Have you ever wondered who is behind the awesome zero waste tips you see online, new innovative statewide initiatives, or company-wide sustainability efforts?
Well, many of those driving forces are women! In honor of Women’s Day, we’ve selected a few notable women who have made impressive changes in their industries to push sustainability. We want you, our members, to have the chance to get to know these ladies and applaud them as we do! Maybe their drive will inspire you to make changes and slay as they do. We know you have it in you!
“I love connecting the dots between our company’s aggressively sustainable net zero commitments, and what our employees experience every day in their workspaces. My passion is about changing our sustainability culture: Creating advocacy in individuals that extends beyond our industry-leading corporate initiatives and into their daily lives, families, and communities.” -Lisa Curll, Senior Business Performance Analyst, Dominion Energy
Lisa Curll coordinates Workplace Sustainability at Dominion Energy, focused on improving the environmental impact of the company’s workspaces through engaging, educational, and impactful collaborations between individual employees and departments. Her group embraces change and sustainable innovation, connecting employees to their work and their communities through the strategic alignment of physical space, conservation programs, and cultural integration.
“Beyond sustainability being the right thing to do, I’ve found the work that feeds my soul. Creating a sustainable model, using recycled materials, and working with female artisans in Kenya fills me with joy and makes me really proud of the company I’ve started.”– Shannon Ashford, founder and designer, Tom Foolery
Shannon started Tom Foolery with the simple idea of creating rompers that allow women to use the ladies’ room with dignity–without sitting in a drafty stall clutching your naked chest with your jumpsuit around your ankles while frantically tracking passers-by in the crack next to the door. Tom Foolery jumpsuits are made locally and under fair conditions from responsibly-sourced eucalyptus. They have partnered with a sewing college in Kenya that offers girls the opportunity for independence through starting their own businesses. They are working on establishing a sewing shop in Kenya to employ graduates of the program.
“I am motivated by the endless possibilities to find sustainable solutions in the aviation industry and the YVR leadership team has made this their top priority. At Vancouver Airport Authority we are seeing multiple benefits by using a very broad sustainability lens in our planning and decision making and I feel privileged to work for an organization where those ideas are supported and achievements are celebrated.”-Marion Town, Director of Environment, Vancouver International Airport Authority
Marion joined the Vancouver Airport Authority (VYR) in 2014 and leads an innovative team of professionals working to reduce the airport’s environmental footprint. Marion is guided by YVR’s Board of Directors and executive team to ensure that high environmental standards are maintained and significant environmental and accreditation programs such as Salmon Safe and Airport Carbon Accreditation are successfully implemented.
“I believe people have the power to create change through collective individual actions as well as policy advocacy. My passion is to work at the intersection of health and the environment with an overarching goal of social and behavior change.”-Kelley Dennings, Social and Behavior Change Agent, Center for Biological Diversity
Kelley currently works at the Center for Biological Diversity leading the Center’s work to highlight the connection between human population growth and overconsumption and threats to wildlife and wild places. She’s previously worked in recycling operations, education, and policy arenas focused on school recycling, alternative gift-giving, extended producer responsibility, food waste reduction, and a plastic bottle landfill ban.
“Our lifestyle has turned into a movement, so now I dream of a zero-waste world: If zero waste has opened my family to a life based on being instead of having, I can only imagine what it would be like if our whole society adopted it! I think it would solve a lot of problems!”
Bea Johnson and her family have produced a mere pint of trash per year since 2008. Dubbed “The Mother of the Zero Waste lifestyle movement” by CNN, Bea has been featured on TV shows and in publications all over the world. She shatters misconceptions, proving that zero waste can not only be stylish but also lead to significant health benefits, and saves time and money. She has inspired millions of people to adopt waste-free living, open unpackaged shops, conceive reusable products, and launch organizations, as well as inspiring large corporations to offer alternatives to single-use products.
Kim began her career in environmental education with little more than good intentions. In 1990, after reading a brief newspaper article about over-crowded landfills, she was inspired to begin a volunteer recycling program in the rural community of Smith Township. After recruiting help from a local environmental organization and garnering support from Township trustees, Kim initiated a recycling program. The program blossomed, and shortly thereafter the Township received a grant from The Mahoning County Solid Waste Management District (Green Team). In 1991, because of Kim’s successful volunteer efforts, Smith Township trustees hired her as the Smith Township Recycling Coordinator. She managed the grant program from January 1991 to January 2000. She then went on to manage Mahoning County’s Rural Recycling Education and Awareness Program (RREAP) and has served in that capacity ever since.
“People are often overwhelmed by the enormity of the global plastic pollution problem. It is rewarding to be able to teach simple actions that individuals can take to help protect our environment–little by little, a little makes a lot!”
She is the head of the Marine Extension department, working on cleaning the ocean stream in Florida. She speaks about reducing waste and ways to keep litter from the U. S. oceans. Maia McGuire grew up on the islands of Bermuda where she developed an interest in marine biology at an early age. She received a BS in marine biology from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. in marine biology from the University of Miami. In 2001, she joined the Florida Sea Grant Extension Program at the University of Florida. As a Sea Grant extension agent, she conducts informal education programs on topics including marine debris, climate change, and invasive species. In 2015, Ms. McGuire was awarded a NOAA Marine Debris Outreach and Education grant to start the Florida Microplastic Awareness Project. This citizen science project’s goal is to raise awareness about the sources of and threats posed by microplastics in the coastal environment. Volunteers are collecting and analyzing coastal water samples around the State, as well as teaching people how to reduce their contribution to the plastic problem. The project’s website is www.plasticaware.org.
“There are at least 48,000,000 pounds of waste going into oceans every day, and 60% of it is recyclable. Without exception, displaying the society-wide standardized labels on recycling bins is the #1 proven solution to fix the recycling crisis, and it is one of the most impactful solutions to reduce the waste-in-oceans crisis.”
Mitch Hedlund, Executive Director and Founder of the nonprofit Recycle Across America, created the first and only society-wide standardized labeling solution for recycling bins. The solution, modeled after standardized road signs which allow us to drive properly wherever we are, helps the public to recycle properly wherever they are. Her common-sense solution is now part of a federal bill that has been introduced by Senator Tom Udall and Congressman Alan Lowenthal to reduce plastic pollution and ocean waste, as well as to help fix U.S. recycling.
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