What motivated you to join the Partnership Program?
Years ago, I received a directive from the Wagner’s Director, Susan Glassman and the Board to implement more sustainability initiatives at the Institute. The directive happened to coincide with the beginning of the City of Philadelphia’s recycling program, and so our commitment to waste diversion began to grow. I have a degree in environmental science, and I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors. I love Philadelphia, and so it’s upsetting to see our city so littered, particularly here in North Philadelphia where the Wagner Free Institute of Science calls home. As the site manager, I’m dedicated to making our property an ‘island of clean’ in the neighborhood. It’s clear to me that litter stems from both how much waste we’re producing, and how we manage our waste. I’ve been tracking Wagner’s waste diversion rates and finding creative ways to dispose of our “junk” for years; in essence, we’ve had the mindset of a Zero Waste Partner this whole time.
What are your goals as a new Partner?
The Institute has served as a free educational resource in Philadelphia for over 150 years, and so we believe that it has an important role to play when it comes to waste and litter. Waste is a societal problem, and for many kids in Philadelphia, single-use items and litter is the norm. Our goal is to teach by doing: teach kids in Philadelphia that our litter problem is solvable by creating a Zero Waste and zero litter environment. Becoming a Zero Waste Partner also gives us the opportunity to show our support for the City’s various programs addressing waste and litter. We want to collaborate with and learn from our community, and now we can say we’re part of a network with this exact goal.
What are some Zero Waste Actions you’ve implemented or are working towards?
We’re focused on diverting a variety of items away from the landfill, which is at the core of the Zero Waste Actions and helps us check-off many of them each month. I’m particularly interested in finding ways to partner with other groups in Philly that share our goals of waste reduction and community building/enhancement – that’s why I send used and unusable items to groups like The People’s Paper Co-Op and Neighborhood Bike Works. Both groups share the skill of reducing waste by giving old materials new life, with the greater mission of supporting Philadelphia’s often overlooked communities. Donating unusable books and bike frames to groups that can cycle resources back into the community has an impact far greater than our Zero Waste goal alone.