Living Sustainably in 2021

Sharing Our Goals and Learning About Yours

Living Sustainably in 2021

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In terms of living more sustainably, it’s easy to start small. The team at Emerald based our goals on what we could control individually. Did you set sustainability goals for the new year? If not, it's not too late to get started.

Constantly Raising the Bar is an Emerald Core Value, and one way the team lives it is by gathering monthly for a lunch and learn. To prep for a recent lunch and learn session, we all watched the Hulu documentary “I am Greta” and came prepared to discuss our reactions.


"Greta Thunberg urges MEPs to show climate leadership"
 by European Parliament is licensed under CC BY 2.0

For those unfamiliar, the documentary follows Greta Thunberg, a then- 15-year-old climate activist from Sweden who is known for her now years-long school strike to raise awareness for climate change.

We are all sustainability practitioners. We all believe there is opportunity for a more sustainable future. Greta has earned a spot on the international stage as a spokesperson for the younger generations, often called upon to present to political leaders at the UN, and related climate-action federations. Her words consistently present strong calls-to-action, such as several years ago 2021 wasn’t soon enough. She said, “We don’t want these things done by 2050, 2030 or even 2021 – we want them done now.”

“We don’t want these things done by 2050, 2030 or even 2021 – we want them done now.” - Greta Thunberg

Another Emerald Core Value is Environmental Stewardship. To us, our first definition is having genuine care for the environment and opportunity for change. We do that all day long, through our work and with our clients. Yet, to the team at Emerald, it also means practicing sustainability outside of our work. Our lunch and learn coincided with the start of the New Year - 2021. We embrace bold actions, and embrace small steps.

Each team member declared a commitment for 2021 – something that we each felt we could do that had impact in our individual living situations.


  • Sophia: shop local
  • Laura: invest in an electric vehicle, reduce single use plastic
  • Matt: improve water conservation, solar at home
  • Abby: reduce consumption
  • David: eat meatless once per week, reduce beef consumption in general
  • Casey: switch to pescatarian diet, less single use plastics

The goals our team members chose address different aspects of sustainability. While some team members opted for big changes, such as Laura investing in an electric vehicle and Matt installing solar at home, others chose smaller changes that would be reasonable for our lifestyles and what we control. I set the goal to shop locally. Shopping locally has some great sustainability benefits. Items produced locally do not need to be transported long distances which means they have almost no greenhouse gas emissions associated with getting to their final destination. Both David and Casey chose to make dietary changes. Raising beef takes so much water to create just a small yield, even compared to other animal products and the UN has shown that the US beef industry produces a lot of methane gas. Poultry, eggs, dairy, and fish require far less resources to produce what comes to our plates.

In terms of living more sustainably, it’s easy to start small. For Emerald, the goals we set were realistic to our situations. Did you set sustainability goals for the new year? If not, its not too late to get started.

Changing one minor lifestyle habit can have a huge impact, like buying reusable grocery bags rather than throwing away a bag every trip to the store. Sustainability does not need to be a small amount of people being perfect, but rather everyone being just a little bit better. Each Emerald team member set a small goal for themselves, and although it may not seem like much, that is the point. We do not need to completely change our lifestyles to be sustainable, or make huge investments, but rather consider something more reasonable. 

Below is a list of a few ideas to inspire you to make a change!

  • Buy reusable produce bags
  • Switch to bamboo toothbrushes
  • Used bar soap instead of liquid
  • Limit meat consumption
  • Save glass jars and use as a water cup, or storage for food
  • Buy reusable straws
  • Hang dry clothes instead of using a dryer
  • Unplug cords you aren’t using
  • Donate old clothes, and thrift new ones or shop at sustainable brands

Did you set a goal? How is it going? We want to hear about it. Fill out the form below and let us know how your efforts are going!

This blog was written by Sophia Hestad, Project Engineer, EIBSE, LEED AP O+M, Fitwel Ambassador. In her role with Emerald, Sophia primarily builds energy models and verifies compliance of MEP drawings with rating system criteria.

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