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Heroes

Want to help the planet while shopping? Take a lesson from this teen designer.

Like a lot of 8-year-old girls, Maya Penn was all about fashion. Unlike most 8-year-old girls, however, she had an idea to change the industry rather than just buy from it.

With a dad who won NASA awards for solar energy projects and a mom who loved to garden, Maya was always encouraged to be eco-conscious. When she decided to start her own clothing line, she knew she wanted it to be as environmentally friendly as possible.

Of course, like any savvy businessperson, Maya recognized this meant doing a lot of research first.


"I did a lot of research about fashion and the environment and how the fashion industry has such a negative impact," Maya explains.

In fact, she learned the fashion industry is the second largest planet-wide polluter, right behind oil.

In order to shrink her clothing line's carbon footprint, Maya first began creating her own designs using vintage clothes she had around the house.

"I love vintage so much," says Maya. "Every piece has its own story to tell you."

It's also a great way to repurpose cool fashion, which means you're not using energy to make it or creating waste.

"I thought, let me try something different that won't create as much of a strain on the planet," Maya recalls.

Once she'd amassed a number of revitalized vintage pieces, Maya opened her own store on Etsy. It didn't take long for her to get noticed. After all, how many 8-year-olds are running a fashion line — and an eco-friendly one at that?

The buzz around her store snowballed, and by the time she was 10, Maya had been featured in a number of publications.

Maya in Essence Magazine. All photos via Maya Penn, used with permission.

Naturally, that led to a huge spike in sales, so she decided to start her own website. By herself.

Since she's a "bit of a techie," Maya decided to learn how to code and construct her own website. She called it Maya's Ideas. The end result was more than Maya could've ever hoped for.

Once it was clear she's a wunderkind of many talents, Maya was asked to speak at a number of tech organizations, including Google and IBM. She's also the youngest woman to give back-to-back TED Talks — in fact, her latest is one of TED’s official top 15 TEDWomen Talks of all time.

Mind you, this is all before she turned 20.

Despite all this early notoriety, Maya's not taking her eyes off her main goal — to offset the environmental impact of fashion. That's why she started consulting with major brands on eco-friendly practices.

The fashion industry is starting to move in an eco-friendly direction largely because consumers are becoming more and more conscientious. However, there's still an accessibility issue — either eco-friendly products aren't available locally, or they're too expensive for the average consumer. Maya is helping brands tackle this by showing them how she's made it work on the boutique level.

Along with the recycled vintage materials she initially used, Maya creates fashion pieces from 100% organic cotton, hemp, and bamboo. She's always working on fabric production methods to make her carbon footprint even smaller. What's more, she sends 10% of all her profits to local and global charities and environmental nonprofit organizations.

Needless to say, she's on the cutting edge of eco-fashion (pun intended).

And she hasn't stopped there. Maya also has an ongoing project where she designs eco-friendly sanitary pads for people in developing countries.

Maya's eco-friendly sanitary pads.

It's just one aspect of her nonprofit, Maya's Ideas 4 the Planet.

"Many [people] don’t have access to [sanitary pads]," Maya explains. "It prevents their ability to work and get an education for days out of every month." Not only are the pads organic and durable — they're washable and biodegradable.

Anyone else thinking this girl is a real-life superhero?

After working 10-plus years in eco-friendly fashion, Maya's still finding new ways to advocate for sustainability. But her mission is about more than the environment now.

[rebelmouse-image 19534593 dam="1" original_size="640x426" caption="The aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Photo Via Roosevelt Skerrit/Flickr." expand=1]The aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Photo Via Roosevelt Skerrit/Flickr.

"I think now more than ever people are starting to realize that environmental issues are human rights issues as well," explains Maya.

Climate change is already affecting the human race on a massive scale. Just this past year, there have been a monumental amount of catastrophic weather phenomena that devastated entire island chains, inspiring a new and terrifying term — climate refugees.

While that may sound overwhelming, thankfully there are brilliant young people out there like Maya who are working tirelessly to help clean up our act and slow the change.

That said, she can't do it alone.

The next time you want to pick up a new outfit, try looking for eco-friendly brands, or head to your local secondhand store and hunt for an awesome vintage piece. It's one fashion-forward way you can do your part to protect the world we call home.

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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Health

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Thanks to Lifeboost, good coffee can be good for everyone.

Unsplash

Lifeboost coffee

Americans love coffee. Like, we really, seriously, truly love it. According to one recent survey, 75 percent of U.S. adults drink coffee at least occasionally, while 53 percent—about 110 million people—drink it every single day. For some, coffee is an essential part of their morning ritual. For others, it’s something they enjoy when they hit the proverbial wall in the late afternoon. But either way, millions of people use coffee to boost energy, focus, and productivity.


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Pop Culture

13-year-old ventriloquist sings incredible, sassy version of 'You Don't Own Me' on 'AGT'

Ana-Maria Mărgean only started her hobby in 2020 and is already wowing audiences on "America's Got Talent."

America's Got Talent/Youtube

Ana-Maria Mărgean singing "You Don't Own Me" on "America's Got Talent"

It’s not every day a ventriloquist act is so jaw-dropping that it has to be seen to be believed. But when it does happen, it’s usually on “America’s Got Talent.”

Ana-Maria Mărgean was only 11 years old when she first took to the stage on “Romania’s Got Talent” to show off her ventriloquism skills, an act inspired by videos of fellow ventriloquist and “America’s Got Talent” Season 2 champion Terry Fator.

Using puppets built for her by her parents, the young performer tirelessly spent her quarantine time in 2020 learning how to bring them to life, which led to her receiving a Golden Buzzer and eventually winning the entire series in Romania.

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Pop Culture

Linda Ronstadt's 1970's ballad is a chart-topping hit once again thanks to 'The Last of Us'

The iconic 70s song "Long, Long Time" was an integral part of an unforgettable episode that fans are calling a masterpiece.

Linda Ronstadt (left), Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett (right)

HBO’s emotional third episode of the zombie series “The Last Of Us” became an instant favorite among fans, thanks in no small part to Linda Ronstadt’s late 1970s ballad, “Long, Long Time.”

Using the song as the episode’s title, “Long, Long Time,” moves away from the show’s main plot to instead focus on a heartbreakingly beautiful love story between Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett), from its endearing start all the way to its bittersweet end.

The song makes its first appearance during the initial stages of Bill and Frank’s romance as they play the tune on the piano, just before they share their first kiss.

We see their entire lives together play out—one of closeness, devotion, and savoring homegrown strawberries—until they meet their end. The song then plays on the radio, bringing the bottle episode to a poignant close.

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Joy

34-year-old man is learning to read on TikTok in series of motivational videos

His reading skills have improved so much that he plans to read 100 books this year.

@oliverspeaks1/TikTok

Oliver James is the biggest star on BookTok.

With over 125,000 followers, 34-year-old Oliver James is a star in the BookTok community. And it all started with a very simple goal: Learn to read.

For most kids, school is a place where they can develop a relationship with learning in a safe environment. For James, school was the opposite. Growing up with learning and behavior disabilities subjected him to abusive teaching practices in special education, which, of course, did nothing to help.

"The special education system at the time was more focused on behavioral than educating," he told Good Morning America. "So they spent a lotta time restraining us, a lotta time disciplining us, a lotta times putting us in positions to kinda shape us to just not act out in class."

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Buffy Sainte-Marie shares what led to her openly breastfeeding on 'Sesame Street' in 1977

The way she explained to Big Bird what she was doing is still an all-time great example.

"Sesame Street" taught kids about life in addition to letters and numbers.

In 1977, singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie did something revolutionary: She fed her baby on Sesame Street.

The Indigenous Canadian-Ameican singer-songwriter wasn't doing anything millions of other mothers hadn't done—she was simply feeding her baby. But the fact that she was breastfeeding him was significant since breastfeeding in the United States hit an all-time low in 1971 and was just starting to make a comeback. The fact that she did it openly on a children's television program was even more notable, since "What if children see?" has been a key pearl clutch for people who criticize breastfeeding in public.

But the most remarkable thing about the "Sesame Street" segment was the lovely interchange between Big Bird and Sainte-Marie when he asked her what she was doing.

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