The job is too risky for humans. Enter these 'hero rats.'

Are you ready to gaze lovingly at a rat?

No? What if it saved thousands of lives?


According to the United Nations, land mines are killing about 15,000 people a year — 15,000! — and that's the low end of the estimate.

Bart Weetjens, a Belgian product designer, also contemplated the lives lost to land mines. He thought back to his youth spent with his pet rats. (Yeah, so what? He had pet rats. It's probably why he knew they could be trained pretty easily.) Following this hunch, Bart looked into gerbils being used for scent detection and asked around about rats, gerbils, scents, and land mines.

Then he put those things together and got a strangely heroic solution.

The HeroRAT!

The HeroRAT program gives folks the chance to adopt a pouched rat. From there, your rat can become a Mine Detection Rat (MDR)! The New York Times looks into just how all this rodent heroism came to be.

HeroRATs have deactivated over 19,000 land mines in Tanzania, Mozambique, Thailand, and Cambodia alone!

Faster than a speeding turtle, more powerful (at smelling) than a bloodhound, able to leap on land mines and not set them off because it doesn't weigh enough ... it's the HeroRAT!

For humans, finding land mines is super hard and super dangerous and takes forever. But for these semi-blind super-smeller pouched rats, finding land mines is literally a walk in the park.

"Ah, I love the smell of land mines in the morning"

These rats are detecting land mines in Angola, but mines are a huge danger in many places. Places like Cyprus, Syria, Korea, Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Myanmar, just to name a few places. In Cambodia, 50% of the land mine victims are children.

Land mines are indiscriminate killers. And, aside from killing people, which is horrible, they have a negative economic impact. You can't farm on a field of land mines!

That's why it's so important to find better and faster ways to get rid of 'em. Which brings me back to the rats.

*gazes lovingly at a rat*

Don't you just love 'em?


Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
True

Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

Keep Reading Show less
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.