As we head into the end of the semester, I cannot help but reflect on my experience in this class. As a DAAP major, I rarely get outside of that building and when I do, it may not be for a class I want to be in. Communicating about health, science and the environment was a class I enjoyed coming to and looked forward to hearing about. The topics that we covered were practical and realistic and were applicable to my life–which I appreciated.
Taking this class from a non-communications major standpoint, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The structure, the content, the assignments were all enjoyable to me. With that, I have to say that communicating about Health was my favorite topic. I’ve always been interested in health sciences as that was my second choice for a major, but health communication opened a whole new door of though for me. I realized how important it is to (firstly) communicate about our health and (secondly) how important it is to examine the ways in which we are doing so. In order to form good means for health communication, we have to understand ourselves, and the very first week we examined how health communication effects our every day life and what questions it answers. It was helpful to know that health communication answers the question “who am I.” That was a really nice start for me because instantly, I knew that this class was going to be a bit personable.
My greatest fear for this class, when I registered, was that it was going to be way over my head and not relatable for me, but that fear was abolished and I quickly realized that what I learn in this class, I can take to heart and use in my everyday life. This class was really enjoyable and while I learned a lot about health comm, I also developed a stance on climate change which overall, was the greatest victory for me.
Growing up in a conservative house hold, climate change wasn’t an issue that was discussed because “the earth was just going through a phase,” and while this may be scientifically true, it’s also true that Climate Change is a real thing that is happening now at an incredibly fast pace. It’s not just “the Earth’s cycle” anymore. Watching DiCaprio’s documentary helped me sort out my views and where I stand on this issue which was important for me because I’d never been forced to do so before. Seeing images and footage from various places across the world and their paths to destruction made me understand that this issue is happening in the here and now and is not something that can be pushed aside until it presents itself clearly–its presenting itself very clearly right now. Rachel Brathen,a yoga instructor that I follow faithfully, posted just two days ago of a massive flood in Aruba. She references Dicaprio’s documentary and states that “climate change is REAL.” Just because we don’t have massive flooding here in Cinci that forces us to take action doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t. Coupled with pollution and over-population, we’re experiencing change here as well. The floods in Aruba recently are a prime example of how climate change is truly an issue and how our little changes (energy efficient appliances, recycling, composting etc.) are failing and we have to take real action with greater impact on our planet. The recent election puts climate change in a whole new light and jeopardizes the world’s past efforts to reduce the planet’s temperature increase, and thats nerve-racking. Over all, these past few classes and the documentary have been essential for me in the way that i’ve developed a stance on climate change that I hadn’t previously had, and I have a greater understanding of how prevalent it is in the every day life that I live.
Among many products that are found criminal to greenwashing, business as a whole are often guilty of changing something about the way they operate to fit the bill of “greener products.” Companies think that because their product is greener or more environmental friendly that business will boom and sales will skyrocket. While this may be true, it is only true for the less-informed consumer. It is important as a consumer to be aware and informed of the seven sins of greenwashing so that we are not disillusioned into believing that a company is more green or more innocent than they truly are.
McDonalds changed some of their logos in 2014 claiming that they were “going green”. McDonalds has over 800 locations In Ohio, being out New York and coming in close behind Florida and California. Customers are attracted there not because of the food, per se, but rather the convenience and speed in which the food can be produced. McDonald’s saw this opportunity and stepped up their game launching the going green campaign. In this campaign they claimed to source more sustainable beef by 2016. They also claimed to use biofuel from leftover grease and use it in their fleet trucks. This company also took a “leap” in using recycled paper in their bags. McDonalds is not sustainable in any way shape or form: ” yet the company still uses beef grazed on deforested land in South America.”
Mcdonalds is sinful through vagueness, hidden trade-off and and no proof. Vagueness is accomplished through the label itself. a Green background with the golden arches does not accomplish anything tangible. McDonald’s is making a claim here that they cannot support with their product. The new label cannot back up their service or their claims through what they are serving or the means through which they are doing it. There is no real proof of sustainable beef in their products and the “recycle” label on their bags does very little for their green image. Paper bags are a hidden trade-off. They are not actually sustainable compared to other options or products.
When considering nature as a backdrop, we can emotionally relate in both positive and negative ways; it kind of like the way that psychologists analyze the positive and negative effects of nature on children, and then their associations with nature in adulthood. If there is a negative experience with nature and a company uses nature as a backdrop, you may be less inclined to buy that product because of the emotional triggers that it holds in your mind. Speaking negatively, you would not care to spend your money on a product (or even to a company) that uses nature and green advertising if you had a traumatic experience as a young person.
Positively, green advertisements are mostly aesthetically pleasing and well done. WWF has some of the best green advertising (mostly about endangerment and global warming) but it’s imagery, appeal to emotion, and overall composition definitely leave you impacted. When I researched the best green advertising, WWF had many impactful pieces that left me thinking, “these are incredible, very well done.” I happen to be a person that looks closely at aesthetics along with message and World Wildlife Fund encompasses all of one issue into their advertisements. They really capture what they want to get across the minds of consumers and do it artfully and impactful. The simplicity and minimal use of imagery and distraction is what really makes these adds pop and make you think twice when seeing them.
Product wise, companies like P&G (manufacturers of Tide), launch campaigns rather than billboards. The Tide Coldwater Challenge (2014) challenges consumers to “Give your clothes a brilliant clean while reducing energy consumption.” They basically say that by switching to Coldwater and washing with their product you can save money on energy while giving your clothes a lifetime boost. This switch will essentially reduce CO2 emissions. This pledge was launched and only centered around Earth day; while the pledge would certainly benefit by being extended into the following days, months and years, customers that were entering themselves into this pledge only had to pledge to use Coldwater on the week of Earth Day. What if you don’t need to do laundry on Earth Day? Is committing to cold water as an everyday use such a tough commitment that P&G knew of its inconvenience and only made the pledge a one week thing for that reason?
As an industrial designer, functionality plays a great deal into what and why we design a product, car, electronic, softgood, etc. However, I never actually took into account the actual planning of planned obsolescence. I never accounted for the planning of a product dying. But it makes sense. Designers walk a fine line between functionality and complete and total disaster. If the product is designed to be functional forever, the company for which you are designing is not going to thrive or make a sustainable profit because consumers aren’t coming back for more (as often). Yet, if the product is designed to break fairly easily, or die after a couple of months (or whatever specific time frame the company sees fit) the consumer will find another company to buy from because they are no longer satisfied with the quality of the current product. So, if a product is designed to last too long, the company suffers but if the product is designed to fail too quickly the company suffers. If the designer isn’t purposeful about material, form, functionality and even the consumer market, the company is going to fail.
There are many examples of planned obsolescence with cars and consumer electronics being at the forefront of those examples. There are always new cars and a new iPhone and a new game system for the sole reason of accessorizing. Society today tells us that we must accessorize and these accessories are very much going to fade and die sooner than later and the industry has to keep up with their planned depletion. Cars, for example, are always being redesigned and re-modeled and remade. Every year, Ford comes out with a new Focus or Fusion. Why? “instead of sticking with hits and standardizing them over time (which would be better for the repair market) car companies retire popular models and bring out something new every few years, making it harder to repair older models.” So, not only are companies coming out with new models every couple of years but they’re also retiring old parts making it nearly impossible to be efficient (consuming wise) and own an older vehicle.
Planned Obsolescence from a design standpoint is a very complex issue that isn’t often thought about, yet is very present in the everyday lives of product designers. Walking the fine line for a company with the effects of consumer response is crucial in order to maintain a successful market and overall economy.
I feel like its common sense: if you have a bad experience with nature as a child, you’re probably not going to be an environmentalist, or even have a strong ideology with nature. It’s like if you have bad sushi one night, it’s unlikely that you’re going to revisit that restaurant and order the same thing. The book talks about how psychologists know that children’s experiences with nature have great and crucial effects on their physical and emotional development, but how can this effect be positive when the growing society is becoming less and less environmentally centered?
Richard Louv calls the limited connections to the environment in present society “nature-deficit disorder”. Childhood today is much more structured with school, sports and activities and this leaves little time for children to simply go explore—no matter how big or small the adventure, it’s not a normal thing in society to just go roam and explore. Not only has the environmental norm for children changes in the past few decades but childhood experiences with nature are becoming indirect and felt through pixels rather than cells. Children 2-5 spend an average of 32 hours a week, that’s nearly 4.7 hours a day watching tv when they could be exploring or making positive connections with the environment that they live in.
Connections are now vicarious rather than direct. Children are learning about animals and such through zoos and aquariums, and personally I think that’s better than nothing. The exposure to wild animals through zoos is better than nothing. While the issue of humane treatment of animals, etc. comes into play, as a child it’s not something that you’re concerned about. When I was a child I rarely had vicarious experiences with nature, they were mostly direct. My father would take me fishing, my grandpa had a horse, my mom enjoyed hiking, I was a Girl Scout and I thoroughly enjoyed getting my hands dirty and working in the garden. My younger sister, age 9, has had a very different experience with nature. While she enjoys playing outside, that consists of riding hoverboards down the street and catching pokemon. These things get kids outside, but the connection with nature is lacking and its incredible to see how fast society is progressing and how nature is taking a back-burner to technology and media.
My sister and I are only 9 years apart but it may as well be a different era because she does not connect with nature the way that I do, and it’s not her fault—its no one’s fault. It’s just the way society continues to shape our lives and warp what is and isn’t important.
It’s amazing how the media shapes everyday life.
Pluto literally did not matter until something absurd happened and society went nuts and science was harassed for what it normally does:discover. Scientific discoveries happen everyday and normally, we are not emotionally connected to these discoveries and therefore have no reaction to these things. For some reason, americans had a deep connection to pluto and the media blew up with reactions from fellow citizens’s reaction to Pluto’s elimination as a planet. This connects to the issue that is very relevant: scientific illiteracy. Scientific Illiteracy in today’s world effects many things—the basic knowledge of scientific facts is rarely ever present in everyday society. In class when we took the small quiz on basic scientific facts, I found it extremely challenging to conjure up answers to many of these questions that were absolutely basic! And i’m right out of High School, much fresher than a good majority of the people in society that are taking this test and shaping the statistic that 80% of Americans cannot read the scientific section of the New York Times
the way that scientific illiteracy is portrayed in the media is often through surveys, and Q&A’s. I think that it’s super easy to blame the problem of scientific illiteracy on the school system but I think that’s where the blame should be put because that’s their job. We are legally required to go to school as kids until a certain age, during that time science should be more apparent in that segment of our education if we expect to see better survey results. If a citizen chooses to drop out of high school or not attend a higher education program, the blame cannot be placed on education but on the citizen’s interest, or lack thereof, in science and its application in daily life. So, why can I solve an extensive chemistry problem, but cannot tell you why the earth has seasons or time changes right off the top of my head? Perhaps it’s my lack of memory, but in reality, what normal human brain can pick through the layers and years of scientific knowledge and peel its way back to the third or fourth grade? I tend to only remember what i’ve been taught in within a two-year span and then its like everything else just falls into a black abyss. Survey results are alarming not because american society is dumb or not capable of understanding science and and applying current knowledge to surveys, but its that the knowledge need for current surveys is not current, its buried under years and years of physics, complex equations, calculus and so on. Basic information that the media uses in the surveys to develop stats on scientific illiteracy has been covered year by year with more complex information until the american taking the survey cannot dig through all of the knowledge in their head and pull out whats needed to take a basic survey.
Who’s fault is this? I don’t think that anyone’s at fault because complex knowledge shouldn’t be an issue, and its not ever been an issue, that is until complex scientific information cannot aid to the statistic of scientific illiteracy.
Photo: Math scene in “The Little Prince”–Netflix Original