Every day, the ocean serves up a chance for us to change our ways.
That dawned on me when I was walking on the beach in south Florida and noticed, glinting from the sand, the corner of a clear plastic bag. Picking it up, it snapped in the wind and I saw it was still intact. After that, I couldn’t help but use it to collect other stuff left in the wake of the tide: bottle caps and straws, spoons and forks, hair clips and cup lids, and many, many plastic scraps.
That’s the thing about plastic: it never really breaks down. As I wrote after Superstorm Sandy, the problem afflicts fresh water, too. Bacteria and other micro-organisms naturally degrade things like banana peels, egg shells and other natural, organic matter. But machine-made plastics are petrochemical polymers that don’t degrade. They only become smaller and smaller bits of themselves. Continue reading →
America’s pediatricians have an order for parents: get a handle on how your children are using media.
Kids are certainly getting their fill of texting, online games, social media and YouTube videos. The average 8-year-old now spends almost 8 hours a day on screens of various sizes. Make that 11 hours for teenagers.
But a new statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics warns too much screen time can “contribute substantially to many risks and health problems” ranging from disrupted sleep to substance abuse to weight increase. Continue reading →
This article was co-written shortly after Steve Jobs died in 2013.
Steve Jobs was a durable human. His natural curiosity led him to explore new ideas, his brilliance allowed him to capitalize on what he learned, and his creativity drove him forward.
Jobs applied his experience to the design of what he called “seamless” products: devices so intuitive that using them is second nature. Yet he himself grew up in a world without such gadgets. Continue reading →
When it comes to improving the health of children, can prescribing a nature walk be as good as a pill? A growing number of American physicians are betting on it, especially in light of the dire state of children’s mental health.
“I prescribe nature to patients because it is the easiest way for me to get people outside,” declares Robert Zarr, a Washington, D.C. pediatrician. Zarr and other “Nature Champions” prescribe free-form outdoor exercise to their patients. A study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health finds that, though more research is needed, “Nature prescription programs offer an opportunity to connect patients with local parks and green spaces, and to capitalize on health benefits that could result.”
I listed the sorry state of U.S. inactivity in a previous post. And there’s more I learned at the national Walking Summit: most American adults spend 90% of their time indoors, 40% of them get no leisure-time physical activity, and their kids park in front of screens 7.5 hours a day. This has contributed to a doubling of the type 2 diabetes rate in the past fifteen years and the fact that one in three Americans—whether adult or child—weighs too much. Continue reading →