Heroes

## 1. Rivers only *seem* tame and lazy.

Mountain streams are corralled by the steep-walled valleys they carve. Their courses are literally set in stone. Out on the open plains, those stoney walls give way to soft soil, allowing rivers to shift their banks and set their own ever-changing courses to the sea. Courses that almost never run straight, at least not for long, because all it takes to turn a straight stretch of river into a bendy one is a little disturbance and a lot of time.

## 2. What makes a river bend?

Say, for example, that a muskrat burrows herself a den in one bank of a stream. Her tunnels make for a cozy home, but they also weaken the bank, which eventually begins to crumble and slump into the stream.

As more of the stream's flow is diverted into the deepening hole on one bank and away from the other side of the channel, the flow there weakens and slows. And because slow-moving water can't carry the sand-sized particles that fast-moving water can, the dirt drops to the bottom and builds up to make the water there even shallower and slower. And then it keeps accumulating until it becomes new land on the inside bank.

Meanwhile, the fast-moving water near the outside bank sweeps out of the curve with enough momentum to carry it across the channel and slam it into the other side, where it starts to carve another curve and then another and then another and then another.

## 3. Rivers can do math. Sort of.

Measurements of meandering streams all over the world reveal a strikingly regular pattern. The length of one S-shaped meander tends to be about six times the width of the channel. So little, tiny meandering streams tend to look just like miniature versions of their bigger relatives.

## 4. But it doesn't mean they're very smart about it.

As long as nothing gets in the way of a river's meandering, its curves will continue to grow curvier and curvier until they loop around and bumble into themselves. When that happens, the river's channel follows a straighter path downhill leaving behind a crescent-shaped remnant called an oxbow lake.

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## New Amazon badge helps you discover and shop for more sustainable products

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.

Amazon

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.

<p>To qualify as Climate Pledge Friendly, a product must be certified by one of the 19 different sustainability certifications, including Amazon's own <a href="https://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&amp;node=21221609011" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Compact by Design</a> certification. Compact by Design-certified products are made with more efficient packaging by removing excess air and water, making them lighter and therefore more efficient to ship. "At scale, these small differences in product size and weight lead to significant carbon emission reductions," according to Amazon.</p><p>Other certifications include <a href="https://www.bluesign.com/en" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Bluesign</a>, which means qualifying products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production; <a href="https://www.fairtradeamerica.org/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Fairtrade International</a> products are produced in line with ethical and environmental standards, including supporting farmers to tackle climate change challenges; and <a href="https://fsc.org/en/about-us" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">The Forest Stewardship Council</a>-certified products support responsible forestry, helping keep forests healthy for future generations.Details about the other Climate Pledge Friendly Certifications can be found <a href="https://www.amazon.com/b?node=21221608011" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">here</a>.</p><p>All the Climate Pledge Friendly products can be found at <a href="http://www.amazon.com/ClimatePledgeFriendly" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Amazon.com/ClimatePledgeFriendly</a> and include grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics products, and more. </p><p>With shopping more sustainably now easier than ever before, there's no reason not to.</p>
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## Jill Biden brought cookies to National Guard troops to thank them for keeping her family safe

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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Let's Do More Together

## Meet the people infusing their communities with love and support when it’s needed most

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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.