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A few years ago, Vy started thinking a lot about waste. She was on a trip to Bali, where she was alarmed by all the trash she saw around the Indonesian island. Every morning, she and her partner would walk the beach, where plastic bottles, plastic bags, and other castaways were swirling around. Driving around the island, she saw residents burning their trash to get rid of it.

As a renter, Vy is not in a position to have rooftop solar. But through Arcadia, she gets the benefits of locally produced solar power without any additional cost.

She started considering the root of the problem — tourism was booming, and the local infrastructure wasn’t able to keep up with the visitors — and it haunted her to know that she was contributing to it. “That’s not the legacy I want to leave behind as a traveler — leaving the environment worse than when I arrived,” says Vy.

It was that trip that inspired Vy to change her ways and work to reduce the waste that she contributes. She started small, carrying her own tote bags to grocery stores rather than accepting plastic bags and choosing to drink tap water in reusable vessels rather than buying disposable plastic bottles of water. She’d always preferred shopping in second-hand and vintage stores, so avoiding purchases of new clothing and fast fashion came naturally.

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She attended different meetups, joined online communities, and read more and more about choosing a zero-waste life until, eventually, she was living it. At her home in Providence, Rhode Island, Vy avoids cycling through anything that could be bound for a landfill or the ocean.

The biggest challenge to living a zero-waste life, she says, revolves around food. To avoid creating waste, she buys food in bulk and doesn’t purchase anything packaged or prepared. “You have to be mindful by planning and preparing meals and snacks ahead of time so you don’t end up buying something packaged, but I am eating better than I have in years,” she says.

Her zero-waste lifestyle also inspired her to look around at all the things she’d accumulated over the years, and she questioned whether she wanted or needed much of it. That made her change her behavior as a consumer. “On my lunch breaks at work I used to go shopping. But now I just go for walks. It’s really pleasurable,” she says.

Because of her involvement in those online communities and meetups, she built a social circle that’s also committed to cleaner living. Through those friends, she learned of another sustainable change she could make in her life: switching over to solar power. A few months ago, her friends were telling her about how they were connecting to clean energy by signing up for Arcadia. Vy decided that made sense for her, too.

Joining Arcadia was in line with my values and efforts to reduce my impact on the environment,” she says.

She adds that she was impressed by how simple it was to sign up, and how intuitive the interface is. “It’s really easy to use, and it’s clear for me as a consumer to understand what was going on,” she says.

Through Arcadia, Vy is a member of Rhode Island’s Goat Island community solar project. It’s something that she’s proud to be a part of. As a renter, she’s not in a position to have solar panels installed on her home. But through Arcadia, she can get the benefits of locally produced solar power without any additional cost.

It’s also meaningful to her on a more personal level. Recently, Vy took up surfing. It’s something that she loves to do before and after work, in all seasons. It’s like meditation, she says. “It’s a release where you’re not thinking about anything except being there.”

Every time Vy surfs, she’s grateful that she has access to a clean, powerful, expansive ocean. That’s something she wants all people to have, so they can surf and swim, build sandcastles, and collect shells along the beach. “Access to oceans and beaches and clean water is something that everyone should be able to enjoy,” she says. By living a zero-waste life and choosing solar power through Arcadia, she feels good knowing that she’s doing her part to protect the ocean for future generations, and for her own.

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