America's Paper Towel Obsession, Explained

iStock.com/Eerik
iStock.com/Eerik

At this point, the Brawny man can probably afford something nicer than a flannel shirt. Americans spend roughly $5.7 billion annually on paper towels, using them to clean up everything from spilled coffee to baby dribble to windows. Roll after roll is unspooled from a paper towel holder, makes a detour into a mess, then winds up directly in the garbage.

Are we really so lazy that we can’t wring out and reuse a sponge, a cloth wipe, or washable napkins? Or has Big Towel brainwashed us into believing that paper towels are simply the most convenient method of keeping things clean?

The question was recently explored by The Atlantic's Joe Pinsker, who noticed that Americans make up nearly half of the world’s paper towel use. (Second-place France spends just $635 million per year on discarded towels, little more than a tenth of what the U.S. shells out.) Pinsker wondered if it was due in part to population, but even on a per capita basis, we still spend more on towels than any other country in the world. Countries with comparable economies don’t buy as much as we do.

It turns out that the reasoning behind our alleged paper towel obsession may reside in how we problem-solve. In using a disposable towel, a mess can be immediately addressed and discarded, leaving no trace or obligation to clean our cleaning supplies.

There may also be pragmatic reasons: Using one-time-use towels reduces the chances of cross-contamination. (Imagine a sponge covering a bacteria-covered surface, then being set aside for reuse later.) And in a public bathroom setting, paper towels may actually be more hygienic than hand dryers, which can spread bacteria.

If you have a paper towel addiction, one tip Pinsker passed along is to consider reusing them. (Provided, of course, the mess wasn’t made up of raw meat or fish.) Sturdier paper towels can sometimes stand up to multiple applications before they start to break apart. You can also try using fewer towels by folding one in half and taking advantage of what’s known as interstitial suspension to trap water between the layers.

[h/t The Atlantic]

Goodwill Store Searching for Family of Navy Sailor Whose Purple Heart May Have Been Mistakenly Donated

Feverpitched, iStock / Getty Images Plus
Feverpitched, iStock / Getty Images Plus

When a Goodwill worker in Tucson, Arizona, unearthed a Purple Heart from a donation box in June, it didn’t exactly fit in with the box’s other household items. So Goodwill decided to try to track down the family of the soldier who earned it, CNN reports.

That soldier was Nick D’Amelio Jr., according to the inscription on the medal, which is also inscribed with “S2C, USN.” Military records confirm that he was a U.S. Navy (denoted by the "USN") seaman second class (“S2C”) who was reported missing in action during World War II, after Japanese surface forces gunned down the USS Little in the Solomon Islands on September 5, 1942.

D’Amelio was declared dead the following year, and is now memorialized in Walls of the Missing at The Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in Taguig City, Philippines. He was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously.

Judith Roman Bucasas, director of marketing of Goodwill Industries of Southern Arizona, told CNN that she thinks it was an accident that the Purple Heart was donated in the box of housewares. After all, it’s one of the most prestigious awards a member of the military can receive. George Washington himself created the award in 1782 (though he named it the Badge of Military Merit), and General Douglas MacArthur revived it on the bicentennial of Washington’s birthday in 1932, renaming it the Purple Heart.

Goodwill is collaborating with Purple Hearts Reunited, a nonprofit organization that reunites lost or stolen medals with veterans or their families, but since they haven’t had any luck finding D’Amelio’s relatives yet, they decided to call in reinforcements via social media. On Monday, Goodwill posted photos of the Purple Heart on the Goodwill Industries of Southern Arizona Facebook page, and asked people to please call 520-623-5174 extension 7039 with any information on D’Amelio or his family.

This isn’t the first time a Purple Heart has been discovered in an Arizona Goodwill—in 2016, a couple found the medal at the jewelry counter, and, with the help of the Facebook community, successfully reunited it with its recipient’s family. Hopefully, the story of Nick D’Amelio Jr.’s Purple Heart will have just as happy an ending.

[h/t CNN]

LEGO Will Display This Thrilling New Avengers: Endgame Set at San Diego Comic-Con

LEGO
LEGO

If you’ve already preordered Avengers: Endgame and are now looking to the skies for your next source of MCU magic, bring your gaze back to Earth: The LEGO Group just unveiled an action-packed set with everything you need to stage an epic battle between the Chitauri and Hulk, Black Widow, and Pepper Potts.

The Avengers Hulk Helicopter Drop set includes two Chitauri soldiers, Hulk, Black Widow, Pepper Potts (bedecked in her Rescue armor), a helicopter with triple stud shooters and the ability to drop Hulk into the fray, and the Chitauris’ Leviathan and stud-shooting flyer.

Avengers Helicopter with Hulk
LEGO

Hulk wears a removable Infinity Gauntlet glove with four Infinity Stones: the orange Soul Stone, red Reality Stone, purple Power Stone, and yellow Mind Stone. The set also includes the blue Space stone and a second green hand for Hulk, which is perfect for reimagining this battle or using the Hulk figurine and Infinity Gauntlet in other Avengers: Endgame LEGO playsets. Remove Pepper Potts’ Rescue helmet and click her attachable hair piece onto her head to prove that even after a brutal clash with the Chitauri, not a hair is out of place.

Pepper Potts in Rescue suit
LEGO

This Avengers set adds up to an impressive 482 pieces, is suitable for children ages 8 and above, and requires no batteries—just build, imagine, and defeat (or be defeated). LEGO will display it for the first time at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, which runs from July 18 to July 21, 2019, and you can buy it yourself for $60 starting November 25, 2019. In the meantime, you can check out LEGO's previous Avengers-related releases on the company's online store.

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