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
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.
Anyone who has given birth knows how difficult those first few months feel.
"The Bachelor" alum Tia Booth is finding out firsthand how conflicting mom advice can be and she's calling it out. Booth gave birth in December of 2022 and revealed that she hired a night nurse so she and her fiancé Taylor Mock could get some sleep a few times a week. Sleep is essential to functioning properly as a human and as a parent.
Anyone who has given birth knows how difficult those first few months feel. You're essentially surviving some version of what is classified as a form of torture—sleep deprivation. New babies have weird, topsy-turvy, upside-down sleep cycles and new parents simply have to white-knuckle it until the little bundle is sleeping for several-hour stretches at a time.
The lack of sleep can not only make you delirious but can sometimes be dangerous when caring for a new baby. I remember being woken up in the middle of the night by a nurse while still in the hospital because in my sleep-deprived state I fell asleep while feeding my son. Thank goodness she walked in before one or both of us fell onto the floor from the rocking chair.
I should've informed the nurse that I was tired and allowed her to take my two-day-old baby to the nursery, but asking for help seemed taboo. In today's world, women are advocating for new moms to not only ask for help, but to seek it out—until they do, and suddenly the message changes...again.
Booth has taken to her Instagram stories to call out the mixed messaging given to new moms. In the now-expired stories, she responded to someone who wrote, "Not trying to be mean, but having a child is taking responsibility and bonding with your baby in the middle of the night when they wake. Not hiring someone to do it for you so you can 'sleep.'" Obviously, not all parents can afford a night nurse and Booth acknowledged that fact, but she was having none of the mom shaming that was taking place.
“Moms, who have once been first time moms, will say ‘do what’s best for you and your family’ then shame you & lose respect for you for needing help. We can only be praised when we’re exhausted & doing it all alone??? It’s insanity. OK I’m done,” Booth said in the story. And honestly, she has a point that isn't talked about much publicly.
People who became parents several years ago heard the old adage, "Sleep when baby sleeps," or simply the truth of, "It's hard for everyone," with no real direction on how to make it less hard. But with parents becoming more vocal about how difficult parenting can be and advocating to reach out for help, more new parents are following that advice—and yet, some people find fault in parents receiving the help they need.
A battle surrounding what kind of help someone receives seems to defeat the purpose of telling parents to reach out. Of course, given different financial circumstances, some parents' help may come in the form of a full-time nanny while other parents rely on a nearby relative or neighbor to grab a quick shower. But the level of help doesn't make someone more or less of a parent.
The new mom explained exactly why it was important to her to have the kind of help she does, and other parents in similar situations would likely want the same if it was within their budget. “I’m able to be a better mom during the day when I can THINK & know my baby was so loved on & taken care of the night before. I don’t have family here. Neither does Taylor. This is our help a few nights a week,” Booth wrote.
'I'm not a shiny unicorn. There are plenty of black men like me who love fatherhood.'
This article originally appeared on 06.15.16
To a stranger I met at a coffee shop a few years ago who introduced me to what my life as a parent would be like:
My "welcome to black fatherhood moment" happened five years ago, and I remember it like it happened yesterday.
I doubt you'll remember it, though — so let me refresh your memory.
It was a beautiful Saturday morning in Los Angeles in 2011, and I decided to walk my then 3-month-old daughter to the corner Starbucks. That's when I met you — a stylish older white woman who happened to be ahead of me in line.
You were very friendly and offered up many compliments about how cute my daughter was, and I agreed wholeheartedly with you. She's cute.
But after you picked up your drink, you delivered this parting shot:
"No offense, but it's not often that I see black guys out with their kids, but it's such a wonderful thing," she said. "No matter what happens, I hope you stay involved in her life."
And then you put on your designer sunglasses and left.
Meanwhile, I was like...
That was unexpected.
GIF from "Live with Kelly and Michael."
Here's the thing: I'm not angry with you, but I want you to understand the impact you had on my life.
Do I think you're a mean-spirited racist? No, I don't. Actually, I bet you're a really nice lady.
But let's be real for a second: Your view on black dads was tough for me to stomach, and I want you to know a few things about what it's really like to be me.
1. I want you to know that we have challenges that other dads don't experience.
I know what you're thinking: "Oh boy — let me brace myself while he 'blacksplains' how hard his life is while shaming me for ignoring my white privilege."
But that would be missing the point. We all have our challenges in life, and I'm not about to bring a big bottle of whine to a pity party.
Instead, as you probably know, today's dads are trying to shed the stigma of being clueless buffoons.
Kid, you're gonna love this! Wheeeee ... uh oh.
But black dads have an additional obstacle to hurdle in that we're often seen as completely disinterested in fatherhood. Trust me, it gets old when people automatically assume you're not good at something because of the color of your skin.
Our encounter was the first of many examples of this that I've witnessed, directly or indirectly, in my five and a half years of fatherhood, and I'm sure there will be more to come.
2. I want you to know that I'm not a shiny unicorn. There are plenty of black men just like me who love fatherhood.
During the months that followed our brief meeting, I felt a need to prove that you — a complete stranger — were wrong. I needed to prove there were plenty of black men just like me who loved being dads.
I knew a lot of these great men personally: My dad, my two brothers, and many others embraced fatherhood. But could any data back up how much black dads embraced fatherhood? Because the examples in mainstream media were few and far between.
Thankfully, the answer is yes.
A few years after I met you, a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 70% of black dads are likely to engage in common child-rearing activities such as diaper changing, bathing, toilet training, etc., on a daily basis. That's a higher percentage than white or Hispanic fathers.
This isn't about black dads being "the best" because parenthood isn't a competition. It's about showing that we're not even remotely as bad as society makes us out to be.
And outside of the CDC study, I saw firsthand how hands-on black dads are when I was thrust into the public eye, too, because a lot of them reached out to me to tell their stories.
We nurture our kids.
Getting close to the twins.
Photo taken from the Daddy Doin' Work Instagram feed and used with permission.
We're affectionate with our kids.
Love is universal.
Photo taken from the Daddy Doin' Work Instagram feed and used with permission.
And we do whatever our kids need us to do.
Dad takes a deserved nap.
Photo taken from the Daddy Doin' Work Instagram feed and used with permission.
And none of that should come as a surprise to anyone.
3. I want you to know that I believe you meant well when you praised me for being involved in my daughter's life, but that's what I'm programmed to do.
Princess dresses at Disneyland? You bet.
Photo taken from the Daddy Doin' Work Instagram feed and used with permission.
I will always be there for her and her baby sister.
Even though I just described how black dads are different from many dads, I hope the takeaway you have from this is that we have a lot of similarities, too.
Please don't fall into the trap of saying that you want to live in a colorblind world because it makes it harder to identify with inequality when it happens. Instead, I hope you can recognize that we have the same hopes, dreams, and fears as other parents, but the roads we travel may not be the same.
And no, I don't want an apology.
But I hope when you pick up your next latte and see a dad who looks like me that you'll smile knowing he's the rule rather than the exception.
The tenacious fifth grader wants to know if he's real.
A 10-year-old girl from Cumberland, Rhode Island, had serious questions about whether Santa Claus is real and submitted DNA evidence to her local police to get the truth. On the morning of December 25, 2022, Scarlett Doumato collected a partially eaten cookie and carrots with bite marks and sent them to the Cumberland Police Department for testing, along with a handwritten note.
“Dear Cumberland Police Dapartment [sic], I took a sample of a cookie and carrots that I left for Santa and the raindeer [sic] on Christmas Eve and was wondering if you could take a sample of DNA and see if Santa is real?” Doumato wrote.
Cumberland police chief Matthew J. Benson was impressed by the child’s dedication to solving the mystery. “For her to take that initiative and to push that forward because she has a question that she wants answered, I just think was amazing,” Benson told Today.
The police department shared a photo of Doumato’s evidence, her letter and a statement on Facebook.
Doumato's handwritten letter to the police.
Doumato’s work collecting evidence at the scene of the crime was impressive, to say the least. “She did the work — she collected the evidence, she tagged it the right way,” Benson said. “She’s obviously watching the shows very intently. Separate baggies. She did it right by the book, so we’re taking it just as serious as she is.”
Doumato submitted evidence bagged separately.
The Cumberland Police Department announced that after seeing her evidence it has launched a special investigation into the Santa inquiry.
The department shared in its press release:
"Earlier this month, a young investigator from the Town of Cumberland submitted the attached letter requesting a DNA analysis be conducted on the partially eaten cookie and carrot remains she acquired on the morning of December 25, 2022, for possible DNA evidence of Santa Claus (aka, Kris Kringle, aka Saint Nicholas, aka St. Nick) and/or one of his nine reindeer. As such, Chief Benson immediately instructed his Investigative Division to forward her evidence to the State of Rhode Island’s, Department of Health–Forensic Sciences Unit for analysis. Chief Benson noted, 'This young lady obviously has a keen sense for truth and the investigative process and did a tremendous job packaging her evidence for submission. We will do our very best to provide answers for her.'"
\u201cAWESOME NEWS: A 10-year-old girl in Rhode Island named Scarlett Doumato sent a letter to her local police, asking for a DNA test to prove Santa is real. She included a half-eaten Oreo, and some carrots that looked like they'd been gnawed on by reindeer. https://t.co/NbKvAwPWst\u201d— 93.1 KATO Hits (@93.1 KATO Hits) 1674475458
The Cumberland Police added some additional evidence they collected on the night of December 24th. The most compelling evidence was a photo of a "reindeer" spotted in the area that night.
The Cumberland Police Department shared a "reindeer sighting" on Christmas Eve.
The girl’s mother was excited to see the police were taking her daughter’s inquiry seriously. “A giant thank you Chief Benson and the entire CPD! My Scarlett is going to be so thrilled that you are looking into her case!!!!!” Alyson Doumato wrote in the comments.
WJAR caught up with the young detective and learned that she has a Wacky Lab home detective kit sitting on her desktop. "I watch crime shows, and I thought it was like cool to be a detective,” she told the news outlet.
Her mother said that the investigation is just part of her nature. “She's always a little bit skeptical, and looking for the facts,” Alyson Doumuto said.
The open case is still being pursued by the Cumberland Police Department.
Loved ones will be able to appreciate these items the way they were intended.
A cold reality of death is that it cares not at all about the things we’ve yet to complete while living. It comes relentlessly, even when the home is nearly remodeled…when the vacation is but a week away…when we are this close to finishing that book that brought so much joy. It comes when it comes, no exceptions.
Though there is no negotiation with this force of nature, those with loved ones who have passed on are being given a little bit of closure—one blanket, scarf or sweater at time.
When friends and knitting enthusiasts Jen Simonic and Masey Kaplan realized that they both shared the experience of frequently being asked to finish knitting items left undone by those who have died, they were inspired to create a like-minded community that expanded beyond their homes in Seattle and Falmouth. After all, this was an aspect of the hobby that both women deeply enjoyed.
“It occurred to us that there was an opportunity to let other people express that kind of generosity to each other as well, even between strangers,” Kaplan told local news outlet WMTW 8.
And thus, Loose Ends was born.
Loose Ends has over 1000 volunteers (otherwise known as “finishers”) spread across 19 countries, each of whom lends their knitting talents to finish the undone knitting projects of those who have passed, or for those who can no longer knit due to a disability. Once a “finisher” finishes an item, it is then shipped back to the owner—completed and ready to be cherished.
"It's like they're getting a piece of their loved one back to them," Kaplan told WMTW. "We get a lot of really touching and beautiful stories about things that are returned. As a knitter it's sort of mending a little bit of a broken heart."
"It takes 35,000 stitches to make a pair of socks, so that's 35,000 actions you're doing to produce this item that will hopefully take care of somebody, it's kind of like magic,” Simonic added in an interview with KING 5 News.
Knitters are a notoriously generous bunch. Much of the time they create their unique designs with the intention of spreading joy to others. Love is meticulously put into each and every stitch. Now, that love can be fully expressed into a tangible item—as the creator intended—rather than getting thrown away.
If you’d like to support Loose Ends, you can donate to their GoFundMe page, which helps with shipping costs and other expenses that keep the project going. Click here to learn more.
"This was perhaps the most accurate and hilarious account of menopause I have ever watched! This is amazing!"
Surprisingly, or maybe not surprisingly depending on who you ask, menopause and perimenopause aren't really talked about much. Women sort of fumble through this part of life relying on whatever information your mother or older relative can remember. For some reason what happens to women's bodies when hormones start to decline is still a mystery, even to some medical professionals.
Thankfully in the age of the internet and middle-aged women who no longer care for many societal niceties—like not talking about menopause in mixed company—women are being educated about their bodies. Kristina Kuzmic, a social media influencer and author, posted a video where she and a friend discuss menopause. Out loud.
Earlier in the month, I also posted on my page about those pesky hormonal changes and the things no one tells you about. In both instances, the comments were full of women shocked at the symptoms or sharing their own wisdom. But overwhelmingly, women of varying ages were thankful that the conversation was being had.
Most people know menopause is a thing that happens and is defined by when a woman has not had a period in 12 months. But what happens leading up to that? That's the stuff we don't talk about. That phase is called perimenopause and can start as early as your 30s and last for up to 10 years, though some women in the comment sections are saying it can last much longer.
The symptoms are kind of all over the place, which may be why some doctors don't put things together right away. In Kuzmic's video they go over symptoms like hair loss, hot flashes, heart palpitations, brain fog and more, in a humorous way. For starters, they call menopause "cougar puberty."
"Am I going to smell like my teenager's bedroom?" Kuzmic playfully asks after being told that your body odor changes. While the video is funny, it also brings a lot of information forward in an easily digestible way and the comments prove women are happy it's being talked about.
"Peri-menopause and I've got it all....thanks for making me feel semi-normal today. Some days I know in my head that these changes are normal.... some days my brain says I need to run to a doctor cause I'm totally dying," one woman wrote.
Another woman said, "Cougar Puberty. Totally love it. Totally glad to see an educational and humorous video about it."
"A mandatory party no one wants to attend. That sums it up perfectly. Thank you for sharing candidly all we have to look forward to and hope we don't get 1st prize of all the symptoms," one commenter wrote.
If you're ready to learn all about "cougar puberty" check out the video below: