Living Green: Simple Steps to Infuse Sustainability in Your Daily Routine

In honor of Earth Day this week, Aparna Chandrashekar and I, 基尔斯滕·华素, have teamed up to write an article all about ways to incorporate sustainability into your personal life. We know as AEE members that you most likely already spend your day making sustainable changes at work – I have yet to meet an AEE member who didn’t care about how much energy their company or client uses! By striving to electrify and increase energy efficiency, you are already making a difference. Knowing this is the case, we will also skip the background about why the world needs all the sustainable change it can get and jump straight into the idea sharing portion. If you are looking for other ways to make an impact, keep reading, perhaps you will find your next impact reduction strategy. 

Energy Conservation 

  • Referencing the well-known duck curve, I’ve tried to go one step further and look at what this means for electric supply on the grid, and consumer prices. While consumption is low at off-peak hours (the middle of the day, or later in the evening), I run my dishwasher and do my laundry. Although small, these actions flatten the duck curve slightly by adding to off-peak consumption, and help me take advantage of cheaper electricity. 
  • Switching household bulbs to LED.
  • While going out of town, I always turn off the HVAC and unplug devices/appliances to eliminate any phantom power use. 
  • Open the windows and raise the blinds if it’s a nice, sunny day outside. This provides vitamin-D, while saving energy on HVAC and lighting. 


  • Shop as locally and as seasonally as possible. 
  • The less processing, the less embodied energy. Eating foods in their original form, or as close to it as possible, is better for your health and the planet. 
  • If there are multiple options for the same type of food, try to pick the option with the least packaging. Think about plastic bags of bell peppers vs just grabbing a few bell peppers and placing them in your cart. 
  • Try to be conscious of how much you are buying so you can minimize what doesn’t get eaten. Making a plan of what you will cook for the week and shopping for only the necessary ingredients can really reduce overall food waste. 
  • Where there is food waste, because we all have those days where the best laid plans just don’t pan out, compost! Composting is also great for food scraps created when cooking. If you don’t have a backyard to compost yourself, check if your city has curbside composting or free community drop sites. 
  • When you will knowingly have to eat on the go, limiting packaging may not be possible but you can still bring your own reusable utensils, water bottle, and straw to cut down on extras. I almost always have a reusable coffee cup with me, but on the occasions I don’t, I try to ask for my order “for here” so that I am served in a mug as opposed to a disposable cup. This doubles as a great reminder to slow down and take a breather. 
  • There are also apps that help minimize waste in the food industry. Food subscription boxes for “ugly” foods, the Olio app which allows people to gift and receive food, and “Too Good To Go” which allows restaurants to sell what they have left near closing at a deeply discounted rate. 


  • For everything from household items to clothing to gifts for others, there are many ways to reduce impact. Creating items yourself, gifting experiences over items, and only gifting something the other person will use are just a few ways we can reduce our impact in purchasing. 
  • Frequently I refer to a sort of question hierarchy that helps me make more sustainable decisions. 
  • Do I really need it? If yes,
  • Can I borrow it? Public libraries often have tool and appliance libraries, or perhaps a friend, neighbor, or family member has one? If no,
  • Is it possible to purchase second hand? Can I thrift it, get from Facebook marketplace, eBay, Let Go, a refurbished version, etc? If no,
  • Is there a sustainable vendor for the item? A Certified B Corp, Circular, Net Zero Carbon, a brand with repairs or buyback programs in place, or otherwise green options?

Education & Advocacy 

  • Sometimes it is easy to feel you are not in control of larger impact areas. I often feel I have changed everything in my control and therefore the question, “what now?” looms. We are not in control of corporations or governments but we are able to advocate for the type of world we want to see. 
  • Advocacy can be quiet – like spending your money with companies that choose to minimize their environmental impact whilst avoiding purchases from those that don’t. Advocacy can also be voicing your thoughts through articles, social media, letters to legislators, and more. There are many groups and apps that can assist in this endeavor as well. One of my favorite apps is from Climate Action Now. The apps shows you cards with actions you can chose to take, or if you don’t like that action, you can swipe to see another. The actions include background information on the cause and can link to your email to auto populate messages for you, if you wish.  
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about this! With friends, family, colleagues. The more conversations this topic is brought into, the more people we can energize to learn more, and also spread the word to their own circles. 

We hope that this list inspired you with a new idea or two! To continue the point of the last bullet, feel free to share things you do to reduce your impact over on LinkedIn – we would love to make this a two-way exchange and learn from you too.

This article was originally written by Kiersten Washle and Aparna Chandrashekar.