Meet this month’s “Sustainability Snapshot,” Kristen Costello, and learn more about her efforts to live sustainably:
What inspired you to adopt more sustainable practices in your life?
The natural beauty Evergreen inspires me to help protect it. My husband (with a career in wind energy) and I do what we can to off-set our energy use from traveling for work and family as best we can. Working for the Mountain Area Land Trust and the Montessori School of Evergreen helped shape my belief that future generations deserve clean water and air, healthy food, and natural open spaces and vistas. Currently, I teach yoga at my home studio in Evergreen, which stresses the importance of living lightly on the earth.
Can you give some examples of how you practice a sustainable lifestyle at home (either related to zero waste, renewable energy, or conservation)?
I compost and eat a mostly vegetarian diet, we invested in solar panels over 10 years ago, and I use reusable grocery and produce bags. I recycle, try to conserve water (even just turning off the tap brushing my teeth helps!), turn off lights, lower my thermostat, combine errands, carpool when possible, buy organic and package-free food, and try to buy clothing second-hand. I hang-dry my laundry when possible and have a garden. More and more I really think about whether I need something before I buy it. Many of these changes have come slowly and I am not always consistent, but my involvement with EAS+Y has certainly increased my awareness of all that I can do.
What do you think is the biggest roadblock for people trying to practice a sustainable lifestyle?
I think many people are just unaware. So many of us grew up in an era where convenience and price drove our buying decisions and we failed to recognize how this lifestyle was affecting our planet. We need to recognize that there are so many things we can do and we have to resist the feeling that we are powerless. Our power is in our consumer choices and in our vote. As we become more educated around issues relating to sustainability, I think we will naturally strive to be part of the solution.
What have you done over the years to support the Evergreen Sustainability Alliance and sustainability in the community?
I began my involvement with the Evergreen Sustainability Alliance when I was running a Sustainability and Yoga program at the Montessori School of Evergreen. I was writing a grant for an outdoor classroom and greenhouse repairs and needed a community sponsor. The Evergreen Sustainability Alliance was that organization. They provided a bunch of volunteers to help the students with the project and a relationship was forged. Afterwards, they invited me to join a new group that was forming to plan the first community garden at Buchanan. It wasn’t long before Ted Ning invited me to join the Board. Over the years I have worked at numerous zero waste events and took on the work of expanding and revising the Plastic Pollution puppet show that Tupper and Karla Briggs started for local 3rd grade children. I have also organized local sewers and craftspeople to create products to sell to at the Alternative Gift Fair to support the Evergreen Sustainability Alliance’s projects. I do my best to provide leadership and sweat equity for most aspects of The Evergreen Sustainability Alliance’s programs and events. I’m also excited to be a part of our new pilot pop up stores. Here you can bring your own containers and buy many household and personal care products in bulk. My vision is that one-day Evergreen will have a bulk zero waste, home goods store with a co-op type model.
What inspires you on a daily basis to continue practicing sustainability?
I am truly worried about the toll that human activity is taking on the planet. I know the real meaningful change must come at a legislative and corporate level, but I recognize the value of my little choices each day. When I vote with my purchases and provide an example with my actions, I can slowly work to affect change. I was so excited this week when I had no trash to take to the curb. Even that little success inspires me to do a bit more each day.
What words of wisdom do you have for people just getting started on their journey toward a sustainable lifestyle?
Look at your lifestyle and see where you can make changes. Pick a few things you can do with some success. Don’t berate yourself when time, convenience or forgetfulness find you not living up to your commitments. Resolve to do better next time. Talk to people, especially retailers about why you are bringing your reusable bags and how important it is to you that we reduce plastic use and waste. Try to resist buying plastic beverage bottles and foods stored in plastic containers. Bring your reusable cup to the coffee shop and keep a food storage kit in the car for left overs. Get involved with the Evergreen Sustainability Alliance. Volunteer at a zero waste event, help out at the annual Christmas tree recycling days. Join our composting program, pick up trash in your neighborhood or be a puppeteer with us.
There are so many ways to help. Find one area you feel passionate about and get involved. It is a great way to feel more empowered. Finally, I think it is so important to let your legislators know that the environment and the health of our community is important to you.