Many environmental problems can be traced to a number of factors. Chemicals can contaminate soil and water, and farmers’ use of pesticides and chemical herbicides to produce more crops is a source of considerable chemical pollution. But according to www.greenbuzz.com, homeowners use 10 times more chemicals per acre than the average farmer. These include the detergents, cleaning products, automotive substances and other chemicals that are often stored in garages and beneath sinks. Individuals willing to make small changes in regard to the use of such products could make a profound impact on the environment. Concerned consumers should be conscious of which products they purchase and use around the home, selecting ones that have minimal environmental impact. Additionally, many natural substances, such as vinegar, baking soda and borax, are much safer to use than many chemically-based household products.
Whether it is the weather keeping you indoors or a busy schedule, fresh air is important to staying healthy. Plants do a great job of scrubbing the air and keeping the indoors fresh. Did you know… • When you breathe, you take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. Plants take in carbon dioxide and expel oxygen. • Plants act as natural humidifiers, which helps prevent respiratory problems. The Agricultural University of Norway conducted studies that found that having plants indoors decreases chances of dry skin, colds, sore throats and dry coughs. • Plants clean the air. According to NASA, plants remove up to 87 percent of volatile organic compounds from the air. Things like cigarette smoke, chemicals found in grocery bags, carpets and printed papers give off chemicals; plants filter the chemicals out of the air. • Plants help sick people get better. Researchers at Kansas State University found that in hospitals, patients with plants in their rooms request less pain medication, have lower hearts rates, lower blood pressure and experience less anxiety than those without plants. • Plants help people stay focused, according to The Royal College of Agriculture in Circencester, England. Students were 70 percent more attentive when there were plants in the class room. In the same study, attendance was also higher for lectures with plants in the class room.
During the cold weather months, staying warm is important. Here are some tips on how to save money and stay comfortable, too. • Turn down the thermostat. If it feels a little chilly, put on a sweater. Staying active also helps keep the body warm — a few jumping jacks or a trip up and down the stairs will get your blood moving and take off some of the chill. • Avoid drafts. Look for places where cooler air might be sneaking in to your home. Windows and doors are common areas. If you feel a leak around a door or window, use a rolled up towel to stop the draft. • Keeping windows and doors closed also helps keep the cold out. • Open curtains in the morning to let sunshine in. It helps warm the room. Closing curtains and blinds at night helps to keep the heat in. • If your house doesn’t have carpeting, consider getting some area rugs. They provide a layer of insulation by trapping cold air on the floor underneath the rug.
It is easy to have fun during the holidays without being wasteful. Waste costs money and resources.Doing things like turning down the thermostat and turning off lights and appliances still make sense. Here are a few more tips to help make a difference this holiday season: • If you decorate for the holidays, consider using energy efficient light emitting diode (LED) lights. They save energy, are long-lasting and save money over time. • Instead of purchasing gifts, consider homemade items for some people on your list. Dried soup, hot chocolate and brownie mixes are inexpensive to put together and are useful, too. • Go through things you already own and donate any gently-used items to a shelter or other charity. • Spend part of the holiday season volunteering. • Don’t let leftovers go to waste – freeze them. Or get creative and try some new recipes using your holiday leftovers as ingredients. •Give fewer gifts but make them more meaningful. Sometimes just spending time with someone you care about is better than any material item.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, this is a great time to think about the many resources we have and how to help those who may not be so fortunate. Here are some ways to help others while still being kind to the environment. Be sure to get your parents involved, too! • Donate warm clothes and blankets to homeless shelters, churches and other charities. • Donate canned goods and grocery store gift certificates to food pantries and other organizations that feed the homeless and hungry. • Donate your time to a worthy cause. Ask a responsible grown up to come with you and volunteer, too. • Ask your parents to help you prepare and deliver a meal to someone in need. • Gather some friends and pick up the litter at a local park or other common area. What are some other things you can do to make a difference?
As the kids came into class, Ms. Gilmour greeted each with a high-five and she said, “Stop Bullying!” They were all surprised at first, but then they all started high fiving each other and repeating, “Stop Bullying!” Ms. Gilmour then asked them, “What is important about this month?” Everyone shouted, “Halloween!” Ms. Gilmour laughed, “That’s right, but what else is important about this month?” Rudy looked at the other blank faces and said, “I know, it’s Bullying Prevention Month, right?” Ms. Gilmour told Rudy he got it right. Nicole then added, “I remember last year we talked about how Bullying Prevention Month should be Bullying Prevention Year.” The kids all agreed that was a good idea, since bullying doesn’t stop on Oct. 31. “Now that you’re back in school, where are you seeing bullying at your school?” Ms. Gilmour asked. All hands went up. Carmen said, “I see it on my bus.” Stephen said, “Kids are bullying in my classroom, and they find a way to do it so the teacher doesn’t see it.” Truman the Dragon then said, “I see bullying in the cafeteria where some kids won’t let others sit with them, or make fun of the way some kids eat.” Rudy said, “That’s not kind or cool.” Carmen added, “That’s just mean and rude.” Ms. Gilmour asked where else they saw bullying. Nicole said, “I see kids being bullied in the locker room or in gym class for how they look, or even for how they play a game.” Stephen then said, “That happens on the ball fields too, both during school and after school at practices and games.” “What do you think about bullying on the Internet? Is that part of school bullying?” asked Ms. Gilmour. Nicole was first to answer, “Yes, because it’s the kids from school who are bullying other kids online. We need to do something to stop all this bullying!” Ms. Gilmour then asked Carmen, “You said you see bullying on your bus. What can kids do to stop that kind of bullying?” Tanner jumped in with, “Show kindness to everyone; no teasing or picking on anyone, especially younger kids.” Rudy added, “Be a friend to younger kids, and report older kids who are bullying to the driver or aide.” Nicole said, “We have to let kids know that reporting bullying isn’t tattling, especially if someone is getting hurt.” Truman the Dragon then said, “I can stop bullying by just giving the kids who bully a look. But not everyone can do that. We have to get our friends together and tell the bully to stop.” All the kids pretended to be shaking in fear of Truman. Carmen added, “We have to all follow the rules on the bus, like staying seated and keeping our hands to ourselves. Let’s all be Bus Bully Busters!” “Great idea,” said Ms. Gilmour. “We still have many places where bullying is happening to talk about. See you next time.” Note To Parents From Ms. Gilmour: Bullying is the #2 epidemic in the US. In addition to these Cool Kind Kid articles, we endeavor to provide up to date research, articles and other news on this topic on our Facebook page. We’d love to post stories and photos of your kids being Cool Kind Kids, and learn about how you have successfully dealt with bullying. [We don’t post names or locations.] Go to http://www.facebook.com/coolkindkid. To send photos and stories, and give your permission to post, go to firstname.lastname@example.org. At the request of parent focus groups, we have been developing a Bullying Prevention Parent/Child Resource Kit. We will be having 3 new books for parents and children available soon as well. Look for them on our website: www.coolkindkid.com.
For many people, getting fresh water is as easy as turning on the faucet but that doesn’t mean it is okay to take fresh water for granted. There are many ways to help keep sources of fresh water clean. Keeping water clean helps keep wildlife safe and healthy – and people, too! Water naturally collects in places like lakes and rivers. This water eventually makes its way to homes and businesses where people use it for things like cooking, cleaning and drinking. While it is in these lakes and rivers animals and plants use the water, too. Believe it or not, a lot of the things we do on land affect these water sources. Littering and pouring oils and other chemicals and pollutants into drains are just some of the things that can harm drinking water and damage living conditions for animals that rely on it. Litter can get swept into storm drains or into bodies of water and pollute the it. This also harms wildlife including fish, birds and other small animals. Pouring oils and other chemicals into drains changes the chemistry of the water making it unsafe for wildlife to drink it or live in it, as well.
Being a good neighbor means more than being friendly to the humans across the street, it also means being friendly to the animals in your yard. Making your yard a safe place for local wildlife should be a top lawn care priority. With that in mind, here are some tips for creating a healthy habitat for local critters. Be a Valuable Rest Stop • Stock your garden with small native species of trees, shrubs and flowers to give wildlife needed nourishment, as well as cover from predators. • A source of water can also be a great resource for visiting fauna. Whether it’s a pond or a bird bath, be sure this zone is well-maintained so you don’t inadvertently create a haven for unwanted species. In the warmer months when mosquitoes are most active, you should change the bird bath water even more often. Promote Safety • A bird feeder in your backyard, full of water and seeds, will be the perfect invitation for beautiful migrating and local birds to stop by. • Just be sure your property is safe for birds. Unfortunately, birds don’t see clear glass. As a result, millions of birds die every year by striking glass. Don’t let your sliding glass doors or other windows become a death trap for birds. To protect birds, apply special decals that reflect ultraviolet sunlight. For example, those from WindowAlert have the appearance of frosted glass, but glow like a stoplight for birds, so you don’t have to compromise your own view out your window. The brand also makes a high-tech liquid called WindowAlert UV Liquid, which should be applied between decals. “Wildlife can beautify your garden and be a sign that your yard is healthy” says Spencer Schock, founder of WindowAlert. “But birds and other wildlife need food, shelter and safety.” Get out the binoculars! With a few small actions, you can make your yard or garden a wildlife refuge.
It may seem like no big deal to leave a plastic water bottle or candy wrapper on the beach or other body of water, but the truth is, it is a big deal. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch proves just how big of a deal it is. It is as big as the state of Texas and is made up of plastics and other debris. It is located between California and Hawaii. While this garbage patch is not the only one, it is the largest. Scientists say it takes about six years for a piece of trash from America to reach the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and about one year for a piece of trash from Japan to get there. The ocean currents naturally push debris to this location. The pieces that are not biodegradable can’t break down so they stay there, polluting the water. While plastics are not biodegradable, they do break down into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic. That means that garbage patch is not solid matter but in fact a soupy mess of plastics. Animals that swim through the patch often end up with these plastics in their systems. We all know that plastic is not food. Turtles confuse plastic bags for jellyfish. Often birds confuse bottle caps for food. They eat them but can’t digest them, so their stomachs fill with plastic. They feel full but their bodies can’t process the plastic so they starve to death, even though they continue trying to eat. Fish on the low end of the food chain also eat these tiny bits of plastic, and are then eaten by larger fish – which we catch and eat. So we are basically eating our own garbage in addition to making other animals sick with it.
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