Discarded toys are creating an e-waste disaster. Here’s how to stop it.

Discarded toys are creating an e-waste disaster. Here’s how to stop it.

With the holiday season fast approaching, parents around the world are deciding which new toys to purchase for their kids this year. Many will opt for classic favorites like Lego bricks, Mr. Potato Heads, Jenga sets, and Barbie dolls. Others will choose toys with more high-tech flair — like remote-controlled robotic dogs, light-up drones, or books that play animal sounds — for that tot who loves smashing buttons.

But while modern parents are bombarded with ads for toys that light up, make sounds, move under their own power, and respond to voice commands, they don’t hear much about the environmental crisis fueled by electronic toys, or e-toys. 

According to a recent report by the WEEE Forum, a multinational nonprofit organization focused on the management of “waste electrical and electronic equipment,” the world threw out more than 7 billion e-toys in 2022. Many, if not most, of these toys didn’t reach a proper e-waste recycling facility due to a dearth of regulations and consumer awareness that toys containing batteries and circuit boards require special disposal. Instead, experts believe these toys are often winding up in the regular trash, increasing the risk of battery fires at waste management facilities and creating new environmental hazards at landfills. Even when people want to recycle their e-toys properly, recyclers might not want to take them because they are hard to deconstruct and often contain very little material worth recycling. 

Ultimately, experts say, toy makers and toy retailers must take more responsibility for e-toy waste — whether that’s by setting up take-back programs for broken e-toys, redesigning toys to be more recycling friendly, or embracing new business models that replace cheap, throwaway toys with stuff that’s built to last.

There’s no doubt our appetite for electronic toys is growing: Revenue from wholesale shipments of e-toys into the United States increased nearly 200 percent between 2010 and 2022, according to data from the Consumer Technology Association. Yet as e-toys proliferate, we seem to be valuing them less. In recent years, “toys have gone from being viewed more as essential tools to childhood development to junk you get at the holidays,” said Krystal Persaud, an award-winning toy designer and the cofounder of Wildgrid, an educational marketplace that uses game-like principles to help consumers learn how to implement home electrification projects. “Which is very unfortunate.” (Persaud was selected as a Grist 50 Fixer in 2023.)

Person wearing red sweater in aisle filled with mostly pink toy boxes
A shopper in the toy department at a Walmart Supercenter in Burbank, California, in November 2023. Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Indeed, the pressure toy makers feel to make sales — particularly during the holiday season, when they earn a large chunk of their annual revenue — motivates them to constantly churn out new toys. Persaud described it as “very analogous to fast fashion.” 

“It’s very trend driven,” she told Grist. 

One of the ways a toy maker can stay trendy is by giving their toys new capabilities with embedded electronics. According to Persaud, the cost of manufacturing electronic components like circuit boards has fallen so much in the last several decades that it’s now relatively easy to incorporate them into the simplest and cheapest of toys, which is how parents end up with plastic trucks that bark sounds and flash lights.

The problem with cheap electronic toys is that they aren’t necessarily built to last, be repaired, or even have their batteries removed and replaced. As a result, many e-toys will inevitably become junk in somebody’s basement or garage until it’s time to get rid of them. At that point, e-toys “are going to end up most likely in the municipal solid waste system rather than the recycling stream,” said Callie Babbitt, a e-waste researcher at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York.

That’s a problem both for safety and environmental reasons. E-toys with lithium-ion batteries can spark a fire if the battery is mishandled, crushed or punctured at a waste management facility. Once they enter landfills, electronics create additional hazards because some of their components contain toxic substances like lead, mercury, and cadmium that can leach into the surrounding soil and water, endangering the health of nearby communities and ecosystems. 

The reason dead e-toys aren’t getting to the right place, Babbitt says, has to do with e-waste regulations. In the U.S., there’s no overarching federal guidance on how to manage e-waste, which is instead regulated through a patchwork of state policies. In roughly half of U.S. states, the policy is no policy at all. Most of the other states have some sort of “extended producer responsibility” scheme that requires electronic device manufacturers to pay funds into a program administered by state or local officials or private entities. Those funds go toward collecting specific electronics on a state collection list and sending them to e-waste recyclers. Not a single state collection list includes e-toys. “They’re not traditionally part of that system,” Babbitt said.

A sign that says "Smart Toys" is seen above a display of five colorful toy figurines
“Smart toys” are on display at an electronics store in Ingolstadt, Germany, in 2018. Armin Weigel/picture alliance via Getty Images

In many cases, consumers can still drop off e-toys at e-waste collection sites. But Babbitt says that “most of the effort toward actually communicating about recycling” is geared toward items on the state list, meaning consumer awareness about how to recycle e-toys is relatively low. And in some states, like Minnesota, consumers might have to pay a collection facility to take their junk toys, according to Maria Jensen, who co-directs a Minnesota-based nonprofit called Recycling Electronics for Climate Action that advocates for stronger e-waste recycling policies.

Often, county governments — which run many of Minnesota’s e-waste collection sites — “are not supported well enough to afford to collect and send those to a recycler,” Jensen told Grist. “So what happens is they charge the consumer.” While about a quarter of the e-waste Minnesotans generate is collected for recycling, Jensen speculates that the amount of e-toy waste collected is much lower.

Outside of the U.S., different countries have very different e-waste policies. But when it comes to e-toys, a similar pattern emerges globally: These devices are not reaching recyclers. While between 20 and 30 percent of large electronics like TVs and printers are recycled on a global scale, the global recycling rate for e-toys is closer to 10 percent, said Kees Baldé, a senior researcher at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research. Baldé co-authored the recent WEEE Forum report that identified e-toys as the largest contributor to “invisible” e-waste, a category that included 9 million tons of electronics last year. 

Invisible e-waste, which the report authors defined as types of e-waste with a very low recycling rate based on national data, also includes vapes, headphones, home smoke detectors, and other small consumer electronics. “Basically people don’t really know what to do” with e-toys and other forms of invisible e-waste, Baldé told Grist. 

Worldwide, Baldé says, these products are only sometimes covered by extended producer responsibility schemes. Because they are often made of cheap materials like plastic with only small amounts of the precious metals that e-waste recyclers make money recovering and selling, recyclers tend to lose money processing them. “The treatment of e-waste, in particular this type of e-waste, is worthless,” Balde said.

The way e-toys are designed creates additional challenges for recyclers. Whereas TVs and computers tend to follow similar design principles and include similar components, toys come in a huge variety of sizes and form factors that recyclers may not be familiar with, meaning additional time and effort must be spent figuring out how to take them apart. What’s more, many are not built to be disassembled. More than a nuisance, this can be a hazard for recyclers, who may not be aware that a toy with no screws, charge ports, or obvious external labels contains a lithium-ion battery.

A person wearing a gray zippered hoodie looks up at shelves of toys under a sign that says "TOYS"
A shopper looks over toy department merchandise at a Walmart Supercenter in Burbank, California, in November 2023. Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Frequently, e-toy batteries are “completely encased in plastic,” Jensen said. “So you actually have to break it open, physically, to get the battery out.” Otherwise, that battery could accidentally enter a recycler’s shredder and spark a fire.

To solve the e-toy waste crisis, experts say that regulators and the toy industry need to step up. Governments could expand their extended producer responsibility schemes to include more categories of electronics, such as e-toys. While this wouldn’t address design issues, it would provide the municipalities, nonprofits, or private businesses that collect e-waste much-needed funding to get these items to a recycler that can handle them. Toy manufacturers, or big box retailers like Walmart and Target, could serve as collection points for old e-toys, similar to how Best Buy stores collect a variety of consumer electronics and appliances for recycling. Persaud, the toy designer, suspects that retailers setting up e-toy take-back programs “would be the fastest” way to start collecting dead toys en masse.

The Toy Association, an industry group whose members account for 93 percent of toy and game sales in the U.S., didn’t respond to Grist’s request for comment.

In the longer term, design standards focused on longevity and repairability could slow the tide of waste by ensuring e-toys are built to last longer. The European Union recently adopted a new regulation that requires manufacturers of portable electronics to make their products’ batteries removable — an important first step. Baldé wants to see the bloc go much further. “We need more policy interventions to simply ban these products that don’t have a minimum guaranteed lifespan or can’t be repaired,” he said.

Finally, we all need to reframe our relationship with toys and stop treating them as disposable. While consumers can’t solve this problem alone, we can all be more mindful about the type and quantity of toys we buy. Parents, Persaud suggests, can ask friends and family for the type of toys they want their children to receive, perhaps requesting e-toys only when the electronics give the toy “a superpower that wasn’t there before.” Or they can stick to secondhand, analog, or even homemade toys made of highly recyclable materials like wood.

Persaud emphasized that kids, especially young children, don’t need their toys to have interactive buttons and light-up features in order to have fun with them. “There’s a lot of things you can do without [the toy] being electronic,” Persaud said. “Just with blocks, with paper. You can really play with anything.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Discarded toys are creating an e-waste disaster. Here’s how to stop it. on Nov 22, 2023.

Source: Grist, a beacon in the smog,an independent news outlet and network of innovators working toward a planet that doesn’t burn and a future that doesn’t suck

Will climate cookbooks change how we eat?

Will climate cookbooks change how we eat?

Kitchen Arts & Letters, a legendary cookbook store on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, is tiny — just 750 square feet — but not an inch of space is wasted. With roughly 12,000 different cookbooks and a staff of former chefs and food academics, it’s the land of plenty for those seeking guidance beyond the typical weekday recipe. 

One table is piled high with new cookbooks about ramen, eggs, and the many uses of whey, the overflow stacked in leaning towers above the shelves along the walls. One bookcase is packed with nothing but titles about fish. And next to a robust vegetarian section at the back of the store, tucked in a corner, is a minuscule collection of cookbooks about sustainability and climate change. 

Natalie Stroud, a sales associate at Kitchen Arts & Letters, pointed me to the five titles featured there. “It’s hard,” she said, “because there aren’t many. But it’s something we’re trying to build out as it becomes more popular.”

a large bookshelf with books about climate cooking stacked in a corner
The sustainable cookbook section at Kitchen Arts & Letters in New York. Caroline Saunders

One of the cookbooks is Eating for Pleasure, People, and Planet by British chef Tom Hunt. I flip to a recipe titled “a rutabaga pretending to be ham” (with cross-hatching that would make a honey-baked ham blush) and a Dan Barber-inspired “rotation risotto” starring a dealer’s choice of sustainably grown grains. Next to it is Perfectly Good Food: A Totally Achievable Zero Waste Approach to Home Cooking by restaurateur sisters Margaret and Irene Li, full of mad-lib recipes for wilting ingredients like “an endlessly riffable fruit crisp” and a saag paneer that grants ingredients like carrot tops a compost-bin pardon. 

Climate cookbooks seem to be picking up speed in parallel to a trend toward sustainable eating. In 2016, the term “climatarian” entered the Cambridge Dictionary — referring to a person who bases their diet on the lowest possible carbon footprint. In 2020, a survey by the global market research company YouGov found that 1 in 5 U.S. millennials had changed their diets to help the climate. If you consider a climate cookbook to be one that was written, at least in part, to address the dietary changes necessitated by the climate crisis, you can see a whisper of a subgenre beginning to emerge. At least a dozen have been published since 2020. 

These cookbooks might play an important role in the transition to sustainable diets. It’s one thing — and certainly a useful thing — for scientists and international organizations to tell people how diets need to change to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis. It’s another to bring the culinary path forward to life in actual dishes and ingredients. And recipe developers and cookbook authors, whose whole shtick is knowing what will feel doable and inspiring in the glow of the refrigerator light, might be the ones to do it.

a woman in a lemon-print sweater cops onions in a kitchen
A photo of me chopping onions and garlic for the “Anything-in-the-Kitchen Pasta” from the cookbook “Perfectly Good Food.” Haley Saunders

I’ve been thinking about this handoff from science communicators to the culinary crowd for a while. I worked at Grist until I went to Le Cordon Bleu Paris to learn how to make sustainable desserts. (Climate cuisine is dead on arrival without good cake.) Now a recipe tester and Substacker with my own dream of a one-day cookbook, I find myself wondering what this early wave of climate cookbooks is serving for dinner.

What does climate cooking mean? And will these cookbooks have any impact on the way average people cook and eat? The emerging genre of climate cookbooks puts a big idea on the menu: that there won’t be one way to eat sustainably in a warming world, but many — à la carte style.

Illustration of an earth-patterned oven mitt
Mia Torres / Grist

Cookbooks about sustainable ways of eating are nothing new, even if they haven’t used the climate label. M.F.K. Fisher’s World War II-era book How to Cook a Wolf found beauty in cooking what you have and wasting nothing. The comforting recipes in the Moosewood Cookbook helped American vegetarianism unfurl its wings in the 1970s. Eating locally and seasonally is familiar, too. Edna Lewis spread it out on a Virginia table in The Taste of Country Cooking, and Alice Waters turned it into a prix fixe menu and various cookbooks at her Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse.

But until recently, if you wanted to read about food and climate change, you had to turn to the nonfiction shelves. Books like The Fate of Food by Amanda Little (for which I was a research intern) and The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan swirl the two topics together as smoothly as chocolate and vanilla soft serve, albeit through a journalistic rather than culinary lens. The way we eat is both a driver of climate change — the food system accounts for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions — and an accessible solution. Unlike energy or transportation or the gruel that is national politics, our diets are a problem with solutions as close as the ends of our forks. 

It seems only natural that consideration for the climate would eventually waft into recipe writing and cookbooks. In 2019, NYT Cooking created a collection of climate-friendly recipes, albeit a sparse one by their standards, focused on meat alternatives, sustainable seafood, and vegan dishes. In 2021, Epicurious announced it would stop publishing new recipes containing beef, which is about 40 times more carbon-intensive than beans. In parallel, climate cookbooks have begun to proliferate, and so far, they’re offering varied entry points to sustainable eating.

A few recent food waste cookbooks want home cooks to know one thing: that simply using all our food is an undersung climate solution — one often overshadowed by red meat’s gaudier climate villainy. The research organization Project Drawdown lists reducing food waste as the climate solution that could cut the most emissions (closely followed by adopting plant-rich diets), a fact that caught Margaret Li’s attention when she and her sister Irene were writing Perfectly Good Food.

Other cookbooks take a different approach, offering home cooks a fully developed set of what we might call climate cooking principles.

When chef Tom Hunt wrote his 2020 cookbook Eating for Pleasure, People, and Planet, his goal was “to cover food sustainability in its entirety.” It opens with his “root-to-fruit manifesto,” which he translated from an academic book for a home cook audience and boiled down to a few ideas: plant-based, low-waste, and climate cuisine. By “climate cuisine” he means using local and seasonal ingredients, sourcing from labor- and land-conscious vendors (consider the cover crop, would you, in your next risotto?), and eating a rainbow of biodiverse foods. 

Eating seasonally and locally are sometimes dismissed from the climate conversation because they don’t save much carbon, according to experts. But some argue that seasonal food tastes better and can help eaters steer away from climate red flags. Skipping out-of-season produce avoids food grown in energy-sucking greenhouses and stuff that’s flown in by plane, like delicate berries. (Air travel is the only mode of transport that makes food miles a big deal.) And local food comes with an oft-forgotten green flag: Buying from nearby farms strengthens regional food economies, which makes the food system more resilient to climate events and other shocks. 

Hunt also makes the case for putting biodiversity on the plate. “Biodiversity has always felt like one of the key elements of this whole situation that we’re in,” he said. Today, nearly half of all the calories people eat around the world come from just three plants: wheat, rice, and maize. “That kind of monoculture is very fragile,” he explained. “People often don’t realize that our food is linked to biodiversity, and the diversity of the food that we eat can support biodiversity in general.” 

A use-what-you-have citrus cake I recently made, from the cookbook “Perfectly Good Food.” Caroline Saunders

Biodiversity is also a through line in For People and Planet — a collaboration between the United Nations and the nonprofit Kitchen Connection Alliance with recipes contributed by star chefs, Indigenous home cooks, and farmers. (We’ll call it the U.N. cookbook, since these titles otherwise threaten to blend into an alliterative purée). Its recipes are a global tour of plant-forward culinary biodiversity, like a West African moringa pesto pasta and banana-millet croquettes rolled in puffed amaranth that looks like teensy popcorn. 

Published last year, the cookbook is divided into five big ideas: biodiversity, food and climate change, reducing food waste, sustainable consumption, and the food system. The topics came from a U.N. food systems summit, said Earlene Cruz, who is the founder and director of Kitchen Connection Alliance and who compiled the cookbook. They were the ones that “consumers needed more information on, but could also be contributors to in a positive way.”

The chapters on sustainable consumption and the food system argue that a sustainable eating philosophy isn’t complete without consideration of — among other things — resilience and nutrition. What does that mean in dinner form? In Nunavut, Canada, it might mean choosing grilled Arctic char, because it’s part of a nutritionally and culturally important Inuit fishing economy. (Folks in other parts should source it carefully, since seafood is environmentally complicated.) Among the Maasai Indigenous community in Kenya, it might mean serving enkum, a starchy side dish that uses low-cost veggies, since frequent droughts and social unrest make food prices high. The chapters stress communities’ ability to feed themselves healthily, on their own terms, regardless of what climate disruptions may come or what industrial food supply chains may peddle. 

The U.N. cookbook raises an important idea: that there won’t be one sustainable diet around the world, but many. Still, the mix of considerations it tosses into the pan — water scarcity, nutrition, food sovereignty, biodiversity, pollution — might leave home cooks slightly overwhelmed. You might shut the book, stomach rumbling, and wonder: OK, well, what should I make for dinner if I care about people and the planet?

Illustration of a spatula, wind turbine and whisk
Mia Torres / Grist

Coming up with recipes for the planet’s well-being involves a number of considerations. How do you come up with a climate cooking philosophy that’s scientifically rigorous and approachable? What do you do about regionality — the fact that some things, like tomatoes, can be grown sustainably in one part of the world, but might require a greenhouse to grow elsewhere? And how do you handle the climate-offender-in-chief — meat?

Most of the climate cookbook authors mentioned above allow for diets that include animal products. They generally don’t want to turn off omnivores, but the overtures they make to meat-eating vary. Hunt’s cookbook Eating for Pleasure, People, and Planet is plant-based, but he includes advice on sourcing meat and fish sustainably for those who do indulge. The U.N. cookbook opted to include some meat recipes, like a South African beef dish called bobotie that could counter childhood malnutrition. Cruz, who compiled the cookbook, is vegetarian; she just doesn’t like the taste of meat. But, she explains, “if I’m putting my personal views aside, some cultures do need to eat meat to sustain themselves.”

a small casserole pan filled with meat, egg, and leaves
Bobotie is a homey dish of curried, spiced meat and fruit topped with an egg custard. Getty Images

More complicated is picking an ingredient list that will be sustainable for everyone who might use the cookbook, regardless of geography, culture, or socioeconomic status. Amy Trubek, a professor in the department of nutrition and food sciences at the University of Vermont, thinks this is one of the biggest challenges climate cookbook authors will face. 

“The glossy cookbook genre now, it’s a hard situation in a way,” she said, “because they’re supposed to be pitching it to any middle- or upper-middle-class consumer anywhere in the United States, and they could be living in a penthouse apartment in Chicago, or they could be living in a ranch in New Mexico. So how do you teach about [sustainable eating] without thinking about specificity and regionality?” 

Cookbook authors have a few options. They could write a regionally specific cookbook, or a mass-market one starring ingredients that grow sustainably in lots of places (as One did). Or they could write a cookbook that samples vast biodiversity at some cost to sourceability — that’s the approach the U.N. cookbook took.

“There are many cookbooks that could … have 90 percent of the recipes be part of your staple at home,” Cruz said. “But that serves a different purpose.” The U.N. cookbook is instead “almost a launching point into everyone’s own culinary exploration and everyone’s own culinary journey.” 

That exploratory emphasis — embodied not just in the recipes but in accompanying carbon and nutrition calculations and in principles that offer starting points rather than answers — puts it at one end of the spectrum in the balance these authors strike between nuance and approachability, science and art. As Cruz put it, “What we wanted to create was sort of a textbook in disguise.” 

a stand mixer with whipped meringue and blood oranges in a bowl on the side
A meringue recipe from “Eating for Pleasure, People, and Planet” that stars whipped aquafaba — chickpea water — an ingredient that usually gets dumped down the drain.
Caroline Saunders
a recipe book for aquafaba meringues
The recipe helps prevent food waste, and introduces readers to a plant-based substitute for egg whites.
Caroline Saunders

One, on the other hand, was always meant to make people pull out a cutting board. Jones includes no small measure of environmental nuance — she tucks articles on issues like soil health and ethical sourcing between her recipe chapters — but her recipes themselves don’t ask the cook to do anything other than make weeknight meals with supermarket ingredients. “I could have foraged for sea buckthorn and written a chapter on sea asparagus,” she laughs, “and I would love for everyone to be foraging. But that’s not the reality … I wanted to write a sustainable cookbook, but I also wanted to write a cookbook filled with recipes people could make.”

No matter the topic, writing a cookbook is a big undertaking. Authors develop 100 or more recipes, typically handing them off to recipe testers in batches to poke, prod, and polish to infallibility. And while roughly 20 million cookbooks are sold in the U.S. each year, the field is ever more crowded, so it’s harder to stand out. 

For now, the climate cookbooks shelf is still tiny, and it’s hard to know which ones readers might be most tempted to pick up — let alone which, if any, might actually create meaningful shifts in what and how we eat.

“People buy cookbooks for myriad reasons,” wrote Matt Sartwell, the managing partner of Kitchen Arts & Letters, in an email to Grist. “But if there is anything that people will pay for — recipes and information being free and abundant on the internet — it’s a clear point of view and the promise that an author has given a subject very serious thought.” 

One: Pot, Pan, Planet is Jones’ best-selling cookbook to date, despite the fact that leaning into sustainability “felt like a bit of a risk,” she said. 

She has a hunch about why it’s been popular. “People want to try and make a difference,” she said. “I think it felt comforting for people to have a book full of recipes that it felt OK to eat.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Will climate cookbooks change how we eat? on Nov 20, 2023.

Source: Grist, a beacon in the smog,an independent news outlet and network of innovators working toward a planet that doesn’t burn and a future that doesn’t suck

WordPress Is My Ball And Chain

WordPress Is My Ball And Chain

WordPress, and its inclusive community, led me down a path of redemption and acceptance.

Here is Justin’s story read aloud by artificial intelligence.

This month marks the 22nd anniversary of the terrorist attacked on the World Trade Center in the United States. I can still remember exactly where I was that morning, as I had an argument with my girlfriend the night before, and was sleeping on the couch of someone with whom I used drugs.

It had only been four months since graduating high school, but I was already an addict. As a matter of fact, I was using drugs heavily at the end of my senior year, and the first summer after high school is when my life really started to spiral out of control.

By the end of 2001 I was selling any drug I could get my hands on to make some money and feed my addiction (except heroin — that is always were I drew the line). Within a couple years I was the goto person for many substances, but primarily methamphetamine.

Then I got caught, arrested, and thrown in jail. The prosecutor wanted to throw the book at me, recommending a 15 year sentence. But with my family supporting me in the courtroom and my lawyer fighting for me, the judge recognized that with this support, I did not deserve the full 15, and gave me 7 years, with 8 years probation instead. With good behavior, I did just under 3 years in prison.

While in prison, I focused on my restoration. Learning new things, studying for certification in motor vehicle mechanics, and even starting work with accredited college courses funded by my tribe (Comanche Nation).

I knew I had let down my family, and had something to prove.

Through it all, my addiction, prison, and restoration, my family was always there for me. They knew the real me, not the person addicted to drugs and not the dealer feeding his addiction by providing for other addicts. That’s the person I know I needed to be again, for both myself and for them.

Right after my release in January 2008, I immediately started working in a warehouse and attending college. At the company where I worked, the CEO gave me some excellent advice that I needed to control my narrative on the web (e.g. Google), so I built my first website using WordPress.


At a young age, I was always fascinated by technology. I remember dabbling with computers in grade school, and tinkering on the internet in my teens. While I never did any kind of coding back then, the marketing aspect of web technologies did pique my interest. Then, drugs pulled me away from all that and sent me down a different path.

When I found WordPress around April of 2008, all of that excitement started to come back. I would work my warehouse job during the day, drive to University of Central Oklahoma in the evening for a couple of college courses, then play around with WordPress themes (HTML, CSS, and some PHP) well into the night all that summer.

This was the beginning of my love for WordPress. I was instantly addicted, and simply could not put down my computer, often getting little sleep before the next day (that’s okay, I was in my early 20s 😉 ).

By late 2010, I was taking on WordPress side projects, building websites, and even making online tutorials about WordPress. All this despite still working in the warehouse and taking night courses at college.

In 2011, my work caught the eye of Cory Miller, who I had previously met at a marketing event in Oklahoma City. Cory owned and operated iThemes, a WordPress theme and plugin product company based out of Edmond Oklahoma. Although I was still working in the warehouse and taking college courses, Cory offered me a job working at iThemes as a web developer for WordPress themes and plugins. My major in college was marketing, and I still has a few more courses to complete before graduating, but I took the offer anyway and little did I know it was the beginning of a career in software development that led me where I am today.

And Then WordCamp…

My first WordCamp to both attend and speak was Fayetteville in 2011. That’s actually when I first met Josepha Haden Chomphosy (along with her mother and sister too). Of course, we went different ways in life but it is a marker that I like to remember as it helps me understand the different paths each of us take in this world. While I only spoke at a few other WordCamps, I attended many more over the years. The WordPress community, and its inclusiveness, was simply impossible for me to ignore.

I know my experiences are different, and to understand this I also have to mention that I joined a few other communities through the years, but none ever fully accepted me, and one even did not let me keep coming when they found out I was a former convict.

Although most people in the WordPress community never knew about my past, I never felt they would kick me out even if they did find out. Actually, I felt the community leaders honestly didn’t care at all about your past, culture, identity, etc., but rather just wanted you to love (or at least like) WordPress.

And I did love WordPress. Still do.

Redemption and Acceptance

WordPress unexpectedly led me down a path of redemption and acceptance. For a long time I was angry at the world (especially corporate America) for not accepting me, and in those times of anger I would seek out WordPress people. No one even knew, but they were helping me nonetheless, always there when I needed, always a shiny light in the darkness.

I’ve traveled the world with WordPress. Making WordPress friends in Asia, Australia, Europe, North & South America and beyond. I love the WordPress community, and want to continue watching it flourish and grow. Every time I visit a WordCamp, I get to make new friends, see new faces, and meet awesome people of WordPress. I was able to build meaningful business and personal relationships, joining WordPress communities, attending and hosting WordPress events, and even speaking at several WordCamps across the World.

Most of the WordPress companies for which I have worked had such amazing leaders, knowing about my past yet still giving me the opportunity to continue to demonstrate my new self. Two of which deserve an honorable mention: Cory Miller of Post Status (formerly iThemes) and Jake Goldman of 10up. Both of these leaders embraced me wholly, and the things Jake said to when I mentioned my criminal past before my background check continue to give me confidence in knowing there are amazing leaders working in WordPress.

The WordPress Community has proven itself to be more than just a platform for a tool. In my personal journey, I discovered that it represents a beacon of hope, a testament to what can be achieved when diverse minds come together under the banner of openness and collaboration.

Albeit unknowingly, this community handed me a new lease on life, providing me with opportunities to learn, grow, and reinvent myself.

Its core values of openness and inclusiveness aren’t just buzzwords but are deeply rooted in the ethos of every member who contributes, either by writing code, designing themes, or even just by sharing experiences. It’s a reminder that every individual, irrespective of their background or skillset, has the potential to add value to this thriving ecosystem. As beneficiaries of this incredible community, it falls upon us to ensure that we not only appreciate these values but also embody them. We must commit to fostering an environment where every decision we make, every action we undertake, further deepens the culture of inclusivity and collaboration.

Thank you WordPress, and the WordPress Community. ❤

The post WordPress Is My Ball And Chain appeared first on HeroPress.

Source: HeroPress, publishing essays from people who overcome barriers

What is zero-based budgeting?

Zero-Based Budgeting (ZBB) is like solving a financial puzzle. Instead of relying on the previous year’s budget, ZBB requires you to evaluate and justify every expense from the ground up, justifying its necessity and alignment with strategic goals. It’s like starting with a blank canvas and carefully selecting each budget item based on its value and contribution to your financial objectives. This approach ensures that every piece of your budget fits together harmoniously to create a clear and purposeful financial picture.In…Source: IBM Blockchain

Manifesting Our Life – Manifestare la nostra vita

Manifesting Our Life – Manifestare la nostra vita

Questo saggio è disponibile anche in italiano. Every morning from Monday to Friday, when I open up my laptop to start my working day, I smile. Every single day. Multiple times per week, I take a moment to acknowledge the gratitude I feel for living my dream life. I’ve always been an optimistic person, and…
The post Manifesting Our Life – Manifestare la nostra vita appeared first on HeroPress.Source: HeroPress, publishing essays from people who overcome barriers…

‘nature Rinsing’: How Polluters Use The Beauty Of Nature To Clean Up Their Image

‘Nature-rinsing’: How polluters use the beauty of nature to clean up their image

Ever wonder why ads show SUVs dashing through the forest?Source: Grist, a beacon in the smog,an independent news outlet and network of innovators working toward a planet that doesn’t burn and a future that doesn’t suck…

Drake’s Private Jet Shows The Climate Impact Of The Influencer Economy

Drake’s private jet shows the climate impact of the influencer economy

The rapper’s Boeing 767 was a gift from a Canadian cargo airline. Source: Grist, a beacon in the smog,an independent news outlet and network of innovators working toward a planet that doesn’t burn and a future that doesn’t suck…

Great Medical Devices Require High-Functioning Supply Chains

Recalls for failure are chronic in the medical device industry. The sources of those failures could originate anywhere in the supply chain. Fixing supply chain issues is ultimately the responsibility of the instrument’s maker.
The post Great Medical Devices Require High-Functioning Supply Chains appeared first on MedTech Intelligence. Source: MedTech Intelligence…

On a Mission to Innovate

Innovation requires the space for failure and continuous improvement.
The post On a Mission to Innovate appeared first on MedTech Intelligence. Source: MedTech Intelligence…