33 Healthy Office Snacks to Keep You Energized and Productive
Still, coming up with ideas for snacks that are easy to prep, healthy, and portable can be difficult.
Here are 33 simple and healthy snacks for work.
1. Nuts and Dried Fruit
Nuts and dried fruit make for a healthy, non-perishable snack mix.
This filling combo has a good balance of all three macronutrients, with healthy fats and protein from nuts and carbs from dried fruit. What's more, both foods are loaded with fiber that can help keep you full between meals (1, 2 Trusted Source).
2. Bell Peppers and Guacamole
Guacamole is a delicious dip typically made from avocados, lime, onion, and cilantro. It goes great with bell pepper slices or other raw veggies.
3. Brown Rice Cakes and Avocado
Be sure to look for rice cakes that are made with only rice and salt and don't have unnecessary ingredients.
4. Roasted Chickpeas
Roasted chickpeas are a non-perishable snack that's high in protein, fiber, and several vitamins and minerals.
A 1/2 cup (125 grams) of chickpeas has 5 grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein. What's more, they contain most of the amino acids your body needs, so their protein is considered to be of higher quality than that of other legumes (7, 8 Trusted Source).
To make roasted chickpeas, drain a can of chickpeas and pat dry. Toss them in olive oil, sea salt, and seasonings of your choice, and bake on a lined baking sheet at 350℉ (180℃) for 40 minutes.
5. Tuna Pouches
Vacuum-sealed tuna pouches are convenient snacks that don't need to be drained and can be stored and eaten at work.
6. Apples and Peanut Butter
Apple slices with natural peanut butter make for a delicious, satisfying snack.
Peanut butter contributes protein and healthy fats, while apples are high in fiber and water, making them particularly filling. In fact, 1 medium apple (182 grams) is over 85% water and has more than 4 grams of fiber (12).
Jerky is a shelf-stable, high-protein snack that can satisfy your hunger during the workday.
One ounce (28 grams) of beef jerky has 8 grams of protein for only 70 calories. What's more, it's rich in iron, an important mineral for maintaining blood health and energy levels (13, 14 Trusted Source).
Look for jerky that is uncured, low in sodium, and made from few ingredients. You can also find turkey, chicken, and salmon jerky if you don't eat red meat.
8. Homemade Granola
Granola keeps well in your desk drawer for a quick snack.
As most store-bought varieties are high in added sugars and contain unhealthy vegetable oils that may increase inflammation in your body, it's best to make your own (15 Trusted Source).
Simply combine rolled oats, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, and cashews in a mixture of melted coconut oil and honey, spread the mix out on a lined baking sheet, and bake for about 40 minutes at low heat.
This combination is wholesome, balanced, and rich in complex carbs, fiber, and healthy fats. Plus, the soluble fiber in oats may help lower cholesterol levels and improve heart health (16 Trusted Source).
9. Greek Yogurt
Plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt is a convenient work snack that's higher in protein than regular yogurt.
A 6-ounce (170-gram) container of plain, low-fat Greek yogurt has 17 grams of protein for only 140 calories. Plus, it's loaded with calcium, a mineral that's important for strong bones and teeth (17, 18 Trusted Source).
To make this treat even more tasty and filling, add healthy fruit and nuts.
Edamame are immature soybeans that can be enjoyed steamed, cooked, or dried.
They're loaded with high-quality, plant-based protein. In fact, studies show that the protein in soy is just as satisfying as beef protein and may aid appetite control and weight loss (19 Trusted Source, 20 Trusted Source).
Popcorn is a nutritious and satisfying snack for work that's high in fiber and low in calories. Two cups (16 grams) of air-popped popcorn provide 62 calories, 12 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber, and several vitamins and minerals (21).
12. Cottage Cheese and Fruit
Protein-rich cottage cheese and fruit is a healthy snack that's perfect for work. It's low in calories but loaded with nutrients. A 1/2 cup (113 grams) of low-fat cottage cheese has 12 grams of protein and 10% of the DV for calcium for only 80 calories (24).
You can bring pre-portioned servings of cottage cheese to work and top it with a fruit, such as sliced berries, and a healthy fat source like pumpkin seeds.
13. Baked Veggie Chip
Baked or dehydrated veggie chips are a wholesome, shelf-stable snack. However, some store-bought varieties are made with vegetable oils, such as canola or soybean oil, and contain unnecessary additives.
Making your own veggie chips allows you to control the ingredients you use.
Thinly slice sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, zucchini, or radishes and brush them with a small amount of olive oil. Bake on a lined baking sheet at 225℉ (110℃) for approximately 2 hours.
14. Ants on a Log
Ants on a log are a healthy snack made with celery sticks, peanut butter, and raisins. They contain healthy fats, protein, and slow-burning carbs and fiber that can provide a boost of energy for your workday (25, 26, 27).
What's more, celery is mostly water, which makes it particularly filling for a low-calorie food (25).
15. Homemade Energy Balls
Energy balls are typically made from oats, nut butter, a sweetener, and other add-ins like dried fruit and coconut.
To make your own, combine 1 cup (80 grams) of rolled oats with 1/2 cup (128 grams) of peanut butter, 2 tablespoons (14 grams) of ground flax seeds, 1/4 cup (85 grams) of honey, and 1/4 cup (45 grams) of dark chocolate chips.
Roll spoonfuls of the mix into bite-sized balls and enjoy as a treat throughout your workday.
You can find many other energy ball recipes online or in specialized books.
16. Oatmeal Packets
Keeping plain, unsweetened oatmeal packets on hand at work is a great way to stay prepared with healthy snacks.
17. Carrots and Hummus
Hummus is a delicious dip made from chickpeas, tahini, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice that goes great with carrots.
Eating foods with beta carotene can help boost immunity and promote optimal vision and eye health (33).
18. Dark-Chocolate-Covered Nuts
Dark-chocolate-covered nuts are a nutritious, sweet treat that you can enjoy at the office.
Plus, nuts contribute protein and healthy fats that can help fill you up (35).
Look for brands that don't contain added sugars and use dark chocolate with at least 50% total cocoa content, as it has more antioxidants than other varieties (34 Trusted Source).
19. Reheatable Egg Muffins
Egg muffins made from beaten eggs, veggies, and cheese are a healthy, on-the-go food.
To make your own egg muffins, combine beaten raw eggs with chopped veggies and shredded cheese. Pour the mixture into greased muffin tins and bake at 375℉ (190℃) for 15–20 minutes.
To reheat an egg muffin at work, place it in the microwave for 60–90 seconds or until it's warmed through.
20. Clementines and Almonds
Clementines and almonds are two healthy foods that you can easily eat at work for a mid-afternoon snack.
21. String Cheese
String cheese is a convenient snack full of beneficial nutrients.
One string cheese (28 grams) has 80 calories, 6 grams of protein, and 15% of the DV for calcium. Eating low-calorie foods that are high in protein can help fill you up, decrease overall calorie intake, and aid weight loss (41, 42 Trusted Source).
22. Spiced Cashews
Spiced cashews make for a highly nutritious snack. They contain heart-healthy fats, as well as vitamins and minerals. What's more, these nuts are rich in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin that are vital for proper eye function (43, 44 Trusted Source).
To make this tasty treat, toss raw cashews in olive oil, cumin, chili powder, and ginger. Spread them on a lined baking sheet and bake in the oven at 325℉ (165℃) for 12–15 minutes.
You can also buy spiced cashews in stores and online. Just be sure to select a variety that uses minimal, natural ingredients.
23. Turkey and Cheese Roll-Ups
Turkey and cheese roll-ups are convenient, high-protein snacks.
Turkey is a rich source of many vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin B6, a nutrient that's essential for energy production. Plus, cheese is loaded with important nutrients, including calcium and vitamin D (45, 46).
24. Smoked Salmon on Whole-Grain Crackers
Smoked salmon is a highly nutritious snack that's rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids that act as powerful anti-inflammatories and may help reduce your risk of conditions, such as heart disease and depression (11 Trusted Source, 47, 48 Trusted Source).
Pair smoked salmon with 100% whole-grain or brown-rice crackers for a healthy, satisfying work snack.
25. Seaweed Snacks
Seaweed snacks are crispy squares sliced from sheets of seaweed that have been dried and seasoned with salt.
They're low in calories and very high in iodine, a mineral that's critical for thyroid health (49 Trusted Source).
You can buy seaweed snacks locally or online. Look for varieties with few ingredients, such as seaweed, olive oil, and salt.
26. Avocado on Sourdough Toast
Avocado on sourdough toast is a healthy snack that you can make at work. Sourdough is made through a fermentation process and may have similar properties to pre- and probiotics (50 Trusted Source).
Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that feed your gut bacteria, whereas probiotics are health-promoting gut bacteria. They work together to promote optimal gut health and digestion (51 Trusted Source).
Adding avocado to sourdough toast contributes additional fiber and healthy fats to make a more filling snack.
27. Hard-Boiled Eggs
Hard-boiled eggs are one of the most convenient and nutritious snacks.
In fact, eggs contain a small amount of almost every nutrient that you need. One large egg (50 grams) packs over 6 grams of protein, in addition to iron, calcium, choline, and vitamins A, B6, B12, and D, among other nutrients (36).
28. Brie and Grapes
Brie cheese and grapes are a tasty snack combo that's easy to prep.
Grapes are high in fiber, potassium, and vitamin B6, while brie is rich in protein, fat, and vitamins A and B12. Eating them together provides a good balance of carbs, proteins, and fats that can help you feel energized and full (52, 53).
29. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Roasted pumpkin seeds are a portable and shelf-stable snack that you can keep at your desk.
Just 1/4 cup (30 grams) of pumpkin seeds has 180 calories, 3 grams of fiber, 15% of the DV for iron and 14 grams of filling fat, most of which is from heart-healthy unsaturated fats. They're also particularly high in the immune-boosting mineral zinc (54, 55 Trusted Source, 56 Trusted Source).
To make roasted pumpkin seeds, toss raw seeds in olive oil and sea salt. Lay them out on a lined baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes at 300℉ (150℃).
30. Frozen Yogurt Bark
Frozen yogurt bark is a refreshing treat made from plain Greek yogurt and fresh fruit, such as blueberries, that you can store in your work freezer.
To make this tasty treat, mix plain Greek yogurt with blueberries or strawberries and spread it on a baking sheet lined with wax or parchment paper. Transfer to the freezer for 30 minutes or until it's cold enough to break into pieces.
31. Green Smoothies
Bringing green smoothies to work is an easy way to enjoy a nutritious snack on the go.
You can make them with spinach, frozen bananas, a scoop of nut butter, protein powder, and either plant-based or cow's milk. This provides a good balance of fiber, protein, and healthy fat, making your smoothie a filling treat (26, 59, 60, 61).
32. Chia Pudding
Chia pudding is usually made with chia seeds, milk, vanilla, fruit, and a sweetener.
Chia seeds are incredibly nutritious and high in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, iron, and calcium. In fact, 2 tablespoons (35 grams) of chia seeds provide over 16% of the DV for calcium and 32% of the DV for fiber (62).
Some studies in humans suggest that adding chia seeds to your breakfast may help increase feelings of fullness and reduce calorie intake, which may aid weight loss (63 Trusted Source).
To make chia pudding, combine 3 tablespoons (40 grams) of chia seeds with 1 cup (240 ml) of milk in a glass jar. Add sliced fruit, pumpkin seeds, a bit of maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Let it sit in the fridge overnight and grab it on your way to work in the morning.
You can buy chia seeds in most supermarkets or online.
33. Homemade Protein Bars
Store-bought protein bars are often loaded with added sugars, though wholesome varieties with limited ingredients are available as well.
If you want complete control over what's in your protein treat, make your own with healthy ingredients like seeds, nuts, nut butters, coconut, and dried fruit.
Add natural sweetness with maple syrup or honey.
You can find countless recipes online and in specialized cookbooks.
The Bottom Line
Having healthy snacks on hand at work is a great way to stay energized and productive.
The wholesome snacks in this list are easy to make, portable, nutritious, and can be stored at your desk or in a work kitchen.
With such tasty options, you can easily stick to a healthy diet at home, at work, and on the go.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
By Dirk Lorenzen
2021 begins as a year of Mars. Although our red planetary neighbor isn't as prominent as it was last autumn, it is still noticeable with its characteristic reddish color in the evening sky until the end of April. In early March, Mars shines close to the star cluster Pleiades in the constellation Taurus.
A Landing Like a James Bond Movie<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTUyOTIwMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3MDU5MDQ2Nn0.aLE-s5r9YhoJs40XbavhUwUXdY97iykXqo0OO0S5eso/img.jpg?width=980" id="19fa1" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c758d3cd0d3e11fbd5290bb95da86396" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="700" data-height="394" />
NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover (shown in artist's illustration) is the most sophisticated rover NASA has ever sent to Mars. Ingenuity, a technology experiment, will be the first aircraft to attempt controlled flight on another planet. Perseverance will arrive at Mars' Jezero Crater with Ingenuity attached to its belly. NASA<p>The highlight of this year's Mars exploration is the landing of the NASA rover "Perseverance" on February 18. Once the spacecraft enters the atmosphere it will be slowed down by friction. The heat shield will surpass 1,000 degrees Celsius. Later, parachutes will deploy to slow it down even more. Roughly two kilometers above the planet's surface, a sky crane comes into play. Four thrusters keep the crane properly oriented.</p><p><span></span>The rover is connected to the crane by nylon tethers. Upon approach of Mars' surface, the sky crane will lower Perseverance down about 7 meters. Once the rover has touched down, the tethers are cut and the sky crane flies off to land somewhere else on the surface.</p><p>Entry, descent and landing takes just seven minutes – the so-called seven minutes of terror. The flight team can't interact with the spacecraft on Mars. Experts have to sit and watch what's happening more than 200 million kilometers away. Radio signals from the spacecraft need about 11 minutes to travel in one direction. When the control center in Pasadena, California receives the message that entry has begun, Perseverance will already be on the ground. There is only one chance for a smooth landing. Any error could mean the mission is lost. The audacious sky crane maneuver would be a great feat in any action movie. But NASA knows how to do it – the Curiosity rover landed with a sky crane in 2012.</p>
Life on Mars?<p>Scientists want to use Perseverance to explore whether there is or ever has been life on Mars. Today the planet is a hostile environment – dry and cold with no magnetic field shielding the harsh radiation from space. Life as we know it can't survive on the Martian surface right now. But billions of years ago, Mars was hotter and wetter and had a shield against radiation. So it is at least plausible that simple microbes developed there. Maybe they live in the soil now, one or two meters below the surface. Perseverance will collect samples to find out. A future mission by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) will pick up the samples and return them to Earth. But this won't happen before 2030.</p>
The Long Wait for James Webb<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTUyOTIxMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2OTM1MDUzNX0.0Jmw-vIz6zuOa7eNsVX2oVzc0L6AFp05cAs4QbzdK6c/img.jpg?width=980" id="9cf3e" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d46a2f73a4a2e32a9775087750c92431" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="700" data-height="394" />
The Hubble Space Telescope has been orbiting the Earth for more than 30 years. NASA<p>The Hubble Space Telescope's images of planets, nebulae, star clusters and galaxies are legendary. The cosmic eye, launched in 1990, is likely to fail towards the end of this decade. The James Webb Space Telescope will be its successor. It is scheduled to launch on October 31 with a European Ariane 5 rocket from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana.</p><p><span></span>The launch date is about 14 years later than planned when the project began in 1997. At almost $10 billion (€8.2 billion), the telescope is more than ten times as expensive as originally conceived. Its namesake James Webb was the NASA administrator during the height of the Apollo project in the 1960s.</p><p>Astronomers expect completely new insights from James Webb Telescope images, such as how the universe came into being, how it developed and how galaxies, stars and planets are formed. The instrument will observe the earliest childhood of the cosmos and photograph objects that already existed in the universe 200 to 300 million years after the Big Bang. James Webb, as the experts call the telescope for short, may even provide information about possibly inhabited exoplanets – planets like ours orbiting stars other than the Sun. </p>
A Sensitive German Camera<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTUyOTIxNS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxOTE0MzY3Mn0.o3aPaW5t0MFkEgeJl0HQ1V9lz6WDxKVGXyYWvpfoYyk/img.jpg?width=980" id="6ff49" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="187458ae2291c2aeb3bd36bc1ed777e0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="985" data-height="657" />
The fully assembled James Webb Space Telescope with its sunshield and unitized pallet structures that will fold up around the telescope for launch. NASA<p>The mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope is 6.5 meters in diameter and consists of 18 hexagonal segments. The entire instrument unfolds in 178 steps over a period of several months. Only then – probably in the spring of 2022 – will we see its first images.</p><p>Many communication or reconnaissance satellites only unfold in space. However, not every micrometer is as important as with this telescope. </p><p>NIRSpec, one of the four cameras on board, was built at Airbus in Ottobrunn near Munich. It is made of an unusual material: ceramic. Both the basic structure and the mirrors are made of this very light, hard and extremely temperature-insensitive material. With good reason – the large camera has to withstand a lot in space. It is cooled to around -250 degrees Celsius in order to register the weak infrared or thermal radiation from the depths of space. Plastic or metal bend and lead to blurred images. Ceramic, on the other hand, remains in perfect shape.</p><p>The NIRSpec instrument will examine, among other things, emerging stars and distant galaxies. The ceramic camera is incredibly sensitive – it could register the heat radiation from a burning cigarette on the Moon. Thanks to this precision, astronomers will get completely new insights into the cosmos with the James Webb Telescope and NIRSpec.</p>
No Flight to the Moon but to the ISS<p>It's not very likely that the Orion spacecraft from NASA and ESA will start its maiden voyage to the Moon before the end of 2021. As part of the Artemis-1 mission, it will remain in space for four weeks and will orbit the Moon for a few days. There will be no crew on board for the first flight, but two dummies from the German Aerospace Center, which use thousands of sensors to measure the conditions that human beings would be exposed to. The Orion capsule comes from NASA, while the ESA supplies the service module. The service module, which is being built by Airbus in Bremen, provides propulsion, navigation, altitude control and the supply of air, water and fuel. After problems with an engine test in mid-January, the new NASA large rocket Space Launch System (SLS), with which Orion is supposed to be launched, is unlikely to be operational until early 2022.</p><p><span></span>Matthias Maurer from Saarland is scheduled to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) in October. The flight will be in a Crew Dragon capsule from Cape Canaveral. Maurer will live and work in the orbital outpost for six months. He is currently training to work on numerous scientific experiments. Maurer will be the twelfth German in space.</p><p>So far, Germany has only sent men into space. In mid-March, ESA will start the next application process for astronauts. A few years ago, the private initiative Die Astronautin ("She is an astronaut") showed that there are numerous excellent female applicants.</p>
Two Lunar Eclipses<p>Even if there is no flight to the Moon, sky fans are looking forward to two eclipses this year. On May 26, there will be a lunar eclipse between 9:45 and 12:53 UTC. From 11:10 to 11:28 UTC, the Moon will be completely in the Earth's shadow. It can then only be seen in a copper-red light. This is sunlight that is directed into the Earth's shadow by the Earth's atmosphere – reddish, like the sky at sunset. This eclipse can be observed throughout the Pacific, and will be best viewed in Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, and Antarctica. In Europe, the Moon will be below the horizon and therefore the eclipse will not be visible.</p><p>This also the case for the partial lunar eclipse on November 19. From 07:18 to 10:47 UTC, the Moon will be partly in the shadow of the Earth. In the middle of the eclipse (around 9:03 UTC) 98% of the Moon will be eclipsed. The spectacle will be best seen in North America, Greenland, East Asia and much of the Pacific, such as Hawaii and New Zealand.</p>
Two Solar Eclipses: One Annular, One Total<p><span>In 2021, the Moon will pass right in front of the sun, twice. On June 10, the moon will be nearly in the furthest point of its elliptical orbit around Earth. So it will be too small to cover the sun completely. In the middle of this eclipse, an annulus of the sun will remain visible. The sun's ring of fire appears between 9:55 and 11:28 UTC for a maximum of four minutes – but it will only be visible in the very sparsely populated areas of northeast Canada, northwestern Greenland, the North Pole and the far east of Siberia.</span></p><p>In the North Atlantic, Europe and large parts of Russia, an eclipse will be seen at least partially. Between 8:12 and 13:11 UTC, the Sun will appear like a cookie that has been bitten into as the Moon covers parts of the bright disk. In some places, the eclipse will last about two hours. In Central Europe, a maximum of one-fifth of the sun will be covered.</p>
Dark Sun Over Antarctica<p>The celestial event of the year will be a total solar eclipse on December 4. In a 400-kilometer-wide strip, the New Moon will cover the sun completely. For a maximum of one minute and 54 seconds, day will turn to night. For that short time, the brightest stars can be seen in the sky and the flaming solar corona can be seen around the dark disc of the Moon.</p><p><span></span>Unfortunately, hardly anyone will get to see this cosmic spectacle because the strip of totality only runs through the Southern Ocean and the Antarctic. From 7:03 to 8:04 UTC the umbra of the Moon moves across the Earth's surface – and perhaps some ships' crews will enjoy the solar corona.</p><p>Only during the few minutes of totality is it possible to look safely at the Sun with the naked eye. During the partial phase or in the case of an annular eclipse, suitable protective goggles are necessary to watch the spectacle. Normal sunglasses are not safe. Looking unprotected into the sun can lead to severe eye damage or even blindness.</p>
Two Giant Planets in Northern Summer and Southern Winter<p>Venus, our other neighboring planet, will be behind the sun on March 26. It is not visible for the first few months of the year. From the end of April through Christmas, it will be visible as an evening star in the sky after sunset. The planet, shrouded in dense clouds, is the brightest object in the sky after the Sun and the Moon. The best visibility will be from September to December.</p><p>The giant planet Jupiter is in its best position of the year on August 20. It then shines in the constellation Capricorn, only disappearing from the evening sky at the beginning of next year. The ringed planet Saturn is also in the constellation Capricorn and can be observed particularly well on August 2. </p><p>Jupiter and Saturn are the stars of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and those of the long winter nights in the Southern Hemisphere. They are in the same area of the sky, almost forming a double star with Jupiter being the brighter of the two.</p>
Shooting Stars in August and December<p>There are certain periods when the Earth crosses the orbital path of a comet and shooting stars are much more likely than on other nights. Many small stones and dust particles are scattered on comet orbits, which light up the Earth's atmosphere for a moment when they enter.</p><p>The Perseids are particularly promising: August 9-13, a few dozen meteors (the technical term for shooting stars) will scurry across the sky per hour. The traces of light will seem to come from the constellation Perseus, near the striking celestial W of Cassiopeia. The Geminids – meteors coming from the constellation Gemini – will be similarly exciting with up to 100 shooting stars per hour, December 10-15.</p>
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Despite a journey to this moment even more treacherous than expected, Americans now have a fresh opportunity to act, decisively, on climate change.
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By Katy Neusteter
The Biden-Harris transition team identified COVID-19, economic recovery, racial equity and climate change as its top priorities. Rivers are the through-line linking all of them. The fact is, healthy rivers can no longer be separated into the "nice-to-have" column of environmental progress. Rivers and streams provide more than 60 percent of our drinking water — and a clear path toward public health, a strong economy, a more just society and greater resilience to the impacts of the climate crisis.
Public Health<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTUyNDY3MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MDkxMTkwNn0.pyP14Bg1WvcUvF_xUGgYVu8PS7Lu49Huzc3PXGvATi4/img.jpg?width=980" id="8e577" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1efb3445f5c445e47d5937a72343c012" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="3000" data-height="2302" />
Wild and Scenic Merced River, California. Bob Wick / BLM<p>Let's begin with COVID-19. More than <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html?name=styln-coronavirus&region=TOP_BANNER&block=storyline_menu_recirc&action=click&pgtype=LegacyCollection&impression_id=2f508610-2a87-11eb-8622-4f6c038cbd1d&variant=1_Show" target="_blank">16 million Americans</a> have contracted the coronavirus and, tragically,<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html?name=styln-coronavirus&region=TOP_BANNER&block=storyline_menu_recirc&action=click&pgtype=LegacyCollection&impression_id=2f508610-2a87-11eb-8622-4f6c038cbd1d&variant=1_Show" target="_blank"> more than</a> <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html?name=styln-coronavirus&region=TOP_BANNER&block=storyline_menu_recirc&action=click&pgtype=LegacyCollection&impression_id=2f508610-2a87-11eb-8622-4f6c038cbd1d&variant=1_Show" target="_blank">300,000 have died</a> due to the pandemic. While health officials encourage hand-washing to contain the pandemic, at least <a href="https://closethewatergap.org/" target="_blank">2 million Americans</a> are currently living without running water, indoor plumbing or wastewater treatment. Meanwhile, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/23/millions-of-americans-cant-afford-water-bills-rise" target="_blank">aging water infrastructure is growing increasingly costly for utilities to maintain</a>. That cost is passed along to consumers. The upshot? <a href="https://research.msu.edu/affordable-water-in-us-reaching-a-crisis/" target="_blank">More than 13 million</a> U.S. households regularly face unaffordable water bills — and, thus, the threat of water shutoffs. Without basic access to clean water, families and entire communities are at a higher risk of <a href="https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/news/2020/08/05/488705/bridging-water-access-gap-covid-19-relief/" target="_blank">contracting</a> and spreading COVID-19.</p><p>We have a moral duty to ensure that everyone has access to clean water to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Last spring, <a href="https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/coronavirus-stimulus-bill-explained-bailouts-unemployment-benefits.html" target="_blank">Congress appropriated more than $4 trillion</a> to jumpstart the economy and bring millions of unemployed Americans back to work. Additional federal assistance — desperately needed — will present a historic opportunity to improve our crumbling infrastructure, which has been <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/23/millions-of-americans-cant-afford-water-bills-rise" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">grossly underfunded for decades</a>.</p><p>A report by my organization, American Rivers, suggests that <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/american-rivers-website/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/09223525/ECONOMIC-ENGINES-Report-2020.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Congress must invest at least $50 billion</a> "to address the urgent water infrastructure needs associated with COVID-19," including the rising cost of water. This initial boost would allow for the replacement and maintenance of sewers, stormwater infrastructure and water supply facilities.</p>
Economic Recovery<p>Investing in water infrastructure and healthy rivers also creates jobs. Consider, for example, that <a href="https://tinyurl.com/y9p6sgnk" target="_blank">every $1 million spent on water infrastructure in the United States generates more than 15 jobs</a> throughout the economy, according to a report by the Value of Water Campaign. Similarly, <a href="https://tinyurl.com/yyvd2ksp" target="_blank">every "$1 million invested in forest and watershed restoration contracting will generate between 15.7 and 23.8 jobs,</a> depending on the work type," states a working paper released by the Ecosystem Workforce Program, University of Oregon. Healthy rivers also spur tourism and recreation, which many communities rely on for their livelihoods. According to the findings by the Outdoor Industry Association, which have been shared in our report, "Americans participating in watersports and fishing spend over <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/american-rivers-website/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/30222425/Exec-summary-ECONOMIC-ENGINES-Report-June-30-2020.pdf" target="_blank">$174 billion</a> on gear and trip related expenses. And, the outdoor watersports and fishing economy supports over <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/american-rivers-website/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/30222425/Exec-summary-ECONOMIC-ENGINES-Report-June-30-2020.pdf" target="_blank">1.5 million jobs nationwide</a>."</p><p>After the 2008 financial crisis, Congress invested in infrastructure to put Americans back to work. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act <a href="https://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/economy-a-budget/25941-clean-water-green-infrastructure-get-major-boost" target="_blank">of 2009 (ARRA) allocated $6 billion</a> for clean water and drinking water infrastructure to decrease unemployment and boost the economy. More specifically, <a href="https://www.conservationnw.org/news-updates/us-reps-push-for-millions-of-restoration-and-resilience-jobs/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an analysis of ARRA</a> "showed conservation investments generated 15 to 33 jobs per million dollars," and more than doubled the rate of return, according to a letter written in May 2020 by 79 members of Congress, seeking greater funding for restoration and resilience jobs.</p><p>Today, when considering how to create work for the <a href="https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">10.7 million</a> people who are currently unemployed, Congress should review previous stimulus investments and build on their successes by embracing major investments in water infrastructure and watershed restoration.</p>
Racial Justice<p>American Rivers also recommends that Congress dedicate <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/american-rivers-website/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/09223525/ECONOMIC-ENGINES-Report-2020.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">$500 billion for rivers and clean water over the next 10 years</a> — not just for the benefit of our environment and economy, but also to begin to address the United States' history of deeply entrenched racial injustice.</p><p>The <a href="https://www.epa.gov/npdes/sanitary-sewer-overflows-ssos" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">23,000-75,000 sewer overflows</a> that occur each year release up to <a href="https://www.americanrivers.org/2020/05/fighting-for-rivers-means-fighting-for-justice/#:~:text=There%20are%20also%2023%2C000%20to%2075%2C000%20sanitary%20sewer,to%20do%20with%20the%20mission%20of%20American%20Rivers." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">10 billion gallons of toxic sewage</a> <em>every day</em> into rivers and streams. This disproportionately impacts communities of color, because, for generations, Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other people of color have been <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/flooding-disproportionately-harms-black-neighborhoods/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">relegated</a> to live in flood-prone areas and in neighborhoods that have been intentionally burdened with a lack of development that degrades people's health and quality of life. In some communities of color, incessant flooding due to stormwater surges or <a href="https://www.ajc.com/opinion/opinion-partnering-to-better-manage-our-water/7WQ6SEAQP5E4LGQCEYY5DO334Y/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">combined sewer overflows</a> has gone unmitigated for decades.</p><p>We have historically treated people as separate from rivers and water. We can't do that anymore. Every voice — particularly those of people most directly impacted — must have a loudspeaker and be included in decision-making at the highest levels.</p><p>Accordingly, the new administration must diligently invest in projects at the community level that will improve lives in our country's most marginalized communities. We also must go further to ensure that local leaders have a seat at the decision-making table. To this end, the Biden-Harris administration should restore <a href="https://www.epa.gov/cwa-401#:~:text=Section%20401%20Certification%20The%20Clean%20Water%20Act%20%28CWA%29,the%20United%20States.%20Learn%20more%20about%20401%20certification." target="_blank">Section 401 of the Clean Water Act</a>, which was undermined by the <a href="https://earthjustice.org/news/press/2020/tribes-and-environmental-groups-sue-trump-administration-to-preserve-clean-water-protections#:~:text=Under%20Section%20401%20of%20the%20Clean%20Water%20Act%2C,seeks%20to%20undermine%20that%20authority%20in%20several%20ways%3A" target="_blank">Trump administration's 2020 regulatory changes</a>. This provision gives states and tribes the authority to decide whether major development projects, such as hydropower and oil and gas projects, move forward.</p>
Climate Resilience<p>Of course, the menacing shadow looming over it all? Climate change. <a href="https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/IFRC_wdr2020/IFRC_WDR_ExecutiveSummary_EN_Web.pdf" target="_blank">More than 100 climate-related catastrophes</a> have pummeled the Earth since the pandemic was declared last spring, including the blitzkrieg of megafires, superstorms and heat waves witnessed during the summer of 2020, directly impacting the lives of more than <a href="https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/IFRC_wdr2020/IFRC_WDR_ExecutiveSummary_EN_Web.pdf" target="_blank">50 million people globally</a>.</p><p>Water and climate scientist Brad Udall often says, "<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQhpj5G0dME" target="_blank">Climate change is water change</a>." In other words, the most obvious and dire impacts of climate change are evidenced in profound changes to our rivers and water resources. You've likely seen it where you live: Floods are more damaging and frequent. Droughts are deeper and longer. Uncertainty is destabilizing industry and lives.</p><p>By galvanizing action for healthy rivers and managing our water resources more effectively, we can insure future generations against the consequences of climate change. First, we must safeguard rivers that are still healthy and free-flowing. Second, we must protect land and property against the ravages of flooding. And finally, we must promote policies and practical solutions that take the science of climate disruption into account when planning for increased flooding, water shortage and habitat disruption.</p><p>Imagine all that rivers do for us. Most of our towns and cities have a river running through them or flowing nearby. Rivers provide clean drinking water, irrigate crops that provide our food, power our homes and businesses, provide wildlife habitat, and are the lifeblood of the places where we enjoy and explore nature, and where we play and nourish our spirits. Healthy watersheds help <a href="https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/03/1059952" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mitigate</a> climate change, absorbing and reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Healthy rivers and floodplains help communities adapt and build resilience in the face of climate change by improving flood protection and providing water supply and quality benefits. Rivers are the cornerstones of healthy, strong communities.</p><p>The more than <a href="https://archive.epa.gov/water/archive/web/html/index-17.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">3 million miles</a> of rivers and streams running across our country are a source of great strength and opportunity. When we invest in healthy rivers and clean water, we can improve our lives. When we invest in rivers, we create jobs and strengthen our economy. When we invest in rivers, we invest in our shared future.</p>
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