Within The Home Depot, there is a large contingency of eco-conscious associates. They call themselves the Sustainability Squad, and they are living proof that Eco Actions make a difference. They are living a DIY sustainability lifestyle. Each month, we sit down with members of the Sustainability Squad to learn more about their inspiration and motivation and the individual Eco Actions.

This month, we talked to Georgina Heyne, a 10-year messaging representative based in Kennesaw, GA, and an Army veteran. For Georgina, sustainability is all about making small changes in her own life and the life of her family. That’s why she shared her food garden with the Sustainability Squad community, helping to show how easy it can be to live more sustainably. We took the time to chat with Georgina about her garden, her electricity conservation, and her vision on getting the word on sustainability out to associates and customers alike.

EA: First, we would like to thank you for your service! Why did you join the armed forces?

GH: I love to travel. My parents were U.S. citizens from the ‘60s on, and I thought it would be a good fit to be able to travel and support my parents. It was really big for them to have me do something like this; it’s almost like an honor for them. I was in the Army for three years, and I served all of it in Germany.

EA: After your service, how did you find your way to The Home Depot?

GH: I love working with people. The thing that drew me to Home Depot was that my family and friends always went there. I’ve been with Home Depot now for 10 years. It will be 11 years in November.

EA: Congratulations! Now, what was your first step towards incorporating sustainability into your life?

GH: Our gardening started before all of this became popular. My husband Thomas, being a certified chef, just likes doing farm-to-table. When you start growing [your food], you realize just how much you spend on the stuff at the market. Herbs are very easy to take care of. We also started drying some of his herbs and making our own seasonings with them. In our kitchen, we have strings that hang all the herbs.

EA: Ooh, your house must smell delicious! What are you growing in your garden right now?

GH: I love tomatoes and peppers. We’re growing basil and cilantro, which are my favorite herbs, and we use them for many of our dishes. We have mint, too. When the sun is shining, and it gets hot in my office, I’ll add mint to cold-filtered water and spritz myself – it has a great cooling property.

EA: What is your favorite food creation that you and your husband have made from the garden so far?

GH: Definitely salsa. You can put salsa on anything, and it’s very healthy, so that’s why we grow the tomatoes. When we were in the contact center in Kennesaw, everybody raved about our salsa. We’ve given it as gifts during the holidays because even if we’re not able to grow outside, we have an AeroGarden.

EA: Tell us about your energy reduction efforts.

GH: My youngest daughter would come home with these little ideas, like unplugging the cell phone charger when we’re not using it. We also frequently change the air filter in our A/C unit. As you guys know, it gets hot here in Georgia, so those filters will accumulate buildup. If your filter is dirty, it’s going to make the A/C system run harder because it’s not able to push through your filter. It’s something simple, but it’s going to save you a lot in the long run on your bill, too. If I can do it, anybody can do it. Trust me. We get stuck in our ways, and we don’t even realize it. It’s amazing how much our bills have dropped. It’s really helped us a lot.

EA: Occasionally, we’ll hear people say that sustainability is important, but it’s too hard to do regularly in their lives. What would you say to people who think that way?

GH: You know, when you start adding up those numbers of what we as a little family can save for our community by growing our own food, saving electricity and changing the air filter, it’s a lot. It’s amazing what can happen if just one person tells you [you can do it], you start to do it, two of your friends do it and so on. It’s just that trickle-down theory that if you can do just one thing, it will make a huge difference.

EA: Is there any way that your time in the Army influenced you to live a more sustainable lifestyle?

GH: I recall that we recycled our trash. That was instilled from the beginning, with different dumpsters for paper, plastic and glass. Something like that is real simple and makes a huge difference, even if one person does it.

EA: What’s the best way to encourage Home Depot users, employees and other veterans in using sustainability in their lives?

GH: Education. When the Outdoor Garden team takes the time to build a garden so a customer can physically see it and see how simple the steps are, I think more people would be apt to go ahead and do it. When we put it out there to show how simple it is to have a little garden, people will realize that, for one, it’s super relaxing. Then the thrill of watching something sprout and grow and then pick from is actually very rewarding, but you have to be patient with it. Just like with kids, it’s a matter of love. But once you give a little love to it, it’s amazing how good your food and your well-being becomes because you’re outdoors then, too. You know, there’s so many little factors we don’t consider, but [showing] the ease of creating a small vegetable or garden bed is key to educating the customer.

EA: Georgina, thank you so much for spending the time with us here today. We are really looking forward to sharing your story with the whole Home Depot Eco Actions community.

GH: I’m just so excited! Thank you!