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green romaine lettuce with black background

 I was surprised when I heard last month that E.coli cases were on the rise in Wood County, the county I live and work in. Currently, there are 23 known cases of Shiga toxin- producing Escherichia coli (STEC) E. coli identified by our local health department.  This is a huge increase from cases in the past. For example, in the last five and a half years the county has logged 27 E. coli cases. Of the 23 cases to date, 7 people from my community have been hospitalized, with ages ranging from 21- 60. According to the CDC , a specific food has not yet been confirmed as the source of this outbreak, but many sick people reported eating burgers and sandwiches with romaine lettuce before getting sick. Center for Disease Control also reports that E.coli cases  have been found in  Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and New York.

So, you may ask what is  Escherichia coli  (E. coli)? Well, E. coli can be found in intestines of animals and people, our foods and our environment. Most are harmless and can be a part of a healthy immune system. However, some E. coli can cause a lot of harm to the body. It can cause diarrhea, fever, severe vomiting and even kidney problems. Most people with (STEC) infection start to feel ill 3 to 4 days after eating something that contains the bacteria. However, people can feel ill anywhere from 1 to 10 days after exposure.

 Ways to prevent the spread of E. Coli

                Good Personal Hygiene

A person washing their hands with soap and water
  • Wash hands thoroughly before and after preparing food, after using the restroom and changing diapers.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after contact with animals such as farms, petting zoos, fairs and even your own animal.
  • Wash hands thoroughly before preparing or feeding bottles or foods to an infant or toddler and before touching their mouths, and pacifiers.

Wash fruits and vegetables

  • Wash fruits and vegetables well under running water, unless the package says it has already been washed.

Cook meats thoroughly

  • Cook ground beef a minimum temperature of 160 degrees F.
  • Always use a food thermometer to check that the meat has reached a safe  minimum internal temperature.

Written by: Susan Zies, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Wood County

Reviewed by: Shannon Smith RD, LD, CDCES, Family and Consumer Sciences Program Coordinator, OSU Extension Wood County

Sources:

woodcountyhealth.org

https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-poisoning

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This is a photo of a persons feet, indicating physical activity.

Did you know that September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness month?

According to the CDC, about 1 in 5 American children have obesity. Obesity in children cause a larger risk for health issues later in their lives. Although there are several health risks associated with childhood obesity, parents and caregivers can provide the framework to help their children live a healthier life.

Why is Childhood Obesity Important?

National childhood obesity awareness month is important because it promotes healthy eating habits, encourages parents to be role models for their children, and it educates parents.

Risks Associated with Childhood Obesity

There are many contributing factors with childhood obesity, including genetics, eating patterns, physical activity levels, and sleep routines. Children who are overweight or obese have a heightened risk for asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Children with obesity are at higher risk of becoming an adult with obesity. Those adults are at a higher risk for stroke, cancer, premature death, and mental illness.

Prevention

Parents and caregivers play an important role in the prevention of childhood obesity. Parents and caregivers can model a healthy eating pattern, get the family to move more together, set consistent sleep routines, and replace screen time with family time. By modeling a healthy eating pattern, a family can help children maintain a healthy weight as they grow up. Parents and caregivers can help their children rethink their drink by choosing water, 100% juice, or plain low-fat milk. Moving more as a family could be more fun and attainable. This could be walking the family pet or active chores. Children aged 6-17 years of age need at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Consistent sleep routines are important in preventing type 2 diabetes, obesity, injuries, and problems with attention and behavior. Reducing screen time can free up time for family activities. It can also remove signals to eat unhealthy food. Practicing these methods from the CDC can help prevent childhood obesity.

MyPlate

MyPlate is a great resource for healthy eating for different age groups. There are several recipes included on MyPlate.gov.

MyPlate diagram to show serving sizes.

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, August 29). Preventing childhood obesity: 4 things families can do. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 7, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/features/childhood-obesity/index.html

Life stages. MyPlate. (n.d.). Retrieved September 7, 2022, from https://www.myplate.gov/life-stages

National childhood obesity awareness month. National Today. (n.d.). Retrieved September 7, 2022, from https://nationaltoday.com/national-childhood-obesity-awareness-month/#:~:text=National%20Childhood%20Obesity%20Awareness%20Month%20%E2%80%93%20September%202022

Written by: Megan Zwick, Family and Consumer Sciences & 4-H Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Union County, zwick.54@osu.edu

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

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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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Have you ever had a difficult time canceling an online account or subscription service? Maybe the ‘unsubscribe’ or ‘cancel’ button was hard to find, or you had to answer several questions first before being able to finally cancel?

Computer screen

These practices are known as “dark patterns” and they are becoming increasingly common on a variety of websites. Dark patterns are deceptive strategies used by businesses to manipulate the decisions made by their online customers. This may result in consumers spending more money than they had anticipated, signing up for services they do not want, or spending more time and attention on a website than they intended. Several groups are advocating for the removal of dark patterns since they can make navigating the internet more difficult for individuals who speak English as a second language as well as individuals who have less experience using online commerce. Unfortunately, dark patterns sit on the edge of legality, making it difficult for lawmakers to pass legislation against these practices.

Several different types of dark patterns have been identified since 2010, such as:

  • Friend Spam – A website will ask you for permission to access your contact list (usually under good pretenses) but will then send messages to your friends claiming to be from you.
  • Trick Questions – Questions that trick you into giving an answer you did not mean to give, or a question that is worded in a confusing way.
  • Disguised Ads – Advertisements that look like a part of the website content or navigation, in order to get you to accidentally click on them.
  • Confirm Shaming – Websites that make a user feel guilt or shame when selecting an option other than what the company desires.
  • Roach Motel – Websites that allow you to sign up for their services easily, but are then very difficult to unsubscribe from.

How can you avoid falling into these traps? The best way to avoid dark patterns is to slow down and read carefully before signing up for a subscription or purchasing a product. Federal and state governments are slowly addressing dark patterns as well – California recently added regulations to the “California Consumer Privacy Act” that prohibit companies from using some misleading means. 

Consumer Reports has also created the “Dark Patterns Tip Line,” where consumers can submit screen shots of dark patterns they have encountered on the web. Launched in 2021, the tip line now contains a multitude of real-life examples others have encountered.

What are some dark patterns you have experienced?

Sources:

Reicin, E. (2021). Understanding Dark Patterns: How to Stay Out of the Gray Areas. BBB National Programs. https://bbbprograms.org/media-center/blog-details/insights/2021/05/19/dark-patterns

Deceptive Design. Types of Deceptive Design.  https://www.deceptive.design/types

Dark Patterns Tip Line.  https://darkpatternstipline.org/

Germain, T. (2021). New Dark Patterns Tip Line Lets You Report Manipulative Online Practices. Consumer Reports. https://www.consumerreports.org/digital-rights/dark-patterns-tip-line-report-manipulative-practices-a1196931056/

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

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

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Group of diverse volunteers

And I think to myself…. what a wonderful world.
~ Louis Armstrong

Being environmentally well means “recognizing the responsibility to preserve, protect, and improve the environment and appreciating your connection to nature.” In other words, environmental wellness happens when the different surroundings in your life enhance your health and wellbeing. This includes your home, your workplace, your local community, your natural surroundings, and the planet.

Three aspects of environmental wellness include: paying attention to the different environments that you spend time in, making an effort to spend time outdoors, and being more sustainable (AKA “going green”).

Health Benefits of Environmental Wellness Across the Lifespan

No matter what your age, research demonstrates the far-ranging health benefits of environmental wellness. For example:

  • Children who play outside in nature develop superior motor skills, balance, and coordination compared to children who play on traditional playgrounds.
  • Teens and young adults report feeling calmer, less stressed, and lower anxiety after spending time in nature.
  • Adults reduce their risk of chronic diseases including asthma, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke when they spend time in green space.
  • Senior adults who garden reduce their risk of dementia by 36%, even more than those who walk every day.

How can you start improving your environmental wellness? Commit to spending more time outdoors, being more green in your purchasing decisions, and actively caring for the environment. You can also try these simple activities:

  • Write nature into your schedule. Grab a bag and pick up litter while you are out.
  • Bike or walk rather than drive. If you drive, carpool when possible.
  • Use reusable water bottles, mugs, and shopping bags to limit waste.
  • Add houseplants to your home and work environments to improve indoor air quality and to psychologically link us to nature.
  • Learn about recycling in your community and recycle as much as possible.
  • Avoid purchasing single-use plastic and pack waste-free lunches.
  • Plan your food purchases to avoid food waste and compost food scraps.
  • Encourage local schools to recycle, compost, and host community gardens.
  • Decrease your use of energy and water.
  • Grow native plants to provide shelter and food for wildlife and support pollinators.
  • Donate your time or money to organizations that protect the environment.

Satish Kumar said, “We are nature.” Environmental wellness helps us recognize our connection to the natural world and realize that when we help our environment, we help ourselves. It is important, however, to point out that not everyone has equal access to nature or green environments, due to limited green space, accessibility limitations, safety concerns, and financial resources. We all need to work together not only to protect the natural world but to also ensure that everyone can reap the health benefits of environmental wellness equally.

For More Information:

  • On sustainability, visit the OSU Extension Sustainability website to find Trash-Free Trails, Reducing Your Single Use Plastic Waste, and many other tip sheets. In addition, there are many educational videos as well as a sustainable home tour: https://fcs.osu.edu/programs/resources/sustainability
  • On the importance of nature and spending time outdoors, visit the Nature Matters website created by OSU Extension, Warren County: go.osu.edu/nature-matters

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

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

Photo Credit: Image by rawpixel.com

References:

Bickel, N. B. (2021, September 13). Youth report feeling physically, mentally better after spending time in nature. University of Michigan Health. https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/wellness-prevention/youth-report-feeling-physically-mentally-better-after-spending-time-nature

Ingunn Fjørtoft. (2004). Landscape as playscape: The effects of natural environments on children’s play and motor development. Children, Youth and Environments, 14(2), 21–44. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7721/chilyoutenvi.14.2.0021

Kumar, S. (2019). Elegant Simplicity: The Art of Living Well. New Society Publishers.

Melnyk, B. M., and Neale, S. (2018, January). Nine dimensions of wellness. American Nurse Today, 13 (1). https://www.myamericannurse.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/ant1-Wellness-1218.pdf

Simons, L. A., Simons, J., McCallum, J., & Friedlander, Y. (2006). Lifestyle factors and risk of dementia: Dubbo study of the elderly. The Medical Journal of Australia, 184(2), 68–70. https://doi.org/10.5694/j.1326-5377.2006.tb00120.x

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

Twohig-Bennett, C., & Jones, A. (2018). The health benefits of the great outdoors: A systematic review and meta-analysis of greenspace exposure and health outcomes. Environmental Research, 166, 628–637. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2018.06.030

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