stateside.

A similar four-week e-bike test ran in Basel, Switzerland, last summer. Basel, known for its narrow streets and limited parking, was the perfect place to pilot the initiative. And the company already has a fleet of e-bikes on the road in Hamburg, Germany.

Photo of a UPS cargo cruiser in Hamburg, Germany. Photo via UPS Pressroom.

The success of these programs lead to the test in Portland, which began Nov. 21. Portland was a logical choice for the experiment because the bike-friendly city already boasts a seasonal fleet of operators on traditional bicycles.

During the test, UPS will be exploring the design and reliability of the e-bike and whether it works within the city infrastructure. If the test run goes well, UPS may add more e-bikes to the fleet and run tests in other U.S. cities.

"Lots of things lined up for us to at least to put our toes in the water or see how this would work in the U.S.," Phillippi says. "It may not be an exact replica of what Hamburg is, but at least we're gonna see where it goes from here."

Photo by Erin Canty/Upworthy.

UPS considered e-bikes as a solution to congestion, an issue plaguing drivers across the country.

In 2011, American commuters in urban areas collectively lost 5.5 billion hours stuck in traffic. That means the average urban commuter lost close to a week of productivity while stuck behind the wheel. All that start-and-stop driving also cost commuters at the pump because drivers purchased an additional 2.9 billion gallons of gas and spent an extra $121 billion in added fuel costs and lost productivity.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

For a company based on driving and delivering packages door to door, congestion costs UPS millions of dollars each day, not just in lost time, but in fuel and emissions too. The e-bike is unique in that it can ride in the bike lane and requires no gasoline to operate. So not only can it navigate around congestion, it can do it without carbon emissions. Or as Redman says:

"It's fun, and it's good for the Earth. Why not, right?"

Redman takes the e-bike for a spin. Photo by Erin Canty/Upworthy.

It does, however, require some effort from the operator.

"[Operating the bike] is nothing very difficult at all," Phillippi said "There's a throttle, and everything else pretty much works like a normal bike would."

And for the most part, that's Redman's experience. The athletic former spinning instructor and bicycle commuter admitted that while the bike was easy to handle, there's a bit of a learning curve, especially when it comes to hills.

"There are some hills just up the road," he says, pointing in the distance. "I see [other bike delivery drivers] cruising up there. It's going to take some practice."

And you can't go in reverse, which is fine on a regular bike, but a little frustrating with 600 pounds of boxes to negotiate.

Redman puts the bike in reverse with a little elbow grease. Photo by Erin Canty/Upworthy.

As efficient (and frankly adorable) as e-bikes are, it would require a sizable shift in our transportation landscape to make this the norm.

E-bikes will likely never replace delivery trucks or vans as the preferred method for getting packages to your door.

So it's easy to look at test runs like this and question the very idea of this project. What will one bike do? On its own, not much. But one e-bike, coupled with alternative fuel vehicles, better logistics and planning, and consumers and stakeholders looking ahead to green alternatives? Now we're getting somewhere.

If a large company like UPS can make eco-friendly, traffic-sparing, money-saving changes to its fleet, other companies may soon follow.

Whether or not that's the case, all of us, big companies and individuals, need to assess how we're changing our habits and routines to limit our carbon footprint and ease congestion.

We can't afford to wait. Walking, driving, or on three wheels, we're in this together.

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan
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Growing up in Indonesia, Farwiza Farhan always loved the ocean. It's why she decided to study marine biology. But the more she learned, the more she realized that it wasn't enough to work in the ocean. She needed to protect it.

"I see the ocean ecosystem collapsing due to overfishing and climate change," she says. "I felt powerless and didn't know what to do [so] I decided to pursue my master's in environmental management."

This choice led her to work in environmental protection, and it was fate that brought her back home to the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia — one of the last places on earth where species such as tigers, orangutans, elephants and Sumatran rhinoceros still live in the wild today. It's also home to over 300 species of birds, eight of which are endemic to the region.

"When I first flew over the Leuser Ecosystem, I saw an intact landscape, a contiguous block of lush, diverse vegetation stretched through hills and valleys. The Leuser is truly a majestic landscape — one of a kind."

She fell in love. "I had my first orangutan encounter in the Leuser Ecosystem," she remembers. "As the baby orangutan swung from the branches, seemingly playing and having fun, the mother was observing us. I was moved by the experience."

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan

"Over the years," she continues, "the encounters with wildlife, with people, and with the ecosystem itself compounded. My curiosity and interest towards nature have turned into a deep desire to protect this biodiversity."

So, she began working for a government agency tasked to protect it. After the agency dismantled for political reasons in the country, Farhan decided to create the HAkA Foundation.

"The goals [of HAkA] are to protect, conserve and restore the Leuser Ecosystem while at the same time catalyzing and enabling just economic prosperity for the region," she says.

"Wild areas and wild places are rare these days," she continues. "We think gold and diamonds are rare and therefore valuable assets, but wild places and forests, like the Leuser Ecosystems, are the kind of natural assets that essentially provide us with life-sustaining services."

"The rivers that flow through the forest of the Leuser Ecosystem are not too dissimilar to the blood that flows through our veins. It might sound extreme, but tell me — can anyone live without water?"

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan

So far, HAkA has done a lot of work to protect the region. The organization played a key role in strengthening laws that bring the palm oil companies that burn forests to justice. In fact, their involvement led to an unprecedented, first-of-its-kind court decision that fined one company close to $26 million.

In addition, HAkA helped thwart destructive infrastructure plans that would have damaged critical habitat for the Sumatran elephants and rhinos. They're working to prevent mining destruction by helping communities develop alternative livelihoods that don't damage the forests. They've also trained hundreds of police and government rangers to monitor deforestation, helping to establish the first women ranger teams in the region.

"We have supported multiple villages to create local regulation on river and land protection, effectively empowering communities to regain ownership over their environment."

She is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year. The donation she receives as a nominee is being awarded to the Ecosystem Impact Foundation. The small local foundation is working to protect some of the last remaining habitats of the critically endangered leatherback turtle that lives on the west coast of Sumatra.

"The funds will help the organization keep their ranger employed so they can continue protecting the islands, endangered birds and sea turtle habitats," she says.

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen. Do you know an inspiring woman like Farwiza? Nominate her today!

Tired of avocados turning brown? Try this simple trick.

Ah, the delicious, creamy avocado. We love it, despite its fleeting ripeness and frustrating tendency to turn brown when you try to store it. From salads to guacamole to much-memed millennial avocado toast, the weird berry (that's right—it's a berry) with the signature green flesh is one of the more versatile fruits, but also one of the more fickle. Once an avocado is ready, you better cut it open within hours because it's not going to last.

Once it's cut, an avocado starts to oxidize, turning that green flesh a sickly brown color. It's not harmful to eat, but it's not particularly appetizing. The key to keeping the browning from happening is to keep the flesh from being exposed to oxygen.

Some people rub an unused avocado half with oil to keep oxidation at bay. Others swear by squeezing some lemon juice over it. Some say placing plastic wrap tightly over it with the pit still in it will keep it green.

But a YouTube video from Avocados from Mexico demonstrates a quick, easy, eco-friendly way to store half an avocado that doesn't require anything but a container and some water.

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Courtesy of Ms. Lopez
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Marcella Lopez didn't always want to be a teacher — but once she became one, she found her passion. That's why she's stayed in the profession for 23 years, spending the past 16 at her current school in Los Angeles, where she mostly teaches children of color.

"I wanted purpose, to give back, to live a life of public service, to light the spark in others to think critically and to be kind human beings," she says. "More importantly, I wanted my students to see themselves when they saw me, to believe they could do it too."

Ms. Lopez didn't encounter a teacher of color until college. "That moment was life-changing for me," she recalls. "It was the first time I felt comfortable in my own skin as a student. Always remembering how I felt in that college class many years ago has kept me grounded year after year."

It's also guided her teaching. Ms. Lopez says she always selects authors and characters that represent her students and celebrate other ethnicities so students can relate to what they read while also learning about other cultures.

"I want them to see themselves in the books they read, respect those that may not look like them and realize they may have lots in common with [other cultures] they read about," she says.

She also wants her students to have a different experience in school than she did.

When Ms. Lopez was in first grade, she "was speaking in Spanish to a new student, showing her where the restroom was when a staff member overheard our conversation and directed me to not speak in Spanish," she recalls. "In 'this school,' we only speak English," she remembers them saying. "From that day forward, I was made to feel less-than and embarrassed to speak the language of my family, my ancestors; the language I learned to speak first."

Part of her job, she says, is to find new ways to promote acceptance and inclusion in her classroom.

"The worldwide movement around social justice following the death of George Floyd amplified my duty as a teacher to learn how to discuss racial equity in a way that made sense to my little learners," she says. "It ignited me to help them see themselves in a positive light, to make our classroom family feel more inclusive, and make our classroom a safe place to have authentic conversations."

One way she did that was by raising money through DonorsChoose to purchase books and other materials for her classroom that feature diverse perspectives.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

The Allstate Foundation recently partnered with DonorsChoose to create a Racial Justice and Representation category to encourage teachers like Ms. Lopez to create projects that address racial equity in the classroom. To launch the category, The Allstate Foundation matched all donations to these projects for a total of $1.5 million. Together, they hope to drive awareness and funding to projects that bring diversity, inclusion, and identity-affirming learning materials into classrooms across the country. You can see current projects seeking funding here.

When Ms. Lopez wanted to incorporate inclusive coloring books into her lesson plans, The Allstate Foundation fully funded her project so she was able to purchase them.

"I'm a lifelong learner, striving to be my best version of myself and always working to inspire my little learners to do the same," she says. Each week, Ms. Lopez and the students would focus on a page in the book and discuss its message. And she plans to do the same again this school year.

"DonorsChoose has been a gamechanger for my students. Without the support of all the donors that come together on this platform, we wouldn't have a sliver of what I've been able to provide for my students, especially during the pandemic," she says.

"My passion is to continue striving to be excellent, and to continue to find ways to use literature as an anchor, depicting images that reflect my students," she says.

To help teachers like Ms. Lopez drive this important mission forward, donate on DonorsChoose.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

This story was originally published on The Mighty and originally appeared here on 07.21.17


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Lawrence went from being a highly sought-after Oscar-winning actress to starring in less-than-successful films like "Passengers," "Mother!" and "Red Sparrow." The films were not only poorly received among critics, but commercially as well.

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