Stephanie Barger - Director of Market Transformation and Development for TRUE Zero Waste

Stephanie Barger - Director of Market Transformation and Development for TRUE Zero Waste

As director of market transformation & development for the TRUE Zero Waste certification, Stephanie Barger is responsible for the growth and development of the TRUE program. Barger helped launch TRUE, which is owned and administered by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) in 2017. GBCI is the premier organization independently recognizing excellence in green business industry performance and practice globally and administers all LEED green building certifications. TRUE was acquired by GBCI in 2016 and was previously known as U.S. Zero Waste Business Council, which Barger formed in January 2012.

Barger has been dedicated to meeting the growing need for educational resources, peer-to-peer networking and third-party certification for businesses across the nation related to waste reduction and zero waste. She brings over 25 years of experience in environmental stewardship, employee training, management consulting and business development.

Prior to forming the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council, Barger spent 15 years leading Earth Resource Foundation (ERF), a dynamic high school environmental leadership program. ERF’s campaigns included curbing plastic pollution through zero waste, promoting native plant restoration, advocating for smoke-free beaches and improving watershed management. In 2009, ERF was awarded a Federal Stimulus Grant (the California Green Jobs Program in Orange County) to provide training for at-risk youth in zero waste and career development.

Stephanie Joins Sustainable Nation to Discuss:

  • The TRUE Zero Waste certification and its value for sustainability professionals

  • The zero waste movement in the United States

  • The TRUE Advisor program

  • Advice and recommendations for sustainability leaders

Stephanie's Final Five Responses:

What is one piece of advice you would give other sustainability professionals that might help them in their careers?

I think having a really great team around you - so energy experts, water experts, etc. And then knowing what you don't know and having a go-to organization or go-to person. Google is a great thing. There's lots of resources out there. Really building that team, and that can be nonprofits and other industry professionals.

What are you most excited about right now in the world of sustainability?

I think the shift that our consumers and our businesses are getting the simple things, like this wave of eliminating straws. We worked for many, many years to ban styrofoam and ban plastic bags and it seems like with the straws, people are getting it. We just don't need that. It's a little thing, but it's a big thing, and with that there is enthusiasm, especially from businesses. With the commodities market, with politics, with deregulation, there are a lot of things that are taking sustainability backwards. But our businesses believe in it and they see the power of it. They have 20 year goals. So, the cycles of politics don't really affect them and they just keep moving forward. I appreciate that with businesses, the leadership and the longterm goals that they're setting.

What is one book you would recommend sustainability professionals read?

The Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawkens. Basically, anything by Paul Hawkens, even his first books. But The Blessed Unrest really talks about that we're not alone. There are millions and billions of people that are working on these sustainability issues, whether it's in their home that they don't even talk about or in their local community. So, it just inspires me that we're all in this together.

What are some of your favorite resources or tools that really help you in your work?

So as I mentioned, the EPA, they have their Warm Model and WasteWise. It's really fun to go in and enter your data and they give you great graphics or facts - like how many trees are you saving, how many car trips etc. I think the very simple thing of doing a zero waste in your home. So, taking your zero waste audit, taking our TRUE zero waste rating system, and doing it in your own home. There is power in that to see the challenges and the opportunities that exist

Where can our listeners go to learn more about you and the work that you're leading at TRUE?

Our website is: Or you can go to the US Green Building Council main website at You can see all the different certifications and all the resources that are available. And a huge resource is attending Green Build in Chicago. There's over 20,000 professionals that attend Green Build and it's just this amazing resource of energy and knowledge and networking.