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17 April . 2019

Easy ways to go greener from Rancho Sienna resident Amber Capuano

Contrary to what Kermit the Frog says, it is easy being green. For a few pointers on how we can have a lighter footprint on the environment, without drastically changing our lifestyle all at once, we talked to Amber Capuano, who has lived in Rancho Sienna for three years with her husband and two children.

Amber launched her online store CoralFeather in 2017 to offer a wide range of eco-friendly everyday products. She was inspired to become entrepreneurial after attending the Austin version of MommyCon, a national convention series dedicated to the natural parenting movement.

“This was incredible for me, because I learned how parenting, the everyday products we use, and the environment are all related,” says Amber. “My favorite part of the conference was the exhibitor hall. I was completely moved by products I had not seen in big box stores.”

Amber says that once she began speaking with the owners of different companies, she realized a common thread. “They were all taking the standard of quality to the next level, by becoming extremely eco-friendly. This truly spoke to my heart,” she said.

Here are some highlights of our conversation with Amber.

What can ordinary people do to reduce their eco-footprint and live healthier?

One of the best and quickest ways to reduce your eco-footprint is to get rid of single-use plastic, such as plastic grocery bags, ziplock bags, and plastic water bottles. Also, try to buy clothes that are timeless rather than chasing the latest trend. Trends come and go, which means about 84 percent of unwanted clothes end up in landfills. “The True Cost” is a film available on Netflix that explains the toll that low-cost fast fashion has on people and the environment.

What are some of the easiest ways to get kids involved in helping the environment?

We’ve taught our own kids about what can be recycled, and how to prepare items for recycling, such as washing out the containers, separating lids from the containers, etc. We go on "clean up" walks around our neighborhood, and this is something our neighbors have gotten involved with as well. We talk about sustainable products and resources with our kids. We rarely buy plastic toys, dishes, water bottles and other items. Instead, we look for wood, cork, or silicone options, such as those we carry on

 What are some of the most exciting and beneficial ways for people to do this?

 I love reusable products and we have many on CoralFeather, including snack bags, grocery bags, and bee’s wrap for sandwiches and other foods. They are great for the environment and much cuter! I also enjoy going to resale shops and buying actual vintage clothes. I can usually find name brand designer items for a fraction of the cost. This is a win-win for me, because I know these items won’t end up in the trash, and I get the cost benefits.

What have you heard from your customers about living greener and using eco-friendly products?

They didn’t realize it was so easy to live greener. Most people have the "I am only one person" mentality – that they don't think they can change anything. So thousands, or even millions, of people aren't doing anything to change their eco footprint. But what if everyone used that mentality in reverse? If every person did what they could, we would have millions of people working towards a cleaner environment.

What do you see as some of the newest and most promising trends in living green?

I love seeing some states ban single-use plastic grocery bags. So many animals are dying because they accidentally eat these bags. They get stuck and cause irreversible damage. I saw a cleanup challenge on social media recently and my heart jumped. I really hope we see more "challenges" that encourage our youth to make better choices for themselves and the environment. 

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about living greener?

Going green can seem overwhelming and expensive at first. What I like to tell people is, you don't have to do it all at once. You also don't have to be 100% green to make a difference. The other component people fail to realize is this is an investment. Once you ditch the single-use items and buy your food in bulk, you won’t have to replace or replenish these items nearly as often. The same is true of buying quality products made to last, versus cheap and trendy items. That is the beauty. 

At Rancho Sienna, we also strive to be a green community. Learn how we are working to have a lighter footprint on our beautiful Hill Country setting in North Austin and Georgetown.