Sustainable Living: When Healing the Earth Meets Healing Oneself 

by CHWB Team
April 1, 2024

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, sustainable lifestyles are “ways of living, social behaviors and choices that minimize environmental degradation while supporting equitable socio-economic development and better quality of life for all.” At the heart of sustainable living is an understanding about how our choices affect ourselves and eachother, and an appreciation of how those choices support our individual health and wellbeing.  

In honor of April’s Earth Month, we sat down with Alyssa Bolaños, a local sustainability activist and founder of Winter Park’s Eco Shop + Refillery, Oh Eco, to discuss how living a sustainable lifestyle intersects with her own health and wellbeing. Keep reading to discover Alyssa’s point of view on creating a lifestyle that’s accessible for all, her tips and tricks for making easy swaps that have a big impact, and why spending time in nature improves overall wellbeing.

CHWB: Living sustainably is important year-round, but for those of us who are new to the movement, April’s Earth Month is a great time to get started. As an advocate for green living, what does the term “living sustainably” mean to you? 

ALYSSA: Living sustainably will look different for everyone because it’s about everyone’s individual journey — what’s realistic for me might not be realistic for someone else. But at the very core of it, living sustainably to me is living in a mindful way that tries to do no harm to ourselves and to the planet around us. It’s all about balancing our lifestyle with the world around us.  

CHWB: What are easy swaps that lead to a more sustainable lifestyle? And how can those small swaps lead to a big impact not only on the individual but also on a larger scale? 

ALYSSA: The easiest places to start making swaps are your kitchen and your bathroom. I find that those are the places that have more one-for-one swaps. You have a toothbrush that’s plastic, and here’s the same toothbrush, but it’s made from wood instead. So, it’s an easier swap than someone going from Colgate Toothpaste to toothpaste tabs. A lot of those swaps mimic your regular non-sustainable disposable items. Bathroom and kitchen swaps are small changes that make a big impact. Another swap is going from plastic water bottles to a reusable bottle. Refilling a water bottle a certain number of times saves you money and plastic from entering landfills and waterways. These swaps, while they seem small, can lead to a larger impact on environmental wellbeing and allow sustainability to be accessible.  

CHWB: While working to make sustainability accessible for everyone as the owner of Winter Park’s Refillery + Eco Shop, Oh Eco, how do you encourage repeat customers and first-time shoppers to make that initial step towards a more sustainable lifestyle? 

ALYSSA: Start small. Finish what you have and swap or refill what you need. I always tell people to finish their laundry detergent, soap, shampoo, and conditioner, and then come try our refillery. I think once we have these conversations about how sustainable swaps are accessible for everyone, the movement starts to click and become a habit. There are always individuals who are intimidated by making those changes and I normally use this example: you buy a bottle of hand soap, and then you throw it out, you buy another one — the process repeats itself. But you can bring that first empty bottle here and refill it. I often tell my customers and browsers to just try something, they don’t have to change your whole lifestyle to make an impact. And I think that’s something that resonates with them. I think when they come to Oh Eco, and have that conversation with me, they’re already less intimidated. I like to have products in my store that you wouldn’t typically think are eco-friendly. That’s where the Oh, in our Oh Eco comes from. People browse the store and find something new and say “Oh, this is eco-friendly?” It shows people that making the step towards sustainability can be accomplished. Part of our mission is that we want sustainability to be easy and accessible for everyone.  

CHWB: The Center for Health & Wellbeing is rooted in the Seven Dimensions of Wellbeing, a guiding philosophy that includes Environmental Wellbeing. To us, environmental wellbeing means that helping the planet can bring a sense of accomplishment and wellbeing to your own life. How does living sustainably align with the ways you support your own wellbeing? 

ALYSSA: I believe that nature is healing. Everyone needs to spend some time outside every day in the sun and fresh air. The goal of living sustainably or environmentally conscious is to protect this planet. So, every day I’m able to sit and enjoy being outside, experiencing the world around us, the air and sun, the little things that people tend to take for granted and being grounded in the environment helps my mental health. I’m able to start my day a little more levelheaded and clearer. At the same time, purchasing and eating locally grown food and produce decreases emissions, plus we’re eating healthier, organic food that was grown close to home. I feel better not only by eating healthier, more natural foods but by purchasing from local farmers, I’m supporting a local business while being environmentally conscious.  

Alyssa moved to Orlando from New York with her husband Patrick and realized that there was a need for sustainability resources, eco-friendly swaps to bathroom and kitchen essentials and a place where the community can learn about living sustainably in a fun and inclusive environment. She founded Oh Eco, Winter Park’s one-stop eco-friendly shop and refillery, where she helps community members make eco-conscious swaps for their everyday products.  

Meet Alyssa and shop her eco-friendly goods when she joins other sustainability vendors during the 2024 Ward & Wellbeing Earth Day Block Party on April 27. Back for another year, the Block Party is jam-packed with family-friendly, sustainability-themed fun! Go the extra mile and join Track Shack’s and the City of Winter Park’s Run for Trees 5K sponsored by the Center for Health & Wellbeing, then join us to celebrate post-race and browse our Earth Day Open House. Or, skip the race, and bring your family to participate in the Open House’s sustainable activities, learn from green vendors like Alyssa, compete for giveaways, and more.

Related Articles

Regulating the Nervous System 

Regulating the Nervous System In a recent Community Education program, Herbs for the Nervous System, presented by ACE Certified Health Coach Julie Ward, program attendees learned how to regulate their nervous systems with the aid of herbs and intentional lifestyle habits.   Here’s more from Julie Ward’s presentation.   Part 1: What is the Nervous System? …

Read Article

American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month, a reminder to learn how to support your heart health and take proactive measures against heart disease and stroke. Did you know that according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “more than 877,500 Americans die of heart disease, stroke, or other cardiovascular diseases every year?” This makes…

Read Article

Workweek Lunches

As part of the Center for Health & Wellbeing’s Community Education offering, the Nutrition Theatre at CHWB is home to cooking classes and demonstrations during which participants learn how to incorporate healthy ingredients into everyday meals. Workweek Lunches was a cooking class recently hosted at CHWB with Chef Collette Keller, a classically trained Culinary Institute…

Read Article

Get the Whole Story - Sign Up for Our Newsletter

A partnership between