Our January Sustainability Snapshot is Jennifer Jeans.
Originally from MN, Jennifer met her husband Peter (from NJ) while playing soccer in college at Stanford. Peter is the assistant athletic director at Evergreen High School and Jennifer is a hospital physician in a small hosptial in MT. They have 3 girls ages 24, 21 and 16 and two dogs. They enjoy the outdoor life of cycling, hiking and gardening that Evergreen offers.
This all seems quite normal in Evergreen, right? Well, what makes the Jeans unique is that they traded in their large home for an 800 square foot home and got rid of most of their possessions. They are minimalists! We probed them about their journey to minimalism…
What inspired you to adopt more sustainable practices in your life? To be honest, our big lifestyle shift was not just about sustainability but about pursuing a more minimalist lifestyle. I read an article by The Minimalists on the internet and their mantra of “living a meaningful life with less” captivated me. At that time we were living beyond our means, in a large house, with lots of possessions, many of which we hardly ever used. Around that time, our family decided to live overseas in New Zealand for a year, where I took a job in a small regional hospital. The only possessions we brought with us were our suitcases and two golf clubs (my husband is an avid golfer). We really enjoyed our more simplistic and intentional lifestyle in NZ, which was also more environmentally friendly as a byproduct. All of our food was locally sourced and usually bought in bulk, we grew a vegetable garden, my husband fished for many of our meals, and we rarely purchased new possessions. Our house had no central heating (which is typical in NZ) so we used the woodburning stove when we had to, and we hung dried our clothes. Upon returning to the US we rented for several years before deciding to radically downsize to two small cabins in Evergreen. The main cabin where my husband and I live is 800 sq feet, and the small cabin where my youngest daughter lives is 400 sq feet. Due to lack of storage space, we own many fewer possessions than previously, and we have to be very intentional about purchasing new things. We also built a raised bed garden this past year and have enjoyed the vegetables that it provided over the summer.
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.)? My daughter and I have volunteered with ESA, most recently in the Refill Station, which we really enjoy. I must admit we are not the most dedicated in regard to our sustainability practices but we do try to make protecting the environment a priority. We recycle and use a composter for our food scraps. Our cabin just has a baseboard heater that is not on that often unless it is really cold, and we use a couple space heaters, so our energy consumption is relatively low. We also support conservation effort and organizations – Mountain Area Land Trust to name one.
What words of wisdom do you have for someone just getting started on their journey to ‘go green’? Take one step at a time. Be intentional about the way you live. Consider pursuing a more minimalist lifestyle, as the rampant consumerism in the US drives a lot of waste. If you are interested in learning more you can visit www.theminimalists.com or watch “Minimalism” on Netflix. Or read one of the books that Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus have written.