My Best Me

How to Design a Zero-Waste Kitchen

How to Design a Zero-Waste Kitchen

By Caleb Leonard

As we witness the impacts of plastics and other waste on our planet, more and more people are looking to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Creating a zero-waste kitchen involves adopting a mindful and sustainable approach to reduce waste at every stage of your buying, cooking, and eating routines, and it is an impactful way to minimize your carbon footprint.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started:

Plan Ahead to Leave Less Behind

Look through your pantry and kitchen to see what you have on hand. Assess areas where waste is generated and rethink your shopping list.

Food waste can be prevented by effectively using your ingredients. Make creative use of leftovers. Freeze excess food for future meals. Don’t over-purchase perishable items. Make a shopping list and stick to it to avoid impulse purchases.

Buy in Bulk and Refill

Stock up on staples like grains, pasta, nuts, and spices in bulk. If you are heading to a store with bulk bins, bring your containers to avoid excess packaging.

Another way to reduce plastic packaging waste is by shopping at stores where you can refill cleaning and personal care products.

Choose products with minimal or sustainable packaging. Opt for glass, metal, or cardboard packaging over plastic whenever possible. These items can be repurposed or recycled.

Avoid individually packaged items and single-use packaging.

Shop Your Local Farmers Market

Shop Your Local Farmers Market

Shop Your Local Farmers Market

Farmers markets facilitate zero-waste kitchens.

Here’s how:

Reduced food packaging: Farmers markets offer fewer packaged and processed foods than grocery stores. Buying fewer single-use plastics keeps packaging waste out of landfills.

Local and seasonal produce: Farmers markets prioritize regionally grown and seasonal produce. By buying from local farmers, you support sustainable agriculture practices while minimizing the environmental impact of long-distance food transportation.

Bulk purchases: Many farmers markets offer the option to buy produce in bulk, allowing you to choose the quantity you need without redundant packaging.

BYOB (bring your own bag)

BYOB (bring your own bag)

BYOB (bring your own bag)

Those flimsy plastic bags from the grocery store are no match for a reusable tote. Reusable bags made from canvas or recycled plastics are larger and more durable than single-use bags. Plus, more states are implementing fees to curb the use of plastic bags.

Go Green with Reusable Kitchenware

Most people know about reusable water bottles, but there are tons more reusable items on the market (many are dishwasher-safe too). From reusable K-cups for your morning cup of joe to stainless steel straws, there are lots of eco-friendly ways to eliminate kitchen waste.

Here are a few examples:

  • Reusable food wraps (plastic wrap alternative)
  • Washable cloths (paper towel/napkin substitute)
  • Fiberglass chopsticks
  • Compostable sponges
  • Silicone storage/freezer bags (Ziplock alternative)
  • Silicone muffin liners

Reusable products not only cut down on the production and consumption of new products, but they also save you money.

Consider Eco-Friendly Upgrades

With all the money you’ll save by going green, consider upgrading your appliances. New technologies use less water and electricity. The money you spend on energy-efficient appliances will be recuperated over time.    

Freeze as You Please

A high-performance freezer is a powerful tool for keeping your food fresh. Food waste often comes from leftovers. Rather than throwing away leftovers, you can freeze them. These frozen meals can be quick and convenient options on busy days, especially when stored as pre-packaged meals.

Freezing foods can significantly extend their shelf life; this way, you can buy in bulk and take advantage of sales without worrying about ingredients spoiling.

If you have produce nearing its expiration date, freeze it before it turns. Freeze fruits, vegetables, and other perishables. Sauces can be frozen too.

Your freezer can also store dry goods. Freeze bulk items like nuts, grains, and flour for later use.

Reimagine Your Food Scraps

Reimagine Your Food Scraps

Reimagine Your Food Scraps

Almost all organic material has multiple uses. For example, banana peels make great hair and skin masks, banana tea is a powerful sleep aid, and plants love the potassium-enriched water of peels soaked overnight.

Orange peels can be boiled as a room deodorizer or baked and ground into a vitamin-packed powder.

Bones can be made into bone broth, and new plants can be grown from viable produce seeds, while herbs can be propagated for an endless supply of seasonings.

Before you toss it in the compost bin, perform a quick search and scope out any additional uses.

Compost is King

Composting is the backbone of the zero-waste kitchen. Once you have re-used your food in every imaginable way, it’s time to give it back to the earth. Create a compost pile in your yard; use a tumbling bin or a countertop composter.

Benefits of composting:

Reduced landfill waste: Food scraps account for a large chunk of landfill waste. When these materials decompose in landfills; they release methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Composting diverts these materials away from landfills, reducing their environmental impact.

Enriched soil: Compost improves soil structure, water retention, and nutrient availability. By composting, you’ll foster healthy plant growth, reducing the need for excessive watering and fertilizers.

Minimized odor and pests: Properly composting food scraps and yard waste reduces the likelihood of attracting pests and generating foul odors in trash bins.

A zero-waste kitchen is one way to live a greener, more eco-friendly lifestyle. Once you hit your stride in the kitchen, you’ll likely find other areas to cut waste. Small changes add up, and you’ll make a big difference.

Caleb Leonard is a freelance writer and marketing professional. A graduate of the University of North Texas, his interests include gardening, podcasts, and studying Spanish.

Family, Adventure, Lessons: Chris Jankulovski book Near Death Lessons on Amazon now

Fathers Day is coming up and every family is searching for Dad’s perfect gift.  Chris Jankulovski’s book Near Death Lessons offers story of family, adventure, motivation, and life lessons.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Chris Jankulovski (via zoom) to talk about his Father’s Day wishes, business success, family, health concerns, empowerment and more.

The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  Watch the full conversation on our Youtube channel.

 

Congratulations on your new book, Near Death Lessons. 

 

Thank you. Been a journey to get it out there, but I am so honored and privileged to do this work. 

It is an inspiring and a motivating book, and I would say equally important is not only is it inspiring and it’s motivating, but for somebody who wants to break-through, you actually give us the lessons that you use to accomplish it so we can follow those lessons as well.

 

 

What was the hardest part of writing the book for you?

 

Friends tell me, Chris, you gotta write a book, man. Seriously, you’ve got some wild stories. It almost killed me when the tumor bursted in my head. I couldn’t walk, couldn’t talk. I was in bed for three months.

I knew that the moment I could stand upright, I wanna write a book for my sons. I want them to know who their father was.  Because yet again, I just confronted a serious adversity where 60% of people normally die on the operating table. I somehow survived it. I’m the lucky 40%, and I just had my operation one month before the birth of my second son, Billy.  And I wanted my six year old and my new son to know who their father was.

I’ll give you a timeline.  We’ll plot it all, and then we’re gonna give it to a ghost writer who’s gonna somehow be able to direct our story. Then we’ll put the muscles in it, and then we’ll build it all up.

And that’s the journey I went on until I gave it to an editor who completely shut it down and it took me about a a year to correct everything. No kidding. 

 

Okay. So how long from the moment you started with your writer through the editing process, what was the timeline from inception to on the shelf?

 

Oh wow. So the first year after my brain operation, I’m still writing this book. A year later, I’m in the pool, rehabilitating [with the book notes] still in front of me.

I’ve got this diagnosis of doctors telling me, Chris, you gotta have these cancers removed asap. They’ve taken off. I don’t know if your kidney is gonna survive removing six cancers. You might be on dialysis. Doom and gloom.

I’ve just gone on a journey of learning how to walk and talk for eight months. I’ve got so many defects going on. 

My tongue didn’t half work. I couldn’t even talk. It was affecting my speech. So I’m there in this scenario and at the height of my worst moment in life, I’ve got this outlook. That’s a disaster. 

'Near Death Lessons' by Chris Jankulovski

I’m trying to run in the pool because I’m learning how to walk properly and I’m about to confront this adversity again.

I’m thinking: Why am I buying a future that no one knows? This is all just estimates, predictions, guesswork. I don’t have to accept this. What if I dare hope that the best is yet to come? Why don’t I look forward to the life ahead of me? That it’s the best? 

And that was the most pivotal moment in my life because, I went from a $4 million house to a $16 million house.

Eight months later, I go off to double my business from 8 million to 16 million. I go off to do all these things, and now I’m in America taking it to another level. 

I was in the hospital room, that’s year one by the way.  I bargained for my life because things were not looking good, that’s when I decided to take my story public.

And since the moment I’ve taken the story public. I wrote the book initially because I didn’t want to give any advice to my sons because I didn’t want them to hate me from the grave. I didn’t wanna just share my story. I wanted to share the lessons.

I wanted to share the things that have transformed my life. So I hired a resilience consultant, and I said to her, can you please read my book? Put a spotlight on how I respond to adversities compared to a more common response because I just keep bouncing back stronger.

She read my book five times. We ended up having 26 zoom sessions, and then from that we unearthed 11 distinctions. We gave those to instructional designers which then they came back to me with the five life lessons that I shared in the book.

That’s a heck of a journey. Tell us about some of the diagnoses you’ve had all the way back from your teenage years.

 

So at the age of 19, we went to a specialist clinic to understand what was causing tumors in my eyes. The doctor was puzzled.  There was this new genetic testing going on. So I had the genetic test done.   I [was diagnosed] with Von hippel-lindau syndrome. A hereditary condition, means maybe your mom and dad have got it. I go, no one’s got it, okay?

The average life expectancy is 30 years, so you’re probably gonna have a short life and you’ve probably got cancers now. 

I was like, what? I’m gonna be dead by 30. What do you mean? That was my brutal wake up call and I went to my car and I cried.

I couldn’t relate to anyone with this problem. I told my parents, I told my friends, I couldn’t connect with anyone about this. I just decided to ignore it. I thought if I pretended deep down I never got this, perhaps it would disappear.

So that’s what I did. I ignored it from the ages of 19 to 32 when my first brain tumor finally caught up. And when it did, it almost killed me. It was so big –  five centimeters. I had to contour my body to go to the toilet and had these weird electric shocks running down my spine.

When I got the operation, I transformed. I looked at the sky and I said, God, kill me. I’ve had enough of living this victim life. I’ve had enough of being disempowered, always reacting to my circumstances.

I choose to focus on life. I choose whatever happens. I’m gonna choose to make the most of whatever life I have, but I’m not living like that anymore.  So that was a pivotal moment. 

I’m now 50, so I’ve had a good run for the last six years. At age seven, my appendix burst, almost killing me. Two weeks in hospital. At the age of 21, I almost drowned. 

But one of the first times I crossed over, out of body kind of experience and a different time dimension was a few years later, 25, when I woke up [during] an eye surgery, I felt the needles sliding on my eye, like on an egg, and they’re poking in.

I woke up and flatlined. I was looking down at myself.  I could see the machine flat-lining until everything went white. And then I felt like I was in a different time dimension. I just felt ‘Whoa. Where am I? Let’s go. Hey, I’m not going anywhere. It’s my sister’s wedding soon. And then I snapped back into life again with the nurses all about to zap me.

So that was at 25 and then at 32 is the brain tumor. And then two months later was the removal of my right kidney because it was occupied by cancers. Some as large as four and a half, five centimeters. Which is way too dangerous. They’re all very aggressive..

The reason why I called that a near death experience as well is because I survived my cancer battle and it didn’t spread. It killed my dad, it didn’t kill me. And then two years later, I had to remove four large cancers from a remaining left kidney. 

A decade later, another six cancerous kidneys.  Before that one was the second brain operation to remove two tumors in my head, and that was the most serious. 

 

Let’s talk about a deliberate life. You mentioned it in your book, what does a deliberate life mean to you and what are the main steps? How do we get there?

 

I have nearly died, came back to life, and every time that happens, it’s like a reset button in my heart.

Everything’s up for grab: my values, my behaviors, my patterns. Because I’m back again. You go through many of these experiences.

Everything you’ve been holding true gets re-evaluated, and therefore, all of it – fears, insecurities, all gets washed away. And what remains is what’s most important and true. For me, every time I go through these experiences, I get an onion layer experience. I get more to the core of who I am and who we are.

All of us, including me, are remarkably powerful. I can’t believe the more I get to me and the core of my authentic me, the more energy, the more light, the more vibrancy, the more drive, the more of everything is there. 

I’ve always been spending money looking for advice and solutions outside myself.  Deep down, the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my life was when I meditated in silence for three weeks in India.  Silence. Every time I nearly died, I’d go into this black void. Vibrancy, energy, and I don’t understand why I’m still consciously pressing, but then when I return, now I know I’m gonna say something really taboo, but life and death coexist in my mind because when I close my eyes and I’m in this black void, if I can meditate to a point where I’m outside of my sense of skin, brain patterns, feelings, and just be presently alert of my awareness.

Man, that’s the same space I go to when I’m in a different time dimension. Hence why I believe that life and death coexist and that fuels me. That just fuels me even more because our mortality is what should fuel all of us. Why? Who are we to take our time for granted here? 

This drop of time that we have here, how selfish of us to be caught up in our own doubts and fears and insecurities. We are so much more than that. 

There is just this magic and energy in us that wants to drive. Follow that drive, follow that energy. Don’t restrict it.  It communicates in feelings and glimpses of vision.

I live a deliberate life because of these adversities, and I keep coming back to life.  I wanna optimize. If I’ve got anxiety. If I was to listen to Steve Jobs, live as if it’s your last day of life. I get anxiety. I can’t be strategic, I can’t plan. I’m always challenged every year with my scans.

So the way I play this game is every year when I get a MRI scan for my brain and spine and kidneys and all this stuff. When I get the results of those scans towards the end of the year, I see them as a certificate to go live life to the fullest. So I get this scan results. I go, yes, I’ve got a free run.  Then that following year, I’m bolting. I’m a hundred percent, I’ve got one more year to live. I see every year as if it’s another year to live. 

What I’ve realized over 30 years of doing this is,  I can’t live deliberately, so I can’t live my life to the fullest every year unless I’m living deliberately and I can’t live deliberately unless I have clarity with what I wanna do, because otherwise I’m spending time on all these things that aren’t important.

I linked my goal to an image and I put it on a board because visually I know that the only way my subconscious relates to this is by image and feeling. Now, I know people call it vision boards, but they’ve got it all wrong. You gotta really link an image to a goal.  That image needs to excite you.   That simple solution allowed me to focus my energy throughout the whole year towards these things. 

 

You offer a ‘free gift’ in your book.  Can you give us a sneak peek of what it is?

 

Since I’m talking about life so much and living life to the fullest I wanted to show people the 10 things that were often affecting me and stopping me from living a life to the fullest.

What does success mean to you? It’s different for everyone and so is living life to the fullest.  But, for people who are driven, success-oriented, ambitious people,  they would relate mostly to this because that’s who I am.

I wanna spend more time with my family. I wanna smell the roses. I wanna see how far I can go and I wanna see the kind of impact I can make because I don’t wanna just pass and it never even be known that I even existed.

So living life to the fullest means you are embracing your true power. You are embracing and optimizing your most important resource,  your time. You are embracing the fact that you’ve got an ability to create. 

So if we can do these simple things, we can achieve our dreams. That’s as simple as that. If we’ve got the right mindset, if we stop responding to life as if we have got no control, if we are always victims of it, I’ve been thrown these incredible blows from the universe.

So many battles outside of my control. I refuse to not take responsibility. I actually take responsibility. Look, the tumors happen genetically, but I take responsibility. It’s a game. Okay? It’s just a game. It’s a game of self-empowerment.

 

Chris Jankulovski’s book, Near Death Lessons on sale at Amazon now.

If we want more from you, where do we find you? What’s your website? Where do we find you on social media?

 

I’m building ChrisJankulovski.com and then you’ll be able to access other things. 

 

What does the future look like for you?  What are you gonna be up to next?

 

I’m developing my personal brand and what that represents to the world.  What that represents to the American people.  What I strive to do in terms of impacting.. 

I’ll be working very heavily on my business, but I’ll also be putting myself out there to meet people, to talk to people and more media of course.

When I said I’m gonna inspire millions, this is the deal. And that deal isn’t just writing a book. That deal is to connect with people. One-on-one or in groups or to speak, and not because I’m looking to become a speaker, but because I’m looking to deliver this incredible energy, this incredible passion, this incredible lessons and distinctions with no bullshit on what gets results and how what you gotta do to optimize your most important time here on Earth.

Chris, I wish you huge success with the book Near Death Lessons. I think there’s so many lessons about either launching a new life or breaking through.  It’s a great New Year’s. Gift and a great Father’s Day gift. 

Thank you mate. 

DC gets inspired by ‘Chocolate Epiphany’  Honeymoon Chocolate Wants to Help you

Ever Get so Inspired you had a ‘Chocolate Epiphany?  Honeymoon Chocolate Wants to Help you

Have you ever felt better after a good meal?  The flavors that linger.  The euphoria that captures your attention.  You’re inspired.  You can’t help but smile.

 

Today we’re talking with Honeymoon Chocolates’ Cam Loyet.

 

You use the phrase ‘Chocolate Epiphany’.  What does it mean to you?

So up in Bloomington, Illinois, where Hayley and I met there’s a restaurant called the Epiphany Farms it’s farm to table. It’s expensive because you’re getting the highest quality meal. We were only college students. So we really couldn’t afford it, except for once a year. Every meal I had there, I had what seemed like this Epiphany with food where everything tasted better than any meal I’d had in the last 4 weeks. It was just incredible and we hope that you know our chocolate can do that for our customers. 

 

It’s this experience where only a single bite can tide you over or a little bit goes a long way, because not only was the flavor so incredible, but it lasts 5 or 10 minutes, the flavor in your mouth just lingers. 

 

That’s where “Chocolate Epiphany“ comes from being sweetened with honey. It doesn’t have to be sweetened with cane sugar.

 

Honey is as local as it gets and it’s as unrefined as it gets with the sweetener completely untouched, raw unfiltered honey.

 

A lot of our competitors use coconut, sugar, monk fruit or stevia, and those are all processed ingredients, one way or another.  Even cane sugar is processed. 

 

So we’re doing our best to create this experience through chocolate and communicate with our customers; and hopefully it becomes an epiphany in the process.

 

Honeymoon chocolate is a love story, a health story, a delicious flavor, story  and an environmental story.  What else can we add to that?

 

It’s definitely a love story, my girlfriend at the time, now my wife; we met at Illinois Wesleyan University, and started this crazy business of sweetening chocolate with local honey. Yes, we need chocolate with local honey.  And it’s a bittersweet journey. We instantly found out all of the trials and tribulations of owning our own business.  

 

Also the cocoa supply chain. It’s a lot like the diamond industry where there’s a lot of slave labor and a lot of issues with those who really do all the hard work and effort.  There’s a lot of effect we can have as we scale.

 

Yeah, a love story. It;’ sweet.  It’s romantic. That’s one of the main reasons why we named it Honeymoon Chocolates because it always has its place at romantic events.

 

We do our best to attract those who want to gift our product. A lot of our customers do gift our chocolate.  

 

It’s environmental as well. It’s all compostable packaging. We have a goal of using only clean energy in the future, but again, it continues to be bitter sweet because chocolate is a very power hungry industry. It takes a lot of effort and energy to manufacture chocolate. It takes a lot of effort and energy just to get the cocoa here.

 

There’s a lot of effort in our industry to be transparent on the energy that is being used in the emissions and our goals to be a bit more transparent on that as well. But we do our best.

I never want our Honeymoon Chocolates wrapper to be out on the streets blowing in the wind without the ability to biodegrade or compost. So we go a little bit more a little bit above and beyond.

Visits Honeymoon Chocolates at: https://hmchocolates.com 

On Instagram, at: www.instagram.com/honeymoonchocolates

On Facebook, at: https://www.facebook.com/honeymoonchocolates

 

 

 

Erin Michele Soto Rises Above Her Trauma to Return to Her Hit TV Series

Erin Michele Soto Rises Through Her Trauma to Return to Her Hit TV Series

Audiences know Erin Michele Soto from her work in the miniseries Shirley and Shelly and the TV series Studio City, the smash hit and Emmy – winning drama.

Around the world audiences see stars on red carpets, TV and movie screens; and often never consider the challenges these performers face to live their dreams.  

So many people recognize a star’s good looks, their talent, the laughs and tears from the characters they portray. But the audience doesn’t really get to know the person behind that work.  Today Erin is sharing a deeper look into her journey. 

Erin Michele Soto Reveals Her Bright and Her Dark

Recently we had a chance to sit down with Erin Michele Soto and she revealed the brightest and the darkest moments of her story and the excitement yet to come.

Erin Michele Soto Pushes Through Her Trauma to Return to Her Hit TV Series

Erin Michele Soto

Like so many, Erin moved to Southern California with big Hollywood dreams. But she did not become the struggling cliche.  She had the talent and good fortune to quickly find work as an actress and as a dancer.  

Tragedy on a Celeb-Filled Dance Floor

Erin Michele Soto’s grace on the dance floor quickly brought her attention.  She found A-list work immediately in Modern, Ballet, Jazz dance genres. Stars of the stage, small screen and silver screen all demanded her time, attention and help.

Erin Michele Soto Rises Above Her Trauma to Return to Her Hit TV Series

Then as her star was rising, suddenly it all crashed down.  Literally.  One day in the middle of dancing, Erin fell, hit her eye and the trauma from the fall punctured her brain.

The next moments created a chronic ailment that took Erin over a year for her to recover.  The glitz and glamour lifestyle was replaced with being bed-ridden and living a small, dark, lonely  life.

Hearing Soto reflect back today, there’s still a pain in her eyes and her voice.  But a growing strength and courage in her soul.

Was her journey hard?  Yes.  Painful?  Yes.  Encouraging?  No. 

But, Erin wasn’t done yet.

Ironically, her body really thought she was finished.  She rarely left the house.  She couldn’t socialize with friends.  She forgot how to do the smallest tasks constantly, things like closing her house door; she would routinely black out as she walked through her neighborhood.

The things most people find common, this talented star was suddenly struggling to complete.

“No One Can See My Pain”

Even worse, her mind was playing tricks on her.  

This normally proud, healthy, optimistic person was suddenly having thoughts of self-harm.  It was a dark time.  The good news is, she knew better.  Luckily, she never acted on those dark, harmful thoughts.

Your Village Supports Your Recovery Journey

To meet Erin is to fall in love with her.  Her energy, her spirit, her intelligence, her motivation.  Luckily, even in her darkest moments after her trauma, Erin’s community rallied to cheer her on and find ways to help her while she struggled to live daily life.  She bravely chose to get professional mental help which also supported her and returned her closer to light and happiness.

She learned to over-power her own thoughts and regain positivity.  She now meditates daily and credits that mental strength with her return to courage and creativity.

“I used my imagination

to get back into the world”

Back on Set

Just over a year after her life-changing trauma, Erin was itching to get back to performing.  The injury focused her true passions in using her voice in acting.  Performing, acting, dancing.  But she was dealing with a very foreign feeling: insecurity.  Could she remember her dialogue?  Could her body move as gracefully as it used to?  Would she feel as comfortable acting as she did before?

As a performer, Erin had to “learn to walk” again.

Erin was eager to return and try.  She chose a small, local theater in SoCal’s modest San Fernando Valley.  

“To her surprise, relief and excitement,

all of her worries went away.”  

To her surprise, relief and excitement, all of her worries went away.  Her mind and body cooperated and she had a blast performing again in front of huge crowds.

“If something brings you joy,

push through your fears”

Today, Erin is busier than ever.  She’s currently working on projects for both stage and screen, taking meetings as an actress for both tv and film.

She credits her friends, family, health professionals and community with helping her overcome her dark moments.  Her continued meditation keeps her mind clear and strong.

As a performer, she’s excited to be in front of an audience – whether you’re watching her in-person on stage, on your television or on the big screen.

With confidence, motivation, discipline and support from your community, everyone can rebound from their challenges and return to what they love.  Erin Michele Soto is a brilliant and inspiring example of this.

Follow Erin Michele Soto on her social media at:

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialErinMicheleSoto

https://www.instagram.com/erinmichelesoto

https://twitter.com/erinmichelesoto

 

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