Living sustainably: Tips from an expert
Editor’s note: Sustainability is at the heart of everything Denver Water does. The utility has promoted and adopted sustainable practices over the more than 100 years it has served Denver, implementing a formal Sustainability Plan in 2018 and the updated plan that runs from 2021 to 2025.
For many, “living sustainably” can feel overwhelming. Where does one start? What’s the “best” way to do it? And how important are individual actions?
For answers, we turned to Denver Water’s sustainability experts, who spend every day working to make the utility’s operations more sustainable for the 1.5 million people across the Denver-metro area it delivers clean, safe drinking water to every day.
Meet Adam Hutchinson, an energy management specialist at Denver Water.
What are three things you've done to make sustainable choices in your life?
- Walk or bike instead of driving for at least one trip every week.
- Conserve resources.
- Make sustainable food choices.
This is something we’ve done in my family for energy, water and consumer goods. We have LED lights, which use less energy than incandescent lights, everywhere in our home, and I spend a little time each fall air sealing and insulating different parts of our home.
Get more tips about incorporating "sustainability" into your lifestyle.
There are no paper napkins or disposable diapers in our house either. And we also have started converting parts of our turf yard to a water-wise garden using the Garden In A Box program.
We try to grow at least some of our food and do no-meat Monday (and really, we don’t eat meat most days). We compost at home and use the compost in the garden and yard.
Living a “sustainable lifestyle” seems complicated, how can someone start?
- Start where you are comfortable.
Are you into hiking? Do you like gardening, biking, crafting, hiking or investing? Start with your hobbies or interests and see how you can turn them into sustainable activities.
I love biking, so using my bike instead of driving for short trips was an easy first step. On hikes we take a little trash bag and try to pack out more than we packed in.
If you like gardening, plant a tree. Trees might be the answer. Consider investing in sustainably minded companies, or exchange-traded funds that invest in groups of sustainable companies, or renewable energy companies — if you are into that kind of thing.
In your expert opinion, what do you think makes a difference in advancing sustainability?
- Activism and policy change.
What was the easiest/hardest thing for you to do to be sustainable?
- The easiest was probably incorporating biking into normal everyday transportation.
- The hardest been getting away from using plastic in all its forms.
Working toward a sustainable future touches many things at Denver Water, read more about these efforts.
What else should I know or consider?
- There is no planet B.
- Everything you can do to be sustainable matters. It might not seem like it can make an impact in the grand scheme of things, but it makes an impact on you and those around you.