Stacy Savage - Chief Operations Officer at Zero Waste Advocacy
Stacy Savage hails from the environmental nonprofit realm as a Statewide Program Director where she organized communities and legislative lobbying efforts to hold corporations and government accountable to public health. As a 15-year sustainability advocate, she helped pass bi-partisan Texas legislation for recycling of TVs and computers and worked with allies to lobby for and win Austin’s ordinances for a Single-use Bag Ban, Residential Composting Program, and Construction & Demolition Recycling Requirements.
Mrs. Savage is a business owner and Co-Founder of Zero Waste Advocacy serving as the Chief Operations Officer and Evangelist for the company. She specializes in Zero Waste best practices which help businesses and governments to implement operational efficiencies that reduce wastes and increase profits.
Stacy Joins Sustainable Nation to Discuss:
Making the business case for zero waste
Using Blockchain technology for waste management
US recycling markets and the impact of China's decision to decline recycled materials
Advice and recommendations for sustainability leaders
Stacy's Final Five Question Responses:
What is one piece of advice you would give other sustainability professionals that might help them in their careers?
I would say diversify. As contracting consultants, it's difficult to keep your business funnel alive and full if you're not diversifying. Our business works with the city of Austin, right? We are contracted to help businesses recycle, but we also work with multinational, large corporations to help them reduce their waste. We also work with some very tiny businesses that wanted to do the right thing and they may not have a lot of money, but they do want to make an impact. So, diversifying between municipal and governmental contracts as well as corporate contracts and even your small business contracts. And it's not just that it's, it's diversifying your knowledge around your expertise. So, I'm a zero waste consultant, but zero waste also talks about not only recycling but helping divert food waste - your organics is another part of zero waste. Your construction and demolition debris is another aspect of zero waste, and helping local or statewide a building projects divert their building materials away from landfill. And then, whenever you look at the larger vision or the larger world around circular economy and pulling in energy and water, you can really set yourself as the go-to person for all of those things. You don't have to be in just in one niche and you don't have to be just with corporate contracts.
What are you most excited about right now in the world of sustainability?
It might seem weird for me to say this, but I'm actually excited about the China green wall, because it forces us as developed nations to look at what we're doing. We can no longer dump on other countries and we've got to create the infrastructure here at the local market level, and that's what Zero Waste Advocacy's technology is doing. If we can create the processing here locally, that creates more jobs, it creates more economic stability and vitality instead of just shipping it away somewhere. And again, there's no away. It's somebody else's problem. The current atmosphere in the US is, "Oh my gosh, what in the world are we going to do with all these materials that are being shipped back to us? Well, we don't have the infrastructure right now, so we have a landfill everything." I think that that is kind of what we deserve as a country at this point, but we do need to get on the horse and ride into the 21st century when it comes to building out our infrastructure around waste reduction and our perceptions around waste.
Because now, if we're having to deal with it instead of China or India or any other nations, it's gonna help us change our behaviors, change our culture and really incorporate the high tech around it. I don't really think that there are many people who would go from their corporate tech day jobs to sorting recycling by hand, and that's what you see a lot of people in other countries doing with our waste. They're sorting this stuff by hand and it's treacherous and it is a health impact. Why are we doing this to other people on our planet? They're humans too. Let's deal with our stuff here and stop dumping it. So that's what I'm excited about. We've got to get this infrastructure built out.
What is one book you would recommend sustainability professionals read?
When we're talking about zero waste and the new circular economy, Cradle to Cradle is a really good book. I would also suggest that people, if they wanted a shorter education, is to go through the StoryofStuff.com. Story of Stuff has these short little vignette cartoons that really explain tough waste issues and water and energy issues that kind of whittle it down to the problem solution strategy. I would say Five Gyres as well, as an excellent organization to follow whenever it comes to ocean plastics and recovering the ocean trash
What are some of your favorite resources or tools they really help you in your work?
Check with your municipal government online - the wastewater department, the municipal waste department and your energy department - and see if they've got a residential calculator or a business calculator where you can put in your baseline usage. You can create an account and you can see kind of your up and down throughout the week and throughout the month. It tracks it for you, so you can see where you're doing a really good job and where things could be worked on to improve. That's something that you can relay to your staff as well. And if you're doing a really good job, you fold that into your zero waste message as well and use it as a green marketing tool. And also, just look in your trash. Start auditing your trash on a daily basis and seeing what is in there. What are the top three things that you can identify? This is the most basic thing that you can do as a visual audit. Look in your trash, what's in there and why? Is there an alternative? Can you use something else that doesn't have to be landfilled? Maybe it can be recycled instead. So, just start doing your research.
Where ca our listeners go to learn more about you and the work that you're leading?
Folks can go to zerowasteadvocacy.com. We're also on LinkedIn and Twitter as well as Facebook. People can reach out to us by email, you can email me email@example.com. If people have a question or want to get in touch with us to learn more, we're more than willing to speak with you.