Meet this month’s “Sustainability Snapshot,” the folks from Kristin Courington, and learn more about her efforts to live sustainably:
What inspired you to adopt more sustainable practices in your life?
A lot of it was just the way I was raised. My mom was always very frugal, recycled and reused everything, and we were reminded constantly to turn off lights and water, etc.
When I had my own kids it really put things into perspective that we need to the leave the world a better place for them. My mom’s advice about how being more environmentally sustainable also tends to be good for your bank account definitely helped as we added members to our family, but it also became clear that we needed to be focusing on a sustainable lifestyle in a very serious way.
We aren’t perfect by any means, but I do believe that every bit helps. When you start to see the waste all around us, it’s hard to stop seeing it, and wanting to do something about it.
Can you give some examples of how you practice a sustainable lifestyle at home (either related to zero waste, renewable energy, or conservation)?
Some of what we do is pretty straightforward – keeping the heat a little lower, turning off lights (that we switched to LED), using reusable grocery, produce and snack bags. We’re also trying to upgrade our appliances to be more eco-friendly, driving a Prius instead of a big truck for daily commuting, and installing solar panels.
We try to recycle and compost, but the biggest change we’ve really made is just to refuse certain things (this is also where the big money saving comes in). This year I didn’t buy a single piece of holiday wrapping (we used fabric bags I made last year), we kept gifts to a minimum or tried for homemade. We buy our clothes and other goods used, or from companies we know are making sustainable choices and are really taking a hard look at how much meat and dairy we consume (especially the ultra-processed and packaged kind). We haven’t gone totally vegan, but making the choice to reduce meat has cut back our grocery bill and our environmental impact in a way that feels really good.
What do you think is the biggest roadblock for people trying to practice a sustainable lifestyle?
Life is busy and convenience tends to be the enemy of sustainability. Preparing vegetarian whole foods takes a lot more effort on busy school nights than grabbing takeout. Shopping around for the used household goods/toys/clothes/gear instead of Amazon Prime. It’s easy to forget grocery bags and coffee mugs and skip on packing a lunch when the drive-through is so easy. I also think the problem can seem really big and it’s hard to stay positive and keep believing that each time you refuse a plastic bag in a store it has an impact. And to not go crazy trying to be 100% zero waste all the time. We make the best choices we can when we can and trust that this does make a difference.
What have you done over the years to support the Evergreen Sustainability Alliance and sustainability in the community?
We signed up for the composting program right when it began and this has been awesome for our family. As hard as we try, kids still waste a ton of food, and living in Evergreen has made composting on my own too much of an inconvenience (see above). I love the household cleaner and dish soap from the pop-up shops and feel like this is one of those win-win-win things (great products, great price, zero waste). We also became members of GoFarm when they started their Wednesday pick up site in Evergreen last summer and will definitely participate in this again. I’ve added another bin in the garage for “difficult to recycle items,” and plan to fill this throughout the year when the Evergreen Sustainability Alliance holds their recycling events.
What words of wisdom do you have for people just getting started on their journey toward a sustainable lifestyle?
Just picking one small thing to change each week and turning it into a habit. I used to forget my grocery bags all the time, but it almost never happens anymore now that I’ve created a routine. Same with water bottles and mugs and packing lunches. Don’t change everything all at once (I’m not crazy about the amount of plastic in my bathroom, but have yet to find a plastic-free shampoo bar that agrees with my hair, so…). Don’t beat yourself up when life happens, and celebrate the little wins. You’re probably already doing more than you think. A small initial investment of time and some money will absolutely pay off when these lifestyle choices become habits (much lower electric bill, vehicle expenses, grocery budget).