What if instead of focusing on what isn’t working, we looked at these stories as an invitation to do better?
There is no shortage of dire news about the state of modern recycling. Most recently, this NPR article shared the jaw-dropping statistic that about 5% of all plastics produced get recycled, meaning the rest of it ends up in landfills. While the underlying concerns here are sound, I worry that the public narrative around recycling has gotten so pessimistic that it will make people give up on it entirely instead of seeing the opportunities to improve it. What if instead of focusing on what isn’t working, we looked at these news stories as an invitation to do better?
This question isn’t rhetorical for me; it’s been the motivation behind how I’ve spent the past five years of my life. It started when my son Owen asked me how we could recycle our dead batteries where we live in Seattle. After making a few phone calls and realizing how complicated it was, we made it a weekend project to pick up our neighbor’s batteries along with other hard-to-recycle items.This novel approach of having your hard-to-recycle stuff “carpool” with your neighbors quickly caught on in Seattle. Our rapidly growing community was looking at their junk drawers with new eyes, felt inspired to be part of something bigger, and kept asking what else we could pick up.
This enthusiasm turned my family’s passion project into Ridwell, a company whose mission it is to make it easy to deal with hard-to-recycle materials like plastics, light bulbs, batteries, & more. We pick up where curbside recyclers leave off, providing our members in six states with a way to recycle and reuse materials right from their doorsteps. In 2022 alone, our community kept more than one million pounds of hard-to-recycle plastic film out of landfills. To date, we’ve kept more than ten million pounds of hard-to-recycle materials from going to waste. All of this impact started with a simple, optimistic reframe. Instead of dwelling on what our curbside service couldn’t take, we instead asked ourselves how we could help.
Ryan Metzger, Founder and CEO of Ridwell
It’s been a lot of work to be sure, but what’s kept me motivated on this journey has been learning about all of the exceptional efforts happening elsewhere to make recycling work better for everyone. Our elected officials are creating new policies that powerfully shift market incentives, like Maine’s law that makes companies pay for their own recycling or California’s law that creates more demand for recycled plastic. Engineers are developing new ways to recycle tricky plastics, while citizens across the country are raising awareness about the need for government and corporations to do more.
The longer I’ve worked in the recycling space, the more I’ve found allies and collaborators who are finding surprising uses for materials that used to be dismissed as trash. Trex has pioneered a method of turning soft plastics like grocery bags into high-performance decking for homes. Companies like ByFusion and Arqlite are turning multilayer plastic packaging once considered unrecyclable into building materials and hydroponics gravel. The types of innovations we’ll need to solve our recycling crisis are all around us; we just need to keep connecting these pockets of innovation into a more holistic system of reuse and recycling.
So while the news cycle around recycling can often feel overwhelming, I always encourage people to use these grim statistics as motivation to lean into the challenge and look for solutions. For some people, that’s calling their legislators, and for others, it’s coming up with new packaging that has a smaller environmental footprint. For those of us at Ridwell, it’s about how we can help make it easy for households to keep hard-to-recycle materials out of the landfill. As the past decade has shown us, the overwhelming “Pacman-shaped” chunk of the pie chart often shows us where the most impactful innovations must come from and where the next wave of businesses must focus. Yes, we are at an inflection point when it comes to addressing the problems posed by excessive waste in this country. To be honest, I’ve never felt more optimistic that we have what it takes to address this problem, together.
Ryan Metzger is a guest contributor to Upworthy and founder and CEO of Ridwell
The audience went wild.
Brendan Fraser might be making the greatest career comeback ever, racking up accolades and award nominations for his dramatic, transformative role in “The Whale." But the OG Fraser fans (the ones who watch “Doom Patrol” solely to hear his voice and proudly pronounce his last name as Fray-zure, for this is the proper pronunciation) have known of his remarkable talent since the 90s, when he embodied the ultimate charming, dashing—and slightly goofball—Hollywood action lead.
Let us not forget his arguably most well known and beloved 90s character—Rick O’Connell from the “Mummy” franchise. Between his quippy one-liners, Indiana Jones-like adventuring skills and fabulous hair, what’s not to like?
During a double feature of “The Mummy” and “The Mummy Returns” in London, moviegoers got the ultimate surprise when who should walk in but Brendan Fraser himself, completely decked out in Rick O’Connell attire. The brown leather jacket. The scarf. Everything.
"I am proud to stand before you tonight," he told the audience. "This is a film that was made in Britain. You should know that! Even the second one, too. Be proud. Thank you for being here."
He continued, "We didn’t know if it was a drama or a comedy or a straight-ahead action or romance, a horror picture, more action, all of the above. No idea until it tested in front of British audiences. Thank you for that.”
Fraser then asked the crowd if anyone hadn’t actually seen the movie yet, before shouting, “Outstanding!” when somebody raised their hand. He then quickly made a polite plug encouraging people to go see “The Whale” before whisking himself away, saying, “I won’t take up any more of your time.”
Uh, yeah…I don’t think any time spent with Brendan Fraser is a waste. Do you?
Watch the adorable clip below:
As to whether or not "Mummy" fans will ever see a new Rick O'Connell story up on the big screen—only time will tell. In the meantime, we'll keep watching this video on repeat.
Grande is even currently filming a live adaptation of the musical “Wicked."
Ariana Grande might be best known as a pop queen, but her musical theatre talents run deep. She was a performer on Broadway at the age of nine, long before she began racking up Grammys. And even throughout her adult career, she’ll wave that theatre kid flag once in a while, as she did for NBC’s “Hairspray Live!”
Grande is even currently filming a live adaptation of the musical “Wicked,” playing the role of Galinda, aka Glinda the Good Witch. While the movie might not release until Christmas of 2024, the singer treated fans to an early taste of Oz with a gorgeous rendition of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” originally sung by Judy Garland in the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz.”
The video shows Grande chilling in a kitchen, completely covered up in a giant pink yarn sweater—equal parts for comfort and hiding her golden Glinda locks, to be sure—as she effortlessly captures that same kind of dreamy lilt that Garland once did for the tune. Perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise, since Grande is a whiz at musical impressions.
Listen. It’s stunning.
wanted to sing you a little something but don’t want to sing anything that is not “Ozian” at the moment :) keeping to my little bubble for now … done with lots of love.♬ original sound - arianagrande
“Wanted to sing you a little something but don’t want to sing anything that is not ‘Ozian’ at the moment :) keeping to my little bubble for now,” Grande wrote in the video’s caption. “Done with lots of love.” The cover comes as a polite response to a fan who asked, “Why aren’t you a singer anymore?” since Grande hasn’t put out a new album since 2020.
Understandably, filming two huge movies at the same time (“Wicked” director Jon Chu previously announced that the movie would be split into two parts) leaves little time to produce new music. But rest assured, Grande is, and probably always will be, a SINGER. (All-caps necessary to encapsulate all that talent.)
Grande’s clip quickly went viral, reaching yet another famous Glinda—Kristin Chenoweth. Chenoweth, who originated the "Wicked" role on Broadway, threw on a hot pink feathered sweater and performed a TikTok duet of the song, along with the caption, “Just two Ozians.”
Is there any better seal of approval than a duet with the OG Galinda herself? I don't think so.
@kristinchenoweth Just two Ozians 🌈💞 @arianagrande #wicked#glinda#galinda#wizardofoz#overtherainbow♬ original sound - arianagrande
“Wicked” boasts an impressive cast of not only Grande, but Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba, Michelle Yeoh as Madame Morrible and Jeff Goldblum as The Wizard of Oz. And if this cover is any indicator, it seems like it’s going to be a lovely retelling of the story…with one amazing soundtrack.
Talk about playing hard to get.
A woman named Jackie pulled a move straight out of a romantic comedy recently, and it has the internet rallying around her potential love interest. Jackie met a guy at a bar and liked him so much that she gave him her phone number. Well, 80% of her number, that is.
The world heard about it on January 17 when Twitter user Henpecked Hal and shared a picture of the napkin with her partial phone number written on it. "My 22-year-old cousin met his dream girl at a bar and it's going pretty well,” Hal wrote in the tweet.
“Call me! 512-3*1-2*04,” the message read, along with "I'm worth it." The 512 is an area code in Austin, Texas.
After congratulating his cousin on meeting his “dream girl,” he asked: "Did you get her number." The cousin replied, “most of it.” The Tweet also attached a photo of a list of phone numbers the cousin called to try and get in touch with the elusive Jackie.
The tweet has gone insanely viral, racking up nearly 60,000 retweets, 85.6 million views and 776,000 likes.
The next day, Hal revealed that the woman reached out to him. In the screenshot of her message, she wrote: “Heeeyyy, so you likely won’t see this but I’m Jackie from the tweet!”
"Tell your cousin that next time I see him I'm going to...” she continued, but Hal blurred out the rest of the message to conceal her identity.
“I just talked to him! WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER????” Hal replied. “He said he’s halfway through the list, which means he’s actually like 10 per cent of the way through it.”
Update 1/3: WE FUCKING DID IT! pic.twitter.com/ccQ1puS8OJ— Henpecked Hal (@HenpeckedHal) January 18, 2023
“He may not be as clever as he thinks,” Jackie responded, “give me HIS number, I’m taking over this operation.”
A lot of people in the comments said they thought Jackie was cold or arrogant for playing hard to get and making poor Hal’s cousin try 100 different numbers to find out which one was her. But Hal says that it’s all an extension of the conversation the two had at the bar.
"For the people saying she's arrogant, high maintenance or whatever: these kids talked for an hour about a shared interest in true crime, mysteries, etc,” Hal tweeted. “My cousin bragged that he always solves the case before the show ends (editor's note: not this time). I think she's awesome."
So, all Jackie did was give him another mystery to solve. If he’s such a great amateur detective then he should be able to reach her, right?
Some people in the comments have suggested that the story is fake. One person noted that the notebook page with the phone numbers on it had an indentation at the top which could be the “5” in Jackie’s phone number from the napkin. The implication is that Hal wrote on the napkin while it was on top of the notebook, leaving an indentation. But other people pointed out that the writing didn’t match.
Yikes! Forgot to take your napkin off your notepad first… pic.twitter.com/0gCKeSxz12— Tommy Balloons (@franchise193747) January 18, 2023
Through everything, Hal has received a ton of support from people on Twitter trying to help his cousin’s love life.
The cousin could use ChatGPT to create a Python script that could automate much of this 😂— Amir Salihefendić (@amix3k) January 18, 2023
There are only 100 permutations here (10^2), so it's not that bad. pic.twitter.com/Wl2drylf1F
“The programmers who sent scripts and code, the excel junkies who sent me docs to share with my cousin, y’all are wild,” Hal tweeted. “I couldn’t come close to getting back to everyone, but I appreciate it.”
Nearly 90 million people have followed the story of Hal’s cousin and Jackie. Let’s hope there’s a happy ending or at least they get to meet up and see each other again to talk about the mystery that brought them both together.
"As long as they're denying my claims for my services on that ground, they can do that to any trans healthcare provider of any type."
Insurance companies can be a frustrating maze for consumers and for providers. It's not uncommon to call the number on the back of your insurance card and get a different answer every time you call with the same question. But for Dr. Tiffany Najberg, the fight with the insurance companies is a bit more personal.
Najberg is a transgender woman who has run into a multitude of problems in the insurance claims world—not as a patient, but as a provider. After changing her name legally and updating all of the required information on official websites, including the Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare and the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System, two websites insurance companies look at to verify providers' credentials and ability to practice, her claims have been denied.
In the beginning of this year-long saga, Najberg was receiving checks, but the checks were in her dead name and couldn't be cashed. After going several rounds with the insurance companies, the checks stopped coming and the insurance companies started denying her claims altogether. Of course, this prompted even more questions and frustration since Najberg updated the insurance companies with her legal name as required.
Najberg told Upworthy that on six different occasions, she and her billing company attempted to rectify the situation to no avail. These aren't small companies that may have never encountered such a request. In fact, many Americans with insurance are likely covered by one of the companies she's currently challenging. "Human, Cigna and Aetna flat out refused, but Medicaid, BlueCross BlueShield changed it immediately so it clearly has been approved through national databases," Najberg said.
#greenscreen please share help me permanently fix this problem. here is the link for yall: chng🦋it/MLJcPRQNcc replace the butterfly with a dot #fyp #drtiffany #tiffocracy #urgentems #arklatexacceleratedcare #trans #lgbt #aetna #cigna #humana #callmebymyname
The insurance companies' refusal to pay has been hurting Najberg and her practice, UrgentEMS, located in Shreveport, Louisiana. "My clinic treats everyone, but we aim towards communities that are underinsured and uninsured. I don’t have money to pay my rent next month because of this," the doctor told Upworthy.
Najberg explained that between the three major insurance companies, she is currently owed nearly $200,000 in unpaid claims. Of course, she could turn patients who have these particular insurances away, but for Najberg, that's not an option because she focuses on serving those who are underinsured and people in marginalized communities. She currently has over 100 trans patients who need continued healthcare with someone who makes them feel safe.
During the height of the pandemic, her clinic served as a place where people could get COVID-19 treatment, with Najberg proudly saying she treated everyone across the political spectrum. Najberg has built such a reputation on TikTok for her openness and ability to present public health issues in a relatable way that CDC officials have contacted her for pointers on how to engage the public.
But none of that matters if she can't keep her doors open, and the fear that comes from recognizing that possibility keeps her up at night. Through tears, Najberg expressed her concerns for the most vulnerable population she treats, saying, "I'll likely have to sleep in my car, and what about my trans patients? If my clinic closes, a few of them may kill themselves."
Dr. Najberg runs a clinic in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Courtesy of Dr. Tiffany Najberg
Najberg actually found herself in the position to lose everything last month after once again not being paid, but thankfully someone anonymously paid the rent on her office space, which costs around $5,000 a month. Recently, she has relied on donations from her followers in order to keep her doors open until she wins her fight with the insurance companies.
During the interview, Najberg informed Upworthy that one insurance company is now complying. "Aetna has started processing all the back claims and a new contract has been signed. I have no retirement anymore. I have no savings. I’ll never own property. For a lifetime to be wiped away over a name change is ridiculous," Najberg said.
A name change isn't uncommon. People change their names for multiple reasons, the main one being marriage, so it would stand to reason that insurance companies know how to navigate name changes within their system. What makes this name change so different if other companies had no issue?
It took Najberg months of phone calls to find out the reason for her denials was due to her name change and she was advised to submit under her dead name. But submitting an insurance claim under a different name than your own is insurance fraud and kind of illegal, she protested.
For Najberg, who's had a lifelong passion for helping people, the fight isn't just for herself.
"If they’re doing this to me, they have to be doing this to other people. If they get away with this, they’ll do it to other trans providers," Najberg told Upworthy.
If you'd like to support Dr. Tiffany in her fight against the insurance companies, you can sign her petition here, and if you'd like to donate to help her pay rent and get needed medical supplies, you can do that here.
"Do you have an aisle specifically where single men are?"
Even though people have endless options to find love these days, whether in real life or online, finding the perfect person still isn’t easy. In fact, according to Pew Research, 55% of women believe dating is harder today than it was 10 years ago. So it’s understandable that some are considering ditching the apps to meet people in real life.
Studies show that for people looking for a serious relationship, real life may be the better option.
According to Newsweek, a study by Illinois State University sociology professor Susan Sprecher found that young people who first met face to face were 25% more likely to report feelings of closeness than those who initially met online. Aditi Paul, a communications professor at Pace University in New York, found that people who first met in real life lasted four times longer than those who met online.
Single women who’ve been let down by the men they’ve met online have started a funny TikTok trend where they are going to Home Depot to find a husband. Why not? If you’re looking for a hard-working man, that’s probably where to find one.
It appears as though the trend first started on TikTok in 2021. "Ladies, no joke, Home Depot is where you go if you want to meet a man," TikTok user @meganlouise217 said.
Home Depot is made out of husband material. #datingadvice #husband #single #fyp #fyi
Holly Allen is a taken woman but she swears that the men are "everywhere" at Depot at 8:30 am on a Wednesday. "For all of you ladies who are trying to find the perfect soul mate. I've found them,” she said.
For all my single ladies! #homedepot #singleladies #fyp #overthirty #foundthem
TikTok user @joleene_d took the trend to heart and went to the source, Home Depot employees, and asked them where to find the single men. "Do you have an aisle specifically where single men are?" she asked.
Reply to @jenhealer I tried! @Home Depot. It didn't work. (two and a half weeks into my 4-week online dating experience.) #homedepot #onlinedating #single
It's not just the women who are looking to find a man at Home Depot.
now it’s all about finding love in the lumber aisle ✋😔 @tannertan36
However, finding love is hard no matter where you look for it. Some women complained that they visited their local Home Depot and came up empty-handed.
"Meh. Maybe A diff location,” @latinkitty wrote.
Meh. Maybe A diff location?😅🤣 #homedepot #fyp #MakeASplash #viral #single #fy #foryou #men #eyecandy #workingmen
"Where is the husband aisle?" @rileyontok asked.
Out of stock 🤷♀️ #homedepotchallenge #gossipgirlhere #fypシ #singlemom #trending #creator #greenscreenvideo #foryou #fyp #homedepot
Megan Louise has some words for those who say there are no single men to be found at Home Depot. She says they're going at the wrong time.
"A good man, he works, he works during the day,” Megan said. “You have to go when they open at five. Because they're going there before work they're getting whatever they forgot, lost, or broke the day before. Now, they're in a hurry, late and probably haven't had coffee yet. So you need to be ready, have your number on paper, hand it to them and hope you believe in love at first sight because that's how it's going to happen."
She also says it's best to avoid Saturdays because that’s when married men shop at Home Depot. She says Friday nights are great because all the taken men are out with their significant others.
Reply to @tinabear313 how to get a man at Home Depot pt 2 kinda... like for a pt3 #homedepot #datingadvice #single #homeimprovement #fyp #fyi
Even though picking up people at big-box retail locations may not be the best way to create a long-term relationship, the Home Depot challenge is an important reminder to get off our phones and meet people in real life for a change. You may be missing out on someone really special because you may find chemistry with someone in person who didn't stand out online.
Several times during the surgery, the patient played the theme song from "Love Story" by Francis Lai.
This article originally appeared on 10.17.22
Do you ever step back and marvel at the miraculous things human beings have figured out how to do?
Now, a team of doctors in Italy has successfully performed a highly complex, nine-hour brain surgery on a man while he was awake and while he played the saxophone. Not only that, but the patient reported feeling "tranquility" during the surgery and only spent a few days in the hospital after the surgery before being discharged.
According to CBS News, a 35-year-old male patient had a brain tumor removed at Paideia International Hospital in Rome, Italy, on October 10. The surgery was led by Dr. Christian Brogna, a neurosurgeon who specializes in complex cancer surgeries and "awake surgery," in which patients are not put under general anesthesia. According to the Mayo Clinic, certain brain surgeries actually require a patient to be awake and responsive during the procedure to lessen the risk of the surgery damaging areas of the brain that could affect vision, movement or speech.
Dr. Brogna told CBS News that this particular surgery was located in "a very, very complex area of the brain" and also pointed out that the patient is left-handed. "This makes things more complicated because the neural pathways of the brain are much more complicated," he said. Recent research shows that left-handed people differ in brain asymmetry from right-handed people and that the right and left hemispheres of the brain tend to be more connected in people who are left-handed.
The team of 10 who successfully completed the surgery was made up of neurosurgeons, anesthesiologists, neuropsychologists, neurophysiologists and engineers from around the world. Though other awake craniotomies that included a patient playing a musical instrument have been done before, the level of complexity and cutting-edge technologies used in this surgery made it a notable accomplishment.
Why the saxophone? The man had told the surgeons that retaining his musical abilities was of the utmost importance to him.
"Awake surgery makes it possible to map with extreme precision during surgery the neuronal networks that underlie the various brain functions such as playing, speaking, moving, remembering, counting," Brogna said in the hospital's news release. Playing music during the surgery gave the surgeons a visual of where those functions were in the patient's brain and helped them ensure they were keeping them intact.
Several times during the surgery, the patient played the theme song from "Love Story" by Francis Lai and the Italian national anthem on his saxophone. (You can watch him playing in the video below shared by Voice of America.)
"To play an instrument means that you can understand music, which is a high cognitive function," Brogna told CBS News. "It means you can interact with the instrument, you can coordinate both hands, you can exercise memory, you can count — because music is mathematics — you can test vision because the patient has to see the instrument, and you can test the way the patient interacts with the rest of the team," he said.
Such surgeries require intense preplanning and familiarity with the patient's normal functioning, and the team met with the patient six or seven times in the 10 days leading up to the surgery.
"When we operate on the brain, we are operating on the sense of self, so we need to make sure that we do not damage the patient as a person — their personality, the way they feel emotions, the way they get through life," Brogna told CBS News. "The patient will tell you what is important in his life and it is your job to protect his wishes."
As amazing as surgery like this is, Brogna reminds us that there's still so much we don't know about the way the brain works. Prodecures like this one help doctors learn in addition to helping patients.
"Each operation in awake surgery not only allows to obtain the maximum result in terms of removal of the pathology, but it is a real discovery," Brogna said in the hospital's news release. "Each time it offers us a window into the functioning of this fascinating, but still in many ways mysterious organ, which is the brain."
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