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Sustainability midst the bustle


Providence Associate couple Duane, left, and Jennifer Drake, right, (pictured here with their Providence Associate companion Sister Mary Morley) work to make a place for living gently on Earth in the midst of the daily busyness of work, volunteer and family life.

Life is busy. Sometimes it feels we are stretched to the limit. How does one fit living an ecologically friendly lifestyle into the busyness of life? For Providence Associates Jennifer and Duane Drake, it’s about being gentle with themselves in the process.

The Drakes live in Hamilton, Ohio, with their two sons, Aidan age 14 and Evan age 11. The couple met while she was at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and he was attending Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Jennifer and Duane are no strangers to the busyness of life. Jen works as an underwriter for a mortgage company and Duane in Information Technology (IT) for Miami University of Ohio. Both are also active in the community, serving on boards for the school and other organizations.

Amidst the busyness of life, living sustainably requires intentional effort.

“Care of the environment and living sustainably is very important to both of us,” they said.

“In our family we try to make ‘just’ choices with our dollars. We choose not to shop at stores that don’t align with our values (Walmart being an example). When our heater died, we chose a geothermal heating system rather than an electric heater. (Even though the electric would have been cheaper). On a smaller scale, we only use cloth napkins daily and are constantly pestering the boys to ‘turn off the lights.’ We buy organic and bulk as often as possible and try very hard to shop local as much as humanly possible. We are far from perfect, but we try hard to ‘practice what we preach,’” Jen said.

“We have both always believed that care of the environment was a spiritual and moral issue not just a political issue and our association with the sisters has reinforced that.”

“Of course we struggle. Our schedule is ridiculously full with the boys’ activities and our community obligations. The temptation to eat out and to shop the big box stores is always strong,” Jen said.

What advice do the Drakes have for others who are trying to live sustainably amidst a busy schedule?

“Be kind to yourself. We live in a society that expects nothing but perfection from each of us. Accept that none of us will ever reach that level of perfection. Realize that even if you are only able to make one small change in your routine, that will still benefit the whole. In time you can add one more small change and eventually you will be living a very eco-friendly lifestyle.”

(This article originally appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of HOPE magazine.)

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Amy Miranda

Amy Miranda

Amy Miranda is a Providence Associate of the Sisters of Providence and a staff member in their Advancement Services office. Amy is a 1998 graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She currently manages the SP publication HOPE and works on marketing support for Providence Associates, new membership and Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.

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  1. Avatar Terri Grasso,SP on April 20, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    It is easy to see that Jen and her family really “walk the talk” of sustainability. Thanks for your words of wisdom and encouragement and for all you do for the Providence Associates, too!

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