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@ElanaSchlenker

The Pop-Up Store Where Women Pay Less Than Men

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@ElanaSchlenker

Earlier this month, graphic designer Elana Schlenker made headlines for her pop-up store 76<100 where women pay less than men for everything on the shelves. Specifically, they pay 24% less, highlighting the pay gap in Pennsylvania where women make just 76 cents to every man's dollar.

"The pricing structure is intended to be tongue-in-cheek, to grab the community's attention and then foster dialogue around the issue," Schlenker told The Huffington Post.

Schlenker was inspired to launch her “<100” project after reading about a 1960s feminist writer who charged men more for her books than she did women. Her non-profit, which is stocked with wares from female artists, sends 100% of the proceeds to the creators, and she intends to take the pop-up to other cities.

In fact, the 76<100 store wraps up its run today. The project heads next to New Orleans, where women will get an even steeper discount on the same items. It’s a bittersweet steal: women in Louisiana are paid on average 66 cents to every man's dollar.

For Schlenker, the traveling store isn’t intended to be retribution for a specific slight, but simply a way to facilitate discussion (and hopefully action) about workplace inequality and the wage gap that still exists across the nation. But in stoking that discussion, she’s inspired a different question: is the store legal?

Clearly, not all of the conversation that’s occurred online has been productive. Instead of talking about how we can get to a place of more equal footing, some commenters have instead focused on whether or not the two-tiered pricing at Schlenker’s store is discriminatory against men. The problem is, they might have a case. mental_floss spoke to a few lawyers who expressed concern that detractors could bring a discrimination suit on the precedent of a series of cases in previous decades that struck down Ladies Nights (where restaurants and bars offered discounted liquor prices to women as a promotion to get people in the door). According to the lawyers, the fact that Schlenker’s project is done in the name of art wouldn’t really protect it. They pointed us to a student named Dennis Koire who took his complaint about male discrimination all the way to the California Supreme Court in 1985 and won, with California Supreme Court Chief Justice Rose Bird insisting that “the legality of sex-based price discounts cannot depend on subjective value judgments about which types of sex-based distinctions are important or harmful.”

In other words, even if <100 is a great idea, it might not withstand legal scrutiny. But the discussion may be moot. If the pricing structure is indeed “tongue-in-cheek,” as Schlenker has noted, and more something to generate buzz than something that’s actually acted on, Schlenker’s stores should be in the clear. And even if a lawsuit does occur, we’re guessing it will only put more of a spotlight on an issue that could use a bigger one.

If you’re in Pittsburgh today, be sure to visit Schlenker’s store before it closes. And check out her Lessthan100.org site if you want to learn more about the effort. 

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Weird
Switzerland Flushes $1.8 Million in Gold Down the Sewer Every Year
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Switzerland has some pretty valuable sewer systems. As Bloomberg reports, scientists have discovered around $1.8 million worth of gold in the country's wastewater, along with $1.7 million worth of silver.

Scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology examined sewage sludge and effluents, or discharged liquid waste, from 64 water treatment plants and major Swiss rivers. They did this to assess the concentrations of various trace elements, which are "increasingly widely used in the high-tech and medical sectors," the scientists explained in a press statement. "While the ultimate fate of the various elements has been little studied to date, a large proportion is known to enter wastewater."

The study, which was recently published online in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, revealed that around 94 pounds of gold makes its way through Switzerland's sewage system each year, along with 6600 pounds of silver and high concentrations of rare metals like gadolinium and niobium. For the most part, these metals don't harm the environment, researchers say.

With gold and silver quite literally flowing through their sewers, is there any way that Switzerland could turn their wastewater into wealth? Scientists are skeptical: "The recovery of metals from wastewater or sludge is scarcely worthwhile at present, either financially or in terms of the amounts which could be extracted," the release explains.

However, in the southern canton of Ticino, which is home to several gold refineries, the "concentrations of gold in sewage sludge are sufficiently high for recovery to be potentially worthwhile," they conclude.

Switzerland is famous for its chocolate, watches, and mountains, but it's also home to major gold refineries. On average, around 70 percent of the world's gold passes through Switzerland every year—and judging from the looks of it, much of it goes down the drain. As for the sewer silver, it's a byproduct of the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, which is a cornerstone of Switzerland's economy.

[h/t Bloomberg]

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14 Things You Owned in the '70s That are Worth a Fortune Now
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DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

From old toys and housewares to books and records, these pieces of '70s memorabilia have aged (and increased in value) like fine wine.

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