Barbara Boustead grew up in a large family in Rockford, Illinois with little financial means and resources. Her childhood experiences gave her a passion for sustainability, social work, and doing whatever possible to increase awareness of programs that serve her community. Today, Barbara sees herself as a woman who is using her business to give back to others. When Barbara's mother Mary needed help organizing her bills and financial responsibilities, Barbara found a new passion that combined her social service experience with money management. In 2011, Barbara started Mary's Daughter to help seniors and veterans with their bills and finances.
A first generation college graduate, Barbara witnessed her Mother work several jobs to provide for the family and she learned very early on how important it was to conserve what you had, “you had to make it last”. Hot water was a luxury, clothing was passed down from family members and neighbors. Clothes were hand washed and dried outside. At times, food and water was scarce.
For Barbara and her family, sustainability wasn't a privilege it was a reality to their survival. Repurposing, conserving, and recycling materials was one of many ways they got by with limited financial resources. Overtime, Barbara learned that sustainability extended beyond materials and that the key to sustainability is found in relationships. For sustainability to work, we need to understand our relationships to our environment and to to others. Barbara believes the more stuff we have, the more it tends to get in the way of taking care of our relationships. For Barbara, part of living sustainably is shifting priorities from "stuff" to the land and the people.
"People are trying to figure out how to store things and they're not talking about, "Tell me how you did today?" or "How are you doing and what's going on?" They're trying to figure out the logistics of maintaining stuff."
One way Barbara practices sustainability is by helping local communities gain awareness of available resources for healthy living. One of her favorite resources is the Focus On Energy Efficiency Kits. Barbara likes that it's a comprehensive kit available to residents for free! The Kit offers several options as well, from water saving kits to decorative LED bulbs. With her kit, Barbara already replaced her interior lights with LED's and switched out her shower heads for water saving ones. You can order your energy kit here or call the Home Energy Line to find out more about LED lighting or how to lower your energy costs at your home or business.
"The things that I can do, and that I'm trying to do, are to really educate people because others have helped me to understand how to live sustainably."
When Barbara read about the Shared Solar Program her and her husband signed up for the waiting list right away. They love the idea of having a portion of their energy powered by the sun. MGE's Shared Solar program gives customers like Barbara, the option to add solar to their energy mix. Participants pay a one-time fee to reserve a portion of the electricity produced and under the program expansion, will pay a fixed price of $.109 per kilowatt-hour for up to 50% of their annual electric usage. This price will stay with Barbara's household for 25 years even if she and her husband decide to sell their home and move within the MGE electric service territory.
If you would like to learn more about Shared Solar, you can visit www.mge.com/sharedsolar. If you are ready to take the next step in clean energy, you can join the waiting list on the Shared Solar website as a residential or business establishment. Joining the waiting list does not commit you to pay right away but ensures that your shares are reserved, an MGE energy expert will contact you to share more details about the program once the program is approved.
"Sustainability isn't just about me reusing things, repurposing things, and renewable energy, it's about taking and looking at our whole lives."
Barbara's presence and involvement in the community is profound and inspiring beyond measure. From The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, to being a UW Alzheimer’s and Dementia Research Participant, and for over 25 years collaborating with The Black Women’s Health Study, these are only a few of the organizations and communities Barbara is part of. An African American Woman who not only enjoys building relationships, Barbara shares her wisdom with us practically to promote healthier living for all of us. But of everything she is involved with and has done in Madison, her greatest gift to is loving others. Her love for others shines in everything she does and it's the key to living sustainably. Her wisdom for us is to learn to respect the land we live in, serve the community around us, and prioritize the family and friends in our lives.
"I think of resources as finite. They're not going to last forever unless we start taking care of our planet, taking care of our resources and taking care of each other."
The clean, renewable energy generated through Shared Solar helps the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and by helping to manage fuel costs that can increase over time. This partnership with customers also advances MGE's long-term framework, Energy 2030. MGE has set the goal of targeting net-zero carbon electricity by 2050. Working together, we can reach our shared goal of a cleaner energy future. Call the Home Energy Line to find out how you can start reducing your environmental footprint by joining Shared Solar or Green Power Tomorrow.
Clean electricity, like wind and solar power is available for homes and businesses through MGE's Green Power Tomorrow Program. For every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of green power purchased by customers, there is a kWh of electricity that won't be generated with non-renewable fuels. Green Power Tomorrow is probably the easiest and most effective step you can take to advance renewable energy and protect the environment. It's easy to sign up, just visit this link or call the Home Energy Line at 608-252-7117 or 1-800-245-1125. You can choose a monthly cost that's comfortable for you by purchasing a percent (1% to 100%) of your household’s electricity use.
We're just droplets in an ocean and each of us has that ocean in us. But we don't know that. We don't understand that we're really one.
You just stepped into the life of Barbara Boustead and learned how one person is living sustainably. We just scratched the surface and there are many more ways you can begin living sustainably. To learn more about renewable energy you can contact MGE’s Energy Experts by sending an email to Ask The Expert at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Home Energy Line at 608-252-7117 or 1-800-245-1125. Drop us a line and learn more ways you can start living sustainably.