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March 25, 2016
In a busy area of Austin, Texas, the city installed four-way stop signs and dedicated more space to pedestrians. But instead of building out the curb with concrete, they opted for a low-cost option using painted blue and green dots to clearly define the pedestrian space. The dots stand out just enough to make drivers slow down without causing a distraction. White stripes mark out the pavement where pedestrians were hesitant to cross, poles separate pedestrian space from the roadways, and stop signs now sit at every corner. The polka dots are designed to “give space back to pedestrians.” Evenings and on weekends, the area, known for its walkability and bustling night life, is teeming with people who need more room to walk and linger among stores and restaurants.
Throughout history, humans have gathered in the dark to marvel at the starry blanket overhead. Today, artificial light pollution obscures the night sky in much of the industrial world—which could lead to unforeseen consequences for the environment and for human health. There’s a growing medical consensus that all this artificial light is bad for our health. It interrupts our sleep patterns, confuses our circadian rhythms, and inhibits our ability to produce melatonin. Wildlife also depends on darkness. Sea turtles, for example, need a dark sky to navigate. When hatchlings climb out of their nest on the beach, they need to crawl their way to the sea. Concerned about the impacts of light pollution, a growing movement is working to reduce excess lighting in our cities and protect dark skies. This is playing out in the National Park Service, which has created the Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division.
Recycling decreases content in landfills, generates jobs, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. It is among the most effective ways to keep plastic out of our waterways—and eventually, the ocean. Yet only approximately 30 percent of all plastic is recycled in the United States today. For there to be a marked improvement in recycling rates—meaning the percent of plastic waste that is converted back into a reusable material—governments, manufacturers, consumers, and corporations all have important roles to play, whether that is providing easy ways for consumers to recycle, reducing the plastic used in packaging, using recycled plastic as the material for new packaging, and reducing our (consumer) use of plastics.

March 29, 2016 - Building Wellness Into Your Worksite - John A. Logan College
April 7, 2016 - Southern Illinois Volunteerism Conference - Mount Vernon, IL
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