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League of Conservation Voters

Saving the earth is, well, a big job.


Thinking about the sheer scale of the problem can be overwhelming.

And while there are some major steps we need to take collectively on a global scale to solve climate change, there are a few things each of us can do to make a personal impact.


Because you gotta start somewhere, right?

So start right here, and let these charming animated animals, the stars of a series of videos from Animal Planet, give you a few pointers on how to do your part.

Because it's their home too, you know.

1. Go easy on the showers.

All GIFs via Animal Planet/YouTube.

You don't have to convince me that long, hot showers are totally awesome. But they also are one of the biggest chunks of our residential water use. In the U.S. alone, we use almost 1.2 trillion gallons of water just for showering. That's enough to supply New York and New Jersey with all of their water for the whole year! Clipping just two minutes off your shower can personally save 10 gallons of water each day.

But if cutting down on shower time just isn't gonna happen (again, I totally get it) consider replacing your showerhead with a more water-efficient model. It costs between $10 and $20 and requires minimal handyman skills.

2. Unplug those devices.

Even when you're not using them, phone chargers, coffee makers, cable boxes, and other electronics draw power. They're known as energy vampires, for the way they drain electricity and money. A typical household has 25 electronic devices plugged in at any given time, so it's no surprise that energy vampires can account for around 20% of the average electric bill. Ouch!

3. Recycle your plastic bags the right way.

According to the Clean Air Council, an estimated 102.1 billion plastic bags are used in the U.S. each year, and fewer than 1% of those are recycled. Instead, much of the waste winds up in landfills or worse, our rivers and oceans. Birds, turtles, and other marine animals are dying from intestinal blockages, choking, and starvation.

What can you do? Recycle your bags whenever you can, and call on plastic producers to create more eco-friendly and recyclable solutions.

Or better yet, BYOB: Bring your own bag.

You can avoid plastic altogether, and many stores give shoppers a discount for bringing their own bag.

4. Get your home winter-ready.

Pumping up the heat is one way to stay warm this winter, but it also a way to burn lots of natural gas and money. If your health allows, consider setting your thermostat to 68 or lower. In the 60-degree-to-70-degree range, you can save 5% on your your energy costs for every degree you lower your heat.

You can also winterize your house or apartment, checking for leaks around windows and doors and making sure your furnace filters are fresh and clean. These simple steps can save natural gas and potentially lower your bills this winter.

5. Pick up after yourself.

As this angry cartoon leopard, or this very real disfigured turtle will tell you, litter is THE WORST. Litter harms animals both directly, by choking, strangling, or poisoning them, and indirectly. These indirect incidents occur when animals eat trash or food thrown to the side of the road and risk running into traffic.

But tragedies like this are 100% preventable. And properly disposing your trash is one of the easiest things you can do to make a difference right this second.

And while you're at it, recycle too.

6. Consider swapping out a few lightbulbs.

Traditional incandescent bulbs use more energy and burn out faster than compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. While CFL bulbs are a little more expensive upfront, they last six times as long and provide a quick return on investment. In fact if every home in the U.S. replaced one incandescent bulb with an Energy Star-qualified CFL, it could prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to over 800,000 cars each year.

Speaking of which...

7. Give your car a break.

In an effort to reduce congestion downtown during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, car travel restrictions were put in place. During the games, traffic declined an estimated 23%. In that time, ozone concentrations dropped about 28% and acute care visits for children with asthma fell 41%. More recently, check out what happened to the sky when Beijing put driving restrictions in place for two weeks.

While limiting traffic citywide is likely a no-go, making the personal commitment to drive less is something each of us can do. Replacing short automobile trips with walking, biking, or public transit is a simple way to cut down on our personal CO2 emissions and perhaps improve our air quality in the process.

You don't need to be Captain Planet to do right by the earth.

Small acts can make a big difference. You can do your part by making even just one or two of these changes. You can also point and click your way to a better world by signing this petition to support America's Clean Power Plan.

This is the only Earth we've got. And since it's the only place humans (and claymation animals) can call home, every positive step, even a small one, is a step worth taking.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

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Photo by TR on Unsplash

Companies and organizations are on the side of their employees in light of stricter abortion laws.

The leak from the Supreme Court about overturning Roe v. Wade caused many people with uteruses to go into a tailspin. People began scheduling appointments for long-term birth control. Some opted for permanent birth control. Others stocked up on Plan B or called in preemptive prescriptions for the abortion pill mifepristone. In addition to making tangible plans for what the future might hold in some of these trigger states, people took to the streets to make their voices heard. Protests were held across America against the proposed overturning of Roe v. Wade, which protects people’s right to abortion under the 14th Amendment.

People are also organizing over social media. They’re helping locate nonprofits that will help cover the cost of travel from a restricted state to states where abortion will remain legal. Secret Facebook groups are popping up to help arrange transportation and accommodations for those who need access to safe reproductive care. People are coming together in ways you see in movies, all in an effort to prevent inevitable deaths that would occur if people attempt home abortions. It’s both heartwarming and heart-wrenching that this is something that needs to be done at all. It doesn’t stop with determined activists and housewives across the country, this fiery spirit has reached corporations as well.

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via Pexels

If you know how to fix this tape, you grew up in the 1990s.

There are a lot of reasons to feel a twinge of nostalgia for the final days of the 20th century. Rampant inflation, a global pandemic and political unrest have created a sense of uneasiness about the future that has everyone feeling a bit down.

There’s also a feeling that the current state of pop culture is lacking as well. Nobody listens to new music anymore and unless you’re into superheroes, it seems like creativity is seriously missing from the silver screen.

But, you gotta admit, that TV is still pretty damn good.

A lot of folks feel Americans have become a lot harsher to one another due to political divides, which seem to be widening by the day due to the power of the internet and partisan media.

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