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  • Writer's pictureKatie Gardner

Welcome and hello!

Updated: Mar 9, 2021

Hello there!

Welcome to Sustainably Yours, LA. In this post, I aim to give a short introduction to who I am, my reasons for starting this blog (and Instagram account), and what I plan to do.

So, who am I?

My name is Katie, and I recently became a SoCal resident! I finished my law (JD) and MBA degrees in May from a university in Philadelphia and have been living out in California ever since.

My background prior to school was as an on site underground gold mine engineer in northeast Nevada, so I've been in the world of natural resources and the environment for many years (though arguably viewed through a somewhat different lens then- see below). During grad school, I volunteered for my school's Environmental Law Project, helped run our Sustainable Business Coalition, and co-chaired our Energy Conference, and was on the board of our Energy Club and Climate Action (now Climate Leaders) group. I currently work for a small climate/cleantech and renewables focused fintech startup as a product manager.

I grew up in a conservative red state, Kentucky, and much of my family held moderately (economically) right-of-center views. As that is what I knew, I adopted those views from an early age. In 2009, I switched into the mining engineering undergraduate department and was exposed to more radically conservative views. My new industry was, and still is, full of individuals who consider manmade climate change to be a hoax ("climate change is natural and has always been around! We have little to no impact on this!"). Further, I have family who work in the coal industry and were outspoken advocates for the necessity of coal (and still are).

Coal Short Bus! Undergrad tailgating vehicle, circa. 2010

My entrance into the mining industry was right around the time climate change denial became mainstream Republican policy. In a few recent talks and podcasts, I learned how the history of environmental policy became political, and I lived this firsthand. Using fossil fuel became an identity as opposed to a means to an end, and reducing fossil fuel consumption was an attack on this way of life. I openly supported the industry and coal-fired power plants, even going so far as to write an oped in our university paper supporting our local coal plant and got in a comment section war with a more liberal lawyer. A statement I heard on a recent podcast sums up transition perfectly: "Our tribe doesn't talk about climate change... our tribe talks about drill baby drill!" -Bob Inglis, former Republican congressman, from How to Save a Planet podcast by Gimlet media.

However, my time in an even more conservative rural mining town made me re-think my positions. Many of the conservatives (and climate change deniers) I know personally are those who enjoy the outdoors the most. I myself spent most of my free time in this town hiking, camping, and skiing. Enjoying the outdoors and yet supporting policies that harmed the environment always felt a bit incongruous, and constantly nagged at me in the back of my mind. Towards the end of my four years there, I started to take a hard look at my political and environmental beliefs (see: the 2016 election). I felt viscerally uncomfortable every time ultra-right politics would come up in conversation (note: it was a lot), as the topics were frequently about mindsets I couldn't get on board with. My aversion to these conversations made me realize I didn't see eye to eye with politicians who encouraged these views.

I began to find myself agreeing with my (more liberal) Canadian co-workers, who were horrified at many of the conservative American views. It began to sink in that I needed to re-align my beliefs. I finally felt free to be honest with myself about what I knew to be right, which included rethinking my support of the fossil fuel industry. When I left the mining industry to pursue my JD/MBA degrees (for reasons unrelated), I decided this was the time to make the change and dedicate my life to combatting climate change. Now, after three years in grad school and a move to the West Coast, I'm one step further along in this journey.

Why does the world need another blog?

Primarily, the blog will be focused on my journey to a more sustainable lifestyle at home and in my new city of LA, as well as my entrance into working to combat climate change professionally. Secondarily, I will discuss my personal journey from a mining engineer who grew up in coal country to a cleantech employee (though still a responsible mining supporter), as I feel it is a perspective that is often overlooked. Everyone should be an environmentalist, regardless of political party! The environment should not be political.

What do I plan to do with this blog?

I spent all summer studying for the bar exam, and now that that is all over, I've discovered some extra free time. I got to thinking about what I wanted to learn next and realized how little I knew about implementing a sustainable lifestyle in my own home. I've written papers on sustainability in corporations and at universities, but decided it is high time I focus on my own impact at home. I aim to bring my love of research to the blog, summarizing credible studies into easy to digest tips, doing the hard work so you don't have to!

Readers should expect pieces at least once a month about how to affordably implement sustainable practices, what practices are most impactful, and easy swaps for everyday items. Further, I will share my love of podcasts, books, and newsletters frequently, as I want to share my educational journey.

Thank you for reading, and I look forward to future posts!

Sustainable Yours, LA


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