- Define sustainability.
Everything we need as humans is directly or indirectly linked to our environment – sustainability as we know it is the pursuit of keeping systems balanced so that future generations persist. Although this is a good sentiment, I do believe that we need to take a more active stance on the matter and begin to rebuild the health of our planet and communities through both grassroots and systemic change. We must not just sustain but regenerate.
- What does the term and practice of sustainable living mean to you, personally?
It means awareness, asking questions, educating myself and understanding the implications of my consumption patterns. It is so easy to place convenience over the ‘right’ thing to do. Personally I eat more vegetables, I cook at home, I try to use my own cup, mug or silverware as much as possible, I hold the straw, skip the bag, pickup a piece of trash when I see it. I attend climate rallies and write letters for change. Yet I don’t think this is enough – I am struggling to really wrap my head around how I can really make a difference, the world is burning and we aren’t moving fast enough. It is going to take sacrificing many of the luxuries and privileges that we take for granted. Personal actions are given, composting your banana is important in keeping these movements top of mind, but changing legislation to ensure that large scale corporations can’t breach their contracts leaving hundred of thousands of tons of bananas is where real change will happen.
- How do you uphold sustainable practices in your day-to-day life?
I always start my day by making my own coffee, composting the grounds and buying bulk. When it comes to grooming, I use body wash for pretty much all my needs, which also allows me to refill my containers. I bring a cup / water bottle along with me and will fill up along my day, which prevents me from grabbing a convenient yet unsustainable alternative. For transportation I ride my bike as much as I can, take mass transit, and if I do take a car it is a shared ride. I am always trying to improve, so very open to suggestions.
- What are your tips for conscious shopping?
For food, I try to buy bulk, avoiding packaged foods that can’t be recycled. I enjoy repurposing my old glass jars to store grains (my favorite is popcorn). I avoid fast fashion or any company with exploitive labor. There is enough clothing for people, we don’t need any more clothing produced. Personally, I get the majority of my clothes from vintage (or my parents basement) – it is funny how things come back into vogue 😉 – but there are also a lot of wonderful companies using responsible materials and I enjoy supporting. We have so much impact with what we choose to purchase, so asking questions and understanding the implications of our choices is key. The more I learn the more conscious I become and the more I want to avoid so many of the treacherous traps of convenience we often fall into. Given the globalization of our food system making the most environmentally, socially and economically beneficial decision is a challenge, eating seasonally and regionally is always a safe choice if accessible and within one’s means.
- Are there people in your life or network that have impacted your decision to live sustainably?
I grew up in Boulder, Colorado, so I have always been inspired by a community of conscious consumption. As I have grown, many of my decisions and perspectives have been informed by my sister Solina, who is an avid advocate of food waste reduction and who works for the Earth Institute at Columbia University and taught me about the state of affairs and need for system changes. I also have learned a lot from peers like Lauren Singer, (trash is for tossers) who is living a zero waste lifestyle and who has shared a lot of actionable changes to reduce my personal waste. Now as a business owner, I am in the driver’s seat of sourcing choices that include raw materials, packaging and beyond – it is troubling to see the lack of truly sustainable options on the market. It has inspired me to take even more responsibility and encourage change!
- What has been the most valuable reward or effect of sustainable living?
I am far from perfect – I have a long way to go, we all do. But the most valuable thing is understanding how much work has to be done. Quite frankly, I believe that the change must be systemic, yes it must come from grass roots and everyone doing their part, but often that comes from a place of privilege. We must be ok with making sacrifices of so many of the luxuries we have. Businesses and government MUST step up and begin to take accountability for their actions and step into a space of responsibility and ownership. It is a challenge, it requires problem solving, but that is what makes it fun. Showing up, using my voice and taking a stand is empowering.