Meet and Greet Blog Environmental Specialist

Meet and Greet

Kaileigh Eco Balance Leave a Comment

Hello and welcome to Eco Balance!

You’ve just stumbled upon my first of many blog posts to EcoKarma that will be focused on my everyday experiences and struggles in living (or attempting to live) a sustainable lifestyle.

If somehow you’re not familiar with the site, EcoKarma is a wonderful platform that allows novice and experienced eco-conscious people alike to find resources and new information about environmentally-friendly products and behaviors.

My hope is that by writing about my experiences, I can add to this dialogue by sparking conversations, insights, and behavior change (big or small). I hope you check back frequently and stay in touch about what topics you would like to hear about!

About Me

When I am filling out forms and documents that ask “What is your profession”, I hesitate every time, without fail. I typically write environmental professional or environmental specialist because that is technically what is listed on my job title.

But it feels so sterile and quite frankly a little pretentious.

I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in environmental science and my Master’s in sustainability education. I’ve worked in education, water quality, waste reduction, and noxious weeds among other things but I would in no way consider myself a specialist.

If I had to describe my work, I would say:

I consider myself a professional working within the environmental field, with a passion and commitment to educate, but I just really really REALLY want people to work together to solve our common problems.

But they only give you so much space in those forms, so I guess environmental specialist will do for now.

My Passion

I have always held a deep love for our environment and felt a strong commitment to making the world a better place. While I’ve spent most of my life working in the environmental field, my true calling and passion is education. I consider myself a mediator who has always had my foot in two worlds.

I studied climate science and sustainability as an undergrad while playing collegiate basketball. Not that the two are mutually exclusive, but the cultures were (and continue to be) very different. I worked hard to bring my passion for the environment into my world of athletics.

In 2015 Kaileigh had the chance to travel to Nicaragua and learn about sustainability efforts there. This was a part of her Sustainability Education Master’s Program.

I learned the science behind the major environmental problems we face as a society and I also learned how to communicate those problems in a practical and non-threatening way to others. And while I enjoy the science, I find I don’t always enjoy speaking the science with other scientists–rather I thrive being the translator, educator, and gateway for others outside of my field.

And as much as I am passionate about changing the way we as a society interact with our environment, I am equally as passionate about people, equity, and social issues. And it is because of this that I understand the challenges the current environmental and sustainability movement holds. Sustainability, in the way that many of us define it, is not accessible to all people, however, through my work I try to make it so.

My Philosophy

Sustainability to me, is all about finding balance.

Sometimes the pressures and constraints on my daily life cause that balance to become out of whack and I am constantly on a course to re-correct.

For instance, last week I came back from a weekend trip and had no food in the house. Thus followed a chain reaction of choices.

>My week was jam packed and I didn’t make time to go to the store.

>I ate out for almost every single meal.

>Packaged salads, sandwich bags, clam shell containers.

>The waste that I created in that week was close what I normally create in a month.

Most of the time I am mindful and conscious of my impact and other times I fall…hard. I would imagine this is true for many of you as well.

Even with my knowledge and experience, I still find it challenging to act in a way that is consistent with my beliefs because sometimes social pressures and convenience win.

My Upbringing

I grew up in a traditional Western home that embodied the American culture of convenience and consumerism. My parents were more mindful than many of my friend’s parents, but I certainly wasn’t raised to consider the environment first. But strangely, that is what I am most thankful for. I have lived in both the ultra-consumer driven world and set foot in the radical environmental world.

Now I find myself somewhere in the middle.

I’ve fallen victim to the consumer messaging. I’ve spent time with former eco-terrorists. And at the end of the day, I believe that the majority of us fall somewhere between these two places, maybe leaning more one way or the other.

Most of us want to do good.

Most of us struggle to know how.

And even if we know how, many of us find ourselves at tug-of-war with what we know is good, how we have been taught to act, and what is easy.

I firmly believe that even the most heinous of offenders can be reformed if they are introduced to alternative methods of living and acting, if it is made simple and somewhat cost/time effective, and they are provided a community of support.

It is my goal through this blog to be honest, thoughtful, (and of course naturally charming) and provide you with a lens to which you may be empowered to make changes to your lifestyle.

I do not aim to be preachy but rather I hope to practice what I preach. I am not perfect. And I hope to use this platform to help create change for you, but also for myself. So follow my journey as I provide thoughtful alternatives and even try them out for myself.

If you’ve got questions or topics you would like to see covered, I want to hear them!! So write them in the comments below.

And don’t forget to subscribe to EcoKarma’s Newsletter to stay up to date with our blog!

About the Author

Kaileigh

Kaileigh Westermann-Lewis is an environmental professional with a passion for education and love for Pacific Northwest brews.

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