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Heroes

This artist is using tons of plastic garbage to make an urgent point about waste.

This artist is using tons of plastic garbage to make an urgent point about waste.

Over the past several years, artist Benjamin Von Wong has been on an amazing journey inspiring people to reconsider what they throw away.

It started with a trip to Guatemala and an up-close photoshoot of a massive trash heap there, and quickly morphed into a series of projects designed to confront people with various aspects of the world's waste problem.

As an artist, however, he wanted to do it in a way that would get people to look first before he unloaded harrowing facts about waste on them. There's so much alarmist news out there about what we're doing to our planet that, frankly, after a while, many of us end up turning off to the problem. Von Wong's method of turning trash into something beautiful to get our attention is a different, perhaps more productive approach.


"As human beings, we go through so much sh*t," noted the artist in a blog post on Bored Panda. "Every day, we make dozens of small decisions to buy more stuff – at the supermarket, malls, online… For most of my life, I didn’t think it mattered. After all, I was just one person, making a couple of small decisions."

"But one day, I found myself in a landfill surrounded by an endless mountain of other people’s small decisions and realized that maybe those small decisions did matter."

So, with a veritable army of like-minded volunteers, he created a series of waste-based art installations to help wake others up and see the problem that's all around them.

He put a mermaid in a plastic sea of 10,000 bottles — the same amount the average person uses and throws away in a lifetime.

He created "Toxic Laundry Monsters" to bring the chemicals and micro-plastics that are released every time we do a wash to life.

His latest piece, "Strawpocalypse" is meant to showcase the enormity of the plastic straw problem. It took him and his crew 6 months to collect 168,000 straws recovered off the streets of Vietnam to complete the waves.

In partnership with Laura François and her nonprofit, clothingtheloop.org, Von Wong took thousands of garments that were left in an abandoned factory in Cambodia and made several installations to accent how wasteful the fashion industry has become. You can check out how they made them here.

[rebelmouse-image 19480428 dam="1" original_size="700x316" caption="Photo via VonWong/YouTube." expand=1]Photo via VonWong/YouTube.

[rebelmouse-image 19480429 dam="1" original_size="700x353" caption="Photo via VonWong/YouTube." expand=1]Photo via VonWong/YouTube.

And this plastic cave was made from 18,000 cups that were collected from a food court in just one and a half days. It really puts that "by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean" statistic into perspective.

The point of all of this, Von Wong hopes, is that more people will start to change their consumption and waste habits. If nothing else, his art shows that one person can make a difference. A big difference.

We're up against a mounting problem, and that can feel overwhelming, but if you pick one thing today — whether it's plastic straws, bags, bottles or how you buy clothes — and make a decision to be more mindful about it, you'll be taking a significant step in the right direction.

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

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via Pexels

A couple celebrates while packing their home.

One of the topics that we like to highlight on Upworthy is people who are redefining what it means to be in a relationship. Recently, we’ve shared the stories of platonic life partners, moms who work together as part of a “mommune” and a polyamorous family with four equally-committed parents.

A growing number of people are reevaluating traditional relationships and entering lifestyles that work for them instead of trying to fit into preexisting roles. It makes sense because the more lifestyle options that are available, the greater chance we have to be happy.

A recent trend in unconventional relationships is married couples "living apart together," or LATs as they are known among mental health professionals.

Actress Helena Bonham Carter and director Tim Burton, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and producer Brad Falchuk, and photographer Annie Leibovitz and activist Susan Sontag are all high-profile couples who’ve embraced the LAT lifestyle.

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Family

Professional tidier Marie Kondo says she's 'kind of given up' after having three kids

Hearing Kondo say, 'My home is messy,' is sparking joy for moms everywhere.

Marie Kondo playing with her daughters.

Marie Kondo's book, "The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up," has repeatedly made huge waves around the world since it came out in 2010. From eliminating anything that didn't "spark joy" from your house to folding clothes into tiny rectangles and storing them vertically, the KonMari method of maintaining an organized home hit the mark for millions of people. The success of her book even led to two Netflix series.

It also sparked backlash from parents who insisted that keeping a tidy home with children was not so simple. It's one thing to get rid of an old sweater that no longer brings you joy. It's entirely another to toss an old, empty cereal box that sparks zero joy for you, but that your 2-year-old is inexplicably attached to.

To be fair, Kondo never forced her way into anyone's home and made them organize it her way. But also to be fair, she didn't have kids when she wrote her best-selling book on keeping a tidy home. The reality is that keeping a home organized and tidy with children living in it is a whole other ballgame, as Kondo has discovered now that she has three kids of her own.

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Pop Culture

YouTube star MrBeast sponsors 1,000 people's cataract surgery to help them see again

"I had never heard of MrBeast so I almost hung up. But gratefully did not hang up."

YouTube star sponsors 1,000 people's cataract surgery

Blindness touches people's lives around the world and YouTube star Jimmy Donaldson, more popularly known as MrBeast, is trying to do something about it. Donaldson made it his mission to help 1,000 people regain their eyesight with the help of Dr. Jeff Levenson, an ophthalmologist and surgeon in Jacksonville, Florida.

Levenson has been operating a program called "Gift of Sight" for over 20 years. The program provides free cataract surgery to uninsured people who are legally blind for free, so long as they meet certain criteria. Levenson had never heard of Donaldson, and he almost hung up on him when the YouTube star called to ask about a partnership.

"I had never heard of MrBeast so I almost hung up. But gratefully did not hang up," Levenson told CNN.

After figuring out that Donaldson was indeed a real person who wanted to help others, the duo called around the Jacksonville area to determine the people who needed help the most. They got their list of clients from free clinics and homeless shelters, which covered the United States portion of the surgeries.

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A mom makes sensory sand by putting Cheerios in a blender.

A parenting influencer who goes by the name @ellethevirgo on TikTok has shared a brilliant hack that can turn a simple box of Cheerios into a fun sensory sand experience. The great part is that the sand is edible, so you don’t have to worry if your child puts some in their mouth, which they will inevitably do.

The recipe for Cheerios sensory sand is pretty simple:

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Gaël Monfils makes tennis a must-see.

Tennis isn't always the most entertaining sport to watch, especially if you're not particularly interested in seeing a ball get slapped across a net at 1,000,000 mph approximately 17,000 times. You could probably get whiplash or eye strain if you focused too hard on it. While some people love the sport, others need a little more than grunts and sneaker sounds to capture their attention.

If you're in the group of people who need to be entertained, look no further than Gaël Monfils, a professional French tennis player that has earned the nickname, "The Entertainer." Monfils turned pro in 2004 and has multiple championship matches under his belt, and yet he still takes the time to be...extra while playing.

In a compilation video uploaded to TikTok, we see the 36-year-old tennis player dancing after hitting the ball across the net just out of his opponent's reach. But of course, he also doesn't hit the ball like your average player, either. In one part of the video, Monfils jumps up extremely high and bicycle kicks as he hits the ball with his tongue hanging out of his mouth.

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