Early Earth Day 2019: Tips to Change your Lifestyle and live Consciously!

Importance of Recycling; Photograph by Oh Jee Nam

March is a month full of events, festivals, and holidays celebrated all over the world. There are some holidays I’ve been dreading in March and some that I’ve been looking forward to, and one of the events I’ve been looking forward to is Earth Day.

I was maybe 5 years old when I first learned about recycling on a TV show called “Blues Clues”, and at that time, the facts I learned about recycling were pretty basic. We were encouraged to recycle in elementary and middle school, even given incentives like prizes for people that brought items to recycle as a class from time to time.

So how did my generation go from growing up on the notion of saving the environment to thinking caring about the environment is uncool? Well, it probably has to do with the media’s negative portrayal of people who care about the environment as nerds, outcasts, and in some cases, extremists. Yes, there are cases of environmental activists being radical, but caring about the earth and how it is affected by our actions shouldn’t be portrayed as a bad thing. If we don’t make environmentally conscious decisions, we run the risk damaging our home forever, and for a lot of people that risk is not worth the reward—that is, if you consider living an ignorant lifestyle a “reward”.

I’m embarrassed to say that I used to not care about the environment at all and say that because others are doing enough, I don’t need to care as much. Looking back on it, I’m disgusted at my own ignorance, but it was because I wanted to appear as a cool badass rather than already adding to my low social status. I was a depressed loner who was bullied so the last thing I wanted was for people to ostracize me even more if I showed that I cared about the environment. I was already the sad, artsy girl in the corner with a love for volunteer work and activism, the last thing I wanted to be known as was a tree hugger.

10 years later–proud nature lover

And now, here I am, 10 years later, as a proud lover of all things nature. Hiking and exploration became a couple of my biggest passions and I started to connect with nature more than I connected with urbanized places. I fell in love with mountains, deserts, beautiful landscapes, bodies of water, and everything in between. I so badly want to say that my favorite state is California because I dream of becoming an actress, but California is not my favorite state–New Mexico is because of all of the open space and beautiful sceneries the state has to offer. I’d be lying if I told you I preferred living in Dallas, a city more suitable for my career as a glamour model, aspiring actress, and entrepreneur, over living in upstate New York where a lot of their grocery stores support local farms and traveling between state parks and natural sights is easy.

You couldn’t have caught me admitting my love for the earth a few years ago, but here I am proudly proclaiming it to anyone reading this post. Hi, I’m Kal, and I am a nature addict.

I have been moving towards an eco-friendly lifestyle this past year. I realized that since I visit so many natural sights and state parks as well as national parks that I needed to change my lifestyle to truly stand by what I do. Nothing makes me happier than seeing the world as it is. I’m a big believer in living ethically so I have always talked about being ethical in my choices and decided to really live for what I stand by and be more proactive in how my lifestyle affects the world around me.

Think about it—we are taught to keep our living space clean, whether it’s our rooms, houses, apartments, etc., so why shouldn’t we do the same for our environment? We are all living on Earth so it is our home, and we need to take care of the Earth just as we would our own houses or living spaces because if something in the environment went wrong, it just might affect our lifestyles and convenience that we covet.

For example, how would you feel if someone dumped heavy plastic items and trash that you weren’t capable of moving in your shower or room? Of course, you could ask for help with moving these items and try to clean up the trash, but what if no one was available to help you? What if some of the items contained toxic substances that you weren’t aware of? That is the sad reality that a lot of animals face due to littering. Littering doesn’t only affect animals, it affects us too because it means that the rivers that we love to visit for recreational activities like tubing and beaches that we love to sunbathe on are covered in trash. Although some of the photos below are by cardboard waste and “trash”, those photos were a planned concept so I doubt people would want trash in the background of their vacation photos.

It’s easy for us to dismiss climate change as unreal and say that caring about the environment will ultimately not help, but even if you don’t believe in climate change and environmental conservation efforts, you won’t lose anything by doing something good for the world.

Here are a few simple tips and lifestyle changes you can make that will reduce the negative impact your lifestyle might be creating for the environment:

-Reduce the use of single use plastic. Start throwing away your single use plastic utensils and cups and refrain from buying them! Biodegradable cups are readily available in the event that you need some for a party, and you can also use silverware to eat with. 
-Invest in a flask and/or travel mug. There are plenty of options available now so you can get your coffee fix while helping the environment out at the same time! I’m working on getting a travel mug myself because I drink a lot of tea and prefer to drink hot or warm water for my digestive issues.
Use a bidet. In the US, we use millions of trees to meet our annual demand for toilet paper so not only is washing and using a bidet healthier, it is also more environmentally friendly!
Go vegan or reduce your consumption of meat. Livestock consume a lot of water and plants. Livestock farming also occupies a lot of land that could be used to plant trees so veganism is ultimately better for the environment.
Use loose-leaf tea instead of tea bags.
Take your own cloth or enviromentally friendly grocery bags when you go grocery shopping.
DO NOT LITTER! This is so important, even for your own pets! Animals are always curious and can accidentally pick up toxic and harmful materials if you leave trash on the ground! Take the opportunity to save an innocent life and stop littering.
Use a bamboo toothbrush.
Replace as many plastic items as possible with sustainably made items, such as swapping your plastic hairbrush with a wooden brush.
Recycle your clothing and invest in sustainably made clothing items!
Avoid products that contain palm oil. Rainforests are being replaced by palm oil plantations, which is affecting the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as well as taking away the homes of orangutans. There is an app called the “Happy Orangutan App” that you can download and learn more about here that will help you find products free from palm oil. (This is not sponsored)
Move towards a zero waste lifestyle. You don’t have to be 100% zero waste, but you can always move towards having less waste.
Use mason jars as cups and for storage! If you avoid buying grocery items in plastic containers, you can get the ones in glass jars or glass containers instead and after finishing whatever product you have bought, you can wash and reuse them! More bang for your buck

These are just a few tips and examples of how you can change your lifestyle to help the environment a bit. I’m working on following these tips myself and don’t follow all of them just yet, but I’m putting this information here for anyone that may want to use it!

And I know I look different over the years, but change is good. No, my weight loss wasn’t for a good reason, but I have learned to embrace it just as I have learned to embrace my love of nature. Change is possible so keep on moving in the right direction! I have so much hope for the world and want to keep seeing positive changes happen. Happy Earth Day, ya’ll!

Trip to Disney World Animal Kingdom + Shanti Cosplay!

Happy Diwali and welcome to The Magikal Life!

For those that don’t know what Diwali is, Diwali is the festival of lights that celebrates the victory of good over evil. I can’t disagree with celebrating the victory of good over evil so while I like the meaning behind Diwali, I haven’t celebrated Diwali extravagantly since I was 15. Due to my gastrointestinal issues, I can’t enjoy eating sweets. I know Diwali is supposed to be fun, but I don’t care for the commercial side of the holiday. However, since I dressed up as Shanti from The Jungle Book, a fictional novel and Disney film set in India, when I went to Disney’s Animal Kingdom in August, I figured what better day to post my first blog post than Diwali?

That was a rhetorical question because not many people really care about checking blog posts or social media on Diwali so while my engagement might be low, my spirits are still high!

Without further adieu, here are the details of my trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom! Scroll down to the important parts and photos (usually in bold letters) if you don’t have time to read the whole post (it’s lengthy) & just want to get some information on visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

Disney’s Animal Kingdom–Orlando, FL (part of Disney World)

Date Visited: August 2018

Cost: $109 for general admission according to the official Disney World website, as of October 30th, 2018

–You can find discounts online if you look around, depending on the date you go and how far ahead you plan your trip!

–You can also find other ticket options on the official Disney World website such as the Park Hopper pass & Flexible Dates pass

Hours Spent: 9-10 hours

–We arrived around 10 AM and left around 8 PM.

-Must See Attractions (in opinion) & Location in the Park:

  • Avatar Flight of Passage” (virtual reality thrill ride)–Pandora
    • This is one of the best amusement park rides I have been on in my life so I highly recommend it!
  • “Expedition Everest” (rollercoaster)–Asia
  • “Kali River Rapids”–Asia
  • “Rivers of Light”
    • It rained the night we were there so we didn’t get to see it

-Attractions Seen & Location in Park:

  • “Na’Vi River Journey”–Pandora; pictures are from the ride
  • Avatar Flight of Passage”–Pandora; pictures are from the decor you can see while waiting in line
  • “Primeval Whirl”–DinoLand U.S.A
  • “Expedition Everest”–Asia
  • “Kali River Rapids”–Asia
  • “Kilimanjaro Safari”–Africa
  • It’s Tough To Be a Bug (show)–Discovery Island
  • “Maharajah Jungle Trek”–Asia
  • Disney Animals

-Things To Note Before You Go:

  • BRING A POWER BANK FOR YOUR PHONE! It would be in your best interest to either bring a separate camera for pictures or bring a power bank! There are no charging stations and very few available outlets around the park and if you can find an outlet, you’re in luck!
    • If your phone is dying and you need to save battery, switch to airplane mode!
  • Lightning and scattered showers throughout the day are common in Orlando during the summer so be prepared for attractions possibly closing and opening back up throughout the day!
  • DOWNLOAD THE DISNEY APPLICATION ON YOUR PHONE BEFORE GOING TO THE PARK! This will save you time and battery and the application is mandatory for using FastPass+!
    • You are allowed to book 3 FastPasses for your first day. You must finish all 3 Fast-Passes or cancel one before booking another.
    • More information on FastPasses can be found on the official Disney World Website!
  • Food is somewhat overpriced, but there are vegetarian and/or vegan options at most of the restaurants!
    • If you don’t want to buy a bottle of water for an inflated price, I would suggest asking for water at a restaurant or Starbucks. Water is usually complementary.
    • Starbucks is usually crowded all day so if you’re itching to get your Starbucks fix, make some time
  • Bag checks are mandatory so leave anything you know that you shouldn’t bring (meaning: items that are not allowed at the park) at your hotel/B&B/home!
  • Bring an extra pair of clothes or swimwear in case you want to participate in a water ride, a jacket if you get cold easily in air conditioned environments, and a towel just in case you get super soaked after riding a water ride!
  • Wear shoes that are comfortable for walking. If you plan on going on thrill rides, don’t wear flip-flops or any shoes that might slip off your feet.
  • Plan ahead if you want to attend one of the shows as they are very crowded and popular as they are more family friendly!
  • Outside food and drink are generally not allowed in the park.
    • Some staff members are more lenient than others. I saw some guards letting people with water bottles and small snacks in while other guards confiscated them.

-My Experience

When I found out we were going to Disney World as part of our family vacation, I gravitated towards dressing up as a modern day Princess Jasmine from the Disney film Alladin. I had bought this purple dress on sale from Aeropostale as something inexpensive, convenient, and relatively conservative to wear while on family vacation with no thoughts or plans as to wearing it as my Disney World outfit. After realizing how much work would go into a Princess Jasmine inspired cosplay and how little time we would have before leaving for Disney World, I tried to come up with other ideas that might fit the ambiance of Disney’s Animal Kingdom better.

While packing for Arizona and Orlando, I saw the dress I had bought in my closet and realized the colors were similar to the outfit that Shanti from The Jungle Book was wearing so I packed it as an option. Despite watching The Jungle Book, I actually didn’t remember Shanti until last year when my boyfriend started playing “My Own Home” every time I would complain about it being my turn to get the water. I then realized dressing as Shanti would be a much better option, as it fit better with the atmosphere of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, so I packed everything I could find that resembled Shanti’s outfit. I forgot earrings and actually looked for some at the Phoenix airport but failed to find some so I had to go without.

These photos were taken right after we entered Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and the lighting was great because it was the morning. I didn’t wear any makeup on my face apart from doing my brows, eyeliner, and lipstick because I didn’t want to sweat off my makeup. I didn’t edit my skin in these photos so my dark circles are really obvious, but to be fair, we had to experience a flight delay from Phoenix and didn’t get to Orlando til 4 AM or so so I only had roughly 2 hours of sleep.

Despite being low on energy, I was very excited to go to my first Disney World park! If you haven’t been to any of the Disney World parks yet, I would suggest going to at least one once in your life! Although I am generally more interested in exploring natural places, I love amusement parks as well so I enjoyed my experience there.

This is basically what Animal Kingdom looks like when you enter! The entrance is referred to as “The Oasis”. I found the “Tiffins” sign really funny because I have some family members that refer to light meals such as idly as “tiffin”. The areas of Disney’s Animal Kingdom are The Oasis, Discovery Island, Pandora, Asia, Africa, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, and DinoLand USA. Since Disney’s Animal Kingdom is centered around animal conservation, you will get to see many animals in environments that are similar to their natural habitats. If you want to see a specific animal, plan ahead and check the sleeping and feeding habits of the animal to get the best chance of seeing your animal of choice active on your visit!

The next area we went to was the “Pandora–The World of Avatar”. I have never watched The Avatar so I didn’t know what to expect, but Pandora and Asia were my favorite areas of the theme park because those two areas contain my favorite areas! The large tree in the first picture is “The Tree of Life” and located in Discovery Island, but the rest of these photos are all from Pandora.

If you go to Disney’s Animal Kingdom and plan on getting FastPasses+, I would highly recommend getting a FastPass+ for the “Avatar Flight of Passage” ride located in Pandora! “Avatar Flight of Passage” is a virtual reality thrill ride that utilizes a 3D simulator to provide the rider with a realistic experience! While “Avatar Flight of Passage” isn’t nearly as thrilling as a rollercoaster, it is definitely one of the best amusement park rides I have been on!

After finishing up “Na’Vi River Journey” and “Avatar Flight of Passage”, we decided to have lunch because it was around noon, and Pandora is home to Satu’Li Canteen and Pongu Pongu if you are looking for Avatar inspired, healthy options to eat and drink! We ate at Satu’Li Canteen and the food was delicious. Satu’Li Canteen has vegan and vegetarian friendly options as well so I would recommend eating at this restaurant if you are looking for healthy options or plant-based options! Pongu Pongu sells breakfast and both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages so if you are thirsty and/or interested in trying unique, Avatar inspired beverages, this would be a great place to check out! I didn’t try anything at Pongu Pongu, and due to my lack of appetite, I just shared the dishes that my family members ordered from Satu’Li Canteen, but the food tasted pretty great from what I remember! Below are some photos of three of the vegetarian dishes from Satu’Li Canteen that my family members had and a photo of a mural at Satu’Li Canteen.

The next place we had booked a FastPass+ for was in Asia, but we had some time before our scheduled time so we went to DinoLand U.S.A. and rode the “Primeval Whirl”. The “Primeval Whirl” wasn’t necessarily a very thrilling ride, but it was very enjoyable! If you have time during your day before your next FastPass+ and the wait times aren’t too bad, I would recommend checking this out! I couldn’t count it as a “must see” attraction, but it’s not a bad ride to ride if you have time! I unfortunately didn’t take photos of DinoLand U.S.A. but I did take videos so I will upload a Disney Animal Kingdom mini travel vlog video on IGTV soon!

This probably comes as no surprise, but Asia was probably one of my favorite areas of Disney’s Animal Kingdom! As I have visited India a few times, I really appreciate how well-decorated the South Asian inspired parts of Asia were. The first ride I went on in Asia was the rollercoaster “Expedition Everest”, which is, according to the official Disney World website, is 199.5 ft tall, and the tallest attraction at Disney World. The entire ride is almost 3 minutes long and you will be experiencing drops, turns, a jump scare of an audio-animatronic figure of a Yeti, and the ride also goes backwards at one point so be mentally prepared for a unique, thrilling experience! If you have been on many rollercoasters and an avid fan of thrill rides, I can’t say this would be on your list of best rollercoasters, but it is worth a ride because there are enough interesting features that set it apart from other rollercoasters. Considering that even I, with my fear of heights, could keep my eyes open for most of the “Expedition Everest” ride, I would still suggest it as a “must see” attraction if you meet the physical requirements to ride “Expedition Everest”!

Because we had some time before our next FastPass+, which was for “Kali River Rapids”, we walked through the “Maharajah Trek” and got to see the various animals that were part of the “Maharajah Trek” experience. The atmosphere was very similar to how these animals in the wild in South Asia. Granted, not all of the habitats were accurate, but since I had just recently went to India in March 2018, it was a nostalgic experience for me as it reminded me of the animals I had seen on my brief trip. For example, there were habitats for primates that were based on temple ruins, which reminded me of seeing wild monkeys at the Tirumala Tirupati Temple in Andhra Pradesh, India.

We went from the “Maharajah Trek” to the land of Africa to see more animals and check out the “Kilimanjaro Safari”, which was an attraction we were all looking forward to because we had heard the experience is similar to a real safari. If you have been on a real Safari in Africa, the experience that the “Kilimanjaro Safari” provides probably wouldn’t compare, but it’s definitely one of the closest experiences you could find to that is similar to a real safari in Central Florida. The ride was rather bumpy and slow, but the guides were good about pointing out the animals that were out and about at the time that we went, which was around 4 PM. I didn’t take any photos on the safari because my battery was low unfortunately so I would recommend searching more information on the “Kilimanjaro Safari” on the internet if you are interested in attending this attraction! The “Kilimanjaro Safari” is a family friendly attraction as well so if you have children, particularly younger ones that don’t fit most of the ride height requirements, I would definitely say this is a “must see” attraction.

The decor of the land of Africa, like the decor of Asia, was very well done and the atmosphere reminded me of photos, videos, and TV footage I had seen of various African countries such as Kenya and South Africa. We came across dancers that were interacting with the crowd and conducting group dances with both children and adults. I don’t think I have any footage of this, but I was ready to make a fool of myself, despite how ridiculous I look when I dance, so I participated in the group dance as well!

After exploring area of Africa, we headed to “Kali River Rapids”. “Kali River Rapids” is a white water rafting inspired ride, and while white water rafting rides are extremely common to see at other amusement parks , I would like to appreciate the fact that there were factors that set the ride apart like how much more thrilling it was than the average white water rafting inspired ride. There are more bumps, dips, and turns on “Kali River Rapids” as well as a couple of waterfalls and water squirters that people can press from above so prepared to get soaked! Because “Kali River Rapids” is family friendly and relatively entertaining for everyone, I would definitely recommend it just as long as you are mentally prepared to get soaked! You can always bring a towel or wear water-resistant clothing if you want to prepare ahead!

The last attraction we went to was It’s Tough to be a Bug, which is a 3D show located on Discovery Island based on A Bug’s Life and features Flick from A Bug’s Life as the host. It’s Tough to be a Bug is an animated 3D show but also contains interactive experiences that I won’t spoil for you! We used our last FastPass+ for It’s Tough to be a Bug because it started raining heavily in the evening so we couldn’t attend the evening light show.

-Conclusion

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom and would love to go again! If I do visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom again in the near future, I will be sure to cover things I have missed in this blog post. I apologize for the lengthiness of this post, but this is just my first post and I promise that the quality of my posts will improve over time!

Thank you for reading this blog post, and if you are reading it on Diwali (the day it was posted), happy Diwali! Regardless of whether you celebrate Diwali or not, I hope light prevails over darkness and good prevails over evil in your life!

DISCLAIMER: ALL PHOTOS INCLUDED IN THIS POST ARE OWNED BY ME. THIS POST IS NOT SPONSORED BY ANY OF THE BRANDS LISTED IN THIS POST, AND I AM NOT AFFILIATED WITH DISNEY IN ANY WAY.

All photos are taken on iPhone 7+ and iPhone X; I used the Adobe LightRoom Mobile to color-grade them.

More information about Disney’s Animal Kingdom, including all of the statistics and measurements I have listed in this article can be found on the official Disney World website here: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com