Having smart sustainability goals is one of the aspects we should strive to look for in each and every action we take. We need to be healthy, and so does our beloved Earth.
Over the years, women in particular have taken massive actions to improve their health and sustainable lifestyle, by implementing small changes into the way they live their life.
These are the women that inspire us everyday: the ones that talk about sustainable resources, sustainability goals and eco-friendly practices.
Today we interviewed Ashley Taylor, one of the young women from Chicago that this generation should look up to.
When and how did you start your sustainable journey?
I first started my sustainable journey about 4 years ago, while I was taking a sustainability class in college. Before that, sustainability was on my radar. I recycled, and had a reusable bottle and I thought that was enough.
The class I took opened my eyes in so many ways to all the different facets of sustainability, from agriculture to architecture. It seemed to wake me out of a stupor that many people are living in.
We try to do what we can for the environment, but it can seem overwhelming and hard, so it’s easier to justify doing nothing.Ashely Taylor
From then on, everything in my life changed. I switched my major to Environmental Design which is essentially urban planning, resiliency, and architecture with a sustainable focus.
Instead of just recycling, I started trying to cut my use of single use plastics, and be more aware of the production methods of everything I was buying.
I have definitely come far in that four years,.
I’m now vegan, and trying to live a low waste lifestyle, but nobody is perfect all the time, it is about progress not perfection and my sustainable journey really helped me see that.
What inspired you to adopt smart sustainability goals? Please tell us the story.
The main thing that really inspired me was educating myself about just how dire our situation was.
I read books, watched documentaries, read scientific studies and did a ton of research. The general consensus from all of them was that we need to do something right now to save our earth, or it will be too late.
That should be a frightening ultimatum for people considering we have no Planet B, yet all around I still see people denying climate change exists, even as our oceans are rising, natural disasters are increasing, and our waterways are polluted with chemicals and plastics.
I always say, it is very hard to live an ethical life. Every decision you make or product you buy, you have to think about the environmental and social impact of it from production to purchase.
It however, is easy to live in ignorance. Buying things on a whim, and not thinking of the impacts, which is what so many people do.
I realized I couldn’t rely on anyone else to make these lifestyle changes if I wasn’t doing it myself, so I started to be more aware, and I hope to set an example for others.
Do you see any difference in Chicago in terms of sustainability goals over the years? What has changed and what do you think is the hardest aspect of it?
I have only lived in Chicago for about a year. Therefore, I will compare it to Auburn, Alabama which is where I went to college.
In the City of Auburn, there are very few green or environmentally friendly initiatives. The Auburn University campus was the only place in town that offered recycling and water bottle refilling stations, and even still they fell short on many sustainable issues.
All of the electricity in Alabama either comes from power plants or burning oil, apartments are not required to provide recycling to residents, and it is a very car centric town.
When I moved to Chicago, things could not have been more different. I live in Evanston, which is a suburb just north of the city, and each year the city council passes a Climate Action Resiliency Plan that outlines everything the city is doing to be more sustainable.
All of the energy that powers homes and apartments currently comes from renewable energy sources, apartments are required to provide recycling, and the entire city has industrial composting available. Bike lanes and green infrastructure are a priority, and there are neighborhood gardens everywhere.
I believe Chicago is currently on a very proactive path to sustainability compared to other places that I have lived, and I am so happy to live here and be part of it.Ashley Taylor
I am also excited to see what will happen over the next few years. Evanston has committed to being carbon neutral by 2050.
If you had the power, the money, the influence, what would you do for the environment?
Wow, this is a great question!
I think the best and most comprehensive thing I could do would be to retrofit every city and home in the world with renewable energy sources. It doesn’t matter whether that is solar or wind power.
I think by cutting our reliance on oil when it comes to power, we can make large changes.
This would also help greatly reduce the amount of pollution in the air, making cities safer for people to live in. This can keep oil byproducts out of oceans, allow habitat reclamation for places that were taken over by fracking, and finally allow us to move forward without reliance on fossil fuels.
For all the strong women out there, what is your advice for developing more smart sustainability goals?
The first thing I would suggest is to educate yourself and do some research!
From there, I would suggest to start making small lifestyle changes that can help you swap out single use plastics. By using bars of soap, eco tote bags, bamboo utensils, and reusable cups and bottles, you can save hundreds of pieces of plastic each year.
I would also tell them to not be discouraged by what needs to be done to save the earth. Also, do not to beat themselves up over small mistakes. No one is perfectly sustainable.But by planning things out and trying your best you alone can have a big impact.
One reusable bottle saves hundreds of plastic ones. Though each action may seem small, together they can make a positive change.
I would also encourage them to talk about climate change and sustainability as much as they can. Collective action is what we need and together we can make an even bigger impact.