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Richard Louv’s Well-Being Rx: Reconnect with Nature
April 2011

Richard_LouvIf it’s true that people are self-interested creatures at heart, journalist Richard Louv has a message for humankind: Think not only what we can do for nature, but what nature can do for us.

Louv’s seminal book, Last Child in the Woods, launched a national dialogue about the disconnection between children and nature, a state he calls nature-deficit disorder. Now, in The Nature Principle, Louv vividly portrays how a nature-infused lifestyle can enhance the quality of our health and relationships, benefiting every facet of experience. He asserts that the more high-tech our lives become, the more nature we need, and offers a roadmap to a future that incorporates nature into every aspect of our lives, from our homes to our workplaces.

The recipient of the 2008 Audubon Medal, Louv is the author of eight books, and the founder of the Children & Nature Network.

 
Cashing In
April 2011

College Students Annually Repeat Recycling Bonanza

collegeWhen Lisa Heller Boragine discovered that college students moving out of their dorms dump tons of perfectly good stuff that wind up in landfills, she organized her nonprofit Dump & Run. Now, schools across the country are corralling leftover belongings and getting them into the hands of people who will give them a second life.

She recently helped Brandeis University, in Waltham, Massachusetts, organize a collection drive and sale that netted more than six tons of items from departing students. Clothing, food and bedding went to local charities. Mini-fridges, desk lamps and plastic storage containers were sold to incoming students, with proceeds benefiting on-campus sustainability efforts.

Boston College’s Cleansweep program makes it even easier; students simply leave their excess stuff in their rooms, to be collected by volunteers. Bowdoin College, in Brunswick, Maine, prefers to focus on generating cash for charity via massive yard sales, one of which recently yielded $40,000.

“It’s a win-win-win,” remarks Keisha Payson, Bowdoin’s sustainability coordinator. “The housekeepers like it because there is less stuff to deal with; the community likes the great bargains; and students like it because they feel bad about putting stuff in the dumpster.”


For information, visit DumpAndRun.org or call 508-579-7188.

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

 
Easter Eggs
April 2011

Don’t Pay More for Fraudulent Labels

EasterEggs“Unlike beef, chicken and other dairy labels that must be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, egg labels fall through the cracks,” reports Richard Wood, executive director of Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT). “This loophole enables egg producers to freely use any language they choose to describe their products, regardless of accuracy.” The resulting consumer confusion is producing healthy, possibly fraudulent, profits, via steep markups.

FACT recommends that people know the farmer that supplies their eggs and inquire about hen care. At the grocery, only trust the USDA Certified Organic seal or labels approved by the American Humane Association, Humane Farm Animal Care or Animal Welfare Institute. “Vegetarian fed,” “grass-fed or pastured” and “omega-3 enriched,” while positive, don’t guarantee the quality of animals’ living conditions. According to FACT, terms such as “free-range,” “cage-free” and “natural” may be loosely interpreted and offset by other inhumane practices, unless one knows the producer.


Source: FoodAnimalConcerns.org

 
What Hair Reveals About the Heart
April 2011

Your Locks can Say a Lothair

Researchers at the University of Western Ontario are the first to use a biological marker in human hair to provide direct evidence that chronic stress plays an important role in causing heart attacks. In the past, chronic stressors such as job, marital and financial problems, have all been linked to an increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease and heart attack, but until now there hasn’t been a biological marker to measure the major risk factors.

“Intuitively, we know stress is not good for you, but it’s not easy to measure,” explains Dr. Gideon Koren, who holds the Ivey Chair in Molecular Toxicology at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry. “We know that on average, hair grows one centimeter a month, so if we take a hair sample six centimeters long, we can determine stress levels for six months by measuring the cortisol level in the hair.”

Cortisol is widely considered to be the main stress hormone, because stress activates its secretion. Traditionally, it’s been measured in blood serum, urine and saliva, but that only monitors stress at the time of measurement, not over longer periods of time.

In the study, hair samples three centimeters long, corresponding to about three months of hair growth, were collected from hospitalized patients who had suffered a heart attack, and then compared with hair samples from other patients. The heart attack patients were found to have significantly higher levels of cortisol in their hair, compared to the control group. This finding provides a new, non-invasive way of testing a patient’s risk.

 
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