This beer's packaging isn't hurting turtles, it's feeding them.

The ocean is in crisis.

I don't mean to start this on a down note, but let's be real for a second: There are real problems swirling underneath the waves. Not only are the waters getting warmer and the Great Barrier Reef losing coral, but nearly 8 million tons of plastic are dumped in the water on an annual basis. And that's hurting the creatures that live down where it's wetter. According to recent research, sea animals from birds, to turtles, to whales regularly feed on plastic because it smells like food. That's not good for them.

Here's what it would feel like for a human:


Of course, there are some exciting developments that are working to restore order to King Triton's kingdom.

Have you heard about the plastic-eating mutant that's recently been created by an international team of scientists? What about the Ocean Cleanup Foundation, which plans to reduce half the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — it's the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world; and yes, that's its real name — in the next five years.

And there's something cool for the rest of us, too. While scientists work on the large-scale solutions, one Florida brewing company has created eco-friendly six-packs for its craft beers, ensuring that your summer trip to the beach will both create awesome memories and prevent the endangerment of sea life.

SaltWater Brewery has been working to bring eco-safe six-pack rings to consumers since it launched in 2013.

At the time, the brewery was working on perfecting the prototypes for the eco-friendly packaging. Now, in a partnership with environmental startup E6PR, the brewery has unleashed the product upon the world.

The company's commitment to the ocean is right in its name.

"The jewel of Florida is the ocean, so we all grew up seeing tar and different plastic on the beach and when we’re surfing and fishing we’ll catch plastic bags, and it’s horrible," Chris Gove, one of the company's co-founders told Upworthy in 2016.

While the plastic rings on your six-packs have been naturally degradable since the late '80s, they can still hurt animals.

These rings can take weeks to break down. In 2017, volunteers at a beach cleanup on Elmer's Island in Louisiana picked up more than 170 plastic rings as they combed the shore for trash. That plastic could have trapped animals and caused problems if it had been ingested. The eco-rings solve that problem.

These rings are still meant to be thrown in the trash. If they don't end up there, though, sea animals have nothing to fear. The packaging is "completely biodegradable, compostable, and edible."

Here's the issue, though: SaltWater is the first company to utilize these rings. And while they're popping up in stores all over Florida —  Publix, Total Wine & More, ABC Fine Wine and Spirits — they've still got a long way to go. According to a news release, E6PR is working to bring the packaging to other breweries across the country, though it hasn't revealed which ones yet. But the eco rings are sure to grow in popularity (and drop in price?) as it becomes more apparent how important it is for us to save our oceans.

And I'm sorry, but have you seen a sea turtle lately? They're majestic AF and we should be doing everything we can to protect them. If that means reusing water bottles, not throwing garbage on the beach, and being more conscious of how much plastic we buy in general, it's worth it.

Image by Tarik Tinazay /AFP/Getty Images.

Heroes

As a child, Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia's parents didn't ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Instead, her father would ask, "Are you going to be a doctor? Are you going to be an engineer? Or are you going to be an entrepreneur?"

Little did he know that she would successfully become all three: an award-winning biomedical and mechanical engineer who performs cutting-edge medical research and has started multiple companies.

Bhatia holds an M.D. from Harvard University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT. Bhatia, a Wilson professor of engineering at MIT, is currently serving as director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, where she's working on nanotechnology targeting enzymes in cancer cells. This would allow cancer screenings to be done with a simple urine test.

Bhatia owes much of her impressive career to her family. Her parents were refugees who met in graduate school in India; in fact, she says her mom was the first woman to earn an MBA in the country. The couple immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s, started a family, and worked hard to give their two daughters the best opportunities.

"They made enormous sacrifices to pick a town with great public schools and really push us to excel the whole way," Bhatia says. "They really believed in us, but they expected excellence. The story I like to tell about my dad is like, if you brought home a 96 on a math test, the response would be, 'What'd you get wrong?'"

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Someday, future Americans will look back on this era of school shootings in bafflement and disbelief—not only over the fact that it happened, but over how long it took us to enact significant legislation to try to stop it.

Five people die from vaping, and the government talks about banning vaping devices. Hundreds of American children have been shot to death in their classrooms, sometimes a dozen or so at a time, and the government has done practically nothing. It's unconscionable.

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via Hollie Bellew-Shaw / Facebook

For those of us who are not on the spectrum, it can be hard to perceive the world through the senses of someone with autism.

"You could think of a person with autism as having an imbalanced set of senses," Stephen Shore, assistant professor in the School of Education at Adelphi University, told Web MD.

"Some senses may be turned up too high and some turned down too low. As a result, the data that comes in tends to be distorted, and it's very hard to perceive a person's environment accurately," Shore continued.

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Don't test on animals. That's something we can all agree on, right? No one likes to think of defenseless cats, dogs, hamsters, and birds being exposed to a bunch of things that could make them sick (and the animals aren't happy about it, either). It's no wonder so many people and organizations have fought to stop it. But did you ever think that maybe brands are testing products on us too, they're just not telling us they're doing it?

I know, I know, it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but that's exactly what e-cigarette brands like JUUL (which corners the e-cigarette market) are doing in this country right now, and young people are on the frontlines of the fallout. Most people assume that the government would have looked at devices that allow people to inhale unknown chemicals into their lungs BEFORE they hit the market. You would think that someone in the government would have determined that they are safe. But nope, that hasn't happened. And vape companies are fighting to delay the government's ability to evaluate these products.

So no one really knows the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use, not even JUUL's CEO, nor are they informing the public about the potential risks. On top of that, according to the FDA, there's been a 78% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school and middle school-aged children in just the last two years, prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to officially recognize the trend as an epidemic and urge action against it.

These facts have elicited others to take action, as well.

Truth Initiative, the nonprofit best known for dropping the real facts about smoking and vaping since 2000 through its truth campaign, is now on a mission to confront e-cigarette brands like JUUL about the lack of care they've taken to inform consumers of the potential adverse side effects of their products. And they're doing it with the help of animal protesters who are tired of seeing humans treated like test subjects.

The March Against JUUL | Tested On Humans | truth www.youtube.com

"No one knows the long-term effects of JUULing so any human who uses one is being used as a lab rat," says, appropriately, Mario the Sewer Rat.

"I will never stop fighting JUUL. Or the mailman," notes Doug the Pug, the Instagram-famous dog star.

Truth, the national counter-marketing campaign for youth smoking prevention, hopes this fuzzy, squeaky, snorty animal movement arms humans with the facts about vaping and inspires them to demand transparency from JUUL and other e-cigarette companies. You can get your own fur babies involved too by sharing photos of them wearing protest gear with the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans. Here's some adorable inspo for you:

The dangerous stuff is already out there, but with knowledge on their side, young people will hopefully make the right choices and fight companies making the wrong ones. If you need more convincing, here are the serious facts.

Over the last decade, 127 e-cigarette-related seizures were reported, which prompted the FDA to launch an official investigation in April 2019. Since then, over 215 cases of a new, severe lung illness have sprung up all over the country, with six deaths to date. While scientists aren't yet sure of the root cause, the majority of victims were young adults who regularly vaped and used e-cigarettes. As such, the CDC has launched an official investigation into the potential link.

Sixteen-year-old Luka Kinard, a former frequent e-cigarette-user, is one of the many teens who experienced severe side effects. "Vaping was my biggest addiction," he told NowThis. "It lasted for about 15 months of my high school career." In 2018, Kinard was hospitalized after having a seizure. He also had severe nausea, chest pains, and difficulty breathing.

After the harrowing experience, he quit vaping, and began speaking out about his experience to help inform others and hopefully inspire them to quit and/or take action. "It shouldn't take having a seizure as a result of nicotine addiction like I had for teens to realize that these companies are taking advantage of what we don't know," Kinard said.

Teens are 16 times more likely to use e-cigarettes than adults, and four times more likely to take up traditional smoking as a result, according to truth, and yet the e-cigarette market remains virtually unregulated and untested. In fact, companies like JUUL continue to block and prevent FDA regulations, investing more than $1 million in lawyers and lobbying efforts in the last quarter alone.

Photo by Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Consumers have a right to know what they're putting in their bodies. If everyone (and their pets) speaks up, the e-cigarette industry will have to make a change. Young people are already taking action across the country. They're hosting rallies nationwide and on October 9 as part of a National Day of Action, young people are urging their friends and classmates to "Ditch JUUL." Will you join them?

For help with quitting e-cigarettes, visit thetruth.com/quit or text DITCHJUUL to 88709 for free, anonymous resources.

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