Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Jun 15, 2022 in Stuff You Should Know

Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

The world’s most used natural resource is water. Can you guess the second-most-used resource? It’s not coal or trees: it’s sand. Every year, the world uses fifty billion tons of silica sand. (That’s enough sand to build a wall more than 88 feet high and 88 feet wide around the entire Earth!) Did you know, however, that the world can run out of sand? The United Nations recently warned of an upcoming global crisis if the mining of sand continues at the current rate. In the United States, sand mining is regulated. But that’s not true all over the world. In some places, so much sand has been stripped from beaches that there is nothing but hollowed-out rock where the beach used to be. Combined with climate change and increasing erosion, this unregulated mining could cause significant environmental consequences.  

One company in New Orleans, Louisiana, called Glass Half Full, has a possible solution. The company takes everyday household glass items–such as bottles and jars–and crushes them down to make sand. Currently, Glass Half Full crushes about two tons of glass per hour, and the sand created there stays local. It is used to fill sandbags for disaster relief and to help rebuild and restore the coastline. This is especially important in Louisiana, which loses the equivalent of a football field’s worth of sand to erosion every 100 minutes. Glass Half Full hopes to multiply its crushing load in the coming years, and maybe even expand its business nationwide as the need for sand increases. 

Dig Deeper Use Internet resources to find and list at least five important uses for sand.


Social media can help you stay in touch with friends and family, find out about events, and read the daily news. But too much social media can also have harmful effects on a person’s self-image. A 2019 study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that teens who spend more than three hours a day using social media have an increased risk of mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. 

teenager boy sits at table and holds smartphone in his hand
A new social media app tries to fight the psychological effects of comparison.

A new social media app called BeReal strives to reduce the dangers of social media. The theory behind BeReal is that people on social media do not present their real selves and that too much time on social media is harmful. The BeReal app limits your usage to only once a day. The app also limits how you can interact on it. The app prompts you to take and post a selfie. You only have two minutes to do it, and there are no filters. The hope is that this will create more realistic images—for instance, someone just sitting on the couch or doing your homework. A BeReal member can see their friends’ photos, but no one can “like” or share them. There are no advertisements. Users also can’t see how many friends or followers other people have. The goal is to create a more authentic, “unfiltered” social media experience, to minimize social comparisons. 

What Do You Think? Would you try a social media app like BeReal? Why or why not? 

The Costs of Inflation

Inflation has been an important news topic in recent weeks. It is unusually high right now and it is negatively affecting the economy. Inflation describes the economic conditions when the prices of goods and services are rapidly rising. When inflation is causing prices to rise, the value of each dollar decreases. In other words, inflation causes your purchasing power to decline. 

For example, the price of chicken has gone up 16.4 percent this year. The average national price of gas is currently $5.00 per gallon. This is compared to the average price of $3.08 per gallon one year ago. To continue to buy their weekly groceries and run their routine errands, inflation forces people to cut back on other purchases. Or maybe they buy fewer groceries or limit their travel.  

The United States is seeing its fastest rate of inflation in more than forty years. But why? Inflation can be caused by a lot of things. One possible cause is demand: the more people want a particular good or service, the more expensive it becomes.  

A second possible cause is limited supply. World events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine have caused breakdowns in global supply chains. This means that fewer goods are reaching stores and consumers. And this raises the prices of what is in stores now. 

A third possible cause for inflation is increased government spending and an increase in the money supply. Both President Trump and President Biden increased spending to help maintain the economy during the COVID pandemic. This increased the total amount of money circulating in the economy. But it also decreased the value of that money.

Economists and politicians debate the best way to tackle inflation. For example, on June 15, 2022, the Federal Reserve set the nation’s interest rate for borrowing money to its highest level in 25 years. This is meant to reduce the amount of money circulating in the economy and slow inflation.

Dig Deeper Talk to your parents about the family’s weekly or monthly expenses. Ask them how rising prices have affected their purchasing.