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The sun shining behind a tree in winter.

The Winter Solstice occurs the moment the sun reaches the Tropic of Capricorn, which is the maximum tilt away from the sun. The significance of this event is that, in terms of sunlight, everyone living in the Northern Hemisphere experiences the shortest day and longest night of the year. This typically occurs around the 21st or 22nd of December every year.

In meteorological terms, the Winter Solstice marks the official start of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. This year, the Winter Solstice will take place on Wednesday, December 21st (at 4:48 PM to be exact).

Here are four ways you and your family can observe and celebrate the Winter Solstice, indoors and outdoors:

Winter shadows in the snow.

1. Look At Your Shadow
If it is a sunny day, go outside around noon and check your shadow on the Winter Solstice. Even better, measure your shadow and remember how long it is. You can measure your shadow on other days of the year, but it will never be as long as it is on the Winter Solstice. This is because the sun is at its lowest point in the sky and therefore, casts the longest shadows of the year. Visit this NASA link to see a beautiful image that shows how the sun moves across the sky throughout the year and creates a fascinating pattern called an analemma.

2. Attend a Winter Solstice Celebration
Many parks, nature centers, and other outdoor venues hold Winter Solstice events. For example, in southwest Ohio, Fort Ancient Earthworks and Nature Preserve holds an annual sunrise celebration. On the morning of the Winter Solstice, the sun strategically rises through a gap in the Fort Ancient earthworks. In central Ohio, OSU Chadwick Arboretum hosts an annual candle-lit labyrinth walk in the evening. For events close to you, try a quick internet search to find a Winter Solstice celebration near you.

3. Read About the Winter Solstice
Make a trip to your local library to find children’s books about the Winter Solstice. Snuggle up, light a fire or a candle, drink hot cocoa, and read a book together. Some book suggestions are:

  • The Longest Night by Marion Dane Bauer
  • The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer
  • The Solstice Badger by Robin McFadden

4. Rest and Reflect
Paying attention to nature and the four seasons is a healthy way to be mindful. It gives you an opportunity to be fully present in the moment and recognize that life is about change. We change and the seasons change. Pausing to recognize the shift that occurs at the Winter Solstice can connect us to the people, traditions, and memories that have come before us. The cold days and the long nights are perfect for rest, reflection, and setting your intentions for the new year and the next season of life.

Wishing you a wonderful and cheerful Winter Solstice! May the coming days bring warmth, light, and peace.

Winter Solstice Greetings image

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

Reviewed by: Patrice Powers-Barker, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Lucas County, powers-barker.1@osu.edu.

Sources:

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (2007, June 17). Astronomy Picture of the Day. https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap070617.html

Stanton, L. (n.d.) Mindfulness. Ohio State University Extension, Warren County. go.osu.edu/mindful-warren-co

Stanton. L. (n.d.). Nature matters. Ohio State University Extension, Warren County. go.osu.edu/nature-matters

Van Gordon, W., Shonin, E. & Richardson, M. Mindfulness and nature. Mindfulness (9), 1655–1658 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-0883-6

Photo Credits:

© Björn Buxbaum-Conradi. Sun shining behind a tree in winter. Adobe Stock.

@ Lizzy Komen. Winter shadows in the snow. Adobe Stock.

@ Teddy and Mia. Winter Solstice greeting. Adobe Stock.

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Country road in fall

This time of year is always difficult for me. Unlike those of you who LOVE fall, I do not. Yes, you read that right, I do not like fall, not at all. For a long time, I couldn’t figure out why I don’t share the same love of Fall like so many. It turns out, I have the milder version of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) known as the Winter Blues. You might be thinking, but it’s not winter. Well, SAD or seasonal blues can occur anytime of the year. Symptoms are typically the opposite for people who have Summer Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise, they start and end around the same time each year.

I knew this year would be especially challenging. I just sent my youngest child off to college in August and my older son who moved into an apartment in late spring. So, my husband and I are technically empty nesters. While he is excited, I don’t share his enthusiasm. I enjoyed having my kids at home and I still LOVE it when my sons stop by if just to do laundry or stay over. My daughter was home this past weekend for fall break and my younger son came home for a visit. It was nice to see and hug them, to hear what’s going on in their lives, and to hang out. While I don’t miss the extra dirty dishes, I do miss them.

Each new season brings change. While this season is especially difficult for me, I try to be proactive to help minimize the negative impacts. Some things that help me include EXERCISE, eating healthy, adequate sleep, connecting with loved ones, getting as much natural light as possible, and realizing that this too shall pass. I know about when my symptoms start and about when they end. This predictability of symptoms is actually what helped me realize that I experience the “winter blues,” just in the fall.

Group of young adults

The new season of being an empty nester has brought its share of change. While I miss my kids immensely, I know I raised healthy, well-adjusted, productive adults. There are times when I feel they don’t need me, then I get a phone call asking me about something, so they still need me, just in different ways. My daughter has had a cough for a couple of weeks (negative COVID), and she called asking me to drive 2.5 hours to go to the doctor with her! She has never been to the doctor without me, and she is scared. I had to keep myself from laughing. She’s very independent and hasn’t asked for my help navigating college and all that comes with it, yet she wants me to accompany her to the doctor! I asked her why she was scared She said she doesn’t want to fill out the paperwork. I told her she can call me if she has any questions. She was not thrilled that I would not come up, but she was more at ease knowing she can call me if needed.

This new season will continue to be an adjustment as we all figure out how to support each other in new or different ways. I am excited about what the future holds for my kids and for my husband and me. My young adult children are building their own lives and figuring out what they want to do in the next few years. My husband and I will be building our retirement home in the next several months and we are rehabbing a vintage camper to travel now and when we retire. All in all, this new season is filled with countless possibilities for us all!

Written by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Ken Stewart, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Monroe County, stewart.1982@osu.edu

Sources:

Carter, S. (2017, September 21). It’s fall, it’s fall… I love it all! Live Healthy Live Well. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2017/09/25/its-fall-its-fall-i-love-it-all/

Harmon, M. (2019, October 21). Fall: A sad time of year. Live Healthy Live Well. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/10/21/fall-a-sad-time-of-year/

Harmon, M. (2021, October 15). It’s Fall Y’all and the struggle is real. Live Healthy Live Well. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/09/28/its-fall-yall-and-the-struggle-is-real/

Harmon, M. (2022, July 28). Empty nest-now what? Live Healthy Live Well. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2022/07/28/empty-nest-now-what/

Nelson, H. (2007, October 32). Advice for parents and guardians of college students: 6 pieces of first-year wisdom. Advice for Parents of College Students: 6 Pieces of First-Year Wisdom – Azusa Pacific University. Retrieved October 21, 2022, from https://www.apu.edu/articles/advice-for-parents-of-college-students-6-pieces-of-first-year-wisdom/

Scammahorn, R. (2021, September 8). Don’t delay, start saving today! Live Smart Ohio. Retrieved October 21, 2022, from https://livesmartohio.osu.edu/money/scammahorn-5osu-edu/dont-delay-start-saving-today/

Stewart, K. (2022, March 2). Getting financial aid without getting scammed. Live Smart Ohio. Retrieved October 21, 2022, from https://livesmartohio.osu.edu/money/stewart-1982osu-edu/getting-financial-aid-without-getting-scammed/

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Do you ever wonder why many doctors and dentists’ offices have an aquarium in their waiting areas? No, it’s not because doctors and dentists all happen to be hobbyists; it’s because there’s some evidence that aquariums have a calming effect and improve moods. Calm patients make easier patients, especially for a dentist! Aquariums have many potential health benefits including:

  • Improves mood
  • Reduces pain
  • Improves nutritional intake and body weight
  • Improves loneliness
  • Improves anxiety, relaxation and stress

One study found that increasing the amount and variety of fish in an aquarium was associated with greater reductions in heart rate, greater increases in self-reported mood, and higher interest. 

Aquariums can be expensive though depending on the type. They range from the inexpensive such as a simple bowl with goldfish to the most expensive option of a large saltwater aquarium with beautiful tropical fish, coral, and other sea creatures. There is also a brackish aquarium which contain fish and animals found in coastal rivers where there is mix of fresh and saltwater. Many pet stores can help you decide which might be the best option for you.

Depending on what you decide you will most likely need (besides the aquarium), lighting, a pump, a filter, a heating device (if tropical), rocks, gravel, and some cleaning equipment. If you go with saltwater, you will need a salt, a hydrometer, and possibly chemical testing equipment. Saltwater and brackish fish and sea creatures are also the most expensive and least hardy, but they are also colorful and interesting.

In any event, do some research if you think it might help you or your family become healthier!

Author: Dan Remley, MSPH, PhD. Associate Professor, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewed by: Susan Zies, Assistant Professor, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Wood County

Sources

Cracknell, D., White, M. P., Pahl, S., Nichols, W. J., & Depledge, M. H. (2016). Marine Biota and Psychological Well-Being: A Preliminary Examination of Dose–Response Effects in an Aquarium Setting. Environment and Behavior, 48(10), 1242–1269. https://doi.org/10.1177/0013916515597512

Clements H, Valentin S, Jenkins N, Rankin J, Baker JS, Gee N, Snellgrove D, Sloman K. The effects of interacting with fish in aquariums on human health and well-being: A systematic review. PLoS One. 2019 Jul 29;14(7):e0220524. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0220524. PMID: 31356652; PMCID: PMC6663029.

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Fall is a beautiful time of year to get out and enjoy all the sights, colors, and sounds of nature. All of this can be a treat for our senses. Connecting to your senses can be a simple way to reduce stress. Tapping into all five senses can immediately provide calming and healing powers.  Incorporate one of these sensory experiences into your day and enjoy finding something new about fall to love:

people walking in woods

Vision:

Have a scavenger hunt: look for items found in the woods or at a park, in your neighborhood, or stay in your own backyard.

Create some art: make a nature rubbing with paper and crayons. Collect interesting items such as bark or leaves and place them under the paper and rub them on top with a crayon.  Consider placing interesting leaves in a bowl or vase and enjoying for the season or arranging them in a frame.

Smell:

Pay attention to the new smells that come with the season. Bring your attention to the grass, flowers, and air of fall. Notice the difference between a sunny and rainy day and talk about these with your children or grandchildren noting the differences they perceive.

Taste:

Fall offers a variety of new taste experiences, including pumpkin, cinnamon, and more. Pay attention to how these seasonal flavors make you feel.

Touch:

Fall can provide new and exciting textures to explore. Grasses have different and new textures as the season changes. Acorns, leaves, bark, moss, pinecones, feathers, and more can all have interesting textures to explore.

Sound:

Crunching leaves, new bird sounds, and others can contribute to the exciting sounds of fall. Take some time to simply sit and observe the unique sounds of the season.

Try taking a sensory walk incorporating all these senses and enjoy the multi-sensory benefits of fall. Using all our senses to explore a new season can greatly enhance the experience of fall and provide fall memories that last!

Written by: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Miami County.

Reviewed by: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension.

Resources:

Globokar, L. (2020, November 27). Learn how reconnecting with your senses helps you to manage stress. Forbes. Retrieved September 29, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/lidijaglobokar/2020/11/30/learn-how-reconnecting-with-your-senses-helps-you-to-manage-stress/?sh=32696bec1544

Whitney-Coulter, A. (2022, January 26). Use your five senses to connect with nature. Mindful. Retrieved September 29, 2022, from https://www.mindful.org/sense-the-benefits-of-nature/

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…make lemonade!

In other words, don’t throw it out just yet! Fruit during any season can quickly overripe and end up in the trash…but don’t throw out the lemon (or fruit) just yet (unless it is moldy of course)! With the high cost of food, this summer I challenged myself to throw out less food, especially fruit, to learn to be more sustainable. I learned that it only takes a few minutes to turn overripe fruit into usable, edible food.

Here are 5 of the easiest (less than 10 minutes) ideas for using up fruits that are past their prime.

  1. Freeze that fruit! Freezing will stop the fruit from ripening any further, so you don’t have to toss it in the trash! If you freeze overripe fruit it can be used at a later time in smoothies or other recipes. Just peel (if needed), chop and freeze!
  • Make fruit roll ups. This is the easiest idea after freezing! Making fruit leathers or “fruit rolls ups” is easier than you think and healthier without the added sugar. All you need to do is puree the overripe fruit (blender or bullet works great) until liquid, then pour onto a rectangle cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, bake at 225 degrees for 4-5 hours and wala…a fruit roll up! The cooking times will vary depending on thickness and your oven. To finish, use a pizza cutter to cut into strips and then store in a container.
  • Toss in a crock pot! Tossing overripe fruit into the crock pot instead of the trash can, which could easily turn into chunky applesauce, peach cobbler or a healthy dessert with very minimal time and effort.
  • Make jams or jellies. Did you now that it only takes four ingredients to make uncooked jam. These include fruit, sugar, pectin and water! No cooking necessary! I made jam this week using overripe strawberries and here is the recipe I used from Ohio State University Extension who provide evidenced based recipes, fact sheets and 30 minute webinars on food preservation.
  • And finally, bake a fruit crisp or crumble! This easy and delicious dessert can be made in a few minutes with only a few ingredients. There are many recipes available, yet basically you would just slice the overripe fruit, place on the bottom of a pan then add the “crumble” on top of fruit (a combination of oatmeal, flour, sugar, spices, and butter) and bake! This can also be easily made into a gluten free dessert by using almond or oat flour!

So, when life does give you lemons…now you’ll know exactly what to do … and see that something good can come from it 😊.

Be well,

Shari

Written by Shari Gallup, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University Extension, Licking County, gallup.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by, Beth Stefura, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, Stefura.2@osu.edu

References:

Jams. Jellies and Other Fruit Spreads: https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5350

Making Fruit Leathers: https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5361

Selecting storing Serving Ohio Produce: https://fcs.osu.edu/sites/fcs/files/imce/PDFs/Selecting_Storing_Serving_series_published_2021.pdf

Sustainability. Family and Consumer Sciences Ohio State University Extension. https://fcs.osu.edu/programs/resources/sustainability

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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

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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.

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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/

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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

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Take steps to explore your financial well-being

The OSU Extension Accounting for Your Money Hope Chest was released July 7, 2020, in the midst of the global pandemic and updated April 1, 2022 to address emergent global economic upheaval.  What is a Hope Chest? Historically, the term hope chest symbolized hope in a marriage or union…key words include vessel and a symbol of hope. The update contains current research to “help people help themselves” by aligning spending and saving within our control.

The past 26 months have taxed individuals and family’s financial wellness. It makes sense to explore the status of our financial well-being.  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau developed a tool to gauge individuals financial well-being.  The research was led by a team from the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED).  The research team suggests financial well-being is defined as a state of being where you:

§ Have control over day-to-day, month-to-month finances
§ Have the capacity to absorb a financial shock
§ Are on track to meet your financial goals
§ Have the financial freedom to make the choices that allow you to enjoy life

Because individuals and family’s value different things, traditional economic measures such as income or net worth do not capture the emergent aspects of financial well-being today. We must dive deeper, as the quality of our lives is largely determined by the choices we make.  By becoming aware of how to make choices that are best for you and others, you can become what is known as a self-forming person.

Self-forming people are those who take responsibility for their own lives.  They craft their futures by the actions they take and the choices they make.  Self-formation is a lifelong process of maturing and developing thinking skills. It develops as you interact with others, deciding what is most important to you, and taking action that is best for yourself and others.

Now click on the Financial Well-Being questionnaire tool, answer the 10 questions, and tally your score. Then use the information you learned about yourself to assist you when you take the first steps to prioritize your spending separating your needs from your wants. Click here to begin.

Below is the link for the Accounting for Your Money Hope Chest tool to help you develop and move forward with your state of self-formation and financial wellness. 

Click image to access the complete Hope Chest

Written by Margaret Jenkins, Assistant Professor, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension Clermont County

Reviewed by Mackenzie Mahon, Extension Educator, 4-H/FCS, OSU Extension Clermont County

Sources: 

  • A Sorgente, M Lanz – International Journal of Behavioral …, 2019 – journals.sagepub.com.  The multidimensional subjective financial well-being scale for emerging adults: Development and validation studies
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, (2022) Your Money Your Goals. at consumerfinance.gov/practitioner-resources/your-money-your-goals
  • J.F Laster – Journal of the Japan Association of Home Economics …, 2008 – jstage.jst.go.jp… Journal of the Japan Association of Hemc Economics Educution50(4) (2008.t Nurturing critical literacy through practical problem solving

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