Meet this month’s “Sustainability Snapshot,” Susan Stearns, and learn more about their efforts to live sustainably:

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

Susan Stearns is a longtime Evergreen resident, tireless volunteer, and retired local attorney. She is a member of Evergreen Sustainability Alliance’s Action Council. She recently added ESA to her planned giving strategy.

My mother was a resounding influence in turning me and my siblings toward a more sustainable life and some of my inspiration came from my own curiosity and questioning. My mother collected newspapers for newspaper drives and was very much a proponent of saving the Earth (and living in a friendly world!).  I find it interesting that both my siblings are on the same conservation path that I am.  

When I was about 10 years old, a cool gadget came out around Christmas.  It was a machine, I believe called a vacu-form, and you took a small sheet of plastic, maybe about 3 inches by 4 inches, put it in the machine to heat up, then flipped the heated plastic over a form and pumped all of the air out to make a clone of the form.  Then you cut off the excess plastic from the form and created something from one or more pieces of plastic.  I thought it was so fabulous that I could make and create something tangible. But as I played with my toy, I realized that you created a lot of plastic waste, that did not seem friendly in a reusable way and this bothered me.  Ever after that, I would look at an item to see if it could be reusable in a safe and friendly way.  

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.)?

There are so many ways to practice sustainability, and my current favorite is composting.  I tried composting on my own about ten years ago using one of the big, black composters.  Well, it did not get hot enough even with the afternoon southern and western sun, but the elk loved it, toppled it over and made a mess.  My neighbors were not too pleased with me.  Fortunately I found that Evergreen Sustainability Alliance has the solution: public composting at a very reasonable price.  By signing up, you can leave a set amount of food waste behind King Soopers each week. Your contribution is then professionally composted to get good usable compost that enriches the Earth instead of sitting in a landfill producing methane which adds to global warming. On top of feeling good about reusing food waste to regenerate our soil, annually the composters get a share of the beautiful compost created through this project.

Reducing, reusing and recycling are all important if we are going to rehabilitate our planet for future generations. I try not to use wrapping paper as much I used to, and instead reuse old paper and ribbons.  My sister and I just had a big sorting job that was fun to keep wrapping that was usable for the upcoming holidays. Additionally, I would love to have solar panels on my home and maybe that is what I would ask for as a Christmas present!

I am a member of ESA’s Action council and I support ESA’s mission of fostering local sustainable solutions to food resources, waste streams and energy production through an annual donation. I’ve included Evergreen Sustainability Alliance in my planned giving strategy. This will leverage the power of my individual actions and help create a more ecologically sound future through the work of ESA in our community.

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

Get educated.  Because the rules change all the time, what you know about going green this week may have changed by next week.  But if you know where to look up information and pay attention, it is not a difficult journey to go green.   These actions are not hard, but it is just a matter of getting educated and then taking the steps to really make sustainability more than a word..  It could be fun to have the family make it a weekly contest to see who has the best idea of the week.

Get the Family involved. Get involved in ESA.  Getting the compostable food to the composting center could be a rotating job for family members.   Everyone wants to be good to the environment, they just need to learn what to do and commit to doing it.