The United States’ youth crime rates are dropping at an astounding rate. Youth arrests dropped for the 13th year in a row, hitting their lowest level in 60 years. This trend shows an optimistic future for the criminal landscape of the next generation, as these teenagers head into adulthood. The number of juveniles arrested fell 11 percent between 2017 and 2018, while adult crime rates fell two percent.
The cause of the decrease is debated by criminologists with explanations ranging from education programs to decreased arrest incentives, but regardless of the reason, cities are embracing the trend. San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors has voted to close their juvenile detention center by 2021, because there are simply not enough offenders to keep it in operation.
It can sometimes feel like violent news is all around us, but it’s important to remember that the drop in crime rates offers a hopeful prognosis for the safety and future of our cities.
Despite being made from plastic, there’s something to be said for LEGO bricks. They are exceedingly durable and their historically consistent connecting system makes their design the opposite of planned obsolescence. The Danish company has an impressive record of sustainability – from investments in offshore wind and discontinued relationships with oil companies to a plan to replace the plastic in the blocks with sustainable materials by 2030. And now the company has launched a pilot program called LEGO Replay, which blends sustainability with philanthropy.
Families can take their old LEGOs, print a free shipping label from LEGO’s partner, Give Back Box, and send them away. Here’s where that durability comes into play: Give Back Box will inspect, sort, and clean the bricks, and ship them to Teach For America and Boys and Girls Club of Boston. Most people tend to pass down old LEGO bricks to their children or grandchildren, but Tim Brooks, the Vice President at the LEGO Group, said there’s also been a lot of people asking for a sustainable way to dispose or donate their bricks. That’s the nice thing about this initiative: it’s both sustainable and socially impactful.
In the new book,The Five Hurdles to Happiness, author and child psychologist Mitch Ablett sets off to describe five reactive habits of minds that were originally identified in ancient contemplative and meditative traditions. Though these habits evolved for important reasons—to keep us safe from danger, for example—many of us find them less than useful in our modern world, where they can wreak havoc on our well-being. These are those five habits (or hurdles) and how to overcome them.
Desire: craving pleasure is completely normal, but compulsive craving leads to excessive costs to our effectiveness and, in extremes, to the impairments and perils of addiction. To overcome this, stop what you’re doing for just a moment when you can tell you’re getting triggered by something in your environment.
Aversion: we get irritable and hostile when we perceive our life circumstances “shouldn’t” be as they are. It’s natural to want to “push” away from aversive situations, but this anger can spill over into other parts of life and become toxic for your well-being. One solution is to notice, with curiosity about, what is happening in your body and your mind. Witness the bodily sensations and flow of thoughts that come from aversion. Let them be born, live, and pass on their own.
Mental fatigue: a clouded, dull, sluggish state of mind that saps our concentration and ability to see others. When we’re mentally fatigued, we regularly tune out of the world, because we’re unsatisfied in some way. If you’re having trouble concentrating, allow these experiences to be just as they are, without judgment or attempts to control them. Try to recognize what’s happening in your body and mind without trying to change it.
Restlessness: our powerful human brain evolved to help us quickly and efficiently anticipate threats in our environment. Nowadays, it can also make us feel restless and anxious. To solve this, penetrate uncomfortable sensations in the body with full, deep belly breaths, and continue to breathe in this way until you notice your experience shifting and your negative thought patterns dissolving.
Doubt: uncertainty about our situation and ourselves that blocks our ability to see the way forward with flexibility. To move past doubt, prompt yourself to move or act with intention in the direction that feels most important and reflects compassionate care for others. Pause—and remember to be kind to yourself.
When the Paris Agreement was signed four years ago, a major focus was on the role that cities would play in cutting emissions. After all, urbanization means more people are living in cities than in rural areas, and that trend will only continue in the coming years. And while progress has been a bit uneven around the world (with some cities only seeing rising emissions), there have been 30 major cities around the world, representing some 58 million urban citizens, that have seen a major decline in emissions.
According to a new analysis published by a coalition of cities known as C40, 30 cities of the global north have hit their “peak” emissions before 2015, meaning they have since reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 10 percent. These cities make up a third of C40’s members, which are spread out across all continents (excluding Antartica). A few smaller member cities in China and in lower-income countries have also hit peaks, though a thorough analysis of those won’t come out for a few years.
On average, the 30 cities identified by C40 have curbed emissions by 22 percent. Some of the most significant reductions came from London, Berlin, and Madrid, which averaged around 30 percent reductions, while Copenhagen lowered emissions by a dramatic 61 percent (although the city hit peak emissions in 1991). Among the 30 cities, Tokyo stands out, not only for being the only non-Western city, but also for the fluctuations in its yearly emission levels.
As for the US, the cities of Austin, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, and Washington DC made the list. That’s quite a lot of cities for a country that pulled out of the Paris Agreement.
So you bring your own bag to the grocery store, you carpool to work and are cutting down on your meat consumption. Looking for something more to shrink your personal carbon footprint? Changing the way you manage your money can actually help make your lifestyle more sustainable. Here are eight ways to make your dollars greener.
- Switch banks: switching banks is a hassle, but looking into your financial institution’s environmental policies may prompt you to choose a greener option. Local credit unions, such as United Bank, usually embrace more eco-friendly policies.
- Make your current bank greener: consider going paperless or support movements urging banks to adopt greener practices.
- Get a socially responsible card: consider an affinity credit card or one that donates to a charity with every purchase. Need inspiration? Check out this list of socially responsible credit cards.
- Become a socially aware investor: new technology makes it easier than ever to put your money where your values are. Fossil Free Funds shows a breakdown of clean energy mutual funds, and modified index funds offer a variety of green investment options.
- Shop smart: spend those hard-earned dollars on products and stores that practice sustainability.
- Book travel responsibly: check out this list of 50 travel companies trying their hardest to reduce their carbon footprint to plan a greener vacation.
- Carpool: Yep, gas probably eats up a lot of your money, but apps like GoCarma, Waze Carpool, and Uber make it easier than ever to save money and make your commute more environmentally friendly.
- Donate: giving to a cause you firmly believe in is a rewarding use for your dollars. Find a charity whose mission you support, and you can even get a tax deduction for it!
Money is a powerful tool for change. Switching your money habits to support environmental causes you’re passionate about does more than just reinforce where your values lie; it also sends a message to financial systems that supporting the environment is the way of the future.
Unfortunately, there’s one thing in the sea that’s bigger than whales: boats. And every once a while, a boat strikes a whale, causing serious injury or even death. To stop such tragedies from happening any longer, Washington State Ferries implemented a whale report alert system (WRAS) app that notifies ferry captains of the whereabouts of orcas and other cetaceans in Puget Sound to help prevent collisions.
The app, created by Ocean Wise Research in Vancouver, British Columbia, is only for use by commercial maritime operations, including ships, ferries, and tugboats. But the app relies on members of the public reporting real-time whale sightings. Once a trusted observer spots a whale, dolphin or porpoise, they submit the siting to the app. The siting is verified, then the app alerts commercial mariners on the water within 10 miles of the siting.
Armed with this information, ferry captains will be able to make better decisions about their courses and speed to avoid collisions with marine animals. Mariners can also leave feedback in the app, reporting any mitigation actions they took.
The tool isn’t exactly perfect, as it relies on whale sightings and doesn’t give a real-time location of the whales, but for now, it’s at least one-way ship operators can avoid colliding with whales.
Humans’ overconsumption of resources—from the food and clothes we buy to the methods of transportation we choose—is a leading contributor to global climate change. Therefore, it’s increasingly important to understand the choices consumers make and how those decisions affect the health of a planet with limited resources.
Amid growing concerns about the fate of our surrounding environment, millennials – the nation’s most influential group of consumers – are increasingly trying to make their consumer behaviors more sustainable by opting for products designed to limit environmental impacts. But a recent study shows that compared to such tendencies of “green buying”, consuming less is actually way more beneficial for both your wellbeing and that of the planet.
The new research studied how culturally entrenched materialistic values in 968 participants influenced their pro-environmental behaviors. The findings pointed to the fact that participants who reported having fewer materialistic values were much more likely to engage in reduced consumption. Consuming less was, in turn, linked to higher personal wellbeing and lower psychological distress.
In comparison, green buying – which may have some positive environmental implications, although to a lesser degree than reduced consumption – was not found to improve wellbeing.
Essentially, the take-home message is that if we want to have a meaningful impact on the environment through our behavior as consumers, buying “greener” products is not enough. Rather, we need to strive to reduce our consumption overall, as this not only makes the planet happier but us too.
We’ve all been there-you’re sitting at your desk, trying to come up with some juicy new idea, only to find your creative pipes clogged. While sometimes we blame it on a lack of caffeine in our bodies, some of the most frustrating roadblocks to creativity can actually stem from being in a static environment.
That’s right, according to Robert Epstein, a senior psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research, your work surroundings can play a crucial role in your creative process. Whether you’re at the office or working remotely, being in the same old space for hours at a stretch can drain you of your creative juices.
Luckily, to prevent that from happening, we don’t necessarily need to find a new place to work. Epstein suggests that making even the most minor tweaks to your environment, such as adding some flowers to your office or rearranging the items on your desk, can ignite that spark of creativity.
The trick behind it is that new ideas arise from an interconnection of old ideas. To help create those interconnections, you need to expose yourself to a novel stimulus or combination of stimuli that you haven’t seen before. And the simplest way to do this is through a change in your surroundings.
Buses are already a greener way to get around than personal vehicles, but this method of public transportation is preparing for another eco-friendly upgrade in the form of electric power. Growth in the electric bus sector has been huge in China where rates of electric buses increased 78.4 percent from 2010 to 2019, and the market is expected to grow in the rest of the world.
The benefits of electric power and the increased awareness about clean energy have spurred cities to look for new green solutions within their transportation sectors. These buses improve air quality in crowded cities, have reduced GHG emissions, and cost less to operate and maintain than traditional combustion engines.
Cities will need to pay upfront costs to buy electric buses and adjust infrastructure to accommodate the new technology, but in the long run, electric buses are an optimal solution for more effective sustainable public transportation.
Anxiety is the most common mental health problem in the U.S., so we at the Optimist Daily are big on sharing stories on stress reduction, from foods that help to meditation methods. If you have never experienced anxiety yourself, it can be difficult to understand what a friend or family member is experiencing, but this does not mean you can’t help. This week we are sharing an article from PsychAlive with a couple simple tips for helping someone who is struggling with anxiety, so you can be a support system for those you love.
Reaching out and asking if a friend is okay is a big first step for helping someone who may not be comfortable asking. Be sure to listen carefully, and assure them that you are there to listen. Let them know it’s perfectly normal to struggle with anxiousness. Sometimes someone just needs open ears and an open heart.
Lastly, encourage them to consider professional help. While talking to friends and family can be beneficial, reaching out to a therapist can help people break through the root of their anxiety.
The stigma surrounding mental health can make it difficult to talk about. Checking in with those around you means you can be a resource for someone who may be struggling in silence, and it helps break the stigma about addressing mental health.