Meet this month’s “Sustainability Snapshot,” Anne Paterson, and learn more about her efforts to live sustainably.

Anne moved from Washington, D.C. to Denver, CO in 2013. She then made the move up the hill to Evergreen with her family in 2015. Anne works for a non-profit river conservation organization called American Rivers.

What inspired you to adopt more sustainable practices in your life?

Sustainability has always been an important part of our lives. Moving to Evergreen really shined a light on some of the ways that city life made it so much easier to live a more sustainable life and we really needed to address our own actions in our new smaller town life. We had to be more conscious of our actions. As we moved towards growing our family, we knew that we wanted our kids to grow up thinking about how their actions impact people and the planet. This is their future and if they don’t learn to take care of their future, who will?

I work for a river conservation organization as well and see the impacts our way of life has on nature and wildlife. We have so much knowledge and know so much more. We can do better if we think past what we know to be normal. Protecting the beauty surrounding us feels important – keeping our water resources and trails clean and protected for generations to come IS important.

Can you give some examples of how you practice a sustainable lifestyle (either related to zero waste, renewable energy, conservation, involvement with the Evergreen Sustainability Alliance, etc.)?

With two young kiddos, we tend to make a lot of waste. Being conscious of that, and helping them be conscious of that, guides many of our decisions. Buying local when we can, using reusable containers like pouches and resealable bags for kid snacks + water bottles for the whole family, composting, and buying used are some of the ways we try to keep our footprint smaller. When we make improvements to our home, we always try to make choices that will minimize energy use and waste. This year, we replaced a sky light that overheated our house in the summer, leading to running portable A/C units that were inefficient and energy drains. We put in a solar powered unit opens and closes for extra ventilation (to let out the summer heat!) with a shade that closes to keep the hot sun out. It led to the first summer with minimal A/C and overall a much more comfortable living experience. Joining Evergreen Sustainability Alliance has brought more solutions to our home as well – we utilize the compost program – when we aren’t home and are clearing plates, my boys look around for a compost bin! We support other conservation groups working to protect and restore our resources locally and nationally as well.

What words of wisdom do you have for someone just getting started on their journey to ‘go green’?

I’m sure this is a common answer, but it can’t be said enough – just start somewhere. Imagine if we all made one small change – there are a lot of us. The impact would be anything but small. Pick one thing – carry a reusable water bottle with you, check out ESA’s store and buy a few swedish cloths or a reusable bag, take a handful of all the free reusable bags you’ve no doubt collected in some random closet and put them in the trunk of your car for you next trip to the grocery, etc. We also try to stop and consider how daily actions or big decisions will impact people, wildlife and the environment – would we want someone else or everyone else to do this or is there a less impactful way? Give it a go – you’ll see, it’s EASY (see what I did there?!) and you will be encouraged to make another small change. Every little bit helps.