Why retiring the gun emoji isn't as silly as it sounds.

Starting in September, Apple will make another update to its iconic and useful emojis.

As part of the update, the company is getting rid of the pistol emoji and replacing it with a green water gun.


While Apple hasn't officially addressed the reasons for the swap, it seems pretty clear that, after another year filled with horrific gun violence, the company is responding in some small way to America's frustration with gun culture.


Before I continue, let's get one thing straight:

No, of course swapping the pistol emoji for a water gun is not going to solve America's gun problem.

Obviously.

You will never see a news story with the headline: "New Water Gun Emoji Directly Responsible for Decline in Gun Violence."

HOWEVER...

Ask yourself another question: "Is one person recycling water bottles going to solve global warming?" No, of course not.

Is recycling those water bottles still the right thing to do? Will it still help make a small dent of progress in the face of an overwhelming challenge? Yes.

Like it or not — emojis are a big part of our cultural lingo.

They're not the biggest, most important, or most central part of our culture, but millions of people use them regularly to communicate, laugh, make plans, and occasionally to represent body parts ("Peach and eggplant emoji" to you as well, good sir).

Photo by Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images.

Which is why emojis have been updated on multiple occasions to better represent the times we're in.

In 2015, a variety of skin tones were added to help represent people of different races, same-sex couples and families were added to help represent people of different sexual orientations, and this latest update will also include a pride flag and a more diverse array of female emojis, after an official bid from Google.

There's nothing wrong with adding and changing emojis to be more representative of the things we talk and care about, while also acknowledging that the cartoon keyboard in our phones is not the axis on which the most critical conversations of our culture turn.

But I digress. Back to the revolver emoji. It's already pretty troubling.

Aside from being yet another byproduct of our gun-obsessed culture, the gun emoji has been a key factor in a few real-life incidences in which the police got involved.

In February 2016, a 12-year-old got in trouble with the police after posting a message on Instagram containing the gun emoji along with the bomb and knife emoji. In Brooklyn, New York, a teenager was arrested on terror charges after making a perceived threat to police officers using emojis. His charges were eventually dropped.

No word yet on the swords or the clearly dangerous chemistry set. Screengrab of iPhone emojis taken on my phone.

As far as people being frustrated at gun culture, though, you probably don't need reminding that 2016 has been as close to a tipping-point year as we've ever had in recent memory.

Multiple police-involved shootings, a horrific massacre at a nightclub in Orlando, an outright attack on the Dallas Police Department, and hundreds of mass-shooting deaths have created an environment where lawmakers are (finally, maybe, possibly, hopefully) ready to step up and do something.

Rep. John Lewis speaking to the press during his gun control protest in June 2016. Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images.

There was a 15-hour filibuster on gun control after the Orlando shooting as well as a congressional sit-in led by civil rights activist Rep. John Lewis.

People have also been taking out their frustration toward the lack of action on gun control in little ways, like defacing posters for the film "Jason Bourne," which prominently feature actor Matt Damon holding a gun.


People have had it with a culture that consistently fetishizes and glorifies guns, and replacing the gun emoji with a water pistol is a small way to lessen the presence of guns in daily conversation.

No, the water pistol emoji isn't going to solve America's problem with gun violence, or make you dinner, or tie your shoes for you, or make "True Detective" great again, or anything else.

We still need to work on gun control. We still need to stand up to gun lobbyists and politicians and others who stand by, complicit, as gun violence continues to claim more lives in America than anywhere else in the world.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

In the meantime, we can also appreciate that the revolver emoji is now a more fun and less deadly water pistol.

It's a small gesture that shows that we, as a people, with our incredible technology and advanced methods of communication, don't need a little cartoon gun to live our lives or communicate with each other.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

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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.