Welcome back to “Women in Circularity,” where we shine a light on women moving us toward a circular economy. This month, I interviewed a small business owner who brings zero waste expertise to the business community in Austin, Texas and beyond: Stacy Savage. Stacy is the founder and president of Zero Waste Strategies LLC, co-founder of the Austin Zero Waste Alliance and a former Austin City Council appointee to the City of Austin Zero Waste Advisory Commission.
How has your background affected your environmentalism?
I’m a proud Cajun, born and raised in southeast Texas – the oil and gas mecca of the US – where both my parents worked a collective 75 years at oil refineries. Brown, hazy skies and sulfuric, rotten-egg smells were normalized as part of everyday life. When I moved to Austin, I was soon immersed in political, social and environmental justice activism, where I canvassed door-to-door to educate and activate Texans from all walks of life in holding government officials and corporate polluters accountable. These efforts resulted in the passage of two key pieces of statewide legislation for electronics takeback recycling. Empowering others in protecting their own families and quality of life was a pivotal point in my environmental education and career advancement.
What has been your most meaningful experience in the industry?
In working with a major pet food brand, my team was brought in to tour its 3-million-square-foot campus, lift lids for a visual waste audit and conduct employee interviews. Instead, our tour resulted in the development and delivery of a comprehensive master plan detailing observations, recommendations and a program rollout to help meet the CEO’s circular economy vision.
What is a favorite project you worked on and why?
For three years, we were contracted by the City of Austin Resource Recovery Department to help educate and guide thousands of businesses and property owners on the compliance requirements of the Universal Recycling Ordinance. Our team provided onsite visits to correct any deficiencies in compliance, offered waste diversion training to their staff and assisted them in fulfilling their annual reporting requirements. We were honored to help these affected businesses contribute to Austin’s waste reduction goals.
Is there a quote that speaks to your role in the field?
“The future belongs to those who understand that doing more with less is compassionate, prosperous, and enduring, and thus more intelligent, even competitive.” – Paul Hawken, environmentalist, entrepreneur, author and activist
Can you point to any resources that will help our readers become more engaged in circularity?
As a matter of fact, Zero Waste Strategies is launching an online training program for business professionals who want to learn the fundamentals of waste reduction, reuse and recycling and fun employee engagement techniques. This program will include resource worksheets, quizzes, bi-weekly support calls, an online discussion forum and certification upon completion. Stay tuned for more information by visiting 0waste.org.
MaryEllen Etienne is the creator of “Women in Circularity.” Etienne works on the Market Transformation and Development team for the U.S. Green Building Council. She has over 20 years of experience in sustainability and is a champion of the circular economy.
More from the “Women in Circularity” series
- Women in Circularity: Olga Kachook
- Women in Circularity: Meghan Hunt
- Women in Circularity: Michelle Balz