This store's hilarious plastic bag designs will ensure you never forget your reusable tote at home.

I'm going to take a second to tell you something about me, a stranger you have never met before: I am literally melting right now. In San Francisco, where I live, there has been no fog for days. Only sweltering, record-breaking heat that makes me want to lie down and not talk to anyone until the rains have come.

Perhaps you're in the same situation. Or maybe it's cool where you are now but you've read a recent paper that outlines the loss of life that will occur if we continue on our collision course with catastrophic climate change. Either way, you're looking at the situation and thinking: This is not normal.


One thing to consider is how plastic consumption contributes to pollution and warming. According to the organizers of Earth Day, Americans buy 1,000,000 plastic bottles every minute. We toss trillions of plastic bags every year. And all that plastic ends up polluting waterways, hurting animals, and releasing greenhouse gases as it breaks down.

While we could speak about the problem with plastics until the earth is covered in it, the only way to take this issue on is through direct action. That's why East/West Market in Vancouver, British Columbia decided to have a little fun with customers who don't bring reusable bags to the store. They've foregone the usual "thank you" bag with something...a little more exotic. You want a plastic bag with your purchase? You're going to have to sport one that announces that you've just bought wart ointment wholesale or are fresh from a deep and hydrating colonic.

That's one way to bring our environmental issues into stark relief. The only problem, Boing Boing reports, is that the bags have become too popular for their own good. Well, maybe just print these designs on reusable bags and sell them. No one will forget them at home and we'll be one step closer to a healthier environment. Win-win.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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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.

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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.

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Of the millions of Americans breathing a sigh of relief with the ushering in of a new president, one man has a particularly personal and professional reason to exhale.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has spent a good portion of his long, respected career preparing for a pandemic, and unfortunately, the worst one in 100 years hit under the worst possible administration. As part of Trump's Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Fauci did what he could to advise the president and share information with the public, but it's been clear for months that the job was made infinitely more difficult than it should have been by anti-science forces within the administration.

To his credit, Dr. Fauci remained politically neutral through it all this past year, totally in keeping with his consistently non-partisan, apolitical approach to his job. Even when the president badmouthed him, blocked him from testifying before the House, and kept him away from press briefings, Fauci took the high road, always keeping his commentary focused on the virus and refusing to step into the political fray.

But that doesn't mean working under those conditions wasn't occasionally insulting, frequently embarrassing, and endlessly frustrating.

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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.