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Warming Trends: Nature and Health Studies – Focused on the Privileged, $1B for Climate School and Old Tires Make a Detour Into Concrete

Warming Trends: Nature and Health Studies – Focused on the Privileged, $1B for Climate School and Old Tires Make a Detour Into Concrete

Katelyn Weisbrod


Nature and Health Research Ignored Populations That Weren’t White, Western or Wealthy

Research is showing that nature can have positive effects on mental health and well-being. An analysis of the research shows that almost all of it focuses on wealthy, white Westerners.

Researchers at the University of Vermont analyzed 174 peer-reviewed studies that examined the relationship between nature and well-being. They found that 137 of these were conducted in Western countries like the United States, Australia, and countries in western Europe. While 166 were conducted in high-income countries like China, Japan, and Israel.

Studies have shown that spending time in the outdoors can be both therapeutic and restorative. Some experts even suggest it. Prescribe time in naturePatients. Rachelle Gould, a university assistant professor, says that not all cultures view nature in this transactional way. That’s just one reason why more research needs to be done to understand how other cultures find wellness in the natural world, she said.

“Everybody needs water, you know, and everybody needs protection from storms. And that kind of operates the same way for all people,” Gould said. “But these mental health benefits may not operate the same way for all people.”

These differences show how important it is to draw a distinction between tangible benefits like food and intangible ones, such as the comfort that pine forests can give some people.

“If we want to understand our dependence on nature, the non-tangible pieces may vary across the world,” Gould said.

Lead author Carlos Andres Gallegos-Riofrio, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Vermont, said this paper is a “call to action” for researchers to “cross the border” and study what is universally true and what is culturally specific in this area of study. 

“Psychologies are different around the world,” Gallegos-Riofrio said. “So we cannot swipe a generalization from one segment of the world to the rest.”


Bag Lady: Doing one thing makes a difference

When Lisa D. Foster and her family moved from California to Australia in 2005, one cultural difference that stumped her was a question the grocery store clerk asked her on her first shopping trip: “Do you want a bag?”

Foster was accustomed to being asked, “paper or plastic?” before a clerk bagged her groceries. To reduce waste, Australian shoppers began to bring reusable cloth bags to the store with them to transport their purchases. 

Foster, a high-school English teacher, was inspired by this moment to start a reusable bags business when she returned home to California. This helped to spark a cultural shift in America’s shoppers to use reusable grocery bags. She tells her story in her new memoir, “Bag Lady: How I started a business for a greener world and changed the way America shops.”

Foster was recently interviewed by Inside Climate News. This conversation was lightly edited for clarity and length.

How did the U.S. culture evolve around reusable bags after you started your company?

I was just starting out when I spoke to a woman from Safeway. She said that only 3 percent of Americans carry reusable bags, and that this number has not changed since 1970. She didn’t expect it to change. And then I sold my company. [in 2017]My research revealed that 60% of American shoppers use reusable bags almost all the time they shop. Everyone told me at the beginning, Americans don’t bring their bags back to the store and they’ll never pay for a bag, like that’s European. I can’t tell you how many people said, ‘No, no, no, they do that in Europe. They don’t do that in America, it’ll never happen. 

How did your English teaching background lead you to the idea of selling reusable bags to buyers

The mythical hero story about, you know, change. But when you see it in heroic ways and when it is inspiring or aspirational. We want to follow that path. A mythical story is about making a new culture desirable, beautiful, and aspirational. I used those skills to write the tragic tale of a plastic bags. It was a story I told many times while I was pitching stores buyers for years. My storytelling skills were key to my success. And I would end it with, ‘We can solve this problem for 99 cents. I have a new technological product that solves this problem for 99 cents.’

Your friends encouraged you to “just do this one thing” when you were overwhelmed by all the world problems that needed fixing. Is that advice something you would pass on?

Rachel Carson was my role-model. In her book, “Silent Spring,” in the dedication, she says, “this book is about DDT,” and she dedicates the book to the thousand other battles that we need to win to make our environment sustainable for us. And we are those thousand battles, that’s what we are. But just pick one, you can’t win them all, if you’re trying to do too many things, it’s not going to work. It’s hard enough to do one thing, believe me. Pick one thing that you are passionate about and do it. Your whole heart should be put into it. Know that you’ll make mistakes and believe in yourself to recover. I hope that my book inspires others to do just one thing.


A New School to Face the Climate Crisis

Stanford University will create its first school dedicated to teaching students about climate change and solving the crisis.

The university announced the move in a News releaseWednesday, the Doerr School of SustainabilityArun Majumdar, a mechanical engineering professor and renewable energy expert, will be the inaugural dean. 

Ann and John Doerr gave $1.1 billion to make this school possible. John Doerr is a venture investor Over $10 billionHe has invested in startups like DoorDash and Slack. He and his wife supported Khan Academy, an online tutoring site, and Climate Reality Project (a nonprofit founded by Al Gore). According to a compilation made by The, the gift is the second-largest ever given to a higher educational institution. Chronicle of Higher Education. Additional gifts from other donors increase the total funding for school to $1.69 Billion

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The sustainability school will absorb existing departments for energy and the environment, and will include a “Sustainability accelerator” that will elevate technology and policy solutions to stakeholders who can help put solutions into practice.

“With a deep track record in groundbreaking scholarship and impact, and a critical mass of subject experts and innovators, Stanford is perfectly positioned to make a measurable difference in climate and sustainability challenges,” the Doerrs said in a statement. “This is the decisive decade, and we must act with full speed and scale.”

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A part of a road that was washed away in Pinetown during the floods.(Photo by Gallo Images/Darren Stewart)


Concrete can give new life to old tires

Australian researchers have developed a product that partially replaces concrete sand by crushing recycled rubber tires. The product was a viable alternative for regular concrete and could be used to recycle tires and divert them away from landfills.

Two concrete slabs were subject to real-world testing by researchers from the University of South Australia. One slab was made of conventional concrete, the other was made with a concrete that replaced 20 percent of the sand content with a product called “crumb rubber,” a material just a few millimeters in diameter made of ground recycled tires. 

The tests were completed. Assess the strength of the material.The alternative concrete containing recycled tires was an acceptable substitute for the conventional concrete. Concrete containing rubber was more durable, more ductile, less likely to crack, and lighter than conventional concrete. It was also more resistant to compression. 

Professor Yan Zhuge, a co-researcher who studies sustainable concrete, stated that this research is an important step towards getting crumb rubber concrete from the lab to the real world. 

“That’s why the main focus of our research is from lab to slab,” she said. “There’s a big gap there from research to practice.”

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