Meet this month’s “Sustainability Snapshot,” Lisa Pettit, and learn more about her efforts to live sustainably:
What inspired you to adopt more sustainable practices in your life?
Growing up with a father who lived through the depression instilled in me the values of conservation and not wasting from a young age. In addition, I’ve studied the teaching of Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Zen Master. Those teachings have helped me experience the interconnections of all life and inspired me to care for the planet as one way of caring for my loved ones and myself.
Can you give some examples of how you practice a sustainable lifestyle at home (either related to zero waste, renewable energy, or conservation)?
We were (unwittingly) fortunate to purchase a home that was designed to maximize passive solar heat during the colder months. We recycle, compost (thanks the Evergreen Sustainability Alliance!), have a hybrid car, combine trips, and make an effort to eat locally grown foods, organic foods, and to reduce our intake of animal products. I also aim to reduce our overall consumption and donate items we no longer need to places like Goodwill and Restore. Finally, I think a sustainable lifestyle includes sharing our voice with and participating in local and national efforts to change policies and make laws that support sustainability.
What do you think is the biggest roadblock for people trying to practice a sustainable lifestyle?
The biggest roadblock is different for different people. Time and energy limitations can be a major roadblock. It seems there’s also a lot of confusion around recycling right now—what can be recycled, is it actually recycled after we take it to the recycler? And it’s easy to become discouraged about making the effort to live more sustainably when it seems like there’s no way that individual behavior can make a dent in what the planet is facing in terms of climate change and the mass extinction underway.
What have you done over the years to support the Evergreen Sustainability Alliance and sustainability in the community?
We have a membership with the Evergreen Sustainability Alliance and have been fortunate to attend several of the movie nights and other presentations sponsored by EAS+Y over the years. My husband and I also volunteered at a zero waste event. We are participating in the household composting program and supported Clear Creek High and Middle Schools composting efforts this past spring. We have an Eco School group at the schools and students made sure the recycling program was re-started last year in order to reduce our waste. Our family also supports Clear Creek County’s Scraps to Soil that sponsors the community gardens in Idaho Springs and the annual Pumpkin Smash where people learn about composting and have fun smashing their Halloween pumpkins.
What inspires you on a daily basis to continue practicing sustainability?
I’m inspired by my kids and the other young people in our community and around the world who are waking up to the realities of climate change and wanting to make a difference. They’re courageous voices and actions deserve our support and partnership. It’s also so important for me to reconnect regularly with nature, to be fascinated by the diversity and creativity of life on Earth, to feel deeply grateful for all the planet provides for us, and to realize that I am not separate from the Earth. If I have this awareness and experience, living more sustainably comes naturally.
What words of wisdom do you have for people just getting started on their journey toward a sustainable lifestyle?
Celebrate each step you take. Realize that our individual actions inspire others to join in those efforts. Find ways to participate in your local, state, and national communities. Check out Project Drawdown which has identified the top 100 things we can do NOW to minimize or even reverse climate change. There’s something for everyone on that list. Be gentle with yourself—while also challenging yourself to take the next step. And invite others to come along on the journey—it multiplies the positive effects, makes everything a little easier, and it’s crucial that we remember that we’re all in this together. Don’t give up!