Make Our World ‘Clean’ by Transforming…Ourselves!
Every week we speak about an online magazine called The Green Register, and you have all listened to the endless diatribes given by me when it comes to the subject of a ‘green’ world and a healthy environment. Why? Because in each and every article you learn about the newest design products, the newest foods, lifestyle choices, services, political and social causes, etc., etc. – when it comes to living the ‘green’ life and changing our world for the better. Which is EXACTLY what The Green Register is all about.
Seeing as that The Green Register can boast some of the most intelligent people in the world as their ‘audience’ and ‘fan base,’ I want to talk today about another extremely important subject when it comes to ‘going green.’ This is a subject that is definitely the cause of health concerns, and how ‘green projects’ and locations like The Green Register can help curb this problem – perhaps stop it altogether – before it becomes so out of control that our very children are in danger of dying early.
About one-third of U.S. adults (33.8%) are obese. Approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are obese. During the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States and rates remain sky-high. In 2010, no state had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%. What is this? What can be done? Where is all this coming from? These are health questions – serious questions – that we need to answer as a people in order to save the next generation of lives.
What, or who, should we place the blame on? We all know where obesity comes from – the fact that we eat too many calories and we do not get enough physical activity. And there are a variety of environmental factors that determine whether or not the healthy choice is the easy choice for children and their parents. American society has built their environment around a system that promotes increased consumption of less healthy food and physical inactivity.
First, we must stop the ridiculous food services that appear on school campuses. About 55 million school-aged children eat and drink meals and snacks while in school. More than half of U.S. middle and high schools still offer sugar drinks and less healthy foods for purchase – from vending machines to school canteens, as well as at fundraising events, school parties, and sporting events.
Yes, the world runs on the World Wide Web. In fact, Facebook, Titter – everything has stopped people from getting up to take a walk. No one goes outside and plays anymore – that old adage seems to have disappeared with the bicycle (which no child seems to ride anymore). Nearly half of U.S. middle and high schools allow advertising of less healthy foods; foods high in total calories, sugars, salt, and fat, and low in nutrients are highly advertised and marketed through media targeted specifically to children and adolescents.
An even more depressing statistic? Most adolescents fell far short of the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommendation of at least 60 minutes of aerobic physical activity each day, as only 18% of students in grades 9-12 met this recommendation in 2007. Many people will remark that there are simply no safe places to play anymore. We are living in a harsh environment with dangers around every corner, and there are a great deal of parents who say they will not allow their child to be in an unappealing place in the community. Many communities are built in ways that make it difficult or unsafe to be physically active. Not to mention, for some families, getting to parks and recreation centers are difficult, especially in a town that lacks public transportation of any kind. For many children, safe routes for walking or biking to school, or play may not even exist anymore and half of the children in the United States do not have a park, community center, or sidewalk in their neighborhood.
So where does going green come into play? How, as a community, can we use the going green philosophy to stop all this? Think about it. Better design choices in homes, workplaces, and communities can increase access to healthier food and provide built-in opportunities for physical activity. We can actually, though green projects and green building, stand up and fight the epidemic of obesity! That’s actually the premise of the ever-growing “active design” movement that focuses on elements like playgrounds, walking trails, gardens, and prominent and attractive stairways.
The Active Design Guidelines developed by the city of New York collect many of these design strategies -for cities, neighborhoods, and individual buildings -into a free reference guide, and it looks like all of this extra awareness of the problems and the solution are actually helping to solve this issue.
Active design – this is the perfect way for parents, children and communities to come together, and not only clean up the environment by working together on a project – but it will also give them the exercise time they need to get in shape and feel better about themselves and their town. Active design features include some already-familiar sustainable design strategies, such as facilities for cyclists and access to public transit, as well as several emerging strategies.
Think about even bigger projects that could be done to help increase safety and make parents and children feel a whole lot better about stepping away from that computer screen and heading into the outside world. Everything from making the interior of an apartment building more appealing by creating visible, well-lit stairways – and getting rid of all the elevators and escalators that make everyone take the ‘easy way out.’
Amazing building programs, circulation systems, and interior designs that encourage frequent walking. Convenient and inviting exercise facilities with views to the outdoors. Appealing entryways and integration with neighborhood walkways. Site planning that includes access to fresh food and contributes to pedestrian safety. Incorporating any of these strategies into any LEED project has become an established path.
In fact, right now there is a mixed-income housing complex under construction in the South Bronx that will include rooftop community gardens, recreational spaces for children, and an on-site fitness center. The design features day-lit interior stairs as well as multiple exterior steps leading from ground-level courtyards to a number of rooftop terraces. Now think about how life would be if all apartment buildings, home dwellings, and community locations could be prepared in a way that will provide people with exercise and the ability to have fun all at the same time.
Going green does a great many things for a great many industries, and The Green Register offers in-depth information on all products, companies and services that will allow this world to get better and better. We can improve Mother Nature – but we can also improve our own health! We just need to start right now!
Until Next Time, Everybody!
For more information, go NOW to: