Is coffee good for you?

coffeeAs a college student, I drink a lot of coffee. A lot. Of course, a good night’s sleep is far preferable to a cup of coffee. But sometimes, especially after a late night study session gives way to an early class, coffee is the only way to go. Then again, many of us drink one or more cups of the caffeinated beverage regardless of how much sleep we’ve had.

While your mother may have been telling you since your teens just how bad coffee is for you (even as she sips the hot brew herself), research this year has shown that coffee actually has a number of significant health benefits.  A few of these include:

1.       Coffee drinkers are 50% less likely to suffer from certain types of cancer, according to the Harvard Health Publications of Harvard Medical School.

2.       A 30-year study shows that coffee drinkers may have a much lower chance of contracting Parkinson’s Disease.

3.       Several studies also suggest that the chlorgoenic acid found in coffee will help to prevent Type II Diabetes.

4.       Coffee is also a good source of anti-oxidants.

5.       Coffee can boost your metabolism and so help you in your bid to lose weight.

So there are reasons to enjoy that steaming morning mug. But remember to drink coffee in moderation; too much coffee, and caffeine, is not good for anybody’s health.

Fun Facts about Recycling

Since this week was the thirteenth anniversary of America Recycles Day, I wanted to remind you that there is a funny side to the whole recycling and e-waste discussion. For example,  did you know all the valuables you could take out of one million recycled cell phones?

How about: 75 pounds of gold, 772 pounds of silver, 33 pounds of palladium, and 35,000 pounds of copper! Maybe recycling cell phones could pay for itself – that’s a lot of precious metals…

The federal government has only just started to get involved in electronic waste recycling; most initiatives until now have been on the state level. But some corporations have committed themselves to this effort. HP is one such company.  To date, HP has made one billion ink cartridges out of recycled plastics they collected from their printing and imaging supplies.  The company estimates that their recycling of 160 million ink cartridges and 1.3 billion plastic water bottles – instead of using non-recycled plastic for their products – was the equivalent of taking 3,000 cars off the road for a year!

There is a lesson to be learned here: The more we, as individuals, recycle on  our own, and support the companies who recycle on a large scale, the greater impact we can have on keeping our planet green.

America Recycles Day

Did you know that this week, on November 15th, the country held America Recycles Day?
This day was declared by Keep America Beautiful in 1997 to highlight the critical need for both homes and businesses to recycle. This year’s theme was “I Recycle” – and I encourage you to take the pledge! In honor of this important day, lots of companies and organizations held “Going Green” festivities to encourage people to get more serious about recycling.

The truth is: Recycling is pretty easy. Like everything else it’s a habit, and once you get into it, you’ll never throw a coke bottle into the garbage again. Most university campuses are pretty committed to recycling, which is a good thing, considering how much paper comes out of the printer and how many bottles of drink college students consume! In honor of America Recycles Day, this is the time to check out what kind of recycling programs your college has.

For inspiration, did you know that the Recycling & Refuse Department at Ohio University participates in the annual RecycleMania national competition, sponosrs the Trash Dance held during RecycleMania, and ensures that recycling is available at campus events? On the Univesrity of California @Davis campus, there is a zero waste coordinator for campus events. The University of Minnesota has developed the SMART (Self Managed Activities for Recyclables and Trash) system which has resulted in a significant increase in recycling on campus, while the University of Michigan provides lots of information on their site to guide both students and college staff in how to most efficiently recycle the waste that results from students moving in and out of campus. Humboldt State University used their years of experience – they’ve had a campus waste reduction program since 1987 – to create a guide called “Recycling and Beyond: A Model for Campus Communities.” You can access the link on the college website.

So, if your college campus is not recycling enough – take the initiative to improve and increase recycling at your university. Check out the websites of these colleges and follow their good example.

Creating a Packing List

An organized list makes for an organized suitcase

The next step in preparing for a trip is to create your packing list. Some of the items on your list depend on where you are going: If you’re going home then you don’t need to bring your own shampoo, but you’ll still want to have your own evening wear, for example. In general, you can cut down on your list when you’re going to stay with your family or in another familiar environment, as you can comfortably make use of whatever is available there. On the other hand, if you’ll be staying in a hotel, especially in a foreign environment, you’ll want to bring as broad a range of toiletries and even medications as possible, so that you don’t end up wasting part of your trip trying to find the nearest pharmacy.

In general, your packing list should be divided into the following categories:

Media – including cellphone and charger, camera and accessories, music player, and an old-fashioned notebook and writing implement. Guidebooks and print-outs from online travel guides should be on this list as well.

Toiletries – Review your daily personal hygiene regimen and make sure to list all of the relevant items, e.g., toothbrush/paste, floss, skin care, makeup, shampoo, blowdryer. If you wear contact lenses or glasses, note on your list to bring an extra pair of both. Also bring along sunscreen and sunburn remedies if you’re off to a hot climate. First aid items like anti-bacterial cream and bandaids are also important. You definitely want to have anti-bacterial wipes and/or a small container of Purell or other waterless soap, as well.

Documentation & Money – Bring a photo ID, your passport if you need one, copies of important papers, emergency phone numbers, your credit, insurance information and cash in relevant currencies.

Clothes – Check online for a weather forecast and pack accordingly. Always throw in a zip-up sweatshirt or jacket just in case!

Pre-Trip Planning

Thanksgiving-dinnerWe are now in the second week of November and for me that means: time to think about Thanksgiving. I travel to visit my parents every Thanksgiving weekend – I can’t get enough of eating my mother’s turkey and watching the Big Game with my Dad! You may be preparing to visit your family, or planning to use the Thanksgiving vacation time to tour a new place. There are lots of ways to make trip preparation easier and more efficient, from how you plan your trip to have you pack your suitcase. For us, the internet generation, planning a trip has never been easier. You can find out everything – from how to get there to what to do to what to eat to where to stay to whether it’s going to rain – from relevant internet sites. So stay tuned… my next few posts will be devoted to helping you have an easier pre-trip period and a more fun trip!
For today, here are some tips for traveling to a new place:
1. Make a checklist for travel
2. Define your mode of transportation (of course the internet is a great way to find out how to get wherever you want to go – and then to buy your plane or train ticket
3. Find a place to stay – Again check online for hotels and be sure to read the reviews from people who have been there. Then book your stay.
4. Travel to and from the airport – many hotels have a shuttle service that you can pre-book. This will save you a lot of money as they are usually cheaper than a taxi. You may also be able to take a train or bus.
5. Check out events in the city. Plan the fun part of your visit by finding out what festivals or events will be held during your stay. Make sure to check out the hours and days that the museums and other attractions are open so you don’t end up disappointed.
6. Make a Budget – and then stick to it! Remember to review the local currency and to convert some money before you leave.
7. Packing Lists — More on this in a future post.

Sleeping in on Weekends – Yes or No?

The usual advice that your parents, guidance counselor, friends – or I – would give you is: don’t use the weekend to make up for a week’s worth of staying up all night. The trick to creating a sleep schedule that will help you do your best in your classes and studies (and socializing) is to try and maintain a similar schedule for all seven days of the week. Staying up all Saturday night and then sleeping in on Sunday will likely set you up for a less-than-productive Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday…

At least that’s what I always thought. A new study, however, may give us college students the green light to do what we want to be doing anyway. A study in the journal Sleep, scientists analyzed the sleep habis of 159 adults with an average age of 30. Their results suggested that, in the words of the scientist who led the study, “The additional hour or two of sleep in the morning after a period of chronic partial sleep loss has genuine benefits for continued recovery of behavioural alertness.”

What this translates into for us: Catching up on your sleep by putting in an extra hour or two on a weekend night can help make up for a week when sleeping just didn’t make it on to your high-priority agenda!