In the opening pages of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Earth is destroyed. Now if that doesn't scream 2020 so far, what does?

In Douglas Adams's 1979 novel, which premiered as a radio series on BBC Radio4 in 1978 (42 years ago—but more about the significance of that number later), Earth is suddenly blown up in order to make room for an intergalactic superhighway. Now, in a year that has—after only 3 months, people—given us a contentious, confusing democratic primary, the death of Kobe Bryant, new and worsening facts about our climate and habitat at large, appalling leadership, and of course the rapid spread of and global shutdowns by the coronavirus (COVID-19), it seems impossible to turn to any source for comfort.

Enter The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: a novel that starts with the global annihilation that we might be heading for and then follows the characters as they cope with new realities, with isolation and loss, an endless information source that brings with it endless anxiety, and an egomaniacal, arrogant, selfish, attention-craving president of the galaxy.

A quick synopsis for those who haven't read the novel (go read it): Arthur Dent is quickly saved by his buddy, Ford Prefect, right before Earth is destroyed. Turns out, Prefect is actually an alien and a researcher for a book called The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a book that strongly resembles the Internet: an endless source of material for everything you need to know. Under Prefect's guidance, they are able to jump onto the Vogon ship (bureaucratic alien species) that is about to demolish earth.Eventually they are thrown off the ship and catch a ride on the stolen Heart of Gold, which is being piloted by the renegade president of the galaxy named Zaphod Beeblebrox (who very much resembles Donald Trump), a depressed robot named Marvin, and a very bland, devoid of personality half-human named Trillion. They hitchhike with this crew as they embark on a journey towards Deep Thought, a computer system that has the answer to the "ultimate question to life, the universe, and everything."

So how will this book help those struggling with the current madness that is 2020 so far? Let's start with the guide itself, the thing the novel is named after. It's given to the main character–the sheepish, timid, not so confident Arthur Dent–who's stuck alone, with nowhere to go, in a confusing and upsetting time. The only thing Dent has to turn to is a super computer-like device that holds all known information–for better or for worse. Does this sound like being quarantined in your house with only the Internet to keep you company, to confuse and upset you?

The way Adams describes the Guide is like this: "The reason why it was published in the form of a micro sub meson electronic component is that if it were printed in normal book form, an interstellar hitchhiker would require several inconveniently large buildings to carry it around in." So yeah, it's just the Internet.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005) Trailer # 1 - Martin Freeman HD youtu.be

Next, let's look at maybe the most glaring, unsetting similarity with the novel and today: the president. In HHGTTG, the president of the galaxy is a two-headed, three-armed, egomaniac who before becoming president was famous just for being famous; he was made president just to distract the citizens of the galaxy. Adams even describes him as an "adventurer, ex-hippie, good-timer, (crook? quite possibly), manic self-publicist, terribly bad at personal relationships, often thought to be completely out to lunch." Later on in the novel, he writes: "[He's] pretending to be stupid just to get people off their guard, pretending to be stupid because he couldn't be bothered to think and wanted someone else to do it for him, pretending to be outrageously stupid to hide the fact that he actually didn't understand what was going on, and really being genuinely stupid. He was renowned for being amazingly clever and quite clearly was so—but not all the time, which obviously worried him, hence the act. He preferred people to be puzzled rather than contemptuous."

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New Eco-friendly Phone, Who Dis?

I found the easiest way to be more sustainable.

Every January 1st, I pick a new word to define my year; 2020 is "sustainability." I want to reduce my plastic consumption and carbon footprint, but I was already in trouble when my phone broke. Just straight up died at the beginning of the year.

I didn't want to buy anything unnecessary, but a phone is a need these days. I was available for an upgrade, so I got a different size, which also meant a new plastic case, which would be a double whammy.

I was browsing cases online, and they were all cute, but it bugged me so much that I was contributing to the piles of plastic filling up our oceans. Even eco-friendly cork cases have plastic, and wood cases sometimes have a chemical finish.

I know a girl who works on sustainability for a major brand, so I asked if she had any recommendations, and she told me she's a Pela convert.

I looked them up, and this company is downright amazing; they created a new material called Flaxstic® - it's a plant-based blend of bioplastic elastomer and flax straw materials that's 100% compostable and plastic-free!

They're also a member of One Percent for the Planet, so they donate at least 1% of sales to non-profit environmental organizations.

This seemed like a company I'd actually feel great supporting.

On their website, you can browse by phone size, so I looked at the choices for my recent buy.

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There are all different colors and designs, and many of them actually show the animals and causes that Pela's trying to save - sea turtles, bees, sharks, whales, penguins, and more.

There were classic colors and other designs, but I was drawn to the yellow honeycomb case with bees. It was so sunny and pretty, it made me feel hopeful about the environment instead of cynical.

The cases are pretty slim, but they claim the cases absorb shock, so they bounce when they drop. They're not impact cases, but they have a 100% Happiness Guarantee for your first 90 days. If I felt the material was chintzy, I could just send it back.

I ordered my case and barely used my phone while waiting, panicking that I'd break it before the case arrived. Thankfully, my Pela came quickly with a note thanking me for my contribution! There was also zero plastic in the packaging! I hadn't even thought to look that up, but I will now for anything I purchase.

I do compost, but I also found out from Pela that if I got a new phone in a different size before I was done with the case, I could send it back to Pela and get a new case for 20% off!

The sunshine color of my case was so pretty, and you could see the flecks of the flax straw! I liked having a one-of-a-kind case. For the price, it was so durable, such high quality, and when I popped my phone in, super secure!

Now that I've had it for a while, I'm bringing the mirror selfie back. I also dropped my phone while biking to work (yay sustainability!), and it didn't smash, so it's staying with me.

So listen, I didn't stop climate change from buying a phone case. In fact, I still bought a new thing instead of thrifting. But one less piece of plastic in a landfill (or the ocean) is still a really big deal. If everyone made the switch to Pela, we'd combat plastic production and consumption at an amazing rate.

I'm so inspired by Pela, and I'm in love with my phone case, too! Check them out!

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