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.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less