Why Children’s Stories Are a Powerful Tool to Fight Climate Change – YES! Magazine

reading at beach

The children will inherit the environmental situation (mess) we have allowed on our planet, and we must make sure they have the tools to make life-saving decisions! This informative article discusses why children’s literature is so important for them, in addition to the facts of science…

“Stories that move us do so on a personal level and change us from within in ways that facts alone never could. This is especially true of young people, most of whom respond to stories with emotional intensity.”

Source: Why Children’s Stories Are a Powerful Tool to Fight Climate Change – YES! Magazine

Spice is the Key to Eating Less Meat

From Maria Godoy’s Life Kit at NPR

“Trying to eat less meat? Make sure your meat-free meals are just as satisfying by seasoning your vegetables with the same spices you use to cook meat. It will carry some of that flavor over.

Keep your cupboard stocked with spices like cumin, paprika and ginger that enhance any meal. Fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme and basil can also add a nice touch.

‘If you love Thai, if you love Ethiopian, if you love Caribbean [food] — keep those spices on hand as well,’ says Tracye McQuirter, a public health nutritionist and author.

It turns out you don’t need to become vegetarian or vegan to make an impact on your health or the environment. Just cutting back on your meat consumption can go a long way. You could also try plant-based proteins to fill out a meal, like tofu, cashews, almonds, mushrooms or edamame.

It also helps to think about what your meals are gaining, instead of what they’re lacking.”

Check out the short podcast and link for recipe ideas! ~Becky

A Good Sign from the Mailbox

Even though I no longer have a garden beyond my balcony, I still love receiving that first seed & plant catalog of the new year in the mail. Spring will return…it’s just around the corner! And I like that the pages appear to hold even more selections marked as “container friendly,” which works out well for me. Time to start planning!

And speaking of planning, if you’ve been thinking about including more plant-based foods in your meals, you might want to check out the Meatless Monday Challenge. It’s a free 12-week program that’s set up to assist you in meeting that goal, while you help the environment at the same time!

I look forward to reading all of your blogs in the coming months and wish each of you a healthy and happy 2022!

Zapping Manure with Lightning to Fight Pollution?

One of my recurring freelance projects is to write monthly about good news for kids. Recently, I read an article that adults could be very interested in, as well! You’ve probably read that the methane from cow poo, farts, and burps is more than 20 times as destructive for our environment than the carbon dioxide from our cars.

Short of ending or cutting back on the raising of cattle, what’s to be done? A Nordic company has come up with an idea that is now being tested in the UK. By producing artificial lightning bolts as plasma to zap manure, they are turning most of the ammonia to a usable form of natural fertilizer AND reducing almost all the methane emissions!

Truly great and promising news. Now we need to see how much governments are willing to chip in to help the farmers shoulder the costs of the electricity needed for the process. One thing is certain, we cannot just keep doing things the same.

Air pollution and climate change are real. What can you do today to help? Here are some “greener living” ideas from the EPA!

Fight Climate Change with Your Fork: Meatless Monday

Source: Pixabay

Extreme weather, rising sea levels, and species extinctions are all signs of climate change. Many scientists agree that greenhouse gases are a major threat. What can we each do to make a difference? Fight climate change with your fork! The livestock industry contributes about 14.5% of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans, which is even more than those brought about by transportation. Tweaking our diets away from animal products and towards plant-based eating is one way we can each help!

Source: Pixabay

Check out Meatless Monday for more details about the following:

*Adopting Meatless Monday

*Eating more plant-based meals

*Reducing food waste

*Composting

*Eating sustainable foods

And make sure to use the links for great recipe ideas!

21 Ways You Can Eat More Plant-based Foods in 2021!

Check out 21 tips for incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet in 2021. Arm yourself with this toolbelt of techniques, pantry staples, swaps, gadgets, and apps!

Source: 21 Ways You Can Eat More Plant-based Foods in 2021

Many bloggers have mentioned this as a goal for the coming months. Hopefully these ideas will help!     ~Becky

Hoping for Snow?

children playing in snow
Becky and sister Terri

Growing up in Michigan, the opportunity to play in winter snow was always a given. Many years would pass, before living in the much different climates of North Carolina and now Texas, to understand how scores of children (and even adults!) maintain such strong desires and dreams for that white stuff.

In 2019, I wrote a blog post with the happy news about the anticipated publication of my story, “Welcome to Texas, Heikki Lunta,” which revolves around two children waiting for snow. To check out the history of Heikki Lunta in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, you can read that post here.

Today, I’m excited to share my full story with you, which was first published in U.P. Reader Issue #3.

frosty window

Welcome to Texas, Heikki Lunta!

Another winter holiday passed with no snow in sight. Not one flake. That glorious white stuff hadn’t fallen on Ella and Rae-Ann’s part of Texas in years. The sisters searched the sky when cold winds blew. They peered out the windows to see what was new. Nothing.  

“We had such fun playing in the snow that year,” said Ella, pointing at a framed photo.

“I only remember making snow angels when I look at that picture,” said her younger sister, Rae-Ann.

New Year’s Day came and went. The children said ‘good-bye’ to winter break and returned to their classrooms.

***

Mom shooed two dogs away as she sliced apples and spooned peanut butter onto plates for an after-school snack. Grandma sat in the kitchen finishing her coffee.

 “Y’all come to the table, girls. And don’t let the dogs get your food,” warned Mom. With a shiver, she turned the furnace up a notch before joining the others.

“It’s sure getting cold out there,” said Grandma. “I hear that Heikki Lunta might make a visit.”

“Hay-Kee who?” asked Ella, licking peanut butter from her fingers.

Rae-Ann’s eyes stole a quick look at the back door.

“His story’s rather long,” their grandmother said.

“Tell us,” the sisters begged in one voice.

“Well, you know I used to live w-a-a-a-y at the tip-top of Upper Michigan,” Grandma began.

“I sort of remember visiting you there,” said Ella.

“That was summer. You have no idea what it’s like in the winter.”

“Lots of snow?” asked Rae-Ann.

“Tons,” nodded Grandma. “The snowbanks grow taller than people. Schools sometimes close for a week at a time because of the blizzards.”

“Wow!” Ella exclaimed. The dogs cocked their heads to the side, listening.

“What does that have to do with this Heikki Lunta?” Mom asked.

“Quite a few families in Northern Michigan came from a far-away, snowy country called Finland,” said Grandma. “Many years ago, those who lived in Finland shared stories called ‘myths,’ just like most ancient people around the world.”

Scooping Snow in Finland (Pixabay)

“I learned about myths in school,” Ella said. “Those are made-up stories that explain how things work or got started. We read about how the elephant got its trunk.”

“Exactly,” said Mom. “And you’ve both seen a movie about Hercules, which is also a myth.”

“That’s right,” Grandma said. “Many of those stories include gods and goddesses. ’Heikki Lunta’ is like a snow god from Finland. People who live in Upper Michigan often talk about him in the winter when they’re hoping for snow. Hotels and restaurants looking for visitors to the area even put up signs saying, ‘Heikki Lunta, do your thing.’”

“Did you ever see him?” whispered Rae-Ann.

“He’s just pretend,” Ella reminded her younger sister. “Grandma, why did you tease us and say he’s coming here?”

Mom and Grandma exchanged knowing looks.

“The weather report says we might get a bit of snow tonight or tomorrow,” Mom answered.

Her daughters’ smiles reached from ear to ear.

Make it snow, Heikki Lunta, make it snow,” sang Grandma, when it was time for her to leave.

***

When Dad returned from work, the sisters rushed out to his red pick-up truck and told him about the forecast. After dinner, they drew pictures of their neighborhood covered in snow. At the bottom of hers, Ella wrote, “Please send snow Haykee Loonta.”

The girls welcomed bedtime that night. Ella left her blinds open in hopes of seeing some flurries. In another room down the hall, Rae-Ann was excited and just a little nervous. She peeked through long lashes at her bedroom door before falling asleep.

While she slept, Rae-Ann imagined someone like Hercules. He wore a heavy white coat with its collar turned up against the cold. Ella dreamed of a man with long gray hair and beard, who was dressed in a flowing blue robe. Wind and snow swirled around him. Heikki Lunta?  As the whole town slept, dark clouds gathered and delivered a bit of magic.

                                                                     ***

At the sound of Dad’s pick-up leaving in the morning, four eyes popped open wide. Rae-Ann and Ella ran to their windows and cheered at the sight of powdery snow on the ground and glistening flakes in the air. The time said 9:00. Why had their parents let them sleep so late?

“You’re taking a snow day,” Mom explained in the kitchen.

“School’s closed?” asked Rae-Ann.

“The roads are quite safe, according to the radio. We don’t get snow very often, so Dad and I decided to let you stay home and enjoy it.”

 “Yay!” both girls cheered, as they ran to get dressed.

“A warm breakfast comes first,” Mom yelled up the stairs. “Then we’ll hunt up our wooly hats and mittens. You’ll need to wear your snow boots and not just those ropers.”

***

dogs in the snow
Dogs Surprised by Snow

Light snow continued to fall throughout the morning. The three stomped trails in their backyard and built a small snowman. Ella and Rae-Ann lay down and flapped their arms to make snow angels. Their happy dogs rolled near them on the frosty ground. While watching their fun, Mom picked a torn section of blue fabric from a nearby bush.

“Maybe Heikki Lunta really did help us out,” Ella said with a secret grin, at the sight of the blue material. “Does Grandma know about the snow?”

“I’m sure she does,” said Mom. “Let’s pick her up for a snow ride.”

“What’s that?” asked Rae-Ann. “A car drive on the snowy streets?”

“It’s mostly melted from the roads. I’ll phone her to say that we’re coming, and then I’ll show you my idea.”

Ten minutes later, the laughing trio arrived at Grandma’s apartment building. When she slid into the front seat, she saw what was causing their excitement. Sparkling snowflakes floated into the car from the open moon roof.

Mom pulled back onto the street. People up and down the sidewalks turned in surprise. Echoes of four voices drifted through the winter air, “THANK YOU, HEIKKI LUNTA!”

snowman
Texas Snowman

7 Eco-Friendly Actions for Kids During the Pandemic: from EARTHDAY.ORG

earth-day-hands and earth

from EARTHDAY.ORG:

“The COVID-19 outbreak has drastically altered daily life. For millions of students and parents, that means homeschooling.

Social distancing is a necessary and effective measure to keep us safe, but it also commands widespread school closures, which can make for a challenging transition for many children. Home from school, many children are feeling anxious about the future, unsure of how to help.

For many climate-minded young people, the feeling is familiar. They’re already concerned about the Earth’s future in the face of climate change — now the pandemic is compounding these emotions.

Fortunately, many inspirational kids are also leading the fight for a greener planet and safer future. Young people around the world have the power to make a difference, even from their homes.

Below are some at-home activities that students can do to beat boredom, stay positive and create a climate-friendly future:

1. Attend or host a virtual teach-in

Since the first Earth Day in 1970, teach-ins — or educational lectures and discussions on important public interest topics — have been a valuable tool for environmentalists to inspire community action. This year, as Earth Day goes digital, teach-ins can still prompt meaningful community responses to ongoing environmental challenges.

Encourage your student or child to attend one of these virtual teach-ins or follow Earth Day Network’s guide to create their own. They can livestream a nature walk or backyard exploration. They can also ask viewers to find what species live in their backyard and explore how they can protect local habitats.

2. Download the Earth Challenge app 

Download Earth Day Network’s new Earth Challenge app to gather air quality and pollution data in your community. The app empowers citizen scientists to monitor their local environment and offers tools and tips for environmental protection.

3. Try some delicious plant-based cuisine

There’s no better way to spend time at home than trying new recipes. Fortunately, your family can both eat delicious food and reduce their carbon footprint by adopting a more plant-based diet. Help your child research plant-based recipes or recreate family favorites with plant-based ingredients.

If they’re craving something sweet, try these easy swaps to indulge in their favorite desserts. Your child can even livestream a plant-based cooking lesson for family and friends or create a cookbook of their new favorite recipes.

In addition to mastering new recipes, students can learn food preservation techniques, such as canning, pickling, drying and freezing to enjoy fruits and vegetables year round and minimize food waste.

4. Make a plan to cut down on plastic pollution

Ask your child to help audit your plastic use at home by counting how many plastic containers, wraps, bottles and bags you purchase for your kitchen and bathroom. Encourage them to research products that have more sustainable packaging for your next grocery trip or online order. And when you order to-go meals from restaurants, make a note asking for no plastic utensils and limited plastic packaging.

5. Learn new ways to protect our species

If your child is interested in protecting biodiversity, learning about different species is the best way to start. Watch an environmental documentary or animal show and learn how individuals can help protect endangered species. Many zoos and aquariums are offering free teach-ins and livestreams, so tune in to learn about different species and their habitats.

Customize your species education by researching what pollinators need are native to your area and what plants they rely on. Learn how to make a thriving habitat for pollinators and help your child design a pollinator garden for your yard or community.

6. Create eco-art

Creating art is an excellent way to spend time indoors and still connect to the Earth (not to mention, reduce stress). Repurpose materials from around the house, and encourage your child to create something new, like jewelry, bags or plant holders. They can even transform trash into treasure by creating a sculpture out of recyclables. Gather some inspiration from Earth Day Network’s Artists for the Earth gallery.

Creating art is also a great way to get outdoors while practicing social distancing. Supervise your child as they gather items like leaves and pinecones from your backyard and create an innovative art project.

While you’re outdoors, encourage your child to pay attention to nature and wildlife. Students can write short stories or poems about what a bird sees as it flies or what a squirrel thinks about as it climbs trees.

7. Join EARTHRISE and make an Earth Day Poster

Amid the pandemic, the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day is still as important as ever. Join the digital EARTHRISE movement and show your support for climate action today and into the future.

One way to show your support is with an Earth Day poster: Provide your child with supplies to design an Earth Day poster, and put it in your home’s window for neighbors to see. Make sure to tweet your poster to @EarthDayNetwork.”

by Lindsay Steinberg

***

As an avid reader and writer, I’ll add that reading books related to taking care of our earth or writing related stories and articles are also great ways for kids (and adults:) to take part in Earth Day this year!                         ~Becky

children-sunset