America's Fastest-Growing State Might Surprise You

iStock
iStock

If you want an idea of which U.S. states are up-and-coming, population growth is a good indicator. Climate, housing costs, and job economy are all factors that might influence domestic migration, but the states that see the biggest population boosts in any given year aren’t always easy to predict. As Thrillist reports, the fastest-growing state in the U.S. is Idaho with a recent population boost of 2.2 percent in a single year.

That number comes from data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau between July 1, 2016 and July 1, 2017. The state with the second highest growth rate was Nevada, with a 2 percent population spike, followed by Utah with 1.9 percent, Washington state with 1.7, and Florida with 1.6. But state-to-state migration wasn’t always the driving factor. Though that was the case for Idaho and Nevada, Utah owes its population growth to a birthrate that outpaced its death rate.

Percentage growth isn’t the same as numeric growth: In terms of pure numbers, Texas, Florida, and California saw the largest population increases—though those three states also happen to be the three most populous states in the U.S. to begin with.

According to the Census Bureau, the overall U.S. population rose by 2.3 million people or 0.72 percent during the time the data was sampled. But despite the nationwide growth, some states actually saw their numbers drop. Mississippi, Hawaii, Alaska, Illinois, West Virginia, and Wyoming were the eight states impacted by population declines. To see which states are welcoming the most new residents and which are seeing their populations dwindle, check out the Census Bureau map below.

Idaho in Nation's Fastest-Growing State

[h/t Thrillist]

10 Reusable Gifts for Your Eco-Friendliest Friend

Disposable tea bags can't compete with this pla-tea-pus and his friends.
Disposable tea bags can't compete with this pla-tea-pus and his friends.
DecorChic/Amazon

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By this point, your eco-friendly pal probably has a reusable water bottle that accompanies them everywhere and some sturdy grocery totes that keep their plastic-bag count below par. Here are 10 other sustainable gift ideas that’ll help them in their conservation efforts.

1. Reusable Produce Bags; $13

No more staticky plastic bags.Naturally Sensible/Amazon

The complimentary plastic produce bags in grocery stores aren’t great, but neither is having all your spherical fruits and vegetables roll pell-mell down the checkout conveyor belt. Enter the perfect alternative: mesh bags that are nylon, lightweight, and even machine-washable.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Animal Tea Infusers; $16

Nothing like afternoon tea with your tiny animal friends.DecorChic/Amazon

Saying goodbye to disposable tea bags calls for a quality tea diffuser, and there’s really no reason why it shouldn’t be shaped like an adorable animal. This “ParTEA Pack” includes a hippo, platypus, otter, cat, and owl, which can all hang over the edge of a glass or mug. (In other words, you won’t have to fish them out with your fingers or dirty a spoon when your loose leaf is done steeping.)

Buy it: Amazon

3. Rocketbook Smart Notebook; $25

Typing your notes on a tablet or laptop might save trees, but it doesn’t quite capture the feeling of writing on paper with a regular pen. The Rocketbook, on the other hand, does. After you’re finished filling a page with sketches, musings, or whatever else, you scan it into the Rocketbook app with your smartphone, wipe it clean with the microfiber cloth, and start again. This one also comes with a compatible pen, but any PILOT FriXion pens will do.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Food Huggers; $13

"I'm a hugger!"Food Huggers/Amazon

It’s hard to compete with the convenience of plastic wrap or tin foil when it comes to covering the exposed end of a piece of produce or an open tin can—and keeping those leftovers in food storage containers can take up valuable space in the fridge. This set of five silicone Food Huggers stretch to fit over a wide range of circular goods, from a lidless jar to half a lemon.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Swiffer Mop Pads; $15

For floors that'll shine like the top of the Chrysler Building.Turbo Microfiber/Amazon

Swiffers may be much less unwieldy than regular mops, but the disposable pads present a problem to anyone who likes to keep their trash output to a minimum. These machine-washable pads fasten to the bottom of any Swiffer WetJet, and the thick microfiber will trap dirt and dust instead of pushing it into corners. Each pad lasts for at least 100 uses, so you’d be saving your eco-friendly friend quite a bit of money, too.

Buy it: Amazon

6. SodaStream for Sparkling Water; $69

A fondness for fizzy over flat water doesn’t have to mean buying it bottled. Not only does the SodaStream let you make seltzer at home, but it’s also small enough that it won’t take up too much precious counter space. SodaStream also sells flavor drops to give your home-brewed beverage even more flair—this pack from Amazon ($25) includes mango, orange, raspberry, lemon, and lime.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Washable Lint Roller; $13

Roller dirty.iLifeTech/Amazon

There’s a good chance that anyone with a pet (or just an intense dislike for lint) has lint-rolled their way through countless sticky sheets. iLifeTech’s reusable roller boasts “the power of glue,” which doesn’t wear off even after you’ve washed it. Each one also comes with a 3-inch travel-sized version, so you can stay fuzz-free on the go.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Countertop Compost Bin; $23

Like a tiny Tin Man for your table.Epica/Amazon

Even if you keep a compost pile in your own backyard, it doesn’t make sense to dash outside every time you need to dump a food scrap. A countertop compost bin can come in handy, especially if it kills odors and blends in with your decor. This 1.3-gallon pail does both. It’s made of stainless steel—which matches just about everything—and contains an activated-charcoal filter that prevents rancid peels and juices from stinking up your kitchen.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Fabric-Softening Dryer Balls; $17

Also great for learning how to juggle without breaking anything.Smart Sheep

Nobody likes starchy, scratchy clothes, but some people might like blowing through bottles of fabric softener and boxes of dryer sheets even less. Smart Sheep is here to offer a solution: wool dryer balls. Not only do they last for more than 1000 loads, they also dry your laundry faster. And since they don’t contain any chemicals, fragrances, or synthetic materials, they’re a doubly great option for people with allergies and/or sensitive skin.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Rechargeable Batteries; $40

Say goodbye to loose batteries in your junk drawer.eneloop/Amazon

While plenty of devices are rechargeable themselves, others still require batteries to buzz, whir, and change the TV channel—so it’s good to have some rechargeable batteries on hand. In addition to AA batteries, AAA batteries, and a charger, this case from Panasonic comes with tiny canisters that function as C and D batteries when you slip the smaller batteries into them.

Buy it: Amazon

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The Countries That Pay the Most and the Least for LEGOs

 NeONBRAND, Unsplash
NeONBRAND, Unsplash

LEGOs—the interlocking toy bricks used to build everything from mini skyscrapers to movie sets—are enjoyed by kids and kids at heart around the world. But just how much it costs to bring a LEGO set home depends on where the builder lives. To see which countries pay the most and least for their LEGOs, check out this map.

The toy review site The Toy Zone compared LEGO prices in different markets through Google Shopping to determine how much people pay for their LEGOs worldwide. Though LEGOs sold in Asia are made from the same plastic as LEGOs in South America, their prices vary wildly.

The Toy Zone found that the most expensive LEGO products on Earth are found in Ecuador, where popular sets sell for an average of $672. In Hong Kong, the best-selling sets on the market cost just $111, making it the most affordable place in the world to indulge your LEGO habit. The U.S. is also on the cheaper side of the map, with popular LEGO sets there selling for $129 on average. In Denmark, where LEGO is headquartered, sets are even cheaper at $115, but still not as cheap as they are in Hong Kong. You can see the full price breakdown of the global LEGO market in the graphic below.

The Toy Zone's analysis only looked at the top LEGO sets in each country, but some collectors' sets exceed the prices shown here. These are some of the most valuable LEGO sets ever sold.

The Toy Zone