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How to Beat Brain Fog

Earlier this year I was teaching a Master of Memory class when someone asked me, “how does covid affect memory?” This is a valid question as up to 30% of COVID-19 patients at some clinics report experiencing brain fog weeks to months after they recover from their illness. Brain fog is a term used to describe how you feel when your thinking is sluggish, fuzzy, and not sharp. You might experience brain fog when you are sleep deprived, jet-lagged, recovering from an illness, or experiencing side effects of medication. According to Dr. Tamara Fong, an assistant scientist and associate professor of neurology at the Harvard Medical School “In many cases, brain fog is temporary and gets better on its own. However, we don’t really understand why brain fog happens after COVID-19, or how long these symptoms are likely to last. But we do know that this form of brain fog can affect different aspects of cognition.”

Cognition refers to the processes in the brain that we use to think, read, learn, remember, reason, and pay attention. People experiencing brain fog may have trouble paying attention, remembering instructions, making plans, learning, storing, and later recalling information.

To help clear brain fog, doctors recommend practicing the same behaviors that have been shown to protect thinking and memory:

  • Exercise – aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. Moderate intensity is anything that gets your heart beating faster. If 150 minutes is too much, do what you can – every little bit adds up!
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet – fill your plate with nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Limit added sugar, saturated fat, and sodium.
  • Get adequate sleep – at least 7 hours a night.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs – if you don’t drink, don’t start. If you do drink, limit consumption to 1-2 drinks a day.
  • Engage in social activities – virtually, or in person. A simple text or phone call is sometimes all it takes to stay connected.
  • Do brain-stimulating activities like games and puzzles, listening to music, reading, and practicing mindfulness.

For more information on how to protect and improve your memory, whether you’re experiencing brain fog or not, view the Extension Today segment “Master Your Memory” below.

Written by Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Reviewed by Patrice Powers-Barker, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Lucas County

Sources:

Budson, A. E. (2021). What is COVID-19 brain fog – and how can you clear it? Harvard Health Blog. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-is-covid-19-brain-fog-and-how-can-you-clear-it-2021030822076

Fong, T. (2022). Brain fog: Memory and attention after COVID-19. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/brain-fog-memory-and-attention-after-covid-19-202203172707

Back to school season is the perfect time to up your game with the goal of having zero or reduced waste lunches. By planning, your family can greatly reduce the amount of food waste created. Here are a few tips from the Ohio State University Extension Sustainability Team:

  • Purchase glass, stainless steel, or food safe bamboo containers for your sandwiches or leftovers. There are a lot of stainless-steel bento style boxes available right now. Avoid using plastic bags or wrap, and aluminum foil.
  • Purchase reusable storage bags, straws, utensils, and cloth napkins that you wash and use over and over. If you use paper napkins, purchase 100% recycled paper napkins.
  • Make sure you use the oldest food in your cupboard, pantry, refrigerator first – as something gets older you may be able to freeze it for later use if you are watching (for example, you can freeze yogurt and fresh fruit for smoothies).
  • Bring your own condiments in small containers – rather than using or purchasing salad dressings or ketchup in single use packaging.
  • Compost your fruit or vegetable scraps. If composting isn’t available at your work or school, consider implementing a program.
  • Recycle what you can and keep up to date on the recycling program available in your community.
  • If you eat out, plan to take part of your meal home for lunch the next day. Eat at restaurants that use brown, eco-friendly to go containers, or better yet, bring your own.
  • The lunch bag options are limitless, so choose one that is easy to care for and fits your personality. Do you like Star Wars, Disney, the NFL, or our beloved Buckeyes? There are handy choices available for the whole family.

You may say that some of these sustainable products are a little pricey, so watch for back-to-school sales or buy these items as gifts for family members and friends gifts. I have been buying my friends glass or bamboo lunch containers the last few years and my daughter bought almost everyone in the family cool decorative mini-coolers last year for the holidays. The coolers work great for lunches or trips. We can’t wait to hear your favorite sustainable practices or lunch packing products.

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewer: Laura Stanton, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Warren County.

Sources:

Ohio State University Extension, Sustainability Team – https://fcs.osu.edu/programs/resources/sustainability

Stanton, L.M. (2021). Ten Tips for Packing Waste-Free Lunches, Ohio State University Extension. https://go.osu.edu/waste-free-lunches

United States, Environmental Protection Agency, https://www.epa.gov/recycle/reduce-reuse-recycle-resources-students-and-educators.

The Sunday Scaries

When asked in a recent poll, 58% of Americans said that Monday was their least favorite day of the week. For many people, Monday marks the start of a new work week and the tasks and responsibilities that come along with it. Individuals may start to feel some anticipatory anxiety thinking about what Monday will bring, sometimes referred to as the “Sunday Scaries” – a sense of anxiety or dread that comes around each Sunday (or the last day of your weekend). Generally, Sunday Scaries begin in the late afternoon or evening hours, when your mind starts to think of the week ahead.

If you experience these feelings, you are not alone. The shift from “weekend mode” to “work mode” each week is a transition many others struggle with as well. Sunday Scaries may be expressed in different ways, such as: a racing heartbeat, upset stomach, headache, or trouble sleeping.

Woman with a pen at her desk.

There are strategies to try to combat the Scaries:

  • Stay in the Moment – Try to keep your mind on the present and not on tomorrow’s to-do list. Plan fun activities for the day or spend some time with family and friends.
  • Sunday Self-Care Routines – Keep time open for rest and relaxation! Complete household chores and tasks on Saturday, so that Sunday can be left for hobbies and activities that you enjoy. This can help you feel more refreshed for the week ahead.
  • Treat Yourself – Give yourself something to look forward to on Monday. Maybe it’s your favorite food for lunch or plans to meet with friends after work that will make Monday not seem so bad.
  • Exercise – Schedule in some time for movement. Exercise can relieve some of the stress you may be feeling about your week. If you are able, go outside to get in some green exercise.
  • Listen to Your Mind – Is there something in particular about work that you are dreading? Perhaps it is a specific task or co-worker that is causing your worries. By figuring out what exactly you are dreading, you can take steps to make changes in your schedule.

If your life and routines are being greatly impacted by the Sunday Scaries – perhaps you are unable to sleep at all on Sunday nights, your eating habits change drastically, or you feel so anxious that you regularly call off work on Mondays, a mental health professional may be able to help you through different treatment options.

Sources:

Ballard, J. (2021). What is America’s most and least favorite day of the week? YouGov America.  https://today.yougov.com/topics/lifestyle/articles-reports/2021/03/15/most-and-least-favorite-day-week-poll

Cleveland Clinic (2021). What are the ‘Sunday Scaries’?  https://health.clevelandclinic.org/sunday-scaries/

Schramm, S. (2022). Ways to Beat the ‘Sunday Scaries’. Duke Today.  https://today.duke.edu/2022/04/ways-beat-%E2%80%98sunday-scaries%E2%80%99

Treber, M (2019). Thanks, Doc, for the Nature Prescription. Live Healthy Live Well.  https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/08/29/thanks-doc-for-the-nature-prescription/

Written by:  Jessica Lowe, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University, Pickaway County, lowe.495@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition and Wellness, OSU Extension

A waiter with two plates of food
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Let’s face it, it’s really nice to eat out sometimes. You don’t have to prepare food or do the dishes, and can order what you want. However, eating out can leave a large footprint on the environment, depending on what you order, how its served, and what you do with leftovers. Food waste, single use items, and resource intense foods contribute to pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The good news is that you can eat out more sustainably by making some small changes. Here are some easy tips that you can do when eating out to help the environment:

  • Choose more plant based foods, smaller portions of meat and fried foods. Plant based and fresh foods are usually less resource intense to produce. Guess what? They’re healthier too!
  • Refuse single use straws, utensils, cups, and bags. Bring your own reusable ones.
  • Take home leftovers. Food waste contributes to pollution and greenhouse gas emissions as it rots in landfills. Bring reusable plastic containers to use as a doggy bag for example.
  • Compost or recycle unsoiled paper products such as pizza lids, bags and boxes.
  • Choose restaurants that you feel are ethical and sustainable. You might have to do a little bit of research. Find out if they support your values. Do they pay workers a livable wage, do they source locally, do they offer healthier and sustainable menu items?
  • In general, try to eat out less often. When you eat out, there is also a chance you are leaving food at home to spoil.

Behavior change is hard, so try not to do too many things all at once. Consider setting some small goals. Small goals can lead to big impacts collectively and over the course of time. Think of all the plastic straws you would save from landfills by refusing them over the rest of your life. Choose goals that are really simple and attainable. For example, make a box of reusable items that you could use at restaurant and place in your car. If you go out to lunch 3 days a week, consider cutting back to one day a week.

Author: Dan Remley, PhD, MSPH, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness

Reviewed by: Jessica Lowe, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, lowe.495@osu.edu

Sources:

Lobb, Jenny. (2022). Starting the Year with a SMART goal. Retrieved at https://wordpress.com/post/livehealthyosu.com/12600

Sabate, Joan. (2014). Sustainability of Plant-based Diets: Back to the Future. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/100/suppl_1/476S/4576675.

United States Department of Agriculture. (n.d.) Food waste and It’s links to Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Change. Retrieved from https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2022/01/24/food-waste-and-its-links-greenhouse-gases-and-climate-change.

For families who have experienced the heartbreak of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), nothing makes sense. However, continued research is offering recommendations that may reduce the risk of future unexplained sleep related deaths.

According to the Mayo Clinic, SIDS is the death of a baby less than a year old who otherwise seems healthy. SIDS often occurs as the child is sleeping. Although the cause is often unknown, SIDS might be associated with breathing issues associated with sleep arousal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the term SIDS is also used to describe sleeping infant deaths that are caused by accidents, including suffocation or entrapment, which account for approximately 27% of sudden unexplained infant deaths.

Pediatric cardiologist Dr. Sam Hanke and his wife Maura, who was a kindergarten teacher at the time of their son Charlie’s death, realized if they could lose a child to SIDS, anyone could. Combining their medical expertise with their personal experience they started Charlie’s Kids Foundation to educate, support and advocate for safe sleep practices for all families.

In a policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) it is estimated that approximately 3,500 infants die of sleep-related deaths in the US each year. Although this number has decreased since the 1990’s, research continues to reveal the need for education and prevention efforts.

In July 2022, the AAP released a full list of updated evidence-based recommendations for reducing infant death in the sleep environment that include:

  • Back to sleep for every sleep
  • Feeding of human milk
  • Keep soft objects such as pillows, pillow-like toys, quilts, comforters, mattress toppers, fur-like materials, and loose bedding such as blankets and nonfitted sheets away from the infant’s sleep area
  • Infants sleep in the parents’ room, close to the parents’ bed but on a separate surface designed for infants, ideally for at least their first 6 months 

Although there are additional recommendations in the updated report, the message for parents and caregivers is supine (back) sleeping continues to be the safest sleeping position for infants.

Author: Heather Reister, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Butler County, reister.6@osu.edu

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Sudden unexpected infant death and sudden infant death syndrome: Data and statistics. Retrieved June 1, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/sids/data.htm

Charlie’s Story: Turning a tragic loss into a catalyst for change, (n.d.). Retrieved July 27, 2022, from https://charlieskids.org/our-story/

Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2022 Recommendations for Reducing Infant Deaths in the Sleep Environment. Publications.aap.org. (n.d.). Retrieved July 27, 2022 from https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/150/1/e2022057990/188304/Sleep-Related-Infant-Deaths-Updated-2022?autologincheck=redirected&_ga=2.254117454.774970786.1658929277-1670574471.1657804696

Sudden infant death syndrome, (n.d.). Retrieved July 27, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sudden-infant-death-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20352800

Ohio State University Campus

A couple months ago I wrote a blog about teaching our children to fly (from the nest). In three weeks, I will be moving my youngest child in to her college dorm. After surviving her senior year, I must now prepare for her departure and for the empty nest that will result.

As a parent, my life has not revolved solely around my children. I have tried to participate in things I enjoy for myself. I realize that to be the best parent I can be, I need to have things that bring me joy that are not dependent on my children. I want my kids to see that adults can have fun and do things that make them happy and still be good parents.

As my daughter prepares for this exciting new time, I am filled with mixed emotions. I am happy she’s doing well and that she wants to take care preparing herself for campus living. I try to avoid thinking about her leaving because I don’t want to dampen her excitement. I know I will likely experience some empty nest syndrome, though I don’t think it will be too severe.

The signs of empty nest syndrome include:

  • Feeling sad, anxious, and stressed about an empty house.
  • Unable to sleep or eat well due to being distracted by your thoughts.
  • Reverting to memories you shared with your kids when they were still living at home.
  • Reminiscing about their childhood and going through things they left behind.
  • Feeling useless or worthless since you no longer need to take care for your children.
  • Languishing—having less energy and motivation to do things you used to or want to do.
smiling couple

Empty nest syndrome can last for years, though most parents adjust to the new situation in about 2 months. Some parents look forward to the freedom from parenting daily, while others dread the thought of not having the kids around. Some, like me, have mixed feelings of excitement and sadness that my role as a parent of a child has ended. Regardless how parents feel, there are things they can do to help reduce empty nest syndrome:

  • Talk to your partner and your child about your feelings.
  • Reconnect with your partner or other significant people.
  • Respect your child’s new independence.
  • Focus on the future and the upsides of an empty nest, not the past.
  • Stay active and consider exercising regularly.
  • Stay disciplined with money.
  • Invest in yourself by doing things you enjoy and practicing self-care.
  • Don’t feel guilty for having fun and enjoying this new chapter.
  • Join a support group for empty nesters.
  • Seek professional help if feelings of sadness, anxiety, or depression persist.

As you navigate this new chapter, give yourself and your young adult some grace. Focus on getting to know your adult child, relish all you both have accomplished and look forward to all that is to come. Since the only constant in life is change, it is best to embrace it.

Author: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

Reviewer: Shannon Carter, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu

Sources:

Battles, D. M. (2020, November 26). How to cope with empty nest syndrome and be happy again. Lifehack. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from https://www.lifehack.org/809725/empty-nest-syndrome

Carter, S. (2021, June 14). From languishing to flourishing. Live Healthy Live Well. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/06/17/from-languishing-to-flourishing/

Carter, S. (2022, July 8). College send-off: Are you ready? Live Healthy Live Well. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2022/07/11/college-send-off-are-you-ready/

Educomics. (2021, November 15). Effective ways to combat empty nest syndrome. Educomics.org. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from https://www.educomics.org/watching-your-children-grow-up/

Harmon, M. (2021, December 14). The only constant is change. Live Healthy Live Well. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/12/14/the-only-constant-is-change/  

Harmon, M. (2022, May 24). They have wings, just teach them how to fly. Live Healthy Live Well. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2022/05/24/they-have-wings-just-teach-them-how-to-fly/

Rupp, M. (2022, April 6). Spring clean your finances! Live Healthy Live Well. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2022/03/14/spring-clean-your-finances/State of nevada employee handbook. (n.d.). Retrieved July 28, 2022, from https://hr.nv.gov/uploadedFiles/hrnvgov/Content/Resources/Publications/Employee_Handbook.pdf

As the beginning of the school year quickly approaches, I’m reminded of my family’s rushed mornings out the door where I lack patience and feel frazzled. As those days progressed, I found it difficult to keep myself motivated and to stay focused on tasks on my ever-growing to-do list. At the end of many days, I felt exhausted with very little completed from my list.

Journaling

In preparation to not repeat the rushed and frazzled mornings this coming school year, I’ve started doing some research about how to make the most of my mornings. Research shows that a productive morning routine can have a positive impact on a person’s day. There are lots of different ideas when it comes to creating an energizing morning routine including getting up early, exercising, drinking water, eating a healthy breakfast, and journaling to name a few. I quickly found all the options overwhelming and wanted to find something that made creating a morning routine a little easier.

That’s when I came across a book called The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. Hal’s approach to a morning routine made it easier for me to implement. He suggests waking up earlier than you normally would and spending your time doing six personal development habits to transform your morning and your life. The six habits are an acronym SAVERS:

  1. Silence– As you sit in silence, you’re totally present in the now, in the moment. You calm your mind, relax your body, and allow all of your stress to melt away. You develop a deeper sense of peace, purpose, and direction.
  2. Affirmations– Reading over the reminders of how capable you really are, gives you a feeling of confidence. Looking over what you’re committed to, what your purpose is, and what your goals are re-energizes you to take the actions necessary to live the life you truly want, deserve, and now know is possible for you.
  3. Vision– Visualize the change you want to make in your life. Either by creating a vision board or closing your eyes and working through your visualization.
  4. Exercise– Stand up and spend some time getting your heart rate up. Getting energized, waking yourself up and increasing your ability to be alert and to focus.
  5. Reading– Grab a self-help book and read a couple of pages. Learn a new idea, something that you can implement into your day, or discover something new that you can use to be better.
  6. Scribing– Grab a piece of paper and take a minute to write down what you’re grateful for, what you’re proud, or the results you’re committed to creating for today. In doing so, you put yourself in an empowered, an inspired, and a confident state of mind
Quality Wins

The book gives you a base to apply the habits to make them work with your life and I love that I can customize these to fit with my goals. How would you feel if this is how you started your day? How would the quality of your day—your life—improve? I encourage you to wake up each day with more ENERGY, MOTIVATION, and FOCUS to take your day and your life to the next level. 

Author: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

Sources:

Elrod, H. (2012). The Miracle Morning . Hal Elrod International, Inc.

Harvard Professional Development. (2016, September 21). 3 Ways to Boost Productivity with a Morning Ritual. Retrieved from https://professional.dce.harvard.edu/blog/3-ways-to-boost-productivity-with-a-morning-ritual/

According to a 2018 Nielsen report, 39% of Americans are shifting toward eating more plant-based foods – for various reasons and to varying degrees. Some potential draws of a plant-based diet include health benefits, food safety, cost savings, ethics, and sustainability. As depicted in the graphic below from Illinois Extension, plant-based eating can range from a diet that proportionally includes more foods from plant-based sources to a vegetarian, plant-based diet that excludes animal flesh foods to a vegan diet that includes no animal foods or products.

Infographic from Illinois Extension on plant-based diets. Plant based includes more foods from plant sources: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Flexitarian is plant-based and occasionally includes eggs, dairy and meat. Vegetarian is plant based and excludes animal flesh foods. Lacto-ovo is vegetarian but includes dairy and eggs. Pescatarian is vegetarian but includes seafood. Vegan is no animal foods. Vitamin B12 needs to be included in the diet.

The plant-based foods industry is responding to this increased demand. The Plant-Based Foods Association, a trade association representing the plant-based foods industry, states that they are working with brands, retailers, distributors, and food service providers to  “build a sustainable infrastructure for this growing demand”. Over the past couple of years, more and more plant-based foods have appeared in the grocery store. For example, “meatless grind”, a product resembling ground beef that can be used in place of ground meat in recipes for hamburgers, tacos, meatloaves, and more is now available from certain brands, and store brands are selling their own versions as well.

While you can certainly make a veggie burger from meatless grind or purchase pre-made veggie burgers in the freezer aisle of your grocery store, there are lots of easy, tasty recipes for homemade veggie burgers available online. These recipes typically include a combination of beans and grains. Here are three options:

  1. Lentil burgers containing shredded carrot and breadcrumbs
  2. Black bean burgers made with brown rice, sweet potato, and breadcrumbs
  3. Chickpea (garbanzo bean) burgers made with green onion, carrot, and flour
a veggie burger

If you have a bit more time and are willing to invest some effort in the creation of your own delicious veggie burgers, homemade beet burgers made with roasted, grated beets, black beans, brown rice, and oats are a central Ohio favorite.

Do you have a favorite veggie burger recipe? If so, please share in the comment box below!

Sources:

Illinois Extension (2020). What’s the best diet? Plant-based eating trend growing. https://extension.illinois.edu/news-releases/whats-best-diet-plant-based-eating-trend-growing

Nielsen IQ (2018). Plant-based food options are sprouting growth for retailers. https://nielseniq.com/global/en/insights/analysis/2018/plant-based-food-options-are-sprouting-growth-for-retailers/

Written by Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County

Reviewed by Patrice Powers-Barker, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension, Lucas County

Plastic bags overflowing with empty plastic bottles

I used to pride myself on my recycling efforts. I would compare my overflowing recycling bin with my neighbors and wish more people recycled. I felt it was our duty, responsibility, and obligation to protect our planet.

However, my recycling pride was deflated when I read a report from the Department of Energy that showed only 5% of plastics were recycled in 2019. A whopping 86% of plastics end up in landfills and the rest is burned to generate electricity. I finally realized that just because a product has a recycling arrow on it, does not mean it’s being recycled, especially if it is plastic.

So how do we reduce our plastic consumption? Let’s examine four common household purchases and see why plastic should be avoided.

1. Food: Paper Box Rather Than Plastic Cups
Sometimes, there is a hefty economic and environmental cost to convenience, like this example with macaroni and cheese. Turns out mac and cheese from the box is 17 cents/ounce, while the plastic cups cost 61 cents/ounce. Even worse, the consumer is left with four #5 plastic containers, which are one of the least recycled post-consumer plastics, at a rate below 1%. Compare this to paper and paperboard, which have a recycling rate of 68%.

Box of Mac N Cheese next to 4 plastic cups of Mac N Cheese

2. Fruit: Metal Cans Rather Than Plastic Cups
The cost difference between pears in a metal can and in plastic cups is negligible. However, the environmental cost is substantial. As mentioned above, #5 plastic has a recycling rate of less than 1% while the recycling rate for steel cans is 71%. Of course, fresh pears are package free. To have the smallest environmental impact possible, shop with reusable produce and grocery bags, then throw the pear core in a compost bin.

A metal can of pears next to pre-packaged cups of pears

3. Soda Pop: Cans Rather Than Bottles
There is little cost difference between pop cans and bottles. But once again, the environmental difference is noteworthy. Aluminum cans are the most recycled category of aluminum at 50%, compared to the recycling rate of #1 plastics which is 29%.

Aluminum can of Diet Mountain Dew next to a plastic bottle of Diet Mountain Dew

4. Soap: Bar Rather Than Liquid
Again, the cost between bar and liquid soap is minimal, so let’s compare the packaging. Soap bars are often packaged in paper, which have a recycling rate of 68% while liquid soap is often packaged in #2 plastic containers, which have a recycling rate of 29%. This information also applies to laundry detergent. If you are looking to avoid the large, #2 plastic jugs of laundry soap, consider plastic-free laundry powder, bars, tablets, or sheets.

Body wash in a plastic bottle next to 6 bards of soap

Stay Informed
The dos and don’ts of recycling changes frequently. Stay up to date on what you can recycle curbside and look for additional opportunities to recycle in your community, through zero-waste organizations or your solid waste district.

Final Thoughts
As summer winds down, it’s a great time to start planning waste-free lunches for your kids. The goal is similar: reduce waste and reliance on convenient, single-use, hard-to-recycle items. The next time you are at the store, reach for the apple sauce in the glass jar rather than the plastic one. Mother Earth will thank you.

Note: Item descriptions, prices, and photos were retrieved by the author at a local grocery store that is affiliated with a national supermarket chain on 7/18/2022.

For more information about plastic and recycling, visit:

Written by: Laura M. Stanton, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Warren County. Email: stanton.60@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Courtney Warman, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Program Specialist, Healthy Finances. Email: warman.44@osu.edu

Photo Credits: Cover image by rawpixel.com. All other photos by Laura M. Stanton, 2022.

References:

Bollas, B. (2021). Reducing your single-use plastic waste. Ohio State University Extension. https://fcs.osu.edu/sites/fcs/files/imce/PDFs/Single_Use_Plastics.pdf

Leblanc, R. (2019, May 9). An overview of polypropylene recycling. The Balance Small Business. https://www.thebalancesmb.com/an-overview-of-polypropylene-recycling-2877863

Milbrandt, A., Coney, K., Badgett, A., and Beckham, G. (2022). Quantification and evaluation of plastic waste in the United States. Resources, Conservation & Recycling, Volume 183. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2022.106363

Stanton, L. M. (2021). Ten tips for packing waste-free lunches. Ohio State University Extension. https://go.osu.edu/waste-free-lunches

Stanton, L. M. (2021). How to pack waste-free lunches. Ohio State University Extension. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wv_zyW-WzZY

United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2021, November 15). Ten ways to unpackage your life. https://www.epa.gov/trash-free-waters/ten-ways-unpackage-your-life

United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2022, July 9). Facts and figures about materials, waste, and recycling. https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling

Woelfl, C. (2021, June 7). Our plastic problem. Ohio State University Extension. https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/06/07/our-plastic-problem

Summer is in full swing! Children are home from school and parents may be on the hunt to keep them engaged and involved this summer. A popular choice that many parents have selected is summer camps. There can be a variety of summer camps to choose from. Some opportunities may be day camps; while others are a week away from mom and dad and full of new adventures to enjoy. There are many benefits to youth attending summer camps. These benefits include meeting new friends, trying new activities, physical activity, and creating memories that will last a lifetime. Studies show camps offering structured programs and physical activity may prevent weight gain in youth and help maintain physical fitness over the summer.

Along with the many memories made, summer camps also teach independence. During the week, participants get themselves up, get dressed, and brush their teeth all before the bell sounds to start breakfast and to begin the day. Summer camps also encourage well-being. Youth get to attend camp, see their friends, meet new ones, and come home with so many stories to share. Camps provide opportunities for practicing self-advocacy and other social skills. Youth may also have opportunities to increase self-esteem in these programs. Campers get to try activities and have experiences they can bring home for the rest of the family to enjoy. Various summer camps offer different activities for all to enjoy; there is something for everyone. I know when I was young, summer camps kept me busy and entertained all summer. My favorite memories as a kid came from the various camps I attended. I also made some of my very best friends at summer camp. I encourage parents to provide an opportunity for their youth to attend a summer camp of some variation. It will get children into the great outdoors and there the opportunities are endless. 

Written by: Kearsten Kirby, Student Intern, Ohio State University Extension Miami County kirby.305@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Miami County barton.345@osu.edu

Sources:

15 benefits of summer camp for your kids. GWRYMCA. (n.d.). Retrieved July 11, 2022, from https://gwrymca.org/blog/15-benefits-summer-camp-your-kids

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education; Board on Children, Youth, and Families; Committee on Summertime Experiences and Child and Adolescent Education, Health, and Safety; Hutton R, Sepúlveda MJ, editors.

Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2019 Sep 26.