By Courtney Lindwall
If you're one of those people cooped up safely at home, with creative energy and free time to spare—count yourself lucky. Here, we've rounded up a list of two dozen environmental projects that can make your time indoors, or right outside, a little brighter. Whether you're ready to start rescuing more of your kitchen scraps, sewing your own cloth napkins, or documenting those backyard butterflies, we hope these simple green ideas will provide a calming means of coping during these unprecedented times. Have fun and stay safe.
Experiment in the Kitchen<p><strong>Spice up mealtime with recipes from </strong><a href="https://savethefood.com/recipes/" target="_blank">Save the Food</a> that will also help prevent your food from going to waste. Make a fromage fort to spread on your crackers, or "scraps falafel" to use up wrinkly onions and wilted herbs. And for dessert, how about some <a href="https://savethefood.com/recipes/leftover-mashed-potato-apple-cider-donuts" target="_blank">leftover mashed potato apple cider donuts</a>? </p><p><strong>Rescue wilting herbs.</strong> Make <a href="https://savethefood.com/storage" target="_blank">herb oil ice cubes</a><a href="https://savethefood.com/storage" target="_blank"> by </a>packing diced herbs into an ice cube tray, covering with olive oil, and freezing. Thaw for ready-made flavor in your next dish. You can also transform less-than-fresh herbs into sauces, like chimichurri or pesto, or roast them and mix with salt to create longer-lasting seasonings. </p><p><strong>Start a windowsill herb garden. </strong>You'll need some seeds or a small plant, an upcycled container like a coffee canister that leaves room for growth and drainage, and a sunny ledge. (The Herb Society of America can help you determine <a href="https://www.herbsociety.org/hsa-learn/intro-to-herbs/hsa-gardening-for-kids/light-indoor-gardens.html" target="_blank">the right dose of light and water for each species</a>.) In a few weeks' time, you'll be ready to add a sprig of fresh basil to your bowl of pasta or diced cilantro to your batch of guac.</p><p><strong>Arrange a plant-based recipe swap</strong> with friends and family, which will reduce your diet's climate impacts while creating some virtual community. (Remember: If <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/sujatha-bergen/saving-planet-starts-our-plates" target="_blank">every American cut just one hamburger</a> or about a quarter pound of beef out of their diet each week, we could reduce emissions by as much as taking about 10 million cars off the road each year.)</p>
Enjoy a Dose of Nature<p><strong></strong><strong>Make your own basic bird feeder</strong> using pine cones, twine, nut butter, and birdseed. <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B-rxsVfAvaa/" target="_blank">This video from the Feminist Bird Club shows you one way to do it.</a> Hang it on a nearby tree you can spot through your window, then grab a pair of binoculars and do some armchair birding!</p><p><a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/how-and-why-be-seed-savior" target="_blank"><strong>Create an herbarium</strong></a>—a scrapbook of pressed, dried flowers or other plants. To prepare your samples, press the plant matter in a large book or between sheets of newspaper and place a weight on top. When the leaves are dry, mount them on acid-free paper to preserve them, and label each specimen on the page. You can also include illustrations, photographs, seed packets, and notes.</p><p><strong>Sharpen your naturalist ID skills.</strong> Try to identify every species of plant in your backyard or on a neighborhood walk. You can do the same for wildlife—and share your findings through <a href="https://www.projectnoah.org/" target="_blank">Project Noah</a>, a citizen science platform to discover, share, and identify wildlife.</p><p><strong>Grow new indoor plants</strong> with the use of stems and leaves, rather than seeds. Though it <a href="https://www.bbg.org/gardening/article/how_to_propagate_houseplants" target="_blank">depends on your individual plant</a> species, propagating houseplants is often as easy as cutting off a stem or leaf from an existing plant and sticking it in soil or fresh water. If it takes, a new root system should form within a few weeks—leaving you with a hearty second plant within a few more months. (Pro tip: This works for green onions too! Nearly submerge their sliced-off roots, end down, into a glass of water that you change every few days. Voilà: a nearly endless supply of scallions.)</p><p><strong>Observe monarch butterflies</strong> in your backyard and share your findings with Monarch Watch, an organization devoted to their <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/monarch-butterflies-get-head-start-schoolyard" target="_blank">conservation</a>. Each year, monarchs make a remarkable 3,000-mile trek from as far north as the southern parts of Canada to the mountains of Mexico and back—but these pollinators are <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/sylvia-fallon/monarch-butterfly-numbers-fall-again" target="_blank">in danger</a>. Register as one of Monarch Watch's citizen scientists to <a href="https://monarchwatch.org/calendar/?fbclid=IwAR1bawlAoraeMokwdiZa_GVONQqtDnqQxc_EM_UwzbO0zhq733PT6CQIgLc" target="_blank">help track the population's health</a>.</p><p><strong><a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/how-turn-your-patch-earth-barren-bountiful" target="_blank">Boost your backyard biodiversity</a>. </strong>Plant some milkweed—the main food source for monarch caterpillars and egg-laying habitat for the butterflies. Hang a bee nesting box somewhere it can get sunlight and warmth. Add a barn owl box or attach a simple roosting perch to a pole. For reptile enthusiasts, set up a small wood pile, using brush or old logs as shelter for lizards and snakes (plus fungi).</p>
Do Some Handiwork and Art Projects<p><strong>Make face masks </strong>for your friends, family, and workers on the frontlines. This <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/DIY-cloth-face-covering-instructions.pdf" target="_blank">Center for Disease Control guide</a> breaks down different techniques. If you're comfortable sewing, you'll just need two 10-by-6-inch rectangles of fabric, two pieces of elastic, and a needle and thread for each mask. The no-sew option only requires a T-shirt and scissors. Remember: Cloth masks should be cleaned regularly (the CDC says a washing machine is sufficient) in order to remain effective.<strong></strong></p><p><strong>Get your crayons out </strong>and do some therapeutic coloring. In honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and as part of a collaboration with NRDC, Studio Number One and its creative director, artist Shepard Fairey, have converted some of its archival activist artwork into <a href="http://www.studionumberone.com/free-downloads" target="_blank">black-and-white printouts for at-home coloring.</a></p><p><strong>Tackle your plastic bag stash</strong>, especially if your city or town is among those that recently banned the bag. Since current conditions may eliminate collection and recycling programs for plastic bags in your area, consider upcycling them instead. There are plenty of online tutorials for how to make outdoor pillow cushions stuffed with plastic bags, weave bags into <a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/Make-a-basket-out-of-plastic-bags/" target="_blank">sturdy baskets</a>, or wind them into jump ropes.</p>
Build Your Community<p><strong></strong><strong>Start an environmental movie club.</strong> Various apps let you host movie nights with friends online, so you can chat while you watch. You can find our recs for standout environmental films on <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B-QNBxqJAUR/" target="_blank">Instagram</a>—including <em>Poisoning Paradise</em>, <em>Virunga</em>, and <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/how-turn-your-patch-earth-barren-bountiful" target="_blank"><em>The Biggest Little Farm</em></a>—with short summaries and tips on where you can find them online.</p><p>Document the environmental changes in your community<strong>, as they relate to climate change, through the </strong><a href="https://earthchallenge2020.earthday.org/" target="_blank"><strong>Earth Challenge </strong>2020's online portal</a>. The project will collect billions of observations in air quality, plastic pollution, and insect populations, and your insights will help promote policy change to address our warming world.</p><p><strong>Tune in to a new podcast</strong>. We recommend <a href="https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/range/hot-take-4#/" target="_blank"><em>Hot Take</em></a>, featuring NRDC's own Mary Heglar and her cohost Amy Westervelt, which takes a critical but constructive, intersectional look at how climates issues are being covered in the media. And despite the weighty content of the podcast, laughter is one of its defining sounds.</p><p><strong>Connect with climate justice activists</strong> by following along with <a href="http://thisiszerohour.org/our-actions/#actions" target="_blank">Zero Hour's Getting to the Roots digital series</a>. Each week, it focuses on a different theme that is a root cause of the climate crisis as well as ways to solve it—through digital leadership training, webinars, virtual open mics on Instagram and Twitter, art competitions, and podcast releases.</p><p><strong>Write a </strong><a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/how-write-successful-letter-editor" target="_blank"><strong>letter to the editor</strong></a> that tackles one of the environmental issues facing your community that's close to your heart. The letter can be written in response to a piece that's already been published by a given media outlet, or it can be a proactive statement of support for or opposition against a particular issue that affects fellow readers. It's the perfect way to reach thousands of individuals and still remain publicly engaged without having to leave the comfort of your home.</p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
With many schools now closed due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, you may be looking for activities to keep your children active, engaged, and entertained.
Although numerous activities can keep kids busy, cooking is one of the best choices, as it's both fun and educational.
1. Overnight Oats<p>Overnight oats are an oatmeal dish that you prepare ahead and refrigerate overnight — with no cooking required.</p><p>Not only can pre-making nutritious breakfast options save you time, but choosing dishes that children can make themselves may also help your kids get excited about preparing healthy food.</p><p>Overnight oats are simple and appropriate for all ages. Plus, they're easy to individualize, allowing kids to be creative and try out different nutrient-dense toppings like <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-reasons-to-eat-berries" target="_blank">berries</a>, nuts, coconut, and seeds.</p><p>Try out these easy, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/overnight-oats-recipes" target="_blank">kid-approved recipes</a> with your children. They can participate by measuring, pouring, and chopping ingredients, depending on their age. Let your kids jazz up their oats by choosing toppings of their own.</p>
2. Strawberry and Cantaloupe Yogurt Pops<p>Most kids love fruit, which is why strawberry and cantaloupe yogurt pops make a perfect snack.</p><p>Strawberries and cantaloupe are both loaded with fiber, vitamin C, and folate, a B vitamin that's important for growth and development.</p><p>Dipping fruit in <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-benefits-of-yogurt" target="_blank">protein-packed yogurt</a> ups its nutrient content and boosts feelings of fullness.</p><p><a href="https://www.thepinningmama.com/strawberry-yogurt-pops-recipe/" target="_blank">This easy recipe</a> is appropriate for children of all ages. Kids can cut the fruit, dip it in the yogurt, and slide the fruit onto popsicle sticks, depending on their age.</p>
3. One Bowl Banana Bread<p>Many banana bread recipes require multiple steps that can leave your kitchen a mess.</p><p>Notably, <a href="https://www.ambitiouskitchen.com/almond-flour-banana-bread/" target="_blank">this healthy recipe</a> requires just one bowl and is kid-friendly.</p><p>It's high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats thanks to its almond flour, eggs, and flax meal. As such, it's sure to keep your little ones satisfied between meals.</p><p>Plus, the dark chocolate chips and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-benefits-of-bananas" target="_blank">banana</a> give this bread a hint of sweetness.</p><p>Have your children mash the bananas, measure ingredients, and fold the chocolate chips into the batter. Once it's out of the oven, they can top their slices with nut butter for a boost of protein.</p>
4. Ants on a Log<p>Ants on a log, which combines crunchy celery, smooth or chunky nut butter, and sweet, chewy raisins, is a classic snack for many kids.</p><p>All you need are those three basic ingredients, though you can also spice things up. Let your kids get involved by spreading their favorite nut butter onto the celery and sprinkling fun toppings, such as chocolate chips, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-granola-healthy" target="_blank">granola</a>, and fresh or dried fruit, onto the "logs."</p><p>If your child has a nut allergy, you can fill the celery with cottage cheese, cream cheese, or even mashed avocado for a more savory twist.</p><p><a href="https://www.healthylittlefoodies.com/ants-log/" target="_blank">This recipe</a> offers many variations of ants on a log sure to please even the pickiest of eaters.</p>
5. Guacamole<p><a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-proven-benefits-of-avocado" target="_blank">Avocados</a> are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. They're an excellent source of healthy fats, fiber, and micronutrients like potassium, folate, and vitamins C and E.</p><p>Plus, their smooth, creamy texture can be a hit with kids, especially when made into guacamole and paired with tortilla chips or veggie sticks.</p><p>Guacamole is a breeze to make and can be modified depending on your child's tastes. For example, you can add veggies like onions and tomatoes to the mix, as well as fresh herbs like cilantro.</p><p>Kids can have a blast mashing the avocados with a handheld masher or old-fashioned mortar and pestle.</p><p>Here's a <a href="https://www.superhealthykids.com/recipes/guacamole-2/" target="_blank">kid-friendly guacamole recipe</a> that your whole family will love.</p>
6. Mini Eggplant Pizzas<p><a href="https://www.kitchenstories.com/en/recipes/mini-eggplant-pizzas" target="_blank">This mini eggplant pizza recipe</a> is ideal for kids and parents alike.</p><p>It uses eggplant instead of pizza dough for the base, which can help increase your child's vegetable intake.</p><p>Kids of all ages can participate by spreading tomato sauce on the <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/eggplant-benefits" target="_blank">eggplant rounds</a> and topping them with cheese. More adventurous eaters can experiment with different toppings like olives or anchovies.</p>
7. Kid-Friendly Green Smoothie<p>Smoothies are an excellent way to introduce more fruits, veggies, and other healthy ingredients into your child's diet.</p><p><a href="https://fraicheliving.com/go-green-smoothie-kids-love/" target="_blank">This green smoothie recipe</a> is naturally sweetened with frozen fruit and contains a healthy dose of fat and protein from nutritious additions like Greek yogurt and avocado.</p><p>Plus, the <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/leafy-green-vegetables" target="_blank">fresh greens</a> give this smoothie an enticing hue.</p><p>Your kids can help by washing and chopping the ingredients and adding them to the blender.</p>
8. Rainbow Spring Rolls<p>Though many kids dislike vegetables, offering veggies to your children in fun, exciting ways may make them more willing to try new foods.</p><p>The translucent rice paper used to prepare spring rolls allows the colorful ingredients inside to shine through, providing a visually appealing meal or snack for kids. Plus, spring rolls are easy to make and highly versatile.</p><p>Your kids can help by using a spiralizer to create long, thin strands of veggies, layering ingredients in the rice paper shells, and mixing tasty dipping sauces.</p><p>Carrots, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/zucchini-benefits" target="_blank">zucchini</a>, and cucumbers make good choices for spiralizing. If you desire, you can add protein sources like chicken or shrimp to make the rolls more filling.</p><p>Here's a <a href="https://merakimother.com/easy-and-healthy-rainbow-rice-rolls-kids-will-love/" target="_blank">kid-friendly spring roll recipe</a>.</p>
9. No-Bake Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites<p>If you're looking for a sweet treat for your kids that isn't packed with added sugar and artificial ingredients, try <a href="https://www.paleorunningmomma.com/no-bake-paleo-chocolate-chip-cookie-dough-balls/" target="_blank">this chocolate chip cookie dough bite recipe</a>.</p><p>It's loaded with healthy ingredients like almond butter, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/coconut-milk" target="_blank">coconut milk</a>, and raisins and sweetened with honey and dark chocolate chips.</p><p>Moreover, it doesn't require any baking, uses only one bowl, and takes just 10 minutes to prep. Children can help by stirring ingredients and forming the balls of dough.</p>
10. Apple Pie in a Jar<p><a href="https://paleogrubs.com/apple-pie-in-a-jar-recipe" target="_blank">This scrumptious recipe</a> uses ingredients like almond flour, eggs, honey, apples, and coconut oil to create a sweet yet nutrient-dense, snack-size treat.</p><p>While most desserts rely on refined ingredients, such as white flour and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/are-vegetable-and-seed-oils-bad" target="_blank">vegetable oil</a>, these mini apple pies are much more wholesome.</p><p>Kids can pitch in by rolling the dough into individual balls, stirring the ingredients, and assembling the pie jars.</p>
11. Veggie Omelets<p>Kids can learn a lot about cooking by making omelets. Plus, they're customizable and packed with nutrients that are essential for growth.</p><p>For example, eggs are often considered <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-health-benefits-of-eggs" target="_blank">nature's multivitamin</a> because they boast numerous vitamins and minerals, including choline, iron, and vitamins A, B12, and E, all of which are essential for children's health.</p><p>Adding colorful vegetables like peppers and greens further boosts omelets' nutritional value.</p><p>What's more, kids are likely to enjoy cracking the eggs, whisking the ingredients, and frying their creation on the stove. Older children can even be tasked with making their own omelets from start to finish.</p><p>Check out <a href="https://www.superhealthykids.com/recipes/perfect-veggie-omelettes/" target="_blank">this veggie omelet recipe</a> to get some ideas.</p>
12. Healthy Cheesy Crackers<p>Some popular snacks marketed to kids, such as cheesy crackers, are <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/common-food-additives" target="_blank">loaded with additives</a> like unhealthy oils, preservatives, and artificial flavors and colors.<span></span></p><p>Nonetheless, you and your kids can make healthy snack alternatives at home using simple, nutritious ingredients.</p><p><a href="https://weelicious.com/whole-wheat-cheddar-crackers/" target="_blank">This recipe</a> for cheesy crackers uses just four ingredients, including real Cheddar cheese and whole grain flour. Your kids can cut the dough into fun shapes before you bake them.</p>
13. Colorful Salad Jars<p>Making colorful salad jars with your kids is an excellent way to motivate children to <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/17-ways-to-eat-more-veggies" target="_blank">eat more veggies</a>.</p><p>If your child is a picky eater, making vegetables more visually appealing and giving your kid frequent chances to try them may promote their veggie intake.</p><p>Furthermore, research shows that kids prefer sweet veggies over bitter ones, so mixing both sweet and bitter types into one dish may diversify your child's diet.</p><p>Have your little ones help you layer veggies and other healthy ingredients like beans, seeds, chicken, and eggs in Mason jars. Let your child pick which veggies they prefer, but encourage a combination of both bitter and sweet veggies.</p><p>Bitter veggies include kale, arugula, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli, while sweet varieties include carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, peas, and corn.</p><p>Check out <a href="https://www.wholekidsfoundation.org/recipes/layered-salad-in-a-jar" target="_blank">this fun recipe</a> for colorful salad jars.</p>
14. Frozen Yogurt Pops<p>Many ice cream and yogurt pops are packed with <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/too-much-sugar" target="_blank">added sugar</a> and artificial colorings and sweeteners. Since these ingredients should be limited in children's diets, consider ditching the store-bought ones and have your kids help make nutrient-dense, homemade yogurt pops.</p><p><a href="https://www.superhealthykids.com/recipes/frozen-yogurt-pops/" target="_blank">This recipe</a> for frozen yogurt pops uses protein-packed yogurt and is naturally sweetened with frozen fruit and a bit of honey.</p><p>Kids can help by gathering the ingredients, pouring the fruit and yogurt purée into paper cupcake liners, and slotting the tray into your freezer.</p>
15. Sweet Potato Nachos<p>Sweet potatoes are a favorite veggie of many kids because of their pleasant taste and bright color. They're also highly nutritious, offering ample beta carotene, fiber, and vitamin C.<span></span></p><p>To make nutrient-dense nachos, replace the regular corn chips with <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sweet-potato-benefits" target="_blank">sweet potatoes</a>.</p><p>Kids can layer on healthy toppings of their choice, such as salsa, cheese, black beans, and peppers.</p><p><a href="https://www.kitchenfrau.com/sweet-potato-nachos/" target="_blank">Here's a child-friendly recipe</a> for sweet potato nachos.</p>
The Bottom Line<p>Cooking with your kids not only keeps them busy but also teaches them cooking skills and even encourages them to try new, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/50-super-healthy-foods" target="_blank">healthy foods</a>.</p><p>Try involving your kids in some of the recipes above to get them inspired in the kitchen and making <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/healthy-snacks-for-kids" target="_blank">delicious snacks</a> and meals.</p>
- 8 Healthy Swaps for Everyday Food and Drinks - EcoWatch ›
- 25 Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Kids - EcoWatch ›
I’m a Psychotherapist – Here’s What I’ve Learned From Listening to Children Talk About Climate Change
By Caroline Hickman
Eco-anxiety is likely to affect more and more people as the climate destabilizes. Already, studies have found that 45 percent of children suffer lasting depression after surviving extreme weather and natural disasters. Some of that emotional turmoil must stem from confusion — why aren't adults doing more to stop climate change?
Healing the Generational Rift<p>I asked the children to personify climate change — to see it as an animal and give it a voice. If climate change could talk, what would it say? I hoped that by externalizing that voice, they could talk more honestly than they otherwise would. Even so, I wasn't fully prepared for their responses.</p><blockquote>You created me, and now you must face the consequences… You spoilt the planet for the children and animals, now I'm going to spoil it for you… Adults have made the world a worse place, so now I'm here for revenge.<br></blockquote><p>Anger was the most common emotion that surfaced with this technique. These complicated emotions about climate change — perhaps difficult to express or articulate in conversation — surprised me, but they probably shouldn't have. Given the severity of climate change and biodiversity loss <a href="https://theconversation.com/climate-change-weve-created-a-civilisation-hell-bent-on-destroying-itself-im-terrified-writes-earth-scientist-113055" target="_blank">predicted in their lifetimes</a>, anger seems appropriate.</p><p>What was also uncovered in these conversations was an enduring empathy for the creatures they share the world with. These children could recognize their own vulnerability in the face of climate change, but it didn't eclipse their concern for the natural world. Instead, they expressed solidarity and empathy with other species. One said:</p><blockquote>Climate change is like the bug spray of nature, and people are the bugs.<br></blockquote><p>I believe children are bearing the emotional burden of climate change more courageously than adults, but we owe it to them to share it. Listen to your children when they talk about climate change, you'll learn more about how we should take responsibility for the mess, say sorry, and start to act.</p>
U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin issued an order Thursday in the climate lawsuit brought by 21 youth, Juliana v. United States, setting a trial date for Feb. 5, 2018 before U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken in Eugene, Oregon.
The Trump administration filed a motion Tuesday seeking an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on a federal judge's Nov. 10, 2016 order in Juliana v. United States. The Trump administration also filed a motion to delay trial preparation until after its appeal is considered.
Kids Name Trump as Defendant in Landmark Climate Case https://t.co/ONB3XOIRo5— Robert F. Kennedy Jr (@Robert F. Kennedy Jr)1486750403.0
Further, the Trump administration asked for expedited review of both motions, arguing the plaintiffs' Jan. 24 letter requesting the government to retain records relating to climate change and communications between the government and the fossil fuel industry was overly burdensome. The excerpt from the government's stay motion said:
"Plaintiffs … intend to seek discovery relating to virtually all of the federal government's activities relating to control of CO2 emissions ... Compounding the United States' burdens, Plaintiffs have indicated that their intended discovery has a temporal scope of more than sixty years ... Absent relief, there will most certainly be depositions of federal government fact witnesses ... that will explore the extraordinarily broad topic of climate change and the federal government's putative knowledge over the past seven decades."
Yet, in another complex case regarding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and BP, the U.S. produced more than 17 million pages of documents from April to September of 2011. Plaintiffs maintain that their requests are limited, reasonable and aimed at getting to trial this fall.
Appeals typically do not occur until a trial court has issued final rulings following the presentation of evidence, but the Trump administration is asking federal Magistrate Judge Coffin to exercise his discretion to allow the case to proceed to the Court of Appeals before final judgment.
Attorneys representing fossil fuel industry defendants are expected to file papers supporting the government's motions on Friday.
"The Trump administration argues that this is a big case and so the burdens of preserving government documents warrant an expedited review," Julia Olson, plaintiffs' counsel and executive director of Our Children's Trust, said. "They're right. It is a big case. We have a classic example of the government's misplaced priorities: They prefer to minimize their procedural obligations of not destroying government documents over the urgency of not destroying our climate system for our youth plaintiffs and all future generations?"
In the government's answer to the youth plaintiffs' complaint, they admitted that "the use of fossil fuels is a major source of [carbon dioxide] emissions, placing our nation on an increasingly costly, insecure and environmentally dangerous path."
The case was brought by 21 young plaintiffs who argue that their constitutional and public trust rights are being violated by the government's creation of climate danger. Judge Ann Aiken's November order denied motions to dismiss brought by both the Obama administration and fossil fuel industry defendants.
"This request for appeal is an attempt to cover up the federal government's long-running collusion with the fossil fuel industry," Alex Loznak, 20-year-old plaintiff and Columbia University student, said. "My generation cannot wait for the truth to be revealed. These documents must be uncovered with all deliberate speed, so that our trial can force federal action on climate change."
Victory for America's Youth: Federal Judge Rules Climate Lawsuit Can Proceed https://t.co/iXxiZvf5Nf @climatecouncil @energyaction— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1478913606.0
Other pre-trial developments
- During Wednesday's telephonic case management conference between attorneys for the parties and Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) took the view that the Trump administration, will have the opportunity to use executive privilege to prevent the release of evidence in the possession of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
- DOJ attorneys said they recently informed the White House that NARA was in the process of gathering documents requested by the plaintiffs. It is the DOJ's view that former Presidents George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, will have the opportunity to bar release of the records of their respective administrations, but President Trump will ultimately have the authority to bar release of any and all NARA records.
- The next Juliana v. United States case management conference with Judge Coffin is scheduled for April 7 and will be telephonic.
- Attorneys for youth plaintiffs are in the process of compiling a list of prospective witnesses to be deposed, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and expect to provide that list to defendants next week.
Youth Seek Testimony From Exxon's Rex Tillerson in Federal Climate Lawsuit https://t.co/c8kaz4lKkM @ClimateDesk @globalgreen— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1483066833.0
Juliana v. United States is one of many related legal actions brought by youth in several states and countries, all supported by Our Children's Trust, seeking science-based action by governments to stabilize the climate system.
By Maggie McCracken
Italian parliamentarian Elvira Savino wants to impose jail time on parents who choose to feed their children a vegan diet. Citing malnutrition, Savino likened veganism to child abuse and expressed concern about recent incidents in Italy in which vegan diets were linked to health problems in children under 16.
Understandably, vegans and non-vegans alike have expressed outrage over the proposal. Should Italy really be making decisions like these for parents under the guise of child welfare? And even if they should, is there really anything particularly unhealthy about a vegan diet?
Veganism and Parenting
Chastising parents for what they choose to feed their children is nothing new. Both meat eaters and vegans often criticize parents on the other side, citing the opposing diet as unhealthy, irresponsible and ill-informed.
Parents Who Feed Children #Vegan Diet Could Be Jailed for Year Under Proposed Italian Law https://t.co/2Jk6wooInz @Food_Tank @nongmoreport— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1470919668.0
For the sake of clarity, some children do suffer from poor nutrition when they're fed a vegan diet—but so do many children of meat-eating parents. In her proposal, Savino cites a recent case in which a Milan one-year-old was hospitalized as a result, doctors determined, of malnutrition due to his vegan diet.
However, it's likely that parents of poorly fed vegan children aren't paying due diligence to the nutritional needs that are inherent with veganism. No one is saying that eating healthy while vegan is easy. It requires a deep understanding of nutrition, particularly when one is dealing with growing children. But with the right research and eye to detail, a healthy vegan diet is certainly doable, as millions of parents have demonstrated by correctly feeding their children a healthy plant-based diet.
Is a Vegan Diet Healthy for Kids?
If done correctly, it's usually possible for a healthy young child to thrive on a vegan diet. Pediatric dietician Helen Wilcock of the British Dietetic Association explained to The Guardian that vegan parents should be sure to give their kids supplements to protect against malnutrition.
"Vegan children can be deficient in vitamin D, calcium, iron and possibly vitamin B12," she explained, "so they need supplements."
Wilcock also recommends adding oil to children's food to provide them with nourishing fats as well as extra calories.
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And finally, she cautions parents to think about the amino acid profile of their vegan children's diets. In order to get complete amino acids, parents need to pair plant-based foods together that deliver the entire spectrum of the nine essential amino acids for human growth. Most plant foods don't contain a complete amino acid profile, so it's necessary to create combinations that do, such as rice with beans, peanut butter with bread or hummus with pita.
How to Take Action
If you're passionate about parents' right to feed their children a vegan diet, we invite you to sign our petition and make your voice heard. Only by being vocal about these issues can we educate others about nutrition and give parents the tools they need to raise strong and healthy vegan kids.
This article was reposted with permission from our media associate Care2.
A new report released Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) largely unchanged from two years ago, at one in 68 children. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health contributed to the study, which showed boys were 4.5 times more likely to be identified with ASD than girls. The rate is one in 42 among boys and one in 189 among girls.
This is the sixth report by the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (ADDM), which has used the same surveillance methods for more than a decade, a tracking system that provides estimates of the prevalence and characteristics of autism among 8-year-old children in 11 communities.
Here are the estimated prevalence rates of ASD in the U.S. reported by previous data:
- one in 68 children in the 2014 report that looked at 2010 data
- one in 88 children in the 2012 report that looked at 2008 data
- one in 110 children in the 2009 report that looked at 2006 data
- one in 150 children in the 2007 report that looked at 2000 and 2002 data
According to John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, researchers say it is too early to tell if the overall prevalence rate has stabilized because the numbers vary widely across ADDM communities. The school goes on to say that "the causes of autism are not completely understood; studies show that both environment and genetics may play a role. There is no known cure, and no treatment or intervention has been proven to reduce the prevalence of ASD."
Alison Singer, president of the Autism Science Foundation and mother of a daughter with autism, told CNN that this new report is not a sign everything is fine. "It points to the need for more research to understand nuances in data to be able to better serve all children diagnosed with autism," she said. The report suggests there are delays in acting on early concerns, said Rice.
Rice attributed the lack of early identification to a "capacity crisis." "There are not enough quality providers out there to provide those therapy services that are needed," she said. "I think a huge thing we need to do at the early age and across the life span of people with autism is ... identify and support individuals with autism."
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., environmental lawyer and founder of The Mercury Project, finds the leveling off of the prevalence of autism to coincide with the decline of thimerosal in three childhood vaccines.
"Interestingly, this represents the first group of children that were not exposed to thimerosal through the HepB, HiB and DTaP infant vaccines," Kennedy said. "Also, uptake of the maternal flu vaccine was below 50 percent. This is the first time essentially on record that autism rates haven't gone up since 1989."
Brian Hooker, associate professor of biology at Simpson University, agrees. He told EcoWatch:
"I'm not surprised that the autism numbers started to stabilize between birth years 2002 and 2004. By 2004, all of the back stock of thimerosal containing HepB, DTaP and HiB vaccines (which were no longer manufactured after 2001) would have been removed from the shelves and these infants (reflected in the latest CDC numbers) did not receive thimerosal in any of their vaccines, with the exception of the flu shot which was administered maternally and at 6 and 7 months of age. Flu shot uptake maternally and in infants was fairly low at this time but has increased since 2004.
"In Denmark, when thimerosal was phased out of infant vaccines in 1992, rates of autism spectrum disorder prevalence slowly dropped over 33 percent over the next 10 years. Unfortunately, because of the thimerosal-containing maternal flu shot, I don't think we'll see this profound of a drop in the U.S."
Regardless of the reason why the results of the new CDC study show the rate of autism unchanged, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all kids are screened for autism at ages 18 and 24 months.
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We love our children. We protect them. At home we put up safety gates near the stairs and take sharp objects out of their reach. When we are in the car, we strap them into a child safety seat. But does your child safety seat pose a risk to their health. It just may, and a new study from the Ecology Center tested some popular seats for their chemical content. Some were rated safer than others.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
To be clear, you must use a child safety seat. It protects your kids in the event of a collision. But what if you could shop for one that didn’t contain as many chemicals that have been linked to fertility problems, learning impairments, liver toxicity and cancer? The Ecology Center’s new product tests may just help you do that.
Consumer Report’s reviewed the Ecology Center’s study, and here’s the problem as they see it:
The concerns stem from the detection of chemicals like bromine and chlorine, which are used in some flame retardants. Such halogenated flame retardants have been linked to a variety of health issues. In addition, many are considered persistent (they don’t break down to something safer over time) and bioaccumulative (they build up in your system).
One such chemical, a carcinogen known as chlorinated tris, was found in two seats. It was removed from children’s pajamas many years ago. Though it is prohibited in many states, it is still in use elsewhere. This and other flame retardants can be released from the foams and fabrics of products through regular use. They settle into the air and, in particular, the dust in the vehicle.
Cars can be Cocoons for Unsafe Chemicals
Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of child safety seats tested contained hazardous halogenated flame retardants and over half contained non-halogenated organophosphate flame retardants, some of which are hazardous as well. These chemicals simply aren’t necessary, and top rated companies in the study, Britax and Clek, have been proactively implementing policies to reduce hazards in their products while still meeting all safety standards. Some are not, as was the case for the poorest performing company: Graco, which unfortunately is one of the largest in manufacturers in the country.
There have been several iterations of this report over the last several years, and there’s some good news. There’s a general trend toward safer chemicals in child seats. But we are by no means “there.” Fifteen 2014-model car seats were tested for specific flame retardant chemicals by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. The seats were also tested for bromine (associated with brominated flame retardants), chlorine (indicating the presence of chlorinated flame retardants when detected in a certain range of concentration), lead and other heavy metals. These substances have been linked to thyroid problems, learning and memory impairment, decreased fertility, behavioral changes and cancer.
Heat and UV-ray exposure in cars can accelerate the release of these chemicals from products into the vehicle environment. Many children spend hours in a car every week, or even every day, potentially exposing them to harmful flame retardants. Babies are the most vulnerable population in terms of exposure, since their bodily systems are still developing and they spend many hours in their car seats. Infants, toddlers and children can be exposed through inhalation, ingestion and dermal (skin) absorption of these chemicals.
The Best and the Worst
Car seats were evaluated using a comparative ranking method which evaluated a range of chemical hazards in the products. Complete product rankings and the ranking methodology are available at HealthyStuff.org. Here’s how things came out:
- Best 2014-15 Car Seats: Britax Frontier and Marathon (Convertible); Clek Foonf (Convertible)
- Worst 2014-15 Car Seats: Graco, My Size 65 (Convertible); Baby Trend, Hybrid 3-in-1 (Convertible)
Visit HealthyStuff.org and check out the car seat rankings. When you choose a safer seat, you not only make a safer environment for your child, you vote with your dollar. You can also check out their other consumer tips, like for example limiting the amount of time your child spends in a car, and dusting and vacuuming the car often to help remove contaminants.
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When you picture a middle schooler, or tween, what do you see? A lanky kid with braces on an iPad? Awkward middle school years? What if you pictured a kid dirty with mud and emerging from the forest instead?
Research tells us that kids who spend time in nature suffer less anxiety, have better health, longer attention spans and the ability to cope with the challenges of the middle school years. Yet, we often associate the early adolescence with decreases in time outside and less interaction with nature.
In my new book for middle school readers, The Order of the Trees, the characters discover their friendship and the power of the forest in their lives. The book will be published on May 15 (preorders are available now) by Green Writers Press, this book is one way to excite and inspire middle school students to think about their local natural areas and how they can experience them with friends.
The main character, Cedar, was found as a baby deep in the Vermont woods. We flash forward to her sixth grade year and she couldn’t be more different than the other kids. She finds her first true friend and shares her forest home with him. He quickly discovers her secret and has to race to find a plan to save their sacred woods.
It is my hope that middle school students and their parents will find this book inspiring to use their passions, interests and creativity to seek out and preserve the magic found in our local woodlands, ponds, streams and habitats. Tweens can be and do so much more than the stereotype allows. Put down that iPad, smart phone or tablet and head into the woods or your neighborhood park. You never know what you might find there.
Do you have a child in grades 4-8 in your life? The Order of the Trees was written just for this age group. Starting on May 1 and running through May 7, I’m giving away three copies of the book on Goodreads, so be sure to enter to win a copy. The Vermont-based publisher, Green Writers Press, focuses on giving voice to writers who want to make the world a better place. Ask for it at your local, independent bookstore or you can find it on Amazon.
Katy Farber is a teacher, author and founder of the blog, Non-Toxic Kids. She is also the author of two other books about education: Why Great Teachers Quit and How We Might Stop the Exodus and Change the World with Service Learning.
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Earth Day Network (EDN) launched a free Climate Education Toolkit for K-12 educators to initiate EDN’s inaugural Climate Education Week, April 18 - 25.
The toolkit seeks to equip educators with the tools to teach and activate students on climate issues and solutions. As international action to address climate change and other environmental issues remains stalled, EDN intends to raise awareness among K-12 students and ensure that students graduate from their education system as a climate literate young adult—enacting a cultural shift.
EDN collaborated with high-level advisors from renowned climate education organizations and government agencies in order to provide the most current and effective materials, including the CLEAN Network and Connect4Climate. The toolkit provides a week’s worth of lesson plans, activities, short videos, service learning projects, writing contests and Earth Day action ideas—all in an easy-to-use, ready-to-go online format.
One of the highlights of the toolkit is the first-ever iTextbook for middle school students on climate change, The Story of Climate Change. Earth Day Network and ecoDads announced the release of The Story of Climate Change from the Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day stage last Saturday in front of 250,000 people. This free interactive digital textbook allows educators and students to witness our changing climate through animation, science videos, and photographs and field expedition stories, and check their progress with quizzes at the end of each chapter. The iTextbook not only provides the gripping imagery of our changing climate, but it also offers ideas on action and solutions.
The toolkit covers a different topic on each day of Climate Education Week with themes like "What is Climate Change" to "Solutions: Green Jobs, Green Economy." EDN hopes that providing free access to these lesson plans, The Story of Climate Change, and other resources will inspire students to take action in their schools and communities, contributing to one of the largest environmental service campaigns in the world, "A Billion Acts of Green."
“Climate education now is a necessary foundation for our future climate leaders,” said Kathleen Rogers, president of the Earth Day Network. “Creating a climate narrative for students encourages them to think about the risks associated with climate change and the future of their planet.”
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By Radha McLean
Childhood eczema is described by the National Eczema Association (NEA) as a chronic itchy skin condition that usually occurs within a child’s first five years of life, typically lasts into childhood and adolescence, and can sometimes last into adulthood.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
Some children have very mild eczema and others have severe eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis. While some health experts may recommend giving children with eczema petroleum-based moisturizers or prescribe topical steroid cortisone cream, some parents are seeking out natural treatments, including plant-based moisturizers, which do not contain processed chemicals. The following all-natural steps can be taken to help control a child’s eczema and avoid breakouts.
Giving your child a bath every day is recommended for infants and children with eczema, according to NEA. Baths should contain warm rather than hot water and last approximately 10 minutes. Experts at the NEA also say that parents should avoid washing children with loofahs and rough washcloths, use very little soap, and steer clear of bubble bath, epson salts and other bath additives because they can irritate the skin.
The NEA emphasizes the importance of moisturizing a child’s skin, especially immediately after bathing, before the skin dries. Some natural, plant-based creams that will soothe and moisturize a child’s skin include 100 percent shea butter, Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Multipurpose Ointment and California Baby Eczema Cream. Dr. Weil, a leader in the field of integrative medicine, also recommends using aloe vera gel or calendula cream.
Avoid Skin Irritants
Knowing any food allergies your child may have and avoiding those foods is essential to preventing eczema since food allergies are a leading cause of skin inflammation in children.
“Children with this condition also have some underlying allergies that are manifested in the skin. When exposed to these allergens, the skin overreacts and breaks out in a rash. The already dry and slightly irritated skin is less able to handle this allergic rash, and less able to heal itself quickly,” pediatrician and health expert Dr. Sears stated on his web site.
Dr. Sears also suggests taking the following actions to avoid skin irritation in children. Avoid wool and synthetic materials for clothing and bedding, wash new clothes before wearing them to remove the chemicals, avoid perfumed or scented lotions, bubble bath, suntan lotion with PABA and laundry detergents with dyes or scents. He also recommends maintaining a humidity of 25-40 percent in your home.
Eat Moisturizing Foods
Giving your child foods high in omega 3 fat will help keep your child’s skin naturally moisturized, according to Dr. Sears. Some ways of incorporating omega 3 into a child’s diet are to add flaxseeds or chia seeds in oatmeal, pancakes and sandwiches. Salmon, tuna and canola oil also contain high amounts of omega 3 fat. Vitamins C and E also act as natural skin moisturizers. Children can get those extra vitamins by taking a daily multivitamin. Finally, Dr. Sears recommends keeping your child hydrated by having him or her drink plenty of water.
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