Let's Talk Trash

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First of all, wow!

This was my first Champion's Retreat and the experience was so much more impactful than I could ever have imagined. I got to connect with so many wonderful and like-minded people, and it was simply awe inspiring. Everyone was so eager to share ideas and support each other with resources, ideas, or just warm words. I definitely cannot wait to see everyone again in Los Angeles next year!

I was lucky enough to attend a number of breakout sessions and each one impacted me in a different way – but the one that will have an immediate and direct impact on my life and work was the "Is Recycling a Myth" session lead by Andy Keller, CEO and President of ChicoBag and Matt Wynkoop, Director of Sales at World Centric

The session began with overviewing the issues with our current system and mindset, including the fact that many products are designed specifically to be thrown away (packaging, single-use containers, plastic utensils, straws, etc...).

Andy and Matt pointed out that plastic NEVER goes away – less than 5% is recycled and most ends up in our oceans creating "plastic smog" that is as hard to clean-up as smog is to clean from our skies. 

Andy then told us that the average consumer adds to this problem in small ways, which overtime build into a huge problem. Every plastic fork tossed in the trash, every coffee cup thrown away, and every single plastic bag used add up over the course of the year. Actually, the average consumer uses over 500 plastic bags in a year. If you are wondering what all of those bags would look like if they came to life and harassed us for our wasteful ways, look no further

But, there is hope - I had the opportunity to talk with the people around me and wow, were there some great ideas! 

First off, I am going to continue my "Trash Talk with Cissa" sessions at my workplace

Tech Networks of Boston and hope to expand it even further to get us to zero waste. 

Secondly, I learned that Hawaii has implemented a zero-Styrofoam initiative by helping local businesses use "1s, 2s, and Compostables" in order to stop a horde of take-out containers from ending up in the landfill every year. This gave me some great ideas for trying to get something similar passed in Boston. 

I also got the idea of "Zero Waste Events" where you partner with a local non-profit in order to promote your events as ones that don't have a negative impact on the environment. Some of my colleagues have hosted these events where a local organization walks party-goers through waste disposal and educates them on waste generation and recycling while they toss their plates and food from the event. 

My final take-away was the idea that my company could pick a high-use waste product and decide to ban it. Maybe we make Styrofoam coffee cups persona non grata in our office, and each person who uses one at work has to put it in special area in order to make everyone wary of having to walk to the special area to dispose of it. This kind of action helps to build accountability and a group mentality that this kind of waste is bad. 

Overall, I am so excited to be a disrupter in my own circle and implement habits and ideas to make my world a better place. 

Thanks fellow B Keepers – Next year in Los Angeles!

Cissa Dieleman 


Follow Cissa on LinkedIn, Twitter, or email her at cissa.dieleman@techboston.com