Lydia is a senior at Weston High School who is in the process of adopting a zero-waste lifestyle. Lydia was inspired by a middle school project she did with her Girl Scout troop about plastic pollution in the ocean and has been focused on reducing her carbon footprint and encouraging others to do the same since. Lydia advises people who are looking to make a change to a more sustainable lifestyle to start small, as small as you need, so that the transition is easier.
Read the complete interview with Lydia below.
The opinions expressed in this interview are Lydia's own and do not reflect the view of GreenChoice.
What does sustainable living mean to you?
Health is something that I connect with organic foods and practices, so like eating and buying less processed food and focusing on natural features. For me it can also have sustainability in the definition because part of living sustainably is letting go of practices that have harmful consequences like packaged items which in most cases contain more junky food.
What is the hardest part of sustainable living?
Living a healthy and sustainable lifestyle can seem like a more expensive lifestyle but it doesn't have to be. It can also require some extra steps that some people might not want to take, for example composting. People have to keep track that they are placing the right foods and items into their compost pile, make sure it's wet or doesn't smell, and most of the time mix up the compost in order to it to break down. I think this is a big part of why people might not strive for a more sustainable lifestyle because they think they don't have enough time to do these kinds of things.
What are you looking for when you make your food choices?
For food, I like to see a lot of unpackaged foods with things like fruits and veggies. I personally don't do a lot of shopping in the house but if I did I would try to find a more sustainable grocery store or waste free grocery store where you can use your own containers for everything. I try not to each much meat, the only meat I eat most days is turkey and chicken to help fuel exercise. For me, exposure to pages like Tasty and blogs like Zero-Waste Chef help me in thinking of more ways to have "normal" meals that can please everyone and working on using less meat and packaged foods in those meals.
What piece of advice would you share with someone who's interested in sustainable living?
For those who want to live a healthier and sustainable lifestyle would be to start small, as small as you need. Once you get in the habit of doing these small steps, like bringing reusable bags to the grocery store or not eating burgers for a week, it mentally allows you to take on more, bigger feats because they don't seem as difficult or laborious. My biggest pet peeve is when people don't use reusable water bottles or coffee mugs because they're sustainable, they force you to spend less money, most every coffee shop can use them, and you can make them your own with stickers or decorations. You have something that's more your own. Reusable cups are a MUST for people looking to live more sustainably.
Have you found that cutting down on single-use plastic items has impacted your life in any significant way? What do you think is the most challenging part about trying to reduce the use of these items?
I've definitely saved a ton of money by not buying single-use, even if I can use my reusable cup I don't feel the need to go to Starbucks or Dunkin'. I also feel a lot less guilty when I use my reusables and try to get my friends to bring their own to school as well. The most challenging part, honestly, is cravings. I find myself wanting a latte from Starbucks or a sandwich from somewhere and I try to tell myself that I can make the same thing at home and be even happier than going out to get the coffee or sandwich because I'm both reducing waste and spending less money.
Was there a tipping point or any one moment that made you decide to want to transition to sustainable living?
I've always been fairly interested in nature and have liked the outdoors since I was a kid. My mom definitely supported this and helped me look more into things like sustainability, "going green", climate change, pollution, etc. I did a project in middle school with my Girl Scout troop that highlighted the amount of plastic that was in the ocean. This was huge for me because I love the beach and the water and became really upset when I saw and read about all the waste, not just plastic, that we as humans were putting in the water. Things grew from there and right now I'm really into living zero-waste, something I hope to achieve when I get older and live on my own.
You can follow Lydia on Instagram @lydiago7.
Know someone living a life of health and sustainability who is deserving of recognition? Submit them to be featured. Interview conducted by GCNow Content Writer Rilee Dubilo.
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