Beware the Chocolate Monsters: Keep Slave Labor Out of Halloween

by Julie Hall at ProgressiveKid

For most of us chocolate is a happy part of Halloween. It’s hands-down the best treat in the bag—so popular, in fact, that kids have to keep an eye on their chocolate-pilfering parents at this time of year. So, it’s especially ironic that this beloved sweet treat is a living nightmare for the children who are caught in the chocolate slave trade. Continue reading

Stand Up for Your Rites

Ritual in a Changing World

by Sarah Lane at ProgressiveKid

Ritual is good for all families. Researchers tell us that family rituals make people happier (S. Harrar 2003, p. 28) for one thing. And they find in family routines experienced by kids of four years of age predictors of academic achievement at age nine (Barbara Fiese 2000). But some of the rituals a lot of us grew up with don’t mesh with the values and goals of the green movement, or they seem alien or even devoid of meaning to people with an awakening sense of concern for the planet. For example, the unsustainable practice of giving or receiving oodles of Christmas gifts can make us feel heavy and unhappy. The Fourth of July emphasis on explosions feels uncomfortable in an age of climate change, forest fires, and dwindling wildlife.

So what’s a green family to do? Here are some rituals that greenies can agree on and use as the foundation for more personalized adaptations based on individual belief and culture: Continue reading

Beyond Climate Change 101

Discovering a Life of Purpose Along the Way

by Julie Hall at ProgressiveKid

As with all meaningful change, there is no simple fix for our climate change crisis. There is no pill, band aid, 12-step formula, or “expert’s” advice to heal Earth or its life forms. There is no “clean” nuclear power that will preserve our current luxuries without risking even more environmental disaster, no green product that will redeem generations of overconsumption, no fluorescent light bulb that will reverse the excess of our industrialized systems, no recycling process that can restore forests, no zoo or seed bank that can preserve our world’s biodiversity, no replacement planet we can relocate to. For worse and for better we are stuck here with our mess and our weakness, our solutions and our strength. Continue reading

Trust Your Kids: Raise Them Cage-Free!

by Julie Hall at ProgressiveKid

Parents are a jumpy bunch these days. Even before I had my daughter I was troubled by the prevailing attitude among parents that the world has become a place too dangerous to let kids be kids anymore. Popular opinion seems to be that it is now too risky to let children do time-tested things like play outside unsupervised, climb a tree, explore on a bike, or walk to school alone, all things my friends and I enjoyed as kids. Once I became a mother I began to witness first-hand the stifling paranoia among other parents about their kids’ safety and to see the effect it was having on kids. Not surprisingly a new major study by Play England, part of the National Children’s Bureau of Great Britain, found that half of all kids no longer climb trees and 17 percent have been instructed by their parents not to play tag or chase. Although 70 percent of adults reported having had their biggest childhood adventures outside in natural settings, only 29 percent of children have such opportunities today. Depressingly, most children reported having their biggest adventures in playgrounds. Continue reading

My Dog Doesn’t Match My Carpet

Dog on carpetby Julie at ProgressiveKid

We look for more from mothers. Since they are fonts of life, we think they must be more tuned in to life’s value, its beauty and fragility. We expect that their experience giving birth and raising kids will make them more compassionate toward other living things, more invested in Earth’s environment, more concerned with setting positive examples for their children. With notable exceptions, this notion is simply wrong. Speaking as a mother, we can be as shallow, selfish, and, well, ruthless as the rest of the population, and perhaps at times even more so. Continue reading

Mystery Unclogged Part II

Storm drainby Sarah at ProgressiveKid

(Read Part I of this two-part series on our national wastewater problem.)

In Part I we examined the contents of our wastewater and how the most common wastewater treatment systems work. Now we will examine how well the systems work at keeping those problematic wastewater contents from being released into the environment.

The State of Our Infrastructure

In the American Society for Civil Engineers’ 2005 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, wastewater management in the United States was given a grade of D- (down from a D in 2001). Here is a summary:

Continue reading

Mystery Unclogged Part I

Drainby Sarah at ProgressiveKid

Spoiler alert: If you have maintained any illusions that your drains are magical tubes that “disappear” inconveniences, I’m about to ruin them for you. Look away! Flush and run!

It is more pleasant not to think about what happens to the expired Children’s Motrin you pour down the drain, what the Liquid Plum’r really does, or where the Tide with Bleach Powder goes. But there are so many of us on the planet sharing a shrinking space that we all need to think about what we are dumping and where. Continue reading