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Sustainability News

Sustainability In Action

March 8, 2013

kim-grout-005-croppedA conversation with Kim Grout, Sustainability Concierge

When you walk through the third floor doors at Wrigley Hall, a petite, brown-haired lady named Kim Grout will most likely greet you. She’s the Sustainability Scientists and Scholars concierge, meaning; she coordinates meetings, flights, accommodations, and coffee runs to help them save the world.

Kim knows her sustainability stuff. She lives about 5 miles away from where she works at the Global Institute of Sustainability, but she either bikes or runs every morning and evening, Monday through Friday. The food she makes is from scratch or comes from her local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). She and her husband recently installed a solar water heater in their home and sometimes they cook meals in their solar oven. After work, Kim tends to her chickens—which are excellent scorpion killers and provide great compost for her garden. Not to mention fresh eggs.

Kim says she learned how to lessen her impact on the planet from her mom.

“I have been living this way since I was a child,” she says. “My mother was always very savvy about such things. She made everything from scratch, including yogurt, mayonnaise, bread, and ice cream. We also had a garden, chickens, and horses.”

Kim is often visited by Sustainability Scientists at her desk.
Kim is often visited by Sustainability Scientists at her desk.

As a concierge, she gets asked, “what does ‘sustainability’ mean?” a lot. To explain the concept, Kim uses the Institute’s Board of Directors’ definition of sustainability (not a shameless plug; she promises):

“Promoting human prosperity and well-being for all, while protecting and enhancing the Earth’s life support systems.”

But Kim doesn’t necessarily frame her lifestyle as “sustainable.”

“I don’t know that I would say I live ‘sustainably,’” she says. “I just live the way that feels most in tune with the world around me.”

In case you’re curious, here are Kim’s tips on how to put a little sustainability into your daily life:

Kim's backyard garden features sunflowers, grapevines, peppers, tomatoes, and fruit trees.
Kim's backyard garden features sunflowers, grapevines, peppers, tomatoes, and fruit trees.

    • Hang your laundry outside to dry
    • Build a garden in your backyard
    • Join your local CSA; you can find a listing here
    • Walk, run, bike, use public transit to work and school
    • Shop at Goodwill or second-hand stores for your clothes and housewares
    • Stop by and enjoy one of the Global Institute of Sustainability’s events (OK, that was a shameless plug)

But most importantly, remember that even the smallest change you make every day can make a big difference.

“Start out easy and make one change,” says Kim. “Stick with it and then choose another. Before long, you’ll have made huge changes in your life and the lives of others.”

This is one of Kim's chickens. Her name is Louisa Mae.
This is one of Kim's chickens. Her name is Louisa Mae.

By Natalie Muilenberg

Editor Assistant, Global Institute of Sustainability

nmuilenb@asu.edu