Category Archives: community

Composting 101 – What I Learned

Did you know…

  • Food waste contributes to 8% global emissions (methane).
  • In urban areas, such as Chicago, approximately 30% (sometimes higher) of total waste sent to landfills consists of organic matter that is compostable!

I don’t know about you, but I find this sort of data less than acceptable.  Composting is an organic like process that represents cyclical dynamics by natural design.  Different than recycling that requires man-power input, the process relies on basic principles of organic chemistry.  However, we have culturally escaped so far away from the notion that we need to attend or teach “how to” classes on the subject.

So what the heck can you do about it?

  1. Find your local players.  In my area, we have some fantastic organizations, such as Zero Waste Chicago, working hard to educate, advocate, and implement solutions within systems, such as restaurant waste or municipal waste services.  Some compost services will be commercial focused only while others will also work with residential.  Some of these will be integrated within your municipality.  In some cases, even animal protein, bones, and/or cooking oils will be accepted, but not all are set up to intake these substrates.  Even better, some of them operate by bicycle further reducing eco-footprint.
  2. Learn the different ways to compost.  Worm composting, for example, presents a nice solution for certain urban dwellers that don’t have yards.  Other options for urban settings are pick-up and drop-off services that provide a tightly sealed bucket that is rotated out for an empty bucket either on a schedule or as requested.  These can be nice for anyone because there is less planning on the balance between brown matter (think paper bags, sticks/twigs, leaves, stems, etc) and other food scraps.  Those with a yard can also take a go at creating their own compost through a variety of outdoor designs.  Finished compost is great for gardens, but can also be spread like a mulch.
  3. Start doing it!  Figure out what works best for you, come up with a plan, and implement.  Even if a portion of your food waste goes to compost, you are making a difference.  Also, pay attention to whom you shop from or purchase prepared food.  Restaurants that are doing their part are often decreasing their adverse impacts in other ways as well.

In addition, commercial services often provide data that illustrate impact and allows for monitoring individual contribution (or foot print).

Some municipalities offer incentives, so be sure to check into this.  Also, farmer’s markets may be drop off sites (which could be cheaper and easier for your life planning).

Finally, please don’t forget about “precycle“…  fewer waste purchased = less to be attended to by you, municipal systems, OR natural environments.  In terms of food waste, the application would be only purchasing what you will actually use.  Additionally, some food scraps can be saved to make broth before they are composted extending their life and purpose even further.

Admittedly, I had started composting via a small bucket and had surrendered after my outdoor plant season ended.  However, now, thanks to a presentation from Zero Waste Chicago, I have additional resources to implement a new and better fit game plan.  Be sure to check out their site for additional resources AND, best of all, meet ups around eco-conscious living.  #ConscientiousHealthfulLiving

Thank you to Freehand Chicago for hosting this relevant community education.

Additional resources mentioned;

In need of a little humor, insert “food waste” into a Google Images search and find the many 50’s(ish) pictorials attempting to persuade avoiding it.  One of them is included below;


Ashley L Arnold, MBA, MPH is a lifestyle health educator and coach who supports clients to channel authority over their health, well-being, and overall vitality.  Offering health education approaches and 1-on-1 coaching modules, she gets them out of excess weeds of information and inconsistent practices that don’t get desired results.  Through helping people focus on the right applications paired with appropriate consideration for bio-individual facets, they become stronger, more confident self-advocates for their health.  Bottom line, they will surpass challenges, embrace healthful living with ease, and, best of all, feel a greater sense of empowerment and more energy!

In need of formalized support to make healthful lifestyle changes?  Contact me through my business site.

A Few Lovely Deals to Cash In On Before V-day!

Personally, I have always had a sweet spot for Valentine’s Day themed merchandise and, in the past, have found creative ways to incorporate heart themed decor into multiple faucets.  Admittedly, I had a subtly themed “XOXO”, hearts, and lips themed bathroom in my early 20’s.  Obviously, I grew out of it!

These days, I pay more care to purchasing decisions with focus on eco-friendly, holistic, and practical choices.  Still, a little of the fun of red, pink, and white can catch my eye.  A few deals going on before the holiday include a Free 3-piece lip set with $75 purchase from 100% Pure cosmetics.

I’ve mentioned artisan made puravida bracelets in past posts.  Don’t miss out on their Limited Edition Valentine’s Day Gem or any of their Pura Vida’s Charity Collection.  Be sure to take advantage of $20 off a purchase of $75 OR $10 of $50 through February 28th AND always Free Shipping on orders $25 or more!

Finally, for a more subtle reflection of “love” consider supporting Thistle Farms which helps to employ 1,500+ women healing from prostitution, trafficking, and addiction.  Their  $25 Lavender Bouquet Gift Box could be the perfect (not to mention relaxing) alternative to cut flowers.

Organic and All Natural Beauty Prodicts

Affiliate links included within this post may generate small amount of monetary compensation.

Conscientious Find! Pura Vida Bracelets

It has been great to observe the shifting landscape in consumer products.  Whether driven by millennials or further awareness from a general audience perspective, I have observed more options representing concepts such as Fair Trade, Eco-Responsibility, or Advocacy.

Last week I stumbled across Pura Vida Bracelets.  With full disclosure, I was looking for eco-friendly and conscientious products to affiliate with. While doing so, I was pleased to find this conscientious product line. At first, I wasn’t really sure it was the type of product for me or any of my friends and family.  However, then I realized all the advocacy options they offer and a greater connection was made.

It is absolutely worth it to share within my circle!  Starting at only $5/item, the company offers hand-, artisan-made bracelets from Costa Rica.  The “charity” options, Pura Vida’s Charity Collection, represent a wide range of advocacy from health causes to environmental conservation.

There is a club option with “surprise packs” each month.  You can also enter your e-mail address for 10% off your first purchase, refer a friend for a $10 merchandise credit, or take advantage of seasonal promotions.
For 30% off holiday purchases follow
Free Shipping in the US follow

While gift giving is still top of mind, consider Pura Vida Bracelets for your loved ones.

Shop all of Pura Vida’s Bracelet Collections

Open Letter to America

Dear America,

I would be lying if I did not express that I’m ticked off at you right now!  It’s not the specific outcome of the recent national election, it’s the fact that we have led to this point in the first place.  Despite never growing up in a time where I was told “you can’t vote”, I still felt helpless and crippled.  It seemed nearly impossible to express a “vote”, such an American right of passage.

Our political landscape is so broken that we allowed some of the ugliest representation of human behavior to be overlooked in order to move forward on some version of a new agenda.  Yes, we needed a disruptor.  This was apparent.  We did not need a grotesque, immoral display of political mud-slinging.  Not for this seat, not for our lead role.

We have been revealed in ways many of us never thought possible in this day in age.  After all, many leaders and communities have worked so hard up until this point to remove discrimination and fear from different race, class, or gender.  Yet, here it is, blatantly in front of our faces and significantly disappointing.  In addition, we are faced with countless versions of corruption, unhealthy bias, and even greater levels of fiscal irresponsibility.

When can we get over this?  When can we move on?  When can we cut the crap?  I’m ready to take those steps, are you?

There is a line from the non-fictional movie, We Are Marshall; “…from the ashes we rose”.  We are, for all intensive purposes, in our own version of ashes.  We have been forced to look more closely at the power of narcissism, the tout of the 1%ers, and underlying corruption within systems.

Yet, the variables do not define us all as Americans.  They show us that we need to do better.  We need to further understand big picture variables such as the widening income gap, the effect of rapid change with technology and related applications such as social media, and the dynamics of fear within our culture.  For some, they may build a wall either physically or figuratively.  If so, my guess is the bulk of us will tear the walls down.

It is time to “think globally, act locally” (Mahatma Gandhi).  It is time to own up to our spilled, broken, in fact, shattered bottle of milk and clean it up!

I feel a little lost in this maze and I know I’m not alone.  And so…  for now, without the most clear idea of what to do next, I have decided to reflect on a few of the “American sort of things” that make me smile and bring positive memory.  I hope you can enjoy a few or all of them.  In no particular order, a list of 20 is below;

  1. Iconic 80’s movies such as Goonies – o.k., I heard you say it out loud… I’ll say it with you, “Hey you guys….”
  2. The Great Lakes – such a fantastic design by nature, park me lake side with passing sail boats and I’m immediately calmed.
  3. Mason Jars – of course I love practical solutions, but can you think of something else more iconic?
  4. My 94 year old aunt, who despite humble upbringings, obtained her college degree!
  5. Country Music – this may not be every one’s cup of tea, but the story telling and life lessons can be really impactful. Although he’s an Aussie, Keith Urban’s “Where the Black Top Ends” …  where the grass, dirt, and the gravel all meet will always remind me of trips home.
  6. Indiana Basketball – is there anything like it? I mean, really?
  7. Fireworks and fire flies on the 4th of July.
  8. Madonna – she ruffled a few feathers in her day, but she pushed boundaries and proved to be wildly successful. She grew into a compassionate, artistic woman allowing fans to follow her along the way.
  9. The Florida-Alabama line – for us, our family definitely tried to save a little money via road trips. Although usually this was just to see grandma & grandad, occasionally it also met a trip to Disney.  As a child, this was undoubtedly equivalent to a major life accomplishment.  I’m sure for a parent, being able to take their children there may have been just that as well.
  10. NASA
  11. Railroad bridges – again, such an iconic imagery that never seems to get old.
  12. University towns – I grew up in one. I am 100% grateful for the racial and international diversity this exposed me to.
  13. Tornado alley – this may sound like an odd entry to the list, but growing up feeling like you might actually live through an Oz like moment was kind of a thrill.
  14. Team Spirit.
  15. Classic cars & crop planes.
  16. “Damn Yankees” – it came a little bit odd to me when someone called me a Yankee, but the more I thought about it, the less I minded. Although I am definitely not from the Northeast, I spent some time there.  The accents are incredible and the lessons I learned while living there have been lifelong.  After all, who doesn’t appreciate a good “jersey shore” style fist pump!
  17. Classic rock music – Bon Jovi, The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, Journey… where is the juke box?
  18. 911 responders.
  19. Baby animals – this is likely worldwide, but who doesn’t love photos of baby animals? I had to throw this one in there.
  20. Public Health & Prevention – I can think of no greater lessons than my unexpected journey into a Public Health degree has provided. Through this I met astoundingly honest, passionate people working for the greater good.  I have experienced extreme versions of kindness and have been aw-inspired by the level of thoughtfulness my colleagues and cohort are able to express.  The discipline taught me to dig deeper for root causes and broadened my awareness for political, community, socio-economic, and environmental landscapes.  Despite being the underdog, with an average of 4% total funding support, I gladly accept the perspective gained from this path.


I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows…

October is breast cancer awareness month in the U.S., which presents many motivational stories.  I was pleased to find a little significance, or tie-in, for this.  Please read below;

My high school self took on a few leadership roles, traveled, and gave a few speeches.  Looking back, I was a wee bit fearless and I really couldn’t tell you why other than, perhaps, young, unaltered, and innocent passion.  Naturally, as a 15 to 16 year old something, I turned to music for quotes.

Regardless, to this day, the lyrics of Greatest Love of All are still some of my favorites and a real pick me up for motivational spirit.  Most of us know the version sung by Whitney Houston.

As a child of the 1980’s, I can remember many Whitney songs playing while dancing around in leg warmers and obnoxious weighted bangle bracelets (for real, I was a fitness-nista).  I tried to find a photo of those ridiculous weighted bangle bracelets, but alas, no luck.  If someone finds a photo of them, feel free to share.

However, the real story behind the song is a woman by the name of Linda Creed who co-wrote it in the late 1970’s while recovering from breast cancer.  Sadly, Linda lost her battle in 1986, but not before leaving her mark on the music landscape.  She was later inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.  A more thorough synopsis can be found via the following link;

In spirit and love, happy Motivational Monday!

Ashley L Arnold, MBA, MPH is a lifestyle health educator and coach who supports clients to channel authority over their health, well-being, and overall vitality.  Offering health education approaches and 1-on-1 coaching modules, she gets them out of excess weeds of information and inconsistent practices that don’t get desired results.  Through helping people focus on the right applications paired with appropriate consideration for bio-individual facets, they become stronger, more confident self-advocates for their health.  Bottom line, they will surpass challenges, embrace healthful living with ease, and, best of all, feel a greater sense of empowerment and more energy!

Introducing “Motivational Mondays”

A few weeks ago, I concluded a professional presentation on sleep, stress, and autoimmune conditions.  Carefully, I wove together scientific information, such as the physiology of stress response, immunity, the dynamic nature between sleep and stress, and hormonal activity, with motivational advice centered on behavior change.

However, floating within my thoughts, was the fact that, bottom line, behavior change can be tough!  It doesn’t come with a magic pill and requires significant mental connection, social support, and favorable response to one’s various environments.

Soon after, I started thinking about all those motivational word art images that stream around Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.  We may not know who creates them, but sure enough, on a periodic basis, one of them will pop out at us, resonate, and prompt us to share.

As a healthy living advocate, scientific professional, and overall nutrition junkie, it is, in part, my job to inspire in order to encourage favorable behavior change.  To better do this and integrate with my blog while further honoring commitment to you, happy followers, I am launching a Motivational Mondays series.  This may consist of a story, quote, personal photograph, or…  dun, dun, dun, one of those silly word art images (public domain approved).  Hopefully this helps get you through the infamous “case of the Mondays” (Office Space fan, yes)!

With that being said, I better “get on it”.  Happy Monday and Carry On!

New Endeavors in the Health Journey

I have a confession to make…

when it comes to my blog, I have been a slacker lately!  In fact, I even started a post back in March only to leave it half written and sitting idle as a draft.  However, I would love to provide some background information as to why.

Last Fall, I had the privilege to meet an amazing woman, Valerie Early, and her colleague Lauren Chaves.  Valerie is the owner of an integrative health practice just outside of Chicago, IL treating a variety of comprehensive conditions with focus on nutrition, individual testing, and lifestyle approaches.  Using innovative methods such as consultations through telephonic and digital platforms, and professional speaking engagements, the practice has been able to reach people on a global level.

In fact, we connected so well that we started talking about ways I could play a role in her clinical practice.  As a life long learner of nutritional science and lifestyle protocols, the opportunity to work with this practice has been exciting, rewarding, and, best of all, healing in some ways.  Over the last several months, I have already learned so much from Valerie and expect this to continue over time.  Through the professional resources and connections I have begun to gain through the scope of the practice, I am able to further support myself and positively contribute more to the lives of my friends, family, and colleagues.

Although I’m not a clinician, my training in public health, behavior change, and health research paired with my individual journey with nutrition and, more recently, autoimmune disease has allowed for me to help others through health education and advocacy.  As we shaped out the role I would play, streamlining and drafting content for the company blog emerged as one of the faucets.  Over the last six months, I have been adjusting to the addition of this ancillary role and the time management aspect.  Therefore, my personal blog took a hit.

Going forward, I have some new great ideas to share with you.  I plan to get back on my 1-2 posts per month schedule while continuing to share other great resources, recipes, and posts by other bloggers.