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I Eat Garbage to Save Money and Help Reduce Food Waste

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xoJane.com is where women go to be their unabashed selves, and where their unabashed selves are applauded

America throws away up to 40% of its food supply—I’m doing my part by diverting trash to my table

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There are few things in the world that I love as much as good bread. Toasted and spread with golden butter and sweet raspberry jam, sliced and piled high with tangy tomatoes, savory cheese, and crunchy pickles, it’s pretty much the perfect food.

Good bread is, however, expensive. The kind of artisanal bread I favor, made lovingly by hand and devoid of the myriad dough conditioners and preservatives found in most commercial loaves, is considered unsellable after a single day on the shelf.

I first became aware of the staggering amount of bread that ends its life in a dumpster from a college roommate. He drove a delivery route for a local bakery, getting up at 3 a.m. to load a van full of freshly baked bread and deliver it to various grocery stores around town.

Sometimes I rode along, braving the obscenely early wake-up just to spend time in his presence (I was hopelessly in love with him, despite his proclivity for wearing a blanket in lieu of pants).

At each store, he would exchange fresh bread for day-old, filling several black garbage bags in the course of a single shift. As a result, our household of broke college kids always had plenty of delicious bread to eat.

Despite our best efforts, though, there was simply too much for us: lots of it ended up in a dumpster anyway. Seven years later, the same dumpster continues to yield its starchy fruit: I am never without good bread.

Although bread is one of the easiest, most reliable items for which to dumpster dive — it’s thrown away all the time, it’s dry, non-perishable, and relatively non-pathogenic — I also scavenge produce, chocolate, and flowers from the garbage.

Sometimes it can be pretty icky; various slimes attend the decay of vegetables and fruit, and dumpsters are occasionally coated in unidentifiable goo. But for every mold-dappled orange and liquefying cucumber, I’ve encountered pristine clusters of grapes, whole heads of cabbage, onions and potatoes and bunches of celery discarded for minor cosmetic imperfections.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, $165 billion worth of food is thrown away every year in the United States, representing a staggering 40% percent of food produced. At the same time, an estimated 1 in 9 people worldwide lack steady access to food — including about 14% of Americans. These numbers are absolutely mind-blowing, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg: This Washington Post article presents a good summary of the chilling statistics.

Although I’m not by any means rich (after earning an expensive college degree, I am, like many of my generation, right back to where I started: in the service industry), I’m not so poor than I can’t afford decent food. Eating well is a top priority for me; I forgo cable TV, a nice laptop, professional haircuts, and many other luxuries in favor of organic milk, pastured eggs, and organic produce.

But, still, eating well is not cheap. I couldn’t afford as much of the fancy bread and chocolate I love so much if I bought it at the store; dumpster diving lets me enjoy high-quality food while diverting a tiny bit of our nation’s insane food waste to my table.

But, you might protest, (as have many of my more squeamish friends), you’re eating out of the garbage. Gross! It’s true. Dumpsters are not particularly sanitary places. Although many bakery dumpsters, for instance, are just used for bread, and thus aren’t likely to contain contaminants like raw meat or chemicals, others can get pretty shady.

That’s why I usually stick to fruits with thick skins — oranges, melons, mangoes — or vegetables that I plan to cook, and wash everything thoroughly before I prepare it. Grocery stores without trash compactors (they’re pretty rare these days) can be a great source of packaged food that’s just a day or past the expiration date.

Besides the “ick” factor, dumpster diving does take a lot more work than simply going to the store and laying your money down. But, for me, the cost-savings, combined with the satisfaction that comes from playing a small part in reducing food waste, is totally worth it.

Emily A. Klein wrote this article for xoJane.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME society

I Don’t Feel Guilty for Not Tipping My Waitstaff

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xoJane.com is where women go to be their unabashed selves, and where their unabashed selves are applauded

Tipping should be a reward, not a right

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Recently, an old “high school friend” turned “Facebook-friend-I-forgot-I-had” posted a photo of a receipt, and it popped up in my newsfeed. This receipt wasn’t hers — it was for an unknown diner at a restaurant-that-shall-remain-nameless where Facebook friend works. She captioned this photo: “Not even a 10% tip?! #cheated.”

I spent the next couple of hours feeling irrationally irritated after I saw that photo, but not at the customer who failed to give what this waitress felt she deserved in a tip. I was annoyed at her for feeling entitled to complain about it.

The art of tipping is, for most people, really freaking annoying. How much is too much? How much is too little? Is this the only reason I had to learn how to calculate percentages in 5th grade? Am I really supposed to tip this floral delivery guy when I didn’t even know he was coming to deliver me flowers that I didn’t even buy? Also, I don’t carry cash anymore, so, crap.

And I could write a whole separate article on “Automatic Tips.” There is no such thing as an “automatic” tip. If it’s “automatically” included, it is “automatically” just part of the regular price. The very definition of tipping suggests it should be extra. It’s a reward, not a right.

But the bread and butter of my tip annoyance is the mandatory tip of your server in a restaurant. Why do I owe someone extra money just for doing their job? I work retail, and get paid crap for it. I’m expected to be courteous and helpful and provide “excellent customer service” with absolutely no possibility of a tip or commission. Why should it be any different for someone working in a restaurant? The way I see it, the restaurant is paying the employee, not me.

Disclaimer time: I live and eat 98+% of my meals in Washington State, one of 7 states that doesn’t have a different minimum wage for tipped and non-tipped employees. The waiter or waitress in whatever restaurant I am in makes at least minimum wage which, coincidentally, is what I make in my retail job. And sooner or later, that minimum wage is going to jump to a staggering $15/hour. But we are still expected to tip people on top of that wage, just as we would in states where waitstaff are making less than $3 per hour. That doesn’t make any sense to me at all.

Let it be known, I personally do not believe that a tipped minimum wage should be allowed. That just lets the employer off easy while asking the customer to pick up the slack on what should be an employer’s expense. It isn’t fair to the worker or the customer, and I would advocate for the tipped minimum wage to be abolished.

I do not want anybody living in poverty, but I don’t think that the wage of someone should depend on the whim of a customer, either. Servers and bartenders deserve a solid minimum wage just like the rest of us.

And yet, we live in a society that customarily mandates tips, and businesses go out of their way to make customers feel uncomfortable if they don’t tip. From tip jars that practically smack you in the face when you’re ordering a coffee to the new tablet payment trend that “suggests” you add a $1-2 tip to your transaction, even if you all bought was a $2.50 cup of tea, you sometimes have to go out of your way NOT to tip.

Never mind that these “opportunities” to tip often come before you have received much service at all. The quality of service isn’t even what matters anymore — it’s just expected.

Thanks to Instagram and Twitter, we now live in an era of “tip shaming.” I’ve seen pictures of receipts that shame celebrities or other wealthy people for not providing some grotesque tip. As though Mark Zuckerberg is obliged to tip you more than I am even if we receive the same service: the amount of a tip doesn’t depend on the percent of our income. We don’t owe you anything but decency, respect, and the listed prices we’ve agreed to pay.

Food is a good like any other. I don’t ask customers to throw in 10% for buying clothes from me, and I resent the implication that a food service worker is working harder than I am, and therefore deserves a tip. The truth is that tips are an outdated tradition doing absolutely nothing to improve the livelihoods of people in the food-service industry.

For all these reasons and more, I’ve finally gotten over the guilt that goes with not tipping. I don’t eat out often- maybe three times a month, including ice cream and coffee runs — but when I do, I rarely tip. The last time I tipped my waiter it was because he offered me a free refill on my cocktail when I clumsily spilled it on the table, adding to the mess he already had to clean up. And yes, I felt he deserved it. But the person scooping my ice cream cone? Mixing my hot chocolate? Or the person delivering my steaming bowl of pho?

No, to me, the 60 seconds you spent serving me doesn’t merit an extra dollar. I simply don’t believe in it. And I’m not apologizing for it.

Editorial note: The original image has been removed from this post.

Sarah Bartlett wrote this article for xoJane.

Read next: The Insulting Names That Businesses Call You Behind Your Back

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME society

Man Who Was Mistakenly Invited to Bachelor Party Definitely Going Anyway

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He raised money on crowd-funding websites and is going

A Seattle man who was accidentally copied on an email chain about a Philadelphia bachelor party is going anyway.

Joey DiJulio of Seattle got the first email from these people he didn’t know on Feb. 11. After a few weeks of messages about Jeff Minetti’s bachelor party in Philadelphia at the end of the month, he replied, explaining that they mixed him up with someone else. That started a whole new email chain, with Minetti’s friends saying he should totally come anyway, and the groom confirming, adding that DiJulio should come to the wedding, too.

According to Q13 FOX’s play-by-play of this saga, DiJulio set up a GoFundMe page “Random Bachelor Party” earlier this week to raise $1276 to fund the trip and surpassed the goal within 24 hours. Now he is raising money to go toward the couple’s honeymoon.

This comment on DiJulio’s crowd-funding site seems to sum up the overwhelming turnout for this unusual cause: “Strangers really are just friends we haven’t met yet.”

Read next: This 104-Year-Old Woman Says Dr Pepper Is What’s Keeping Her Alive

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TIME society

This 104-Year-Old Woman Says Dr Pepper Is What’s Keeping Her Alive

Cans of Dr Pepper sit on a pantry shelf in New York, Tuesday
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Did Dr Pepper pay her to say this?

The world’s oldest people have all kinds of advice for living longer. Their secrets range from staying away from men and believing in the Lord to smoking cigars and eating a ton of pork.

But for Elizabeth Sullivan, a Texas woman who just turned 104, the secret to longevity is Dr Pepper. She’s been drinking three cans a day for about 40 years, she told Forth Worth’s CBS affiliate.

“Every doctor that sees me says they’ll kill you, but they die and I don’t,” she says. “So there must be a mistake somewhere.”

For her 104th birthday, Sullivan got a gift basket from Larry Young, the CEO of Dr Pepper Snapple Group. She also got a cake shaped like a can of Dr Pepper, because obviously.

Read next: Calorie Count Coming Soon to a Can of Guinness Near You

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Here Are All the Very Alarming Things Teenagers Apparently Do While Driving

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Starting with: changing clothes and doing homework

Most of us will admit that we’ve done some multitasking while driving here and there — but a new study about what teenage drivers do behind the wheel is a tad alarming.

For starters: 27 percent of teens admit they’ll occasionally change clothes and shoes while driving. The study, which was published this week in the Journal of Transportation Safety and Security, also found teens admit to doing things like changing contact lenses, putting on makeup and doing homework behind the wheel.

David Hurwitz, an assistant professor of transportation engineering at Oregon State University who led the study, told NPR that his team was pretty surprised about the whole changing clothes part. He added, “Teens are busy, I guess.”

These youngsters may be changing their outfits and doing their homework (seriously though, what kind of homework are they doing?) behind the wheel — but there’s some good news, too. Fewer teens reported texting while driving than they did in earlier studies. Granted, around 40 percent of teens still admitted to doing this, but at least the behavior is becoming slightly less common.

TIME viral

Read the Nasty Note a Neighbor Left an Amputee About a Handicapped Spot

The Miamisburg, Ohio, note immediately went viral

A cruel note calling an Ohio amputee a “cry baby one leg” has gone viral following a struggle between neighbors over an apartment building’s designated handicapped spot.

Ashley Brady, 26, lost her leg in a 2014 accident. She learned how to walk again, but Brady struggled to make it across the complex’s parking lot without slipping and falling on icy patches.

But her struggles didn’t end after her building gave her a handicapped parking spot.

“I finally get my handicapped parking spot last Thursday (March 12, 2015) and then I come home on Saturday and they’re parking in my parking spot,” she told an ABC affiliate, referencing a neighbor who did not have a handicap. So Brady decided to leave a “stern” note explaining her situation and “what it’s like to walk around without your own leg.”

The shocking letter Brady reportedly received as a response to justify her actions reads:

Hey handicap! First, never place your hands on my car again! Second, honey you ain’t the only one with “struggles.” You want pity go to a one leg support group! You messed with the wrong one! I don’t care what your note said shove it, but you touch my car again I will file a report, I am not playing! I let the office know the cry baby one leg touches my property I will cause trouble so go cry your struggles to someone who cares cause I’m walking away with both mine! -[Expletive]

After Brady’s sister shared the letter on Facebook in an attempt to shine a light on the nuanced struggles many handicapped people face on a daily basis, it went viral and she received sympathetic feedback right away.

“[My neighbor] told me to cry to someone who cares,” Brady says, “So I went to the internet and it turns out a lot of people care.”

[ABC]

Read next: Someone Keeps Photocopying Their Cat at the University of Wisconsin Library

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TIME society

See 100 Years of Korean Beauty Trends In Just 90 Seconds

One woman captures a century of different styles

This mesmerizing time-lapse video shows a Korean woman modeling 100 years of fashion and beauty trends from both North and South Korea. It begins with the 1920s, and then splits into two separate panels once it hits the 1950s to reflect the country’s divide into North and South Korea.

You’ll see the model’s hair, makeup and accessories change rapidly, with some of the styles appearing to mirror American trends. You’ll also notice a very clear distinction between North Korean and South Korean trends.

This video is the latest installment from Cut.com’s “100 Years of Beauty” series, which has previously showcased trends from countries like the U.S. and Iran.

Read next: Watch How Iran’s Beauty Trends Have Evolved Over 100 Years

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TIME society

5 Ways to Honor St. Patrick’s Day You’ve Never Heard of Before

From funding a Kickstarter that would mail Irish soil to your loved ones to a parade of Irish Elvis impersonators

• Own a little piece of the Emerald Isle with this Kickstarter called “Jar of Ireland,” which has been raising money to mail jars of Irish soil around the world.

Irish Elvis impersonators walk down a 98-foot-long street in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, in what organizers bill as the world’s shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade.

• A man was photographed drinking bottled beer while taped to a lamp post over the weekend:

• Green beer can be made at home using a half teaspoon of antioxidant-rich matcha powder dissolved in warm water and filling up the rest of the glass with beer.

• This Irish Setter was dressed like Michael Jackson at the Saint Patrick’s Day parade in Tokyo on Sunday.

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Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP—Getty ImagesAn Irish setter wearing a Michael Jackson costume takes part in a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Tokyo on March 15, 2015.

 

 

TIME society

Watching These Kids Read Mean Tweets About Themselves Is Heartbreaking

Part of a new campaign to raise awareness about the effects of cyberbulling

Watching celebrities and politicians recite mean tweets about themselves is highly entertaining — especially because they tend to read them with a smirk before laughing off the insults. But watching kids read mean tweets is a totally different story.

The Canadian Safe School Network, a non-profit that aims to reduce youth violence and make schools safer, created the above video to shed light on the effects of cyberbullying. It’s directly inspired by Jimmy Kimmel’s popular “celebrities read mean tweets” segment and shows students reading messages that target them for their weight, general appearance, race and more.

The teens begin by laughing off the insults, but as the tweets get meaner and meaner, the video takes on a much more somber tone. The last girl to appear is told to go kill herself and then walks off screen.

You can read more about the Canadian Safe School Network or donate money to the cause here.

Read next: Middle School Basketball Players Walk Off Court to Defend Bullied Classmate

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Iowa Woman Was Taking a Shower When She Suddenly Gave Birth

"I was like, there's a baby here"

An Iowa woman recently gave birth to a baby while taking a shower, the Des Moines Register reports.

Brittany Young, 24, of Des Moines said she decided to take a shower because she was having stomach pains. But they didn’t go away, and before she knew it, she pushed out a 6-pound, 8-ounce baby aptly named Miracle. A friend called an ambulance. Paramedics arrived, cut the umbilical cord and took the baby to Mercy Medical Center.

Young told the Des Moines Register that the baby opened its eyes and did not cry: “I was like, there’s a baby here.”

The more “surprise birth” stories are reported—whether it happens on a PATH train or in a Baltimore airport bathroom—the more it shows how unpredictable labor can be. “Some women don’t feel the pain of labor contractions,” as Time.com previously reported, based on a conversation with an obstetrician. “In other unusual situations, women who don’t realize they’re pregnant in the first place don’t identify contractions for what they are. As obesity rates rise, that scenario is likely to become more prevalent.”

Read next: Japan Eyes Matchmaking, Paternity Leave to Lift Birth Rate

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