Conscious Living in a World that Throws Everything Away

A few months back while doing research for gardening and composting on YouTube,  a video showed up featuring Bea Johnson, discussing her lifestyle called “Zero Waste”.

Those two words say it all and my mind quickly began simmering the idea of zero waste and soon after I became obsessed!

Johnson’s blog and book, “Zero Waste Home”  began a movement that has spread across the globe, inspiring other environmentally conscious individuals like myself.  Johnson has brought back a lifestyle that our ancestors have lived for thousands of years that include canning, making vinegar, cooking without waste, reusing what is available.

Bea Johnson believes you can live simply by following these simple guidelines, the 5R’s:

Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot (Not only in that order)

Johnson believes all habits can be adapted to this lifestyle, but a lot of regular habits may have to be sacrificed.

I’ve continued my research into this lifestyle by joining the Zero Waste Reddit community, researching books at the library, and by watching YouTube videos discussing their attempts at this lifestyle along with the frustration that comes with it.

Some frustration that I’ve personally experienced includes:

Feeling Overwhelmed

  • How do I even begin living this lifestyle?
  • What do I do with the things I currently waste?
  • Everyone I watch in public is so wasteful!  ARRGGHHH!
  • I have pets and taking care of them is wasteful.
  • The numbers game – Learning how much is wasted makes the heart feel heavy.

These are all complications I’ve come across and still struggle with during my journey.

To cope with the overwhelming amount of wastefulness I try to be non-judgemental of others, continuously restructure my habits until I find a system that works, and communicate my feelings to others and try to teach others about easy habits to reduce waste.

One of the key factors for adjusting to this lifestyle is the realization that I cannot expect to be waste-free overnight, it will take time and effort to attain a completely zero waste lifestyle.  

Being Unknowledgeable

  • What is considered to be waste?
  • Is recycling worth it?
  • What products are available for this lifestyle?
  • Needs Vs. wants.

I’ve delved deep into learning as much as I can about zero waste within the past couple of months and there is still much more to learn.

One dilemma I’ve experienced is how to get rid of the wasteful things I currently own.  I have nail polish, plastic wrap, plastic Tupperware, personal care products, toilet paper, random kitchen gadgets, and more.  

I currently just have these items sitting around, waiting for its life purpose to be fulfilled.  I still need to figure a solution for most of these items, but until then, I do the following:
  • Use or recycle the Tupperware.
  • Do not buy anything that has wasteful packaging or that is not recyclable.
  • Create family cloth. (A reusable cloth for wiping your bum)
  • Donate these items to a thrift store.
Bea Johnson points out an important detail:

Don’t buy anything new, you can find almost anything used at a local thrift store or on eBay.  Buy your food in bulk form and locally and in season.  Be conscious of what you are buying and think to yourself “Do I really NEED this?”

Get out of your comfort zone and try new things like crafts, growing herbs/other produce, cook more or try making your own almond milk or cheeses–You’ll be impressed with what you are capable of and honestly, you’ll probably enjoy being self-sufficient in these areas.

Being Lazy or Reverting to Old Habits

  • Making excuses.
  • Putting leisure before productivity.
  • Eating out because “I’m hungry now”.
  • Feelings of frustration resulting in inactivity

Altering decades of old habits is challenging and require constant motivation, determination, and effort.  I’ve realized that planning ahead and organization is crucial to success and includes daily journaling, meal planning, and attainable weekly goals.

Eating Out

  • Ordering takeout.
  • Avoiding straws.
  • Over-ordering.
  • Utensils
  • Refusing plastic bags

Eating out is difficult when you are trying to be zero waste.  You have to deal with disposable cups and utensils, becoming full before finishing so you are stuck with either food waste or a wasted container, straws being forced to you, and ordering takeout is completely out of the picture unless you bring your own reusable container.

I have a past addiction to Mitsuwa’s pastries, ice cream, shaved ice, and other desserts featured at Ry-Leaf.  In my continuous effort to be less wasteful, I now bring reusable cups, containers, choose a cone Vs. a cup, and request no disposable straw/utensils.

My first attempt at bringing a reusable container to Ry-Leaf started off without a struggle until the cup I had brought was too large for their machine.  The employee decided to use a styrofoam cup to transfer the ice, so without thinking, I reacted with anguish expressing that the cup was not necessary and the whole experience became awkward.

Now when I ask for a business to use my own container I instantly say “I know, I’m crazy–Don’t worry about it!” and usually go on to explain WHY I am asking them to accommodate my strange requests.

I’d like to end this post with my Earth Day messaged which was shared on Facebook:

Today is Earth Day, and while every day should focus on our precious Earth we need to all take a moment to reflect on our actions.

We all group up wasteful, we are wasteful as a species and the neglect needs to stop.

Take a moment today think of ONE thing that you can do to help Earth and all the life that struggling with it.

500 MILLION plastic straws are wasted EACH DAY. This is an easy habit to break and it all begins with REFUSING. Do you really NEED a straw? Think about it.

Plastic is killing the remaining wildlife and the oceans. If you love animals and/or love seafood, help protect them! It is our responsibility to reverse our destruction to this planet!

Thank you for reading. 

Included in the post was a button for friends to donate to the Earth Day Network.  I raised $95 including my donation of $20!

Lichen that Camera

I currently have a Samsung Galaxy S7 and still paying that sucker off — 17/23 payments.  Whenever I select a new smartphone I tend to select one that has a decent camera.  When I say decent camera, whatever the top reviews are from both verified sources and customer based.

My favorite phone was the Nokia Lumia 720.  It was a devastating day when the screen broke, followed with a visit to a shady fix-it-up stand at the mall.  After months of waiting, the “businessmen” returned my broken phone which I exchanged for a $200 return.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 is decent and captures some amazing detail with proper lighting.

I enjoy taking photos throughout the day but prefer twilight hours or just before dusk and most often at Busse Woods.  Most photos include fungi, moss, flowers, dying trees, skyscapes, any opportunity for wildlife, and anything that is out of ordinary or interests me.

I’ve been exploring the market, researching DSLRs so we’ll see how the future unfolds.


I love hiking.  I love the variety of scents blowing in the breeze and the many colors of Earth’s palette — it excites my senses!  The scurrying of hidden lifeforms that are invisible to the naked eye, but you know they are there.

The changes of the seasons and how every day you go for a hike, it will not be like the last.  New life, old life, no life.

Winter, a time of peace and solace.  Hiking in winter is like going back in time, before civilization.  A feeling of unity between woman and nature, and what a beautiful feeling to experience.  It’s moments like these that are pure bliss and just make me melt inside.

We are near the end of April and we are expecting snow tomorrow.  I worry about all the young sprouts struggling for the sun, warm weather and survival.  One day the temperature will be 30°F then a day or two later it will be 60°F.  One nice thing about this static weather is that it can give interesting photo opportunities.

Here are some photos from recent hiking trips.


The first three photos show clusters of Turkey Tail Fungi commonly found as pale white or brown.  These fungi look so whimsical and elegant and can make a hike feel a little bit more like a fairy tale.


Beauty is in all things. You just have to

50% Fungi

Below: Seaweed and remnants of fall rest below the water surface.

Seaweed Stump 2

You have to appreciate what you never look at.


What you find may surprise you.



An ode to ramen in the form of a spaghetti western?  A ramen western…  Heck yeah!

This clever film, set in 1985 Japan, tells the story of a widowed woman, Tampopo, struggling with her newfound responsibility of operating the family ramen stand alone.

One day, Tampopo fell victim to a gang of ruthless men who mocked her bowl of ramen.  To Tampopo’s surprise, she was actually the fortunate one that day, for a pair of drifting truck drivers Goro and his trusty sidekick, Gun save the day!

As Goro and Gun prepare to leave, Tampopo runs to their truck and begs for help to improve her ramen.

The movie goes into the culture of ramen for ramen is more than just a dish of food, but a piece of art that must be thought about thoroughly in detail and mastered.

Remember to slurp those noodles!

Slurping ramen noodles is key, for it not only cools down the ramen but also aerates the broth, which helps fully develop the flavors for a more palatable experience. 

There are vignettes throughout the movie that are strange and comical.  One focuses on a group of pretentious businessmen who get upstaged by a lowly employee’s culinary expertise.


A primary subplot involves a gangster and his lover that use food as an aphrodisiac.

The first scene lays the lover on a bed with an overturned bowl resting on her stomach.  Inside, live shrimp thrash around in a puddle of soy sauce against her naked skin.  I wonder what that feels like?  😕

Throughout the movie Goro teaches Tampopo the secrets to the perfect ramen, through intense training which included timed meal prep, cutting pork to 3mm (no – more is not better!), running (a classic in any apprentice training motif) and spying on other ramen stands, to name a few.

This movie is for chefs, wannabe chefs, those who love ramen or adventurous spirits that enjoy silly Japanese movies with great cinematography.

I suggest finding a good ramen stand in your local area so you can enjoy the umami taste of delicious noodles and broth to curb your craving because you will NEED ramen after watching this movie.

If you are in the Chicago Suburbs, I recommend Kitakata in Hoffman Estates.  They provide great customer service, serve hot ramen, and also have a vegetarian ramen (yay!).  I have one request though, please refuse any straws!  🙂

Kitakuna Ramen.JPG

Hurry and go watch Tampopo!

Warning:  Since the movie involves cooking, there are a few graphic scenes of butchered animals… Be prepared…

Bath Time!

These are my Budgies: Ash, Desi, and Kazu!

Meet Ash:

Here is Ash playing in her bathtub.  This little, dusty looking bird with hints of blue came home about six months ago.  She is sweet, submissive but can stand her ground when she needs to, inquisitive, rambunctious, expressive and so much more!

She bonded with me right away, but in general, she is just a very relaxed and loving animal.  Just like any other young Budgie, Ash found her love for food (mainly seed but she gobbles up her pellets) and will do anything for a treat.

This is great for training because I can use a reward system to teach her, and after a while practicing “step up” she will give me this confused, angry look and probably thinks “This is annoying mom…..”

She’s still so young, exploring and learning so much that its difficult for her to concentrate, but we will get there eventually!

Meet Desi & Kazu:

Kazu and Desi are nearly inseparable, sometimes to Kazu’s dismay… Kazu is the extrovert in the relationship and sits highest on the perch, while Desi copies and smothers Kazu whenever possible.  Watching the two is pretty comical, like a Three Stooges act.  Kazu is preening her feathers and Desi rushes to her, hitting his beak against hers, repeatedly.

If I had to choose who was the wisest of the bunch, I would give the title to Kazu.

Kazu is the most inquisitive, loves climbing, and has adventure coursing through her veins. Her problem solving isn’t the only reason she holds wisdom, and you can tell when she interacts with Ash.

For example, Kazu will watch Ash, show changes in her facial expressions, dilate her pupils, or even lightly chatter.  It amazes me how the eyes can express such an array of emotions.

Having birds as a pet is a primary reason I FINALLY committed to a vegetarian diet.  There are many other reasons why, but eating chicken in front of them felt wrong and envisioning my birds as my meal was also unsettling.  

Back to happy thoughts:  

Desi!  So much can be said about Desi and honestly, where do I begin?  desi is a little crazy, I say this because one moment he will be calm, cool and collected, then seconds later completely lose his s#it.  He is also very anxious and used to have night frights.

No doubt he was traumatized from Petland.  By the way, I will NEVER bring home an animal from ANY pet store.  I will focus only on local breeders and adoption organizations.  Kazu and Desi both came from Petland, Kazu first and then two weeks later Desi came home.  It was a whole ordeal, but we will discuss later since this is Desi’s time!

Desi is the singer of the group.  You will often hear him cooing softly to one of Mark’s records, spinning on the turntable or belting out his longs just out of sheer enjoyment.  Even though Desi has his moments of stress, he still is very loving, especially for the love of Kazu.  Desi follows Kazu everywhere, at her trusted side to make sure she is taken care of.  It’s so romantic.. Swoons



Drifting by

Do you ever feel like you’re just drifting by?  No purpose, no urgency, just living?

Since my last post, I’ve become pretty inactive and less-driven than normal, slowly ripping off the band-aid and ready to continue my dreams!

This past week I fell ill with the flu, so that was a major set back in the plan;

But… I can’t keep making excuses, and I must persevere through life’s challenges while harnessing the determination to reach my goals, ultimately relishing success.

Mark is out of town for a Sesshin.  I’ll make another post about Sesshin retreats since Zen Buddhism has been such an important role in my life, and nothing is as inspiring, harmonious, or life-altering as a sesshin.  Anyway, Mark is gone until Sunday.  Which means I have a lot of free time to use for myself!

I tried to get a decent start to my day by catching up on some routine chores (dishes, laundry, etc.). I’ve recently utilized the Konmari Method to organize my clothes since I had so many pieces unused in an unorganized chaos.  It makes doing laundry a lot easier and more enjoyable, not to mention that looking at nicely displayed drawers reduces so much stress and makes finding an outfit much quicker.

Konmari Method


If you are unfamiliar with this way of life, I highly recommend learning more about the Kon Marie Method! 

Some basic components of Konmari are: 

  • Keep things that spark joy.
  • Discarding the idea “someday I will… use… wear… make..”
  • Treat your possessions as if they were alive, with respect.  (This helps with mindfulness.)
  • Celebrate the present, get rid of past souvenirs that clutter your house.

Wool Balls in Drawer:

Wool Balls

In case you were wondering why I have balls in my drawers.  I bought these spiffy wool balls to help reduce drying time, soften my clothes, and freshen the scent of my clothes.  I should have done more research before buying these since there is unethical treatment towards sheep, and knowing that I contributed to an animals suffering just pains me.  I also did not buy local and ordered from Amazon, but honestly, I have no idea where to find wool balls in my local area. 

Self Improvement

Considering this is a fresh blog, I will most likely cover a lot of the ideas, hobbies, etc. that I mention in later posts.  Hopefully, you will find this collection of thoughts useful, inspiring or interesting!

Please feel free to leave comments, I would love to read any feedback!

I have a little workspace by the main entrance of the apartment and today decided to organize the area to make it feel more inviting.  I cleared off the top, moved my storage rack and decided to hang up part of a newspaper end roll to create a board for my goals.

Constructing a Maguiver Wall Easel 

It was surprisingly simple.  I cut a newspaper end roll in half (I work at a newspaper publisher and these are super convenient!), found a piece of thick string and tied a knot at each end.  Then I threaded the string through roll’s opening (it resembles a roll of wrapping paper) and stuck push pins into each knot – hanging the roll of paper.

I just unravel whatever length of paper I want when needed and to help keep the hanging paper taut, I clipped a small piece of cardboard on the bottom.

Goal Poster

(Please excuse the strange title illustration, “Goals”,  composed of a worm, a whale, a fountain pen, a bird, and flowers)

You can see that I listed some goals that I’ve recently been focusing on:

Blog – I’ve recently had to write articles for the paper, which is completely frightening for someone who did not study journalism!  I decided to brush up on my writing skills with a blog and to learn more about myself.

Picture Book – Walking in the forest inspires me.  One day I thought of a story about the squirrels of the forest (in my head I think ‘Kingdom of Squirrels’ came to mind..) and their fight for their home.  Yes, it sounds like Ferngully or Avatar, but this deals with conservation in a familiar setting… Who doesn’t know what a squirrel is?  I’ll talk about this idea in another post, so stay tuned!

Language(s) – Refamiliarizing myself with French and Japanese has always been a goal.

Learn Video Editing – The other day we had a webinar for work, which I recorded.  I wanted to remove some unnecessary scenes in the presentation and using my handy dandy Creative Cloud Membership (ty work!), I was able to use Premiere Pro CS6!  It was painful learning at first, but it was a lot of fun!  I actually picked up a book about this, so hopefully, I will get better!

Improve Graphic Design Skills – For the past year, I’ve been teaching myself how to use Adobe Illustrator and InDesign.  I feel naturally gifted with design and have an innate desire to create, so this has been [fairly] easy to learn.  Typically my designs involve ads for the paper, programs for events, flyers, and I have designed a logo which was fun.

There is so much more I want to do, but I think 5 things to pursue is a hefty goal to reach.   I eventually will have brainstorming sessions to construct a plan with ideas/steps to reach each goal.  It has taken 30 years to pursue my goals and precious time has been wasted, but I vow, never to give up!



Change, what defines it?  With a plethora of definitions, including: “an act or process through which something becomes different”, “make or become different”, or “A new or refreshingly different experience.”  How does that make you feel?

For me, change once represented anxiety, fear, and grief.  Avoiding new friendships for fear of abandonment and judgment, or staying in a toxic relationship because it wasn’t all the time.  My mind used to turn off like a switch, zero control of my own emotions and weight of worthlessness on my shoulders.

Reflecting back, it just seems like an abundance of time washed over me, never to be gathered again.  Falling into pits of misery and self-pity without enacting any change.  I would sit each day bingeing shows, scrolling through social media and passed through a stream of the nothingness of others’ thoughts, dreams, and lives.  Emptiness slowly filled me and life was dull, insipid and worthless.

Something snapped.  I don’t know what changed my mind or sparked the change, but I realized that the change began now.  The answer was so easy, so simple and just required the act of doing.  I had to discover my dreams, desires, and goals, and build a path to attain them.  Perhaps it was a realization of all the time wasted just sitting around, absorbing information quickly, frequently and with no pattern or attention.  I felt like I was more than that, more than a rotting couch potato.  I wanted to learn, try new things, be more.  I wanted nothing less than change, and I still do to this day.

This blog is meant to be a log of lifestyle changes, which so far since the new year January 01, 2018, I have been experienced changes with the following: vegetarianism, exercise, ambition, goals, health, diet, showers, self, respect, money, interests, recipes, values, and more.

I want to share with you, my experience of change.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. –Mahatma Ghandi