Meet this month’s “Sustainability Snapshot,” Leah York, and learn more about her efforts to live sustainably:

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

I was inspired to incorporate more sustainable practices in my life after taking a trip to Kenya, and seeing how much waste I was producing by taking a long vacation. Between all the plastic wrapped snacks I packed, to the wrapped airplane food, to the plastic baggies I put all of my things in, I realized how much single use plastic I was consuming. After that, I did a lot of research to becoming plastic free, and that’s how I got to where I am today.

Sustainability Snapshot: Leah York

Can you give some examples of how you practice a sustainable lifestyle at home (either related to zero waste, renewable energy, or conservation)?

I try to avoid all single use plastics by buying reusables, and I try to avoid chemical waste by purchasing almost all organic and locally grown foods. I have a bamboo cutlery set that I take everywhere with me, I make my own deodorant, toothpaste, and buy bar shampoo. For products that are harder to buy without packaging, I go to bulk stores such as Joyfill in Denver to fill up my own containers and buy in bulk.

What do you think is the biggest roadblock for people trying to practice a sustainable lifestyle?

Eating out has been one of the hardest things to do and remain sustainable. Many restaurants such as Chipotle or McDonalds will not let you bring in your own containers to put your food in, and you are forced to use the plastic shell packaging.

What have you done over the years to support the Evergreen Sustainability Alliance and sustainability in the community?

I am very new to the Evergreen Sustainability Alliance community and will be working this summer as a zero waste intern. In college, I have worked to educate my peers about the impact of their waste on the world around them and helped to spread awareness about what the effects are of our waste production. I am also an Environmental Science major in college, so I am beginning to embark on research next year to look at how human waste is affecting water and weather systems here in Colorado.

What inspires you on a daily basis to continue practicing sustainability?

Every day, I wake up and I see photos, videos, and talks online about just how bad the waste problem in the world is, and I am reminded about just how much needs to be done to help. But on top of seeing all that needs to be done, I draw so much inspiration seeing other real people doing good deeds to help clean up our world.

What words of wisdom do you have for people just getting started on their journey toward a sustainable lifestyle?

For everyone looking to start implementing more sustainable practices in their life, I want to start by saying thank you!!! Just getting into a more sustainable headspace is an amazing first step, and probably the most important step to making these changes. The other thing I would say is start small. It is going to be hard to cut all waste out of your life cold turkey, because we have been so dependent on a plastic filled lifestyle for so long. So find one thing to cut out, like plastic cutlery or plastic water bottles, and move in baby steps from there.