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Deepening Commitment to Sustainability through Personal Actions

By Jessica Stoll, Operations and Member Coordinator for WSBC and Trinity Fellow at Marquette

Over the past year, I have had a little extra time in my days as we moved to a virtual world—less commuting, less time in traffic, less time getting ready in the morning, and less time chit-chatting with coworkers. I wouldn’t say all of these are necessarily “good” (I miss break room chats!), but I did find this additional time to be refreshing.

With this extra time, I caught up on some reading. I recall reading stories about the lowest air pollution levels in LA in decades and stories about wildlife coming out in national parks. I was inspired by what our staying-at-home was doing for nature, so I thought about how I could deepen my commitment to sustainability to keep this going. I looked at my everyday actions to see what I could do and started the following:

1) Started a garden. I began with flowers, green peppers, tomatoes, and strawberries. It was a simple task, and it gave me a reason to go outside daily to tend to them. I have never gardened before, but I ended up with a ton of fresh produce by the end of the summer. It was fun and delicious!

2) Looking at my plastic use. I already do the typical things like using reusable water bottles and reusable food containers. Still, I knew I could take a stronger stance of lessening my single-use plastic footprint. My favorite new products became bar shampoo, conditioner, soap, and even lotion. I was a bit wary of trying these at first, but once I realized how much plastic I could eliminate, I was excited to give it a try. I ended up liking them a lot, and I felt better knowing they were made from all-natural, sustainably sourced materials. And, best yet—they are much cheaper and last longer than the plastic products I had been using prior.

3) Picking up trash. Last summer, there was a challenge where I lived to go and pick up trash for 15 minutes during your lunch break. I got a trash picker upper and a bucket and went out to clean up our streets. I continued this whenever I went on walks for the rest of the summer. As warmer weather heads our way, this is a super simple way to make an immediate and tangible difference in our communities.

Though I have framed these actions as a way to use “extra” time, they don’t take much time. After the initial garden planting process, it only takes a few minutes a day. Converting to plastic-free only takes a bit of research to figure out what you want to try. Picking up trash can take as little or as long as you want it to, and if you grab a friend, you can also get some exercise and some social time while doing it!

As Earth Day approaches, I encourage you to make at least one simple commitment in your life to recognize how you can be a climate advocate. I will be doing a community clean-up project this weekend and playing Cool Choices with WSBC Members to celebrate! What are you doing? We (WSBC) would love to hear how you are celebrating, so email me here to let us know your plans!

To learn more about the WisconsinSustainable Business Council visit

To learn more about Earth Day visit

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