Saturday, February 25, 2023

Where Do Students Get Their Climate Change "411?"

Back in the day, 411 was the universal code you dialed on your home landline when you wanted to get information or directory assistance. This was way back when "landline" wasn't really a thing because it was just your phone. The only one you had. The one in your home--the only place you had a phone. 
Of course that also was in the days we had television too. (I'm not THAT big of a dinosaur!) So, you could also get information from the well as libraries, newspapers, magazines, and more.
Well of course, here in the ultra-connected digital age where smartphones and tablets are extensions of our arms, even though 411 is still sort of "a thing" (unless you are an AT&T customer), we get a lot of information in other places. 
On the Social Institute's blog, I ran across the February 10, 2023 article "Climate Change Education: Where Are Students Getting Their Information?" [The Social Institute is a paid, online learning platform and curriculum for schools to help students grades 4-12 navigate their emotions and the tangled world of social media and technology.
Environmental education is not standard state to state at this point in the United States. (Sadly, it often times becomes a highly charged political issue, when truthfully, helping our planet should be universal...but I digress.) If students aren't consistently learning about climate change in school, it begs the question: where are they getting their 411? 
All fingers tend to point to social media. TikTok is a wildly popular way to share soundbites, and there are influencers galore (on every subject) as well as on Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter. Additionally, social media is a very popular platform for environmental organizations as well as all sorts of news and other media outlets. On top of that, teens are less likely to get this type of information from news programs or books.

This is where it gets hairy. The Internet is ripe with amazing information, facts, and details. It also is the host of a lot of misinformation, disinformation, biased content, propaganda, fake news, semi-accurate facts, spin-doctoring, conspiracy theories, and outright fiction...all posing as factual information.  Of course, this is hard enough for adults too navigate, let alone our preteens, teens, and college students. Then throw in algorithms that lead to biased silos, clickbait, ads, and other online manipulation ... it can get hairy indeed! Media literacy serves as the keys to the correct content kingdom.

With science-based information in particular, students need to remember the importance of triangulating their facts by fact checking using multiple (at least three), reputable sources. Even if it's in a 15 or 30 second TikTok. Scientific journals and governmental organizations are two great places to start. They may also want to investigate their social media's algorithm. It's also good practice to report blatant misinformation to stop the spread. At the very least, we all need to make sure we aren't part of the problem by sharing and spreading the "bad stuff."
It's also good to encourage students (and adults) to do what The Social Institute calls "Using Social Media for Good." This includes not how a person uses it, but also who they follow. Look for those who are trustworthy folks to follow! Social media is growing as a platform for activism. By being sure to use it for the positive good, not only can people connect on matters of importance (which for many young people includes protecting the planet from the effects of climate change), but it also can become contagious. (I'm feeling Heather White's One Green Thing [OGT] in action, especially the OGT Influencers out there!)
In The Social Institute's post I referenced above, they also have a seven-page infographic on the 23 Insights for 2023 on how students use social media and how it impacts them emotionally. [Disclaimer: To download this, you need to give your 411: your name, phone number, and email address.]
As tech becomes even more enmeshed in our lives, these media literacy skills become more vital for each and every one of us, every day!

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

52 Ways to Walk

I happened upon the book 52 Ways to Walk: The Surprising Science of Walking for Wellness and Joy, One Week at a Time by Annabel Streets in the virtual bookshelf of my Libby app. I'm not even 100% sure how, but it most certainly was a "happy accident!" It was the perfect book as I'm newly back to walking after 2 knee surgeries over the last 6 months. Additionally, there are so many tie-ins to both nature and brain & body science.... I feel it's one of those books that everyone needs to read. 

It's probably no surprise that people view walking as boring. You may agree. Given that, these 52 approaches serve as a good way to snazz up walking and jazz up your step, making it more of a habit and bringing you more joy. It doesn't have to be same ole, same ole.

The way the book is laid out, you could read it front to back, skip around, or save a chapter a week to guide your walking with 52 different approaches and ways to be mindfully focused out in nature. It helps you get out of the mindset of "the walking rut." It even inserts a bit of playfulness and levity, and our brains love novelty.
Some of my favorite chapters included: 
  • Week 2: Improve Your Gait
  • Week 3: Walk, Smile, Greet, Repeat
  • Week 8: Walk with Vista Vision
  • Week 11: Take a City Smell Walk
  • Week 13: Take a Walk-Dance or a Dance-Walk
  • Week 16: Pick Up Litter as You Walk
  • Week 26: Walk in Sunshine
  • Week 29: Walk Barefoot
  • Week 32: Walk in Water
  • Week 44: Seek Out the Sublime
  • Week 45: Work as You Walk
  • Week 51: Walking as Meditation
  • Week 52: Walk Deep and Seek Out Fractals
Some major takeaways....
  • As humans whose lifestyle is growingly becoming more sedentary, we don't move enough. Our bodies were meant to move. Half (or more) of our aches and pains come from our crunched computer posture. We need to move and groove so much more.
  • The health effects are many with routine walking. Regular walking: 
    • lowers your blood pressure, weight, inflammation, and cholesterol;
    • engages and alerts all of your senses;
    • counters heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, and anxiety;
    • improves your overall mental health and provides stress release
    • increases oxygen which helps your organs in addition to your memory, creativity, clarity of thought, concentration, relaxation, and your ability to sleep at night;
    • combats fatigue and brings about greater energy; 
    • helps move your muscles, joints, and bones and improves your alignment, strengthens your core, and improves your balance and stability;
    • increases your long distance and panoramic vision given you aren't singualarily looking at a screen;
    • provides you opportunity to get more Vitamin D.
  • There are also a bounty of environmental benefits: 
    • Walking provides you an opportunity to step away from your car or public transportation, which lowers the overall environmental impact of getting from one place to another.
    • As you walk, you can make it you "one green thing" to pick up trash along the way as you go.
    • Walking gets you more in touch with your surroundings. When this happens, it helps us care more about our world around us--which makes you more invested in protecting the world around you. This is how environmental stewards are made.
When there's a bounty of science explaining all the benefits of walking, and the price is right (free!), what's not to love about walking. There's literally nothing stopping you, except your own 2 feet! Today may be a great day to get outside, breathe in some fresh air, sharpen your focus, and start feeling the benefits!

Book image from; Quote image created from using a book quote from -From 52 Ways to Walk by Annabel Streets

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Planetary Stewardship TEDxBoston

In researching my recent post about Heather White's TEDx Talk in Boston, I learned she was there for the November 13-14, 2022 Planetary Stewardship TEDxBoston event. Focused around climate change and timed to coordinate with the United Nations Climate Change Conference last November, the many TEDxBoston talks all centered around environmental sustainability.

Included in the multitude of speakers were the following: 

You can find these and other talks both at the TEDxBoston Planetary Stewardship website and also their Planetary Stewardship YouTube playlist. What a way to soak up so much environmental expertise!

Video from and  TedxBoston logo from

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Plastic-Free This Valentine's Day

 ♥️ Happy Valentine's Day! ♥️

These images struck me that as we are celebrating our loved friends and family this Valentine's Day, maybe we should extend a little love to our planet. Most beautiful part of all of this: it's not limited to just one day in the middle of February. It's something we can do every day!

♥️ I hope your Valentine's Day is full of love and free of plastic! ♥️

if you are still in the market for giving a little plastic-free love today!

"My love language" image from, "Use Real Stuff" image from, "Guide to Plastic Free Valentine's Day" image from 

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Heather White's "Think Like An Awesome Ancestor" TED Talk on Eco-Anxiety

What are your daily practices?

Coffee in the morning?
Exercise or meditation?
Walks after dinner?
Couch cozying and binge watching?
We all have those things that we do every day. Purposefully or not. 
Several posts ago I wrote about Heather White and her One Green Thing climate action superpower online quiz. It's been a book that's been ruminating with me for awhile now.
Her proposal is that we all should set up a daily practice of sustainability. In doing so, it can help combat the eco-anxiety many feel, especially our teens.
Here, in her TEDxBoston talk "Think Like an Awesome Ancestor: A Daily Practice to Ease Eco-Anxiety" she addresses all of the above. Her statistics for Gen Z'ers and their eco-anxiety are eye-opening, striking once again about the mental health crisis we have on our hands--especially when you factor in how social media can elevate all of that. But, by thinking ahead, paying it forward, like planning as your ancestors have in the past, we can lead to a greener cultural change that will benefit our kids and their future kids.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Go Slow: For Our Planet and Our Health

I recently ran across Lloyd Alter's Treehugger article "Go Slow to Help Slow the Climate Crisis" while scrolling my social media feed. It was a good read here in the winter, when the time of the year lending itself to cold, chilly, and hibernating. I like the idea of being more deliberate in our approaches to our choice. 

However, the most striking part about this whole article was that it was dated December 30, 2019. 2019! Only 3 years ago, but given the past 3 years, three years can feel like a lifetime ago.

Moreover, December 2019 was ironically 3 months before the start of the Covid 19 pandemic started mid-March 2020. The pandemic which forced all of us to "go slow" for months (and some of us, now, for years).

Alter's 2019 article focuses on slow food, slow cities, slow travel, slow cars, and slow space. And it makes sense how these would make a greater impact on our planet:
  • Slow Food: Eating locally, seasonally, and in a farm-to-table manner means our food travels shorter distances, provides us with greater nutrients, and makes a smaller carbon footprint.
  • Slow Cities: Walkable cities and town centers with no cars helps bring about a greater reliance on local businesses. It grows connection and community and lowers greenhouse gases.
  • Slow Travel: Planes are carbon intensive. A shift to alternative travel promotes less emissions and more opportunity to slow down, take a look around, and smell the roses as you go. 
  • Slow Cars: Driving a little slower or a smaller car saves on fuel, emissions, and improves your gas mileage (which saves you money). Carpooling and public transportation also help in congested communities.
  • Slow Space: There's a lot of cheap, poorly constructed, toxic materials in the items we bring into our homes. Making smart decisions with what you do and don't bring into your home benefits the planet that houses it.
All excellent points in moving slower intentionally to help promote the planet. In a way, though, in reading this article retrospectively in 2023, it reads like a premonition.

As a planet of people who have collectively lived through a pandemic, there has been a lot of shift in people's perspective on community, health, wellness, and personal decisions. While we were all living through the pandemic, life seemed to be screaming "less is more!" For many of us, it still does. 

However, as more people are seeing Covid 19 in the rearview mirror (whether that is medically accurate or not), the desire to "return to normal" is causing the "go slow" lessons learned these past 3 years to dissipate like fog. Is it just me, or does it seems like people are starting to forget? More importantly, should we forget??

This idea of going slow also parallels the "quiet quitting" movement that has gained traction this past year. As Cal Newport (author of Digital Mimimalism) described in his 12/29/22 New Yorker article "The Year in Quiet Quitting," quiet quitting is when you maintain your employment, but you stick with your listed job requirements. You draw stricter boundaries between home and work--especially as it has become blurred, blended together with remote work, zoom meetings, or email pings all weekend long. You do your job, but you stop burning the midnight oil going over and above. It will all be there tomorrow. Your goal: to make sure you have a life along the way. 

Lives most certainly are meant to be lived, and we do only have one of them. 

As a 30+ year veteran teacher, I have noticed that wealth of articles specifically tying all of these ideas together. Teachers were the March 2020 heroes who readied for remote learning at a moment's notice. That revered reputation was short-lived. In fact, life back in the classroom intensified with greater demands when the kids all came back in class. Teachers left the workforce in droves, leaving current teachers to double up due to no substitutes. Also for those who stayed, they are dealing with increased concerns about student socialization/behavior, "learning loss" (a term I hate), and growing mental health issues. 

We learned so much during the pandemic--and we want those lessons to not go by lost, in vain. We need to remember: less is still more. Slow and steady still wins the race. These 3 articles that have spoken loudly to me about all of this:
As I write this post and reflect on going slow for our planet, our health, our students, and our classrooms, I have homemade soup simmering on my stove. I chuckle at the irony as it makes for a good metaphor. Sure, I could put my soup on a high heat and "cook it up quick." But, it is through the marinading and the melding of ingredients where the magic happens. The end product is full of flavor to savor. That slow simmering pace feels like it has a wealth of benefit. Strikes me the same with life. Especially if peppered with a lot of time spent outdoors, in exploration and adventure.

As Ferris Bueller once said: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Seems like good advice for both humans taking care of themselves and their planet!

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Checking in on Your Carbon Footprint

I referenced being a lover of online quizzes a few posts ago.

Here's another one for you. This one is a free, not-behind-the-paywall quiz from the New York Times. "Quiz: What's the Best Way to Shrink Your Carbon Footprint" by Sander van der Linden is a simple 12 item quiz where you test your knowledge about the best way to reduce your own carbon emissions. Your job: to decide if each item has a small, moderate, or large effect. The other neat thing about this quiz is that once you answer, it shows the percentage of US quiz-takers who scored it accurately. 

I fared as Americans did on the question with the greatest percentage of Americans who got it right: 50%. And I'm sure that I've read more books that most people on the subject of carbon footprint and environmentalism... so one would expect I should have gotten more correct. I will say (in my defense), my errors were 1 degree away versus the two. For instance, if the true answer was "small effect," I put "moderate." Or vice versa. Or the same with "moderate" versus "large." So for the 6 I missed, I was "in the neighborhood."

According to the article, I was on par with most people. Most of the time I over-estimated the effect of my missed items. 

But it goes to show, even as educated as I am on these items, 50% of the correct answers isn't passing. We are seriously in need of education. Sander van der Linden's article that accompanies the quiz notes the same.

And spoiler alert, the one item you'd think most people are doing collectively (and most of America is probably not even doing well), ranks in the small department of effecting change. 

For some tips on reducing your carbon footprint, check out Columbia Climate School's The 37 Easiest Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint (Animated Graphic), which is an excellent summary of many ways you can take action.

[For a more in-depth investigation into your own carbon footprint, check out Carbon Calculator.]

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Funerals: Returning to the Earth

Sadly, we've had to attend two funerals in the past month. Never fun. It certainly puts everything into a clearer focus and makes you sharpen your priorities knowing that our time on this planet is finite.

Given we have been very much in this hyper-awareness of death in our house, I certainly paused when I saw Michael d'Estries' January 10, 202 Treehugger article: "New York Expands Green Burial Options With Human Composting."

My previous school was very eco-centric. We composted our school lunches and I brought my family's home food composting to school weekly--so I closely know how composting works. This, of course, brings almost too much inside information to the table... the thought of human composting brings about an initial "ew" factor.

New York is the sixth state to legalize human composting (which is also called natural reduction). Washington was the first in 2019, Colorado and Oregon in 2021, then California, and Vermont prior to New York in 2022.

Thinking about traditional modern burials, there's a lot of items being put into the ground: metal caskets lined with fabric. When you think about that alongside a growing population, that's a lot of "stuff." But even considering cremation can be hard for some people when it comes to considering that for a loved one. Then you add in composting? That's a lot to wrap a mind around.

But, for the avid environmentalist, it might be worth considering. In d'Estries' article, he goes through what human composting entails...and does a better job of it than I could do with summarizing it.  He also mentions companies in this field like Recompose and The Natural Funeral that specialize in natural reduction. While the price is still currently on par with traditional funerals, the longterm projection is that as more people embrace this, the costs will come down. 

To dive even deeper than the d'Estries article, click on the Recompose and The Natural Funeral links above. Then check out CNN's November 7, 2022 article "How Human Composting Could Reduce Death’s Darbon Footprint" by Kristen Rogers.

Am I ready to make this my end game plan? Not sure yet. But it is an interesting green alternative green for those who choose it as a way to reduce their waste, carbon footprint, and greenhouse gases in order to make a more sustainable impact on the Earth.

Image from