This tool measures children’s connection to nature

January 21, 2019 by  
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Scientists at the University of Hong Kong and the University of Auckland have created a 16-part questionnaire for parents called the CNI-PPC (Connected to Nature Index-Parents of Preschool Children) to identify how well children in Hong Kong are relating to nature. One of the densest urban areas on Earth, Hong Kong poses challenges for kids when it comes to connecting with nature , and the scientists are hoping to develop a tool to inspire policy changes and interventions that will help strengthen interactions between kids and their natural surroundings. The questionnaire, created by Dr. Tanja Sobko of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Hong Kong and Professor Gavin Brown of the University of Auckland, identifies four ways in which children usually develop a relationship with nature: “enjoyment of nature, empathy for nature, responsibility toward nature and awareness of nature.” Related: Solar-powered school will teach children how to grow and cook their own food Nearly 500 families with kids between the ages of two and five participated in the study, and they all responded to the 16 questions. After the families responded to the CNI-PPC, the researchers then measured the answers against a well-known child behavior measurement, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. The results told us something we already know — the more time kids spend in nature , the happier they are. “Parents who saw their child had a closer connection with nature had less distress, less hyperactivity, fewer behavioral and emotional difficulties and improved pro-social behavior,” the  University of Hong Kong press release said . “Interestingly, children who took greater responsibility toward nature had fewer peer difficulties.” When a child grows up in an urban environment, without access to parks and green spaces , it can have lasting consequences. Children who lack access to the natural world can develop “nature-deficit disorder” or “child-nature disconnectedness,” and this can lead to a deterioration of mental and physical health. The CNI-PPC is the first tool of its kind that “measures nature-related attitudes and awareness” for children in a highly urbanized Asian city. + University of Hong Kong Via TreeHugger Image via University of Hong Kong

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This tool measures children’s connection to nature

60% of wild coffee species are now threatened with extinction

January 17, 2019 by  
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When people think of threatened and endangered species, charismatic animals like tigers and giant pandas are usually top of mind. But climate change  really hits home when it lands in your morning mug. Coffea arabica , the wild relative of the world’s favorite coffee, has hit the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. According to a study done by scientists at England’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew , 60 percent of wild coffee species risk extinction. The culprits? Climate change, deforestation, pests and fungal pathogens. Kew scientists undertook their research in African forests and on the island of Madagascar. Their computer models predict that by the end of the century, climate change could decrease the land now used for Ethiopian coffee production by 60 percent. Ethiopia is Africa’s largest coffee exporter — the annual export value tops $1 billion — and the birthplace of Arabica coffee. The wild Arabica coffee is a vital seed stock for coffee farmers. Related: Champagne could lose its classic taste due to climate change This is bad news for coffee lovers, the multi-billion dollar coffee industry and the farmers who depend on the crop for their livelihood. “Among the coffee species threatened with extinction are those that have potential to be used to breed and develop the coffees of the future, including those resistant to disease and capable of withstanding worsening climatic condition,” said Aaron Davis, head of coffee research at Kew. “The use and development of wild coffee resources could be key to the long-term sustainability of the coffee sector.” The Kew study is the first IUCN Red List assessment of the extinction risk to coffee worldwide. “A figure of 60 percent of all coffee species threatened with extinction is extremely high, especially when you compare this to a global estimate of 22 percent for plants,” said Eimear Nic Lughadha, senior research leader in Kew’s conservation department and lead scientist for Kew’s plant assessment unit. “Some of the coffee species assessed have not been seen in the wild for more than 100 years, and it is possible that some may already be extinct. We hope this new data will highlight species to be prioritized for the sustainability of the coffee production sector so that appropriate action can be taken to safeguard their future.” + Kew Images via Emma Sage and Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew

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60% of wild coffee species are now threatened with extinction

From farm to table, sustainability shines at the Belle Mont Farm eco resort

January 16, 2019 by  
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Anyone who has savored the beauty of the Caribbean can attest to its splendor. Not only are there captivating coastlines, but the islands in the area are accustomed to managing limited resources and are naturally focused toward sustainable development. One eco resort, Belle Mont Farm, has taken steps to lead the way in creating an earth-friendly luxury option in the region. The Belle Mont Farm on the island of St. Kitts, West Indies is a sanctuary that encompasses a lush golf course lined with crops and fruit-laden trees that you can enjoy as you play. The resort encourages physical activity in the surrounding natural environment, allowing you to skip typical paved walkways in exchange for miles of fertile farmland , tropical forest, cane fields, fruit groves and pastures. Related: Green-roofed eco resort on Easter Island designed to blend into the landscape In fact, an opportunity to immerse yourself in the physical environment is one of the main goals of the farm. From there, designers believe there are four pillars to sustainable development. The first is art and culture. Belle Mont Farm is dedicated to exposing visitors to the fine arts by hosting several festivals each year, ranging in theme from film to photography to music to culinary, and it hosts a film institute and resident art program. The second goal is to financially contribute to the local economy. The eco resort does this by hiring local vendors; the entire campus was built using local contractors. This has driven millions of dollars back into the community rather than exporting it elsewhere. Related: Stunning sustainable resort in Colombia built out of compressed-earth blocks and bamboo Social responsibility is the third element of sustainable development, which simply means that the Belle Mont Farm aims to maintain the culture and history of the island through consistent, heritage-based architecture that remains true to the fabric of St. Kitts. Finally, Belle Mont focuses on ecology by focusing on stewardship of the natural environment through sustainable practices and net-positive food production. Some of the steps toward sustainability include transitioning to complete renewable energy and making electric cars available to guests. Plus, the farm-to-table program creates a sustainable model for resort dining with fresh, organic vegetables and catches from the surrounding ocean. “My vision is to bring together community and culture, mindful conservation of natural resources, along with rewarding activities and learning opportunities,” said founder Val Kempadoo. “This means we can offer an unforgettable experience while bringing lasting, life-changing benefits to the local people and economy.” + Belle Mont Farm Images via Belle Mont Farm

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From farm to table, sustainability shines at the Belle Mont Farm eco resort

Get cozy this season with these 7 hot vegan drinks for winter

January 8, 2019 by  
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Thoughts of snowy winter days bring to mind a toasty fire, slippers, sweaters, blankets and warm drinks. It makes sense, because they all equate to the perfect combination of coziness. While traditional tea or coffee is a lovely choice, it’s fun to explore new flavors. For those that are vegan by choice or by circumstance, traditional drinks can be limiting. We’ve conjured up a varied blend of hot drink options to fit your vegan lifestyle. Note that most of these options can also be adapted for the over-21 crowd. Cider Apple cider quickly comes to mind in any discussion of hot drinks, and it is undisputed as a sweet, delicious option. But cider encompasses a host of other possibilities as well. Because fruits and herbs are naturally vegan, there are endless combinations to suit your preferences. How about some apple-berry cider? Cranberry makes a colorful, flavorful and delightful cider that you can drink as-is or use as a base for any number of warm drinks. Take advantage of mint, basil and lavender for tasty spins on the classic ciders, too. Related: 12 delicious and crowd-pleasing vegan brunch ideas Coffee Another age-old vegan option is coffee . However, contemporary methods have turned this once black-only option into dairy-filled whipped, stirred and frothy concoctions. The advantage of modern inventions is that they’ve also come up with an assortment of creamy options that don’t come from an animal source. Replace the cow’s milk and heavy cream with rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk or the sturdy oat milk. From there, you can embellish with a dash of almond or peppermint extract and top with vegan whipped cream and chocolate shavings. There’s no reason to miss out on the seasonal peppermint mocha or cinnamon-spice latte you see everywhere when you can recreate it at home. Hot cocoa Cocoa is a childhood favorite with its sweet flavor and creamy texture. It became a classic for a reason — it’s delicious! But even the classics are due for an upgrade at some point, so take cues from the coffee suggestions above with the addition of extracts, vegan chocolate , milks and whipped cream. You can even mix it up with white chocolate or dark chocolate, too. In the family of cocoa is a vegan Mexican favorite called champurrado, made from masa and either water or milk. You can enhance the flavor with anise, cinnamon or nutmeg for a yummy twist. Gingerbread coconut milk hot cocoa is another delectable option to consider. Simply combine a can of coconut milk with cocoa powder and season with maple syrup, ginger, allspice and vanilla. Top with vegan whipped cream if desired. Tea Tea might be the oldest hot beverage on the planet. For thousands of years, native communities around the world have infused leaves into water to create a calming brew. While English breakfast and peppermint varieties are divine on their own, jazz them up a bit for an extra special treat. London Fog tea  latte is one such treat. To make it vegan, substitute your favorite milk product. Steep a cup of earl grey tea with some fresh lavender. Meanwhile, steam some alternative milk . Combine the two and use a milk frother if you desire. Top with sweetener and a dash of vanilla. Chai tea latte is another notable culinary combination. Make the tea and steam the milk separately. Then, froth the milk and combine with the tea. Add honey or another sweetener to taste and top with cinnamon or nutmeg. Related: 10 tasty and easy vegan dinner ideas Mulled wine Mulled wine is an alcoholic beverage made from wine infused with fruit. Cinnamon, cloves and orange are the typical options, but star anise, clementines and other citrus or sweeteners can be added too. To make mulled wine, simmer a bottle of inexpensive red wine on the stove with the added ingredients. You can alternately let the mulled wine simmer in a slow cooker. Eggnog Did you know you can make eggnog from scratch? Yep, you can. The great part of that news is that it means you can make it from your favorite vegan milk , too. Try coconut or cashew milk. The following recipe is from the Tasty Yummies website : 2 cups homemade cashew milk or other non-dairy milk of your choice ½ cup full fat coconut milk ? cup raw cashews, soaked overnight or for at least 30 minutes (optional) 4-6 Medjool dates 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg pinch of ground cinnamon pinch of ground cloves pinch of sea salt Add all of the ingredients to your high-speed blender and process until smooth and creamy. Serve immediately as-is or add spiced rum, bourbon, brandy or whiskey for a spirited version. Add a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg on top. Wassail If you’ve never had wassail, you’re in for a treat. It’s kind of a combination of apple and cranberry cider with an extra kick of spices. It’s fabulous warmed, and you can even throw in a shot of rum or vodka for an extra warming affect. Winter is the perfect time to cozy up to a warm cup of goodness. Enjoy! Images via Shutterstock

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Get cozy this season with these 7 hot vegan drinks for winter

Valser is using carbon capture technology to carbonate its beverages

December 28, 2018 by  
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Valser, a Coca-Cola-owned brand of sparkling water based in Switzerland, is embracing new climate capture technology. Coca-Cola HBC Switzerland (the bottling plant that makes Valser) has partnered with Climeworks, a pioneering company that captures carbon dioxide, to use the new technology to carbonate its water . Climeworks has already partnered with a greenhouse that uses CO2 to help plants grow faster, and since the beverage industry is one of the only existing markets that uses carbon dioxide , it seemed like the natural next step. But, the technology won’t stop there. Christoph Gebald, co-founder and director of Climeworks, says that other applications are coming, including making carbon-neutral fuel or concrete to make plastic , shoes and fish feed. But, it’s the greenhouse and beverage industries that use carbon dioxide on a large scale, and this is how Climeworks hopes to scale up its technology. At Climeworks plants, the company uses its one-of-a-kind  technology to capture CO2 inside shipping containers by pulling air inside of them and then processing it through filters — working almost like an incredibly powerful tree. When a filter gets full, the team heats the collector and release the gas in a pure form so it can be injected into deep underground storage. Related: Google Street View cars will map air pollution in cities worldwide The amount of carbon dioxide in the air is higher than it has been for millennia (about 400,000 years to be exact), and this new process from Climeworks will help address this problem. But, putting the CO2 into beverages instead of underground still allows the fizz to come out when you open the bottle. To help impact climate change , the amount of carbon dioxide we need to remove from the air could be around 10 billion tons per year — according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — and the global food and beverage industry produces about 6 million tons annually. So there is still a long way to go. “The beverage industry is really the bridge from today — no existing market — to enabling us to further work down our cost curve and industrialize the technology,” says Gebald. “It’s really the missing bridge between startups and, one day, climate-relevant scale to remove carbon from the air.” Sucking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is currently a more expensive option than resorting to other sources, but it does make sense for some locations. Once the technology becomes cheaper, it will become a more attractive option for other businesses. Via Fast Company Images via ExplorerBob

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Valser is using carbon capture technology to carbonate its beverages

12 delicious and crowd-pleasing vegan brunch ideas

December 27, 2018 by  
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Believe it or not, you don’t need eggs or bacon to put together an amazing brunch. If you follow a plant-based diet and are looking for some delicious brunch entrees for a late-morning get-together this weekend, there are plenty of vegan brunch ideas that you can easily make and customize to your tastes. Here are some of our favorite vegan brunch recipes. Pancakes Yes, you can make pancakes from scratch without milk and eggs. Just ask Alex at Delish Knowledge. Her recipe for vegan chia pancakes with peanut syrup capitalizes on the amazing taste combination of peanut butter and bananas. When you add maple syrup to the mix, the flavor combo goes to the next level. The chia seeds in the recipe hold the pancakes together while giving them some texture and crunch. If you don’t want to get that fancy with your vegan pancakes, there are several other recipes you can find online, and many of them are super easy yet delicious. Tofu scramble When you crumble firm tofu , it has the same look and texture of scrambled eggs. The downside is that it doesn’t taste the same. But  this recipe from Abby Langer Nutrition has fixed that problem with the addition of Himalayan black salt. This type of salt has a sulfuric smell and taste. That sulfur smell and taste equals an egg-like smell and taste. This tiny little ingredient will boost the flavor of your tofu once you add it to the pan with veggies and other spices. You might not be able to find black salt in your grocery store, but you can easily find it online. Vegan donuts If you have some serious kitchen skills , you can try making these grain-free vegan blueberry lime cake donuts from Gretchen at Kumquat. These sweet, light and delicious treats are made with flax meal, almond flour, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, blueberries and lime juice and rinds. If you aren’t into fruity donuts or would like to have a variety at your brunch, there are also recipes for other options like baked apple cider, baked chocolate and maple bacon donuts. Avocado toast No matter if you are vegan or not, avocado toast is a must at any brunch. It’s been popping up on menus all over the country. Luckily, you don’t have to pay 10 bucks for it a restaurant, because you can easily put it together at home for much less. Waffles There are so many vegan waffle options to choose from, and they each have a different flavor. You can try vegan French toast waffles, banana bread waffles, mashed potato waffles or maybe even chili cornbread waffles. The possibilities are endless, but no matter which one you choose, waffles will be a hit at your vegan brunch. Fruit buffet This idea is pretty obvious, but at a vegan brunch, you will want to have plenty of fruit options available. You can’t go wrong with berries, bananas and citrus. Stick with local, seasonal produce for the freshest flavors. Baked goods The options are endless when it comes to vegan baked goods at your brunch. Some recipes to consider are strawberries and cream scones , banana gingerbread muffins , zucchini bread  or morning glory breakfast cookies . French toast You don’t have to pass on French toast when you are vegan. All you need is some chickpea flour and non-dairy milk to make the vegan version of the dish. When you stuff it with a delicious filling like caramelized apples tossed in date-based caramel sauce, this option is even more amazing. Breakfast tacos Breakfast tacos are a warm and savory addition to your brunch. We especially enjoy these sweet potato and tofu tacos from Veganosity. The best part about serving vegan tacos at brunch is that each guest can customize the tacos to their liking with whatever veggies and other fillings are available. Breakfast sandwiches You don’t have to make your biscuits from scratch (unless you really want to!). Instead, you can get ready-made organic options at the grocery store, and then make breakfast sandwiches with whatever ingredients you desire. You can have a lot of fun with this recipe for vegan biscuit and gravy sandwiches from Dianne’s Vegan Kitchen, or you can choose English muffins for your sandwich like Sam at It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken. Quiche Recipes for vegan quiche are extremely flexible , and they make good use of vegan bacon. It’s easy to add a variety of organic veggies to this dish, and it pairs well with a side of leafy greens. No matter which recipe you decide to use, this dish will be a popular one at your brunch. Omelettes Can you make an omelette without eggs ? The answer is yes. Chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, olive oil and a few spices will help you make a delicious vegan omelette. Plus, you can fill it up with whatever veggies you like — we recommend mushrooms and spinach. Images via Ina Burkardt , Bart Everson , Vegan Baking , Anna Pelzer , Lindsay Moe , Silvia , Pexels , Joseph Gonzalez , Stephanie , Miroro , Melissa Walker Horn , Igor Miske and Shutterstock

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12 delicious and crowd-pleasing vegan brunch ideas

Aleph Farms has created the first lab-grown steak

December 25, 2018 by  
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The demand for meat alternatives continues to grow as millions switch to vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian diets for health, ethical and environmental reasons, and food companies around the world are starting to focus their efforts on plant-based and lab-grown products that can take the place of animal-sourced meats. Aleph Farms recently reached an important milestone in cellular meat production by serving up the first lab-grown steak, made from isolated cow cells and grown into a 3D structure. According to the company, the steak has the same texture as conventional meat, and it also has the same smell. But, they still need to refine the taste and thickness. The current prototype is 5 mm thick, and a small strip costs $50, but Aleph Farms co-founder and CEO Didier Toubia says that is a huge step in the right direction because five years ago, the first lab-grown beef burger cost $283.500. “The cost would come down as the production process was moved from the lab to a scalable commercial facility,” said Toubia. The steak probably won’t be commercially available for another three or four years. But, when it does hit the market, Toubia believes that it will catch on like the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger and help bridge the gap between people who do not want to completely give up meat and the need to reduce global meat consumption. Related: 3D-printed vegan steak could aid world hunger relief efforts The industry that is making alternatives to animal-sourced meats is booming, growing at a rate of 20 percent a year. The demand is so high that companies can’t keep up, and the gigantic U.S. meat industry is starting to take notice. Meat companies learned a lesson from the plant-based milk revolution, and they are focusing their efforts on shaping the regulatory environment for their new competitors. Joshua Tetrick, co-founder of the food company Just, says that cell-based meat will upend the market because the process will be able to feed people around the world. “Probably the biggest obstacle outside of the scientific ones is getting folks used to the idea that we don’t need to slaughter animals en masse and deal with our waste to enjoy a nice Turkey dinner for Thanksgiving,” Tetrick says. Via NPR , Treehugger Image via Shutterstock

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Aleph Farms has created the first lab-grown steak

This carbon-neutral festival promotes sustainable fun in Thailand

December 4, 2018 by  
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The fields are alive with art, architecture, food, wellness, talks and workshops, family activities and music at the fifth annual Wonderfruit festival in Pattaya, Thailand this December. Wonderfruit is a five-day, carbon-neutral event that inspires curiosity and encourages exploration of the unknown while promoting sustainable practices. Technically, Wonderfruit is a three-part festival with phase one in September, phase two in November and phase three taking place in December. Individuals and families alike will find copious entertainment options with more than 60 musical artists and dozens of massive art pieces displayed throughout the venue, which they refer to as “The Fields.” There are a variety of accommodations at the event for those who wish to extend their stay and nearly 55 farm-to-table food vendors to explore while you do. The event even brings in world-renowned chefs each year to offer guests delicious feasts with a side of educational opportunities. Related: Bjarke Ingels is crowdfunding a massive reflective sphere for Burning Man 2018 After you’ve stuffed yourself, had a drink and danced ’til you dropped, you can attend one of the 100 wellness activities focused on yoga, chakras, meditation, drum circle dancing, massage and more. Once you’re relaxed, dedicate yourself to learning something new via the 35 different seminar speakers and workshops. But there is no need to set a rigid schedule. The idea is to simply move about the campus, taking in something new at every turn where you might run into a pottery-making demonstration, football lesson, musical engagement, light show, fire dancing or dragon kite flying. The festival hours for phase three of the Wonderfruit festival are as follows, where you can take in one day or multiple: Thursday, December 13: 4 p.m.-midnight Friday, December 14: 8 a.m.-midnight Saturday, December 15: 8 a.m.-midnight Sunday, December 16: 8 a.m.-midnight Monday, December 17: 8 a.m.-12 noon (site closes at 12 noon) In alignment with the mantra, “Reduce, reuse, refill,” the venue does not allow any single-use plastic, so visitors should bring a reusable water bottle. Of course, you can support the cause by purchasing a reusable stainless steel cup on site or before the event at a discount. This cup also provides a discount on all drinks purchased at the event. All servingware at the venue is biodegradable , and organizers request that all attendees do their part to create as little waste as possible. Recycling and food waste bins are located throughout the venue, and all visitors are expected to use them accordingly. Overall, if you are looking for a day (or four) of fun and sustainability, this is a festival worth attending. + Wonderfruit Images via Wonderfruit

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This carbon-neutral festival promotes sustainable fun in Thailand

Vessel Works is changing the to-go beverage game with its reusable mug

November 28, 2018 by  
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A new company called Vessel Works is attempting to change the game in the beverage industry. The idea is to get rid of the waste from single-use cups for hot and cold beverages by providing a reusable to-go cup in participating cafes. Here’s how it works. The Vessel Works to-go cup is an insulated stainless-steel mug that will keep your beverage hot or cold. When you visit a participating location, you can check out one of the free, reusable mugs via an app and then later drop it off at a kiosk. It is very similar to a bike-share program, and Vessel Works is hoping that it will be a popular alternative to the billions of paper cups that end up in landfills every year. It is also a solution that the company believes consumers will adopt more quickly than asking them to bring their own mugs from home. “Getting behavior change to happen is not an easy thing,” says Dagny Tucker, founder of Vessel . “If we look at a community that’s considered very sustainably-minded, i.e., Boulder, Colorado, you’ll find that in a survey of local cafes, less than 10 people are bringing their own cup every day.” According to Fast Company , Vessel Works chose Boulder, Colorado, to beta launch the idea with four cafes and they will later scale and add more. Consumers use an app to participate in the free program, but if they don’t return the mug within five days, there is a charge. After running the pilot for several months at a few cafes in Brooklyn and Manhattan, Tucker discovered that consumers liked the idea and it also led to people evaluating their choices for other single-use items. As consumers use the mug, they will get reports on how much they are reducing their carbon footprint and how much waste they are preventing. Tucker ran a pilot program for this idea in New York City back in 2016 while teaching at Parsons School of Design. She noticed that the paper cup was the most highly visible sign of disposability, with every fifth person walking down the street carrying a paper cup for a few minutes and then throwing it away. There are no upfront costs for a consumer to use the program, and the cost to participating cafes for each mug is less, on average, than what they pay for paper cups. The mugs are also easy to stack and store, and Vessel cleans all of the mugs at their commercial facility and then tracks them back to each cafe to maintain inventory. Tucker says that essentially, her company is trying to “disrupt the status quo of an entire industry.” Via Fast Company and Vessel Works Image via Vessel Works

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Vessel Works is changing the to-go beverage game with its reusable mug

6 environmental topics to spark discussion at the Thanksgiving dinner table

November 22, 2018 by  
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Nothing sparks political discussion and debate more than a family dinner during the holidays. In this explosive political climate, chances are the conversation will run wild during Thanksgiving even more than it has in the past. To give you some ideas for the upcoming holiday season, here are some environmental topics to help spur your political discussion while you enjoy your turkey dinner. Elections With a major midterm election happening just this month, politics will be a hot topic at Thanksgiving dinner tables across the country. In addition to Republicans who doubt climate science being voted out of the House of Representatives, there were also many environmental measures on the ballots in states across the nation. But  the results on these key issues sent mixed messages that are sure to get people talking. Food waste One-third of all globally produced food ends up wasted, and that makes food waste a huge problem . Americans throw away more than 40 percent of the food they buy, which is also a major factor in climate change. To tackle this problem, some cities are passing laws banning restaurants from throwing out food , and that is a step in the right direction. But making changes at home will help just as much, if not more. If we don’t change our food waste habits, a new study says the problem will continue to increase, and we will be throwing out 66 tons of food per second by 2030. What better time to bring this up than during your Thanksgiving feast? It’s a great time to encourage everyone to take home leftovers . Climate change The latest UN report on climate change has revealed that we are not on target to maintain the Earth’s temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius or less. If we want to avoid more extreme weather events and species’ extinction, we need to make some major changes to hit that goal. During the 2015 Paris Agreement, nearly 200 nations pledged to keep the ceiling for temperature rise at 2 degrees Celsius, but that isn’t enough to avoid irreparable damage to Earth’s ecosystems. While discussing climate change , you can add a new twist on the topic and bring up the new study on barley production , which says that beer prices will soar in the near future because of climate change. Plastic bans The ban on single-use plastics is starting to trend all over the world , and the word “single-use” just became Collins Dictionary’s 2018 Word of the Year . States are banning plastic straws and other single-use items to reduce the waste, and the European parliament just supported a major ban of single-use plastics that member nations will implement over the next few years. Let everyone at the dinner table know it’s time to ditch straws or stock up on reusable options. Related: Plastic straws are a thing of the past, but which reusable straw is best for the future? Veganism, vegetarianism and flexitarianism The meat industry has taken a big hit in recent years thanks to the diet trend of veganism , vegetarianism and flexitarianism. Vegetarianism has been popular since the ’90s, but veganism have become mainstream in recent years, with new vegan-only restaurants popping up in cities across the world. Now, flexitarianism is on the rise, which is a diet that is mostly plant-based but does have some select meat dishes incorporated on a limited basis. Related: 12 plant-based recipes for a vegan or vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner With this growing trend away from meat, a third of the people in the U.K. now have little to no meat in their daily food intake. But we still have a long way to go if we want to avoid a climate crisis . Perhaps it’s time to swap out the turkey for a vegan option. Animal welfare There are many different issues making headlines on the topic of animal welfare —  including Trump’s border wall , which is threatening the National Butterfly Center. This year, California became the first state in the country to ban animal testing for cosmetics, and Los Angeles also put a stop to the sale of fur . Burberry also vowed to stop using fur in its products, and an entire Fashion Week went fur-free . Encourage friends and family at the table to do the same. No matter where the discussion takes you, try to keep the environment in mind for every topic of your conversation. One of the most important things we can do is spread awareness about the major problems that are harming our planet and educate our loved ones on how to help. Happy Thanksgiving! Images via Aaron Burden , Patrick Hendry , Sagar Chaudhray , Simon Matzinger , Tamara Bellis and Shutterstock

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