Do 1 thing a day in the first week of 2016 to be a better person environmentally.

These are pretty easy!

Resolutions are played out and we all know it.

But a lot of us really would like to get better at human-ing without ruining the environment. Instead of setting lofty ambitions with no real implementation date, just do one of these fairly easy things per day for the first week of the year to make the rest of your year better for the Earth.

Day 1: Turn over a new leaf (of expired spinach).

Have veggie or fruit leftovers from your New Year's Eve party that you had too much champagne to refrigerate before bed?


Image by Colin Henein/Wikimedia Commons.

Use them for your brand-new compost pile. You don't even have to have a yard or a large space to keep a compost bin, and if you follow these tips, there is no stinky smell.

The Environmental Protection Agency says that yard waste and food scraps make up 20-30% of what we throw away, and if they make it to landfills, they give off methane, which has a strong influence on the Earth's greenhouse effect.

That's totally within your power to change!

Day 2: De-junkify your mailbox.

Sign up for the National Do Not Mail List and reduce the amount of junk mail you're receiving. This is the kind of detox fad I could really get behind.

YUCK! Think of all that unnecessary garbage! Image by Alan Levine/Flickr.

Day 3: Have a barrel of fun showing your neighbors a better way to water lawns.

Set up a barrel for rainwater to hydrate your lawn. If you live in a house and the temperatures are still above freezing where you live, this is a great project to get done now. Check your local ordinances to see if they have any regulations around it, though.

Here's how to do it:

1. Install concrete blocks in a garden next to a downspout; make sure they are level.

GIFs from Okanagan WaterWise/YouTube.

2. Set barrel securely on blocks with its spout toward the garden.

Follow the rest of these instructions from This Old House and read about pitfalls to avoid. You won't reduce your water bill by a ton. But because the water you use for your lawn doesn’t need all the public treatment that your other water does, you save the environment in those hidden ways. If more people did it, it’d be substantial for our communities' overall consumption.

Day 4: Don't be a garbage human.

Talk to your family or roommates about trying the Zero Garbage challenge (or just take it on yourself).

One woman was able to get her garbage production for two years down to one 16-ounce mason jar.

Let's think about that for a couple of minutes. Image by FiveRings/Wikimedia Commons.

Even if you don't achieve what she did, you're still likely to drastically reduce your waste!

Day 5: Change the way you veg.

Find a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) source near you and sign up.

These are organizations that do the growing and harvesting work. You chip in and get to enjoy the fruits of the labor.

You'll always have fresh, interesting vegetables that didn't have to trek across states using refrigeration to reach you. Image by Stacy Spensley/Flickr.

You'll benefit from pickup locations near you and be sourcing produce and/or meats and dairy locally, which will reduce demand and cut down on the amount of cross-country shipping (and emissions) happening with grocery store chains.

Day 6: Smack those car keys right out of your own hand.

Make a list of the types of trips you take in your car each week. Think about the ones that could be eliminated (by walking, biking, carpooling, or taking public transit) or consolidated into the same trip. Every time you eliminate or consolidate a car trip, give yourself a check mark on your calendar. When you get 10, treat yourself to a movie or something delicious!

GIF from "Pee-wee's Big Adventure."

Day 7: Rethink what you're putting in your tires.

It's a secret not enough people know about. Find a nitrogen dealer near you and see about having the air in your tires replaced with nitrogen. Nitrogen is made of larger molecules than oxygen, so it could be less likely to seep through the pores in rubber. It can cost anywhere from $5-$20 per tire to do this.

If checking tire pressure religiously just isn't something you think you're going to do, switching to nitrogen could be a solution. Maintaining proper tire inflation means better gas mileage for you and less emissions in the environment!

FUN FACT: Airlines use nitrogen in aircraft tires because of the increased longevity and savings. Image via Susan Cornell/Wikimedia Commons.


So give the resolutions a rest and just put a little dedication in during the first week of the year. You'll feel smarter and like a better environmental citizen for the rest of the year!

Family

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

WE Teachers
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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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Culture