Category Archives: Challenge

Talking To Strangers Challenge

When I was a child I was very outgoing and loved to socialize. Everywhere I went I just meshed in really well with other people. My mom even joked that I could just made friends with anyone. Of course as I grew older that behavior changed, as an adult I do not go out of my way to socialize with people I do not know and even find myself feeling a little shy in social situations. It is really interesting how much a person can change over the course of their lives. I chose to undertake this challenge because I wanted to put myself out of my comfort zone and try something new. So for three consecutive days I interacted with strangers, I gave them small compliments and pushed myself out of my comfort zone to try to brighten their day.

Day One:

On the first day of this challenge I was pretty nervous. I felt uncomfortable and awkward so I decided to start small. I received a notice that I had a package in my apartment complex’s office and figured I would try starting this challenge there. I walked in, requested the package, and started up a conversation. I told the woman helping me that I loved her sweater and it ended up becoming a twenty-minute conversation. I was surprised that I actually had a lot of fun chatting with her. Her initial reaction was to smile and thank me. I think that our small chat made her day a little brighter, and I am unsure if she would tell her friends or not. I enjoyed this experience and was definitely less apprehensive of the next days attempt. I would not mind popping back into the office and chatting again with her if I get the chance.

Day Two:

On the second day I was still nervous to be trying this again, but not to the degree of the previous day. I was in Starbucks sitting at a table after meeting with a wedding photographer, and this older gentleman was sitting at the table next to me asked me what my nationality was. I told him that I was Irish and Norwegian and he said that he thought I was Italian with how I talk with my hands so much. I laughed and told him thank you and we chatted for a while about travel. I complimented him on his travel savvy knowledge and we talked about sightseeing and such. It was overall a very interesting and enjoyable experience. The gentleman looked to enjoy our conversation as much as I did, and I think I made his day a little better. I am unsure if he would share about his experience with a friend or not. I think this challenge is something I will continue in my everyday life as a normal trend.

Day Three:

On day three I almost did not complete the challenge as I was home for most of the day. Thankfully we went to the grocery store that afternoon and I was able to fulfill the final day of the challenge while there. I was in the check out line and the cashier looked like it had been a rough day so I decided to try complimenting her to see if it made any difference. I made general small talk and asked her if it was a busy day in the store, etcetera. I complimented her hard work and told her thank you and to have a great day. She smiled and looked a bit less stressed. It made me feel really good that just a small interaction like that could make someone who looked so stressed smile for a bit. I will definitely be repeating that and I think that I made a small difference in her day. I found this attempt a lot easier as I did not feel nervous about engaging in conversation with her, and afterwards I felt good to have made her smile.

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Green Clean Challenge

For this challenge I chose to clean my kitchen, as it is the dirtiest and the room I would be most concerned about using dangerous chemicals in besides my own bedroom. Putting harsh chemicals on and near the surfaces where we cook and eat seems potentially dangerous. If we are not supposed to drink the stuff under the sink, why are we cleaning our countertops with it? I used the 50/50 solution and dish soap for all areas of my kitchen and found it to be very effective. I also feel that I have better peace of mind preparing food in a space free of hazardous chemicals. Having my kitchen clean also had a positive effect on me psychologically, as I had less stress and will have less future stress; since I can stay ahead of the mess after a deep clean.

Challenge (One small act of kindness for 3 days)

About 7 years ago I took a trip to Spain with my little sister and my Aunt. The three of us were shopping in a tiny hole-in-the-wall jewelry shop when my Aunt stopped and randomly complimented a woman on her outfit. This woman was visiting Spain from Germany and her and my Aunt exchanged numbers and E-mails. A few years later my Aunty told me she had a friend coming to stay with her in Portland (where she lived at the time). It ended up being the same woman that she met in that shop, who she had kept in touch with all that time. Moral of the story is that one small act of kindness could lead you to an endless amount of possibilities.

I took this challenge because I am the type of person who really keeps to myself a lot, yet I know how good it makes me feel when somebody I know or a stranger randomly compliments me. I thought it would be a good way to sort of break out of my own shell and make somebody feel good at the same time. It ended up being a rewarding experience and I’ve actually made it my goal to continue this. I don’t exactly have a set amount of compliments I want to give out each week, but naturally whenever I admire something about someone I will make it my goal to speak up and let them know.

Day 1

When I remembered about this challenge the first day, I wanted to make sure that I got it out of the way while I was at school on Monday, because I knew I wouldn’t be going back outside of my house for the rest of the day after I got home from school. Because of this, it was on my mind constantly. I didn’t want to compliment somebody just for the sake of the challenge either, I wanted it to be genuine at the same time. I ended up going to get coffee after class, a normal routine of mine, and working at the coffee shop was a girl and her make-up was SO pretty. Almost as if I just blurted it out, I told her I loved her make-up and asked her what kind of highlighter she wears. Almost any girl out there will agree with me when I say that when girls compliment each other’s make-up, it’s an instantaneous friendship! The girl smiled and we got into a short conversation about products and how expensive some make-up can be. I could tell she appreciated the compliment when I initially said it, and because it wasn’t a forced compliment, I didn’t even think about it before going into it.

Day 2

The second day I almost forgot about the challenge until I was at work for the night. My co-worker and I got into a conversation about what we want to do after school and the kind of places we would want to live in. She mentioned wanting to live in a big city one day, since she grew up in a small town, but she didn’t think that she ever would. In the end I ended up telling her that I admired her perseverance in school and how hardworking she has to be to continue on and get her master’s degree (something she is working on now). If she continued to strive and work hard she could live anywhere she wanted. I could tell that it really raised her spirits and boosted her confidence knowing that somebody with an outside perspective genuinely thought that of her. This made me feel pretty good inside knowing I sparked some sort of flame in her.

Day 3

The third day I was at work (I work in a restaurant) when when a lady walked up with her two daughters who were roughly around 2 and 5 years old. She mentioned that her husband was in a conference and she and her daughters wanted to grab lunch in the meantime. I told the woman how adorable her daughters were and how cute of a family they looked like. She said thank you and it seemed like she appreciated the compliment. I’m sure as a mother of two young children times can be tough but a small compliment like that can flip somebody’s day around.

Challenge!!! Do you accept?!

When I was around 7-9 years old (maybe younger) I would naturally approach people and tell them how beautiful they were. If they were dressed up or not, were just taking  a quick trip to the store, whatever they looked or seemed like, something in me would draw me to people and I would tell them they were so beautiful. It made me feel good, but I did it more so for their sake. I wanted to spread smiles and happiness to strangers and give them something to feel good about. Some people need it more than you can see or even really know.

So, now I challenge you to do the same! For the next three days (or longer if you want, and I encourage) to tell 1 stranger a day, something nice! Whether it be about their looks, intelligence, goals, aspirations, or achievements. For each person you say something to, take note of how they reacted and how you think it affected the person. Did they smile, laugh, get embarrassed? Do you think it made their day better or worse, that they will tell their friends what happened? Next, take note of how you feel, before you tell them and after! Were you nervous to approach them, were you excited to compliment them, did you back out of the first few attempts? Lastly, do you think this is something you’ll keep doing? Sometimes it takes just being challenged to do something to start a trend in your daily life.

I am excited to see, should anyway take this challenge, how your experiences go! You’ll see it’s really not as scary or nerve racking as it seems. Good luck!

Food Label (challenge)

So for this challenge, I asked my friend about food labels and what she would like to see on packaged food and beverage products. My friend said that she would like to know a lot of stuff that could possibly harm her health and more.When I asked her about what she would like to know about food packaging information, she said that she would like to know more about the preservatives, fats, and in general the (real) calories.

My friend and I talked about that we want to know if the product we buy is from free range animals or factories. It is good to know all the information that we can. I have seen some products with the “free range eggs” label sometimes. It would be more informative if the sellers were more honest about the products they sell because some customers do not want to buy factories products because some factories make the animals suffer; it is unethical the way they can treat the animals.

Another thing my friend talked about was that she wants to know if the chemicals or something in the ingredients can harm her health. She said they should put how safe the product is so that she can make her own choice to buy it or not to buy it. She emphasized that she wants to know what the preservatives can do to her like the result of eating it. I know some preservatives aren’t good.  For instance, butylated hydroxyanisole. According to David Zinczenko, butylated hydroxyanisole has shown to be carcinogen. Carcinogen is something can cause cancer and it is important to know this information on the food label.

Sources:

http://www.eatthis.com/8-ingredients-you-never-want-see-your-nutrition-label/

 

Morning Challenge

Wednesday: I have a routine of washing my face with cold water every morning to get rid of any oil or germs that might be on my sheets and to help wake myself up in the morning. Brushing my teeth and hair is also part of this morning routine I have. I usually don’t drink water until half an hour or an hour after getting out of bed, so this felt a little weird on my stomach on this day.

Thursday: The night before, I set a glass of water on my night stand so that I remembered to drink water right when I woke up. I continued with my routine of washing my face, and brushing my teeth and hair after waking up. I did spoil myself with coffee because my roommate brewed some that morning.

Friday: I had a glass of water on my night stand again and it’s getting a little easier to drink it in the morning. I don’t have class on Friday’s, so after doing the usual morning routine I went to the gym and kept myself hydrated with lots of water.

Saturday: Weekends are when I sleep in, so I didn’t get to drink my water or do anything until before noon. I still stayed away from coffee or sugary drinks and stuck with my water while I went to the gym that day.

Sunday: I didn’t sleep in as much on this day because I had assignments and online quizzes to do, but drinking water is easier in the mornings. I did get a coffee on this day to keep myself a little more awake while doing school work.

Challange: “Green” Clean

My challenge is to clean one or more rooms in your house. Cleaning has shown to improve both mental and physical health. But instead of using potentially harmful chemicals, I want you to use healthier alternatives (I’ll provide a recipe below)! Write about your experience using natural cleaners. Some questions to think about: Do you think we should be concerned with the ingredients in household cleaning solutions? Which cleaners (natural vs. chemical) do you feel safer using? What chemicals are in your products?

Cleaning is good for you!

One study (Keith, 2013) found that there was a correlation between clean houses and healthy people [though, I do feel the need to point out that that healthy people, will have an easier time maintaining their home than a sick individual.] Decluttering your space can have a positive impact on your ability to focus and increases productivity. Cleaning has been shown to decrease stress levels and promotes physical activity. Frequent cleaning will also help allergy issues; I need to change my sheets often due to my cats. This is an interesting article regarding the psychology of cleanliness.

Cleaning products are a consumer health concern, and many contain detrimental toxic chemicals.  I will provide a list below of 5 common cleaning ingredients and their health impacts. You might also want to check out this cleaner “hall of shame” too.

So, what can you use to clean that is not a determinate to your health or the environment?

Alternatives to Store-bought Chemical Cleaners

White vinegar is one of my favorite cleaning products. It has a multitude of uses and gets rid of most household germs, including the flu virus. To create the disinfectant, you mix a solution of 50-50 water-vinegar in an empty spray bottle. You can also add lemon or tea tree oil for extra cleaning power and scent (just make sure the oils are pure and don’t have added chemicals). You should use dish soap to clean areas contaminated with raw meat, as it does a better job against salmonella than white vinegar.

If you are interested, I encourage you to look up natural DIY cleaning products. I like DIY over store-bought “natural” or “green”, as their labels often misleading. Making the solutions at home is also cheaper. This article is a good place to start!

5 Common Chemicals in Cleaning Products

Phthalates

Found in: Air fresheners, dish soap, toilet paper, shampoo, hair spray, “fragrance” labeled items. Companies do not have to disclose the presence of phthalates due to proprietary laws. If it is labeled “fragranced” there is a good chance they will be in the product.

Health Concerns: The long-term effects of phthalates are currently unknown. Phthalates can cause endocannabinoid system (Albert, Guy & Marzo, 2014). One study found phthalates may be endocrine disruptors (Albert & Jegou, 2013. High phthalate metabolites have been correlated with obesity and insulin resistance (Desvergne & Casals-Casas, 2009). High amounts of phthalates have been shown to damage the liver and testes of rodents in lab studies (CDC, 2007).

Perchloroethylene (PERC)

Found in: dry cleaning solutions, stain remover, carpet cleaner

Health risk: Can affect the neurological and raspatory system. NTP, EPA and IARC have found it is likely to be carcinogenic to humans (CDC, 2011).

Triclosan

Found in: liquid dishwashing detergent, antibacterial hand soaps, toothpaste, toys

Health Risk: Triclosan has been classified as a contaminant of emerging concern (CEC); this means it is currently being investigated for risks to public health (USGS, 2016). Some studies found that high doses lead to levels of decreased thyroid hormones. Triclosan also may be contributing to the antimicrobial resistance issue (FDA, 2016).

Quaternary Ammonium Compounds

Found in: disinfectants, fabric softener

Health Risks: Contact dermatitis, asthma trigger. Possibly contributes to cancers, reproductive problems and endocrine but not enough research has been conducted to be sure (SCOH, 2015).

Chlorine

Found in: dishwasher detergent, toilet bowl cleaner, disinfectants, pools

Health Concerns: Body reacts to chlorine (inhalation/digestion/topical) exposure by producing acid. These acids destroy and damage cells in the body. Symptoms include blurred vision, skin irritation, coughing, chest tightness, wheezing, breathing difficulties, nausea, vomiting, fluid in the lungs. High concentrations of chlorine may cause chronic respiratory complications (CDC, 2013).  Long-term health effects have not been properly researched at this time. Some sites mentioned that chlorine may contribute to thyroid disorders, but I want unable to find any peer-reviewed studies on the subject.

 

Works Cited

Albert, O., Jegou, B. (2013). A critical assessment of the endocrine susceptibility of the human testis to phthalates from fetal life to adulthood. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/humupd/article/20/2/231/664157/A-critical-assessment-of-the-endocrine

Centers for Disease Control. (2007). Third National Report of Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20070401141153/http://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport/pdf/thirdreport.pdf

Centers for Disease Control. (2011). Tetrachloroethylene (PERC). Retrieved from https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/substances/toxsubstance.asp?toxid=48

Centers for Disease Control. (2013). Facts about Chlorine. Retrieved from https://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/chlorine/basics/facts.asp

Desvergne, B., Casals-Casas, C. (2009). PPAR-mediated activity of phthalates: A link to the obesity epidemic? Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030372070900149X?via%3Dihub

The Food and Drug Administration. (2016). 5 Things to Know About Triclosan. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm205999.htm

McPartland, J., Guy, G., Marzo, V. (2014). Care and Feeding of the Endocannabinoid System: A Systematic Review of Potential Clinical Interventions that Upregulate the Endocannabinoid System. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3951193/

Keith, N. (2013). Tidier homes, fitter bodies? Retrieved from http://newsinfo.iu.edu/web/page/normal/14627.html

United States Geological Survey. (2016). Contaminants of Emerging Concern in the Environment. Retrieved from https://toxics.usgs.gov/investigations/cec/index.php

Selifkoff Centers for Occupational Health. (2015). Quaternary Ammonium Compounds in Cleaning Products: Health & Safety Information for Public Health Professionals. Retrieved from https://med.nyu.edu/pophealth/sites/default/files/pophealth/QACs%20Info%20for%20Physicians_18.pdf

Challenge: Snakes on a Plane.

I’m sure we all know about the concept of ‘snakes on a plane’ – the movie in which venomous snakes are purposefully let into a plane cabin. The movie was something of a joke, but here’s the interesting thing about it: it’s not just about the idea of snakes literally being on a plane, but it’s also a common saying for “c’est la vie” or “it happens”. We tend to accept ‘snakes on our plane’ in a multitude of different things – and a lot of the time, it happens with the ethical consequences of what we choose to consume in our culture.

This challenge revolves around identifying the snakes in your plane – or the things in your life that you overlook their ethical consequences for in light of tangible enjoyment. This is incredibly broad, but to give you examples, I’ll let my “snakes” out of the luggage storage.

I think my biggest snake is my consumption of leather goods – I generally try to avoid dairy when I can, and have never had beef in my life. I’m aware that the dairy industry is thoroughly messed up and that generally, cows are terrible for the environment. Yet, I overlook this ethical dilemma when I’m buying a purse or a pair of shoes. While I know that in some ways, leather is better for the environment than plastic, I still consume a good that has a lot of terrible effects on the ozone layer and the environment in general, due to the methane gas that cows create.

That doesn’t make it a snake: but rather, the justifications that I make up for continuing to buy new, leather goods, are the snake on a plane portion. I typically say “oh, leather eventually are broken down, unlike plastic goods that live forever in landfills once used” – other justifications are that they last longer, are more likely to be quality and are using every part of the animal. Though, this can be flawed logic, as I don’t KNOW the true environmental impact of the pair of boots, or the handbag, or the jacket.

I challenge you to look at your consumption patterns and find an item or items you know are morally sketchy – whether it be due to human rights violations, animal rights, environmental factors, the works, find something in your life that you recognize as a “snake on a plane” that you are complacent with, then identify your justifications. This not only gives you an idea of how producers may justify the creation of products, but also to know that not everyone has perfect consumption habits.

Food Labels Challenge 1

The person I talked about had only a basic knowledge and understanding about packaged food and beverage labels. He noticed some of the differences in the old and new label. For example, the serving size in the new label is in bold with medium size letters and the calories is the most prominent information on the new label while the old label had bold letters for the calories and size serving however, the letters were much smaller. Also, he observed that the new label presents the information in a more clear way and highlights what he believes to be the most important information. Since all he wants to know about the packaging information is the calories because he wants to keep track of the calories and make sure he doesn’t exceed 2000 calories. Moreover, he believes ingredients are very important because he wants to know what he is consuming whether the product has natural or artificial ingredients.  The conversation was very interesting and we both talked about what both of us considers to be the most important information in food labels and how this information can help us choose the healthies food and beverage products available.

Has anyone looked at five personal products with harmful ingredients that are bad for our health?

I posted this following challenge.  It is fairly an easy challenge.   I hope to hear from some of you as to if you are going to try this challenge.

Challenge: are you using personal products with harmful ingredients instead of products that have organic or plant based ingredients? Reasons; read below.   If you pull up this post, you can see the rest.

 

Thank you,

Indera