Liz Rutledge (she/her)

Do you have a specific area of sustainability that interests you the most? Why do you CARE about that specific area?  
Yes! “Waste not, want not” is one of my favorite sayings. I could “trash talk” all day. I live and breathe ways to reduce waste in general. The main reason I CARE about this so passionately is my understanding is that (especially) food waste contributes greatly to the depletion of the Ozone Layer through the release of methane. So, the more we reduce waste, the more breathable our air is and the more we can take a deep breath and tackle all the rest of the sustainability challenges. I’m also concerned about the fresh water supply (especially here in Colorado, where I grew up, water is precious). Preventing water waste is something I also CARE about because without fresh, clean water, we will all suffer.

What interests / excites you most about being involved in (Women in) sustainability?
I love feeling a sense of connectedness and belonging in a supportive group of intelligent, passionate, Earth-loving, like-minded women. Becky Migas and I connected and worked together back in 2018. I had never met someone as passionate about sustainable living as I am. Also? I am super proud of Becky and the entire Women in Sustainability leadership team for creating a group like this. Especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, it created a sense of belonging and connection and continues to grown and do good in the world.

I CARE Because … 

I CARE Because…inequity upsets me deeply and I believe all people deserve access to wellness resources, shelter, clean air, clean water, healthy and nourishing food, education and connection with nature.
One of the reasons I teach Mindfulness is to support people in witnessing our deep connection to nature and each other…especially the Mindfulness aspects of kindness, gratitude and generosity. When we are in tune with the rhythms of nature (and each other), we are healthier mentally, emotionally, and physically. In this rapid-paced, constantly changing world, we need tools and techniques to navigate the sea of chaos with calmness, clarity and resilience. And, if “a rising tide lifts all boats”, I’d like to be a useful contributor to raising awareness and access to knowledge about mindfulness and sustainability. Or, as I like to call it “Mindful Sustainability”.

What interests /​ excites you most about being involved in sustainability? 

Have you ever picked a raspberry off the vine?
Have you ever seen processed compost…that deep, rich black gold?
Have you ever seen a gazillion stars in the night sky?
Did you notice that the “Brown Cloud” in Denver disappeared during Covid-19 lockdown?
I grew up picking raspberries off the vine in the mountains of Colorado.
I’ve had the pleasure of going on the “Waste Extravaganza” Tour and seen how and where our waste is processed here in Denver.
I have looked up at the most glorious night skies – both on Lookout Mountain as a child and in Namibia, Africa as an adult.
I have witnessed the “Brown Cloud” grow from hovering over the tall buildings of downtown Denver to stretching from Boulder to Colorado Springs and beyond.
These are my motivations and interests.
I re-discover my child-like giddiness when I see a new, ripe raspberry growing in my backyard
garden….or when I notice more stars in the sky because efforts to reduce light pollution are working.
I hope others will experience the sort of excitement I have for sustainability and discovering new and interesting technologies that may save us from the doom of Climate Change.

How do you like to give back to your community? Why is this important to you? 

I love to be involved in my community! Whether it’s volunteering with the local schools on Earth Day, being involved in the Greater Park Hill Community Home Tour & Street Fair for 11 years (ultimately reducing waste to the landfill and then running the Sustainability Zone) or encouraging re-use and to reduce waste for East High School’s After Prom event, I absolutely thrive when I’m giving back (and having the opportunity to learn and educate in the process). I geek out on reducing waste, but also creatively decreasing budget strain so funds can go towards more important things (like the Food Bank and community efforts offered by the G.P.H.C.). It’s also fun to connect with other people through public speaking and community activism opportunities (like Dress for Success, Healthy Denver, Inc., McAuliffe and East High School Sustainability Clubs, and Women in Sustainability).

What are some self – care tips you like to share? 

I meditate EVERY day for at least 10 minutes. By doing this for years now, I have strengthened my muscle of resilience and am able to remain calmer in situations that previously triggered me. Not only am I calmer, but also more focused. I suggest meditating first thing after waking. It’s as simple as slipping out of bed, setting a timer, and slowly breathing in (5 seconds) and out (5 seconds) for 2-3 minutes. There are many free meditation apps (like Calm and Insight Timer). Just do it. Every day…without fail…no matter where you are.

And? When you don’t get a chance to meditate or find yourself needing to shift your energy, move your body! Stand up, stretch, go for a walk around the block. Or, make a short gratitude list, get outside, take deep breaths, and re-set. Focusing on what’s going right, instead of what’s going wrong, can also help us remain positive and calm in the rising sea of chaos. We need to be clear headed to find creative solutions to big problems, so it’s important to set boundaries (like not participating in the click bait news cycle and protecting time in our schedule for exercise and meditation).

Anything else you want our readers to know about you?  
In addition to being deeply passionate about the environment, I am also deeply passionate about teaching Mindfulness to the young children who are inheriting Planet Earth and all it’s complications. I partner with Dr. Cyrina Bullard and together we are Sustainable Happiness Together LLC. A Certified HeartMath® Resilience Trainer and Coach, Cyrina is literally certified in the Science of Happiness (UC Berkeley) and Well-Being (Yale). Together, we teach children, teens and adults how to live more mindfully and have more resilience. Mindful Sustainability is part of that. Our current passion project is our new course for young children called “Lessons from the Bright Butterfly” which merges the social and emotional learning (SEL) skills we teach with the life cycle of the butterfly. Our program brings not only calm, focus, happiness and resilience to our students, but also a sense of connection with nature and their families.

Connect with Liz:

Community Voices Webinar November Topic:
How to Remain Calm in the Rising Sea of Chaos

If you’re feeling hopeless in this world of climate change, school shootings, social media frenzy, and an ever-increasing political void, you’re not alone. Take time for some much-needed self care as Liz Rutledge guides you on a Mindfulness journey where you will appreciate the small things and recapture a sense of calm.

Watch Replay.

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