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These New Yorkers have had it with plastic. So they're getting very creative.

What happens when you combine politics and activism with bodega owners and artists? An environmental movement to stop plastic bag use.

Vote With Your Tote was launched by a pro bono team of creatives and environmental experts in New York City.

Their goal is to combat the city's growing toxic waste problem by reducing the use of plastic bags. Each year, NYC residents use and discard approximately 10 billion single-use plastic grocery bags, a whopping $12.5 million disposal cost.


"Plastic bags are just a terrible form of waste ... it becomes litter on our streets and an eyesore," said Brad Lander, NYC council member and deputy leader for policy. "People across racial and economic lines care about their neighborhood, and reducing toxic waste is meaningful to them. People who live in public housing love and care about their neighborhood, and that's important for people to see."

All images courtesy of Vote With Your Tote.

The program is part of a bigger movement encouraging people to support a statewide Bring Your Own Bag law.

In New York, local residents and lawmakers, including the founder of PlasticBagLaws.org Jennie Romer, joined forces to persuade the city to adopt a law that would encourage customers to rely on reusable cloth bags instead of plastic. The law would implement a charge of 5 cents for every plastic bag at a grocery store — but it's not about the money. It's about the fee encouraging more eco-friendly practices.

"It really helps when there are conversations about what the bag fee is and what it really means to change behavior," Romer said. "Initially, a lot of people we talked to were like, 'no.' They didn't really didn't like the idea of a fee because no one likes the idea of paying money for something. So when they talked a lot about 'the why' and a lot of people really came around. And that was powerful."

The law passed in NYC but then was blocked by the state government in early 2017.

Given the success of these bag fee programs in other cities and states and multiple studies showing a state-level bag fee can create a 45%-95% decrease in plastic bag usage, this block was a frustrating step back for the movement.

In spite of the government's inaction, community members, politicians, and lawyers have persisted. Romer is still working to get laws passed and implemented, and she continues to focus on the often unheard voices among community members to push the movement forward.

"I've worked on this for six years, and a lot of what we see on the videos is that — we see a lot of interest groups that are in Park Slope and the Upper West Side," Romer said. "So I wanted to talk to adults and I wanted to talk with people that were in communities that are often overlooked in these kinds of conversations. We were trying to think of, 'Who is an unexpected ally?'"  

Vote With Your Tote was there to encourage reusable bag use and push for the plastic bag law to be passed.

The project leaders had two primary goals in mind: To get locals to shop with reusable bags and to get Gov. Andrew Cuomo to implement bag legislation to help make NYC a cleaner and more environmentally friendly place.

Romer began working with Papel and Caneta, a nonprofit collective with leading industry ad industry creatives. The collective partnered with five bodegas across different NYC boroughs, pairing each with a talented artist who could design creative tote bags unique to their business. This direct relationship turned the movement into something that was up-close and personal, a particular and important approach to getting locals involved.

"All the creatives [at Papel and Caneta] volunteer on projects, and we spent the weekend with people ... going around and just talking to owners and different neighborhoods," Romer said. "We were seeking out people that already had an inclination that this [project] sounded interesting."

To change state and federal policies, action has to start at home.

The local movement to implement plastic bag laws is especially important right now. Within the past year, local political engagement has increased, a welcome sign that Americans care about the nation starting at the neighborhood level. Romer noted that plastic bag laws are a tangible, simple way to use local political action to positively impact communities.

"A lot of people feel overwhelmed by everything that's happening at the federal level," Romer said in a press release. "Plastic bags laws represent a way to act locally to address something that people care about in their community: plastic bag overconsumption and litter. Making people aware of the issues caused by plastic bags and effective solutions — bags laws! — is a great first step toward making real change in communities, namely empowering New Yorkers to talk with their friends and call their politicians."

Vote With Your Tote will continue its grassroots movement by getting more people involved and making sure that Cuomo makes good on his promise to address NYC’s most pressing environmental laws. By centering local communities and bridging the gap between art and activism, Vote With Your Tote can totally make it happen.

To learn more about plastic bag laws in NYC and around the nation, visit their website.

"Freddie Mercury" by kentarotakizawa is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Fans are thrilled to hear Freddie Mercury's iconic voice once again.

Freddie Mercury had a voice and a stage presence unlike any other in rock music history. His unique talents helped propel the band Queen to the top of music charts and created a loyal fan base around the world.

Sadly, the world lost that voice when Mercury died of AIDS at age 45. For decades, most of us have assumed we'd heard all the music we were going to hear from him.

However, according to Yahoo! Entertainment, remaining Queen members Roger Taylor and Brian May announced this summer that they had found a never-released song they'd recorded with Mercury in 1988 as they were working on the album "The Miracle."

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Community

Hotel is giving away 10 all-expense-paid trips to help rebuild Patagonia hiking trail

Post your video entry by March 15 for a chance to do some good while exploring one of the world's most stunning ecosystems.

Las Torres Patagonia

Torres del Paine National Park

In the far southern reaches of South America, Patagonia beckons adventurers with its striking landscape. Rugged mountain peaks, deep valley vistas, pristine lakes, virgin forests, coastal cliffs and more combine to make this semi-arid land a paradise for nature lovers and photographers alike.

If you've ever seen a photo like this…

hiking trail next to a lake in patagoniaHiking trail at Torres del Paine National Park in PatagoniaLas Torres Patagonia

…and thought, "I have to go see that turquoise water for myself," now's your chance. Las Torres Patagonia is offering an all-expense-paid trip (including airfare) for 10 lucky winners to travel to Torres del Paine National Park in Chile and stay at the all-inclusive Las Torres Patagonia hotel for five days.

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We all know that Americans pay more for healthcare than every other country in the world. But how much more?

According an American expatriate who shared the story of his ER visit in a Taiwanese hospital, Americans are being taken to the cleaners when we go to the doctor. We live in a country that claims to be the greatest in the world, but where an emergency trip to the hospital can easily bankrupt someone.

Kevin Bozeat had that fact in mind when he fell ill while living in Taiwan and needed to go to the hospital. He didn't have insurance and he had no idea how much it was going to cost him. He shared the experience in a now-viral Facebook post he called "The Horrors of Socialized Medicine: A first hand experience."

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Lamb Chop and Mallory Lewis are creating nostalgia in Mellennials

"Lamb Chop's Play Along" taught a whole generation so many meaning for things. The little sock puppet taught kids things like manners, kindness and a really annoying song that doesn't have an ending. It'll probably be difficult to find a Millennial that doesn't know "The Song that Doesn't End" by Shari Lewis who voiced Lamb Chop.

The kids show aired from 1992 to 1997 on PBS, with Shari passing away just a year later. But turns out everyone's favorite squeaky voiced lamb wasn't done bringing people joy. Shari's daughter Mallory Lewis has taken up her mom's throne as Lamb Chops handler and the internet couldn't be more thrilled to see the duo.

Mallory has the same fiery red curly hair that her mom did and has brought Lamb Chop, Charley Horse and Hush Puppy back out to play. To the delight of Millennials, the sassy lamb is still just six years old and gets Mallory into some tricky situations when trying to explain things to the puppet.

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via Sitwithit / Instagram

Validation and Hope vs. Toxic Positivity

A Helpful Chart to Explain the Difference Between Support and 'Toxic Positivity" was originally published on The Mighty.

There's no denying that positivity can be powerful. I know when I'm struggling with anxiety and negative thoughts, if I can hold onto an ounce of hope — that I'll make it through, that I'm not defined by my thoughts, that I'm not as bad as my brain is making me out to be — I can cope a little better.

The positivity we hold within ourselves, when we can manage it, makes it a little easier to get by.

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Family

How 5 diabolical parents called their kids' bluff in hilarious ways

The next generation is in great, if diabolical, hands.

Photo by Phuong Tran on Unsplash



Recently, blogger Jen Hatmaker had a funny conversation with a friend about parenting:

"My girlfriend told me the greatest story. Apparently her 11-year-old also wanted to be a grown up this week and, in fact, not only did he treat his siblings like despised underlings, but when asked what he wanted, he said: 'I want the authority to be in charge of them and tell them what to do, because they deserve it!'


Well. My girlfriend and her husband are NOT AT ALL MESSING AROUND with parenting. Calmly, evenly, they granted his request to be a grown-up for a week by pulling him out of camp (the underlings still got to go, because they are 'such children') and sending him to work ALL DAY EVERY DAY with his dad. He has to get up early and shower and make breakfast for everyone. He has to kiss the underlings before he goes to work and tell them to have a great day and that he loves them. He has to work on a typing project during his office hours. He only gets to eat what his dad eats, because eating like a grown-up is not nearly as fun as eating like a kid.


Want to be an adult? Fine."

Photo via iStock.

Hatmaker's post went viral, with thousands of parents chiming in with their own stories of tough love, both giving and receiving.

The responses were hilarious, poignant, and a sign that the next generation is being parented by extremely capable, if not a little bit diabolical, hands.

Here are five of my favorite stories from the comments about parenting-gone-absolutely-right:

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