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Posts Tagged ‘environmental wellness’

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My teenage daughter lectures me from time to time about overusing plastics, especially those that can’t be recycled. We’ve bought reusable straws to use at home, and I get dirty looks if I take a straw at a restaurant. I’ve been wondering why using a plastic straw would be detrimental to my health and well-being. Turns out there is a dimension of wellness called Environmental Wellness. We may not think much about Environmental Wellness as part of an overall wellness plan that might include eating more fruits and vegetables, but our environment and how we feel about it can have a huge impact on the way we feel overall.

Environmental well-being includes trying to live in balance with the nature by understanding the impact of your interaction with nature and your personal environment, and taking action to protect the world around you. Protecting yourself from environmental hazards and minimizing the negative impact of your behavior on the environment are also central elements.

According to University California- Riverside leading a lifestyle that is respectful to our environment and minimizes any harm done to it is a critical part of environmental wellness. Environmental wellness involves a number of different aspects of personal and societal responsibilities, but generally relates to being aware of earths natural resources (soil, water, clean air) and their limits, understanding how daily habits impact natural resources, and being accountable by taking actions to minimize our impact on natural resources. Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I recycle?
  • If I see something damaging to the environment, do I take the steps to fix the problem?
  • Do I volunteer time to worthy causes to protect soil, water, air, or wildlife?
  • Do I take time to appreciate my environment (go hiking, fishing, meditate, swim in stream or lake)?

If you answered “No” to any of the questions, it may indicate an area where you need to improve the state of your environmental wellness.

Recycling– Recycling saves energy and natural resources. For example, recycling one ton of office paper can save the energy equivalent of consuming 322 gallons of gasoline! Some cities offer recycling programs that pick up your recycled products at your curb. In other communities, you may have to collect your recycles and drive them to a designated recycle bin. The EPA offers some good information about what can and can’t be recycled, and recycling centers are all different in terms of what they can and can’t accept. In general, glass, cardboard, paper, food and beverage cans, jugs, plastic bottles, food boxes can be recycled. Other items such as Styrofoam, and soiled products can’t. Follow the rules, otherwise recycling centers have to spend time, energy and resources to filter out products that can’t be recycled.

Hazardous materials and situations– Some materials such as oil, paint, cleaners chemicals, and other products can pollute soil and water. Oil from one oil change for example can pollute thousands of gallons of water. Many commercial garages will accept used oil, and other businesses might accept paint and other materials.

Volunteering- Consider volunteering at a national, state or local park. Maintaining trails, planting trees, cleaning up streams and rivers are all volunteer activities that might contribute to your environmental wellness. The AARP offers some ideas on volunteering to help the environment.

Appreciate the environment– Appreciating the environment and natural resources will help motivate you and your family to change habits. Set a goal to get outside and appreciate the soil, air and water. Hike, fish, hunt, camp, swim, garden and even meditate outdoors!

Getting back to straws- although straws are only a fraction of plastics waste, they have become a poster child for single use plastics that wind up consumed by wildlife and found on beaches. In fact each human on the planet consumes around 88 pounds of plastic a year! Cutting back on straws can be a gateway to making many other changes in your life to improve your environmental wellness!!

Sources:

University of California Riverside. Environmental Wellness at https://wellness.ucr.edu/environmental_wellness.html

Environmental Protection Agency. Recycling 101 at https://www.epa.gov/recycle/frequent-questions-recycling

American Association of Retired Persons. 5 ways you can help the environment. https://www.aarp.org/giving-back/info-09-2012/fun-ways-to-help-environment.html

Author: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Associate Professor, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension

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If you had asked me last year my definition of wellness, I would have said eating right, exercising and lowering my risk of getting sick. However, wellness has many aspects and is connected to more than just those three areas. This last year has taught me how important some of those other areas are to my health and well-being.

The Ohio State University uses an integrative approach to wellness that promotes nine dimensions of well-being. Their student wellness center identifies each of the areas and gives a description.

wellness wheelEmotional Wellness
The emotionally well person can identify, express and manage the entire range of feelings and would consider seeking assistance to address areas of concern.

Career Wellness
The professionally well person engages in work to gain personal satisfaction and enrichment, consistent with values, goals and lifestyle.

Social Wellness
The socially well person has a network of support based on interdependence, mutual trust, respect and has developed a sensitivity and awareness towards the feelings of others.

Spiritual Wellness
The spiritually well person seeks harmony and balance by openly exploring the depth of human purpose, meaning and connection through dialogue and self-reflection.

Physical Wellness
The physically well person gets an adequate amount of sleep, eats a balanced and nutritious diet, engages in exercise for 150 minutes per week, attends regular medical check-ups and practices safe and healthy sexual relations.

Financial Wellness
The financially well person is fully aware of financial state and budgets, saves and manages finances in order to achieve realistic goals.

Intellectual Wellness
The intellectually well person values lifelong learning and seeks to foster critical thinking, develop moral reasoning, expand worldviews and engage in education for the pursuit of knowledge.

Creative Wellness
The creatively well person values and actively participates in a diverse range of arts and cultural experiences as a means to understand and appreciate the surrounding world.

Environmental Wellness
The environmentally well person recognizes the responsibility to preserve, protect and improve the environment and appreciates the interconnectedness of nature and the individual.

I like to think of these nine dimensions in relation to a wheel. When each area is full and evenly distributed around the wheel, it runs smoothly and is strong. However, if areas are missing or less than full then we have a weak, bumpy rolling wheel. Completing a self-assessment shows areas that are thriving and other areas that need greater attention. In examining your own well-being, where could you use some improvements? I encourage you to use that information and set a wellness goal for the next month. Make it something that won’t be too hard to accomplish. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator or add one more glass of water to your daily beverage intake. This makes it easier to create a plan towards a healthier well-balanced you.

 

Mazurek Melnyk, B., & Neale, S. (2018). Wellness 101: 9 dimensions of wellness. American Nurse Today13(1), 10–11.

The Ohio State University Office Of Student Life. (2018). Nine Dimensions of Wellness. Retrieved from https://swc.osu.edu/about-us/nine-dimensions-of-wellness/

 

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

Reviewer: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness. Ohio State University Extension,  remley.4@osu.edu

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Plant a TreeDo you remember planting a tree for Arbor Day?  Do you know the meaning of Arbor Day?  This day was set aside for tree planting back in 1872 by J. Sterling Morton. He was a pioneer who traveled from Detroit, Michigan to Nebraska. The pioneers missed their trees and decided to set aside a day for tree planting.  The trees were important for fuel, to keep soil in place, for wind breaks, for building supplies and to offer shade from the hot sun. Want to learn more & see pictures of this historical day? Check out this brief online book.  Arbor Day History

As a young child I remember watching our principal plant a tree in the school yard in honor of Arbor Day.  Every year a new tree was planted and a little ceremony held discussing the importance of trees. Check out this interactive map and find out when your state celebrates Arbor Day.

Did you know that Earth Day started in 1970 to raise awareness of environmental issues such as clean air, climate change and clean water? In four years, we will celebrate the 50th Earth Day. Both of these special days encourage us to increase our awareness of our environment and to honor and nurture a wonderful natural resource, trees.

What can you do to honor our Earth?

  • Plant a tree
  • Plant a garden
  • Plant herbs
  • Teach a child about Earth Day
  • Take a hike in nature
  • Take a few moments to enjoy the beauty of spring
  • Pick up trash along the roadways
  • Plan an excursion to a National or State park
  • Read a story about planting trees
  • Schedule a tree planting in your neighborhood
  • Organize a tree identification hike
  • Teach a child about Arbor Day
  • Volunteer with a local tree planting organization
  • Find out the state tree for your state. Hint: Ohio’s state tree is the Buckeye.

Arbor Day

Did you know that college campuses can meet standards to become a Tree Campus? I was happy to see that Ohio State University met the standards to be a Tree Campus.

Does your favorite university honor Arbor Day? 

Writer: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewer: Carol Chandler, Regional Program Specialist, SNAP-ED, Ohio State University Extension, chandler.4@osu.edu

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Bench at lake shore

 

Where did the summer go? It seems like it was just the beginning of June and now the stores are filled with back-to-school supplies and fall clothing. If you have a vacation planned for the next few weeks, consider these suggestions from the Environmental Protection Agency for these easy ways to reduce your environmental impact.

Conserve energy while on vacation. Before you leave home, adjust the air conditioning – you will be surprised at how quickly your house can cool down. Reduce the thermostat on your water heater to conserve additional energy. If you leave a light on for home security, use a timer and use an energy saving light bulb.

• At the beach, use old buckets and other items from your house to build sand castles instead of buying new products at the store.
• Be an energy saver at your hotel room or condo. Turn off the lights and television when leaving the room. Enjoy moderate temperatures by keeping the room cool but not cold.

• If visiting a beach or park, be sure to take everything that you brought with you when you leave. Be a steward of the earth and pick up any stray pieces of trash that you find. Encourage children (& adults!) to throw their trash in the proper place.
Rainy vacation? Long drive in the car? Let your kids use your scrap paper to draw and play games.

Traveling outside the US?Sand Dune

If you are traveling outside of the United States, visit the CDC Travelers’ Health website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/ for information and health recommendations for US residents traveling internationally. You will find information about vaccines, medicine and other advice for travelers.

You can easily select the country or area of your travel location and see suggestions for your health and safety.

Another interesting link on this website includes Travel Notices. The travel notice section is updated with information about disease outbreaks, natural disasters, mass gatherings and other things that may affect a travelers’ health. Go to http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices to see if there are any notices for the area where you will be traveling. These are color coded with these warning levels:

RED               Warning Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel
YELLOW     Alert Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions
GREEN         Watch Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions

There are many things to consider while traveling or taking a vacation.

Be prepared, be safe, be resourceful and have a great time!

Writer: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, treber.1@osu.edu.

Reviewer: Marilyn Rabe, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, Heart of Ohio EERA, rabe.9@osu.edu

Sources: http://www.epa.gov/osw/wycd/summer.htm
http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/
http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices
Photo credits: Bench at lake shore by arinas74 retrieved from http://www.rgbstock.com/images/vacation/1
Sand Dune by RWLinder retrieved from http://www.rgbstock.com/images/vacation/2

 

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According to the University of California- Riverside Wellness page: There are many dimensions of health: physical, spiritual, emotional, occupational, social, intellectual, and environmental. The dimension of environmental wellness includes “trying to live in harmony with the Earth by understanding the impact of your interaction with nature and your personal environment, and taking action to protect the world around you.” Protecting yourself from environmental hazards and minimizing the negative impact of your behavior on the environment are also central elements.” For the sake of today’s blog we will focus on the environmental wellness question that everyone faces at the grocery: paper or plastic?

When products are manufactured, stored, and transported to stores pollution can occur from extraction of raw materials, burning of fossil fuels, and production of garbage. Taken collectively, packaged products create societal problems for today and for future generations such as the production of greenhouse gases, growing landfills, dependence on fossil fuels and pollution of natural resources. Therefore when shopping think of the environmental impact when making purchases. By reducing the amount of waste you produce, you save energy and reduce pollution.

According “Enviroshopping: Buy Smarter” from the University of Florida Extension, consumers should buy products that make the best use of energy, don’t pollute air and water, are reusable or recyclable, made from plentiful resources and recycled materials, and use minimal of materials in design and packaging. Although packaging serves many useful purposes such as product preservation, consumer education, and consumer convenience much packaging is still wasteful. Before purchasing a product consider the following points:

• Buying larger food and beverages in larger containers produces less waste since they require less packaging. Be sure not to buy volumes that you can use before food spoilage.
• Is the packaging made from recycled materials- sometimes it will say on the package. Recycled plastics cannot be used for packaging food for it has not been approved by the FDA.
• Buy products with packages that you can re-use before they enter the waste stream. For example, drawstring mesh citrus bags make excellent laundry bags!
• Buy fresh fruits and vegetables with less packaging.
• Go inside restaurants and avoid the drive-thru when possible. Most fast-food serving materials end up in landfills.
• Ask yourself if the packaging is really needed or is just used to make the product more attractive.
• Avoid products that use several layers of materials when one layer would suffice.
• Ask if the materials can be recycled? Many plastics cannot be recycled. Check with your sanitation department if you have questions.

What about paper or plastic at the check-out? It would be better if you did not have to ask yourself this question. Purchase and use recyclable bags when you can. Both paper and plastic can be recycled. Therefore, consider if you can reuse the bags before they enter the waste stream. For example, plastic bags have some advantages over paper for some uses such as handling wet or moist products.

Our economy, culture, quality of life, and politics are closely tied to the environment. Sustainable practices enable us to meet our current needs without compromising the next generation’s ability to satisfy their own needs. We can preserve our natural heritage and conserve natural resources for the future by living sustainably.

Resources:

Enviroshopping buy Smarter
Accessed at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/he790 on 6/19/2014

University of California-Riverside Wellness Program
Accessed at http://wellness.ucr.edu/seven_dimensions.html on 6/19/2014

Author: Dan Remley, MSPH, PhD
Reviewer: Susan Zies, MS

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