Susan Goodsell has been on the Aflac Green Committee since it was formed in 2008. From recycling rainwater to installing bamboo floors in her home, Susan goes the extra mile to protect the environment and this is why she was selected as one of Aflac’s Champions of the Planet. Here are five questions we asked Susan:

1. What does it mean to you to be Green?
To me being green means making as little impact on the environment as possible. One of my favorite sayings that hikers and naturalists use is – Take only pictures, leave only footprints. There’s no way I could live zero-impact, but I’m trying to keep my impact as low as possible.

2. How did you get interested in environmental sustainability?
The year Keep America Beautiful formed, my elementary school went all out with a program about preserving our planet. Every child in my grade designed a slide to go in the presentation. They were beautiful and hopeful and uplifting. Then, I remember the KAB public service campaign on TV with Iron Eyes Cody and thought what a shame it was to spoil our communities with litter, pollution and waste. We, Americans, made a Native American man cry! That movement was so powerful that it stuck with me. Whenever I see trash along the highway, I think of Iron Eyes Cody and his heartbreak and disappointment in the caretakers of this land.

3. What do you do to be green at home?
The great thing about being green is that it saves you money too. As our appliances break, we are replacing them with ENERGY STAR appliances, saving electricity and water. When we had to replace our carpeting, we put down bamboo flooring – the house stays cleaner and the product is made from a renewable resource. We installed two solar-powered attic fans that we bought from Sam’s Club to help stabilize the attic temperature and reduce our heating and cooling bills. We installed double pane windows for the same reason. We also collect rain water in barrels to water plants keeping our water bill down and we recycle so much that our weekly garbage usually amounts to one or two bags of landfill waste and two bins of recyclables. We installed a programmable thermostat but I can’t really claim any savings there because one of us is always overriding the controls. Because my husband drives 90 miles a day for work, we invested in a Toyota Prius last year and cut our gasoline use in half.

4. Do you do anything to be green at work?
I hear a lot of comments about the company providing polystyrene drinking cups. The best way to reverse the dependence on petroleum products is to stop using them. I’m sure company guests appreciate having a clean drinking cup when they visit, so I don’t think we should get rid of them. I use, wash and reuse a ceramic mug. No environmental waste. My husband, son and I all carry our lunch to work and school. We pack reusable containers, bring silverware from home and recycle our waste.

5. What are some easy things that you do that others could adopt?
Be smart about your purchases. Buy quality the first time and you will find that the product will last longer and hold up better than the cheap deal. Find a new use or a new home for things you no longer need or want. When we relocated to Georgia, we gave our old swing set to a family through Craig’s List. The dad had been injured and couldn’t work. As the set arrived, the mom called me in tears to thank us because this was the only gift her kids – who were jumping on the couch with excitement – were getting for Christmas. Everyone walked away happy from that experience.

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