Welcome back to “Women in Circularity,” where we shine a light on women moving us toward a circular economy. This month, I connected with a policy professional who brings a wealth of expertise in environmental advocacy to an association focused on the circular economy: Jessica Bowman. Jessica is the executive director of the Plant Based Products Council.
Can you tell us hw your personal interests have informed your career progression?
I grew up in rural Pennsylvania, where I carried my love of the outdoors into my education, studying environmental engineering and law. I have spent my career working for associations, focusing on policy advocacy at the state, federal and international level for a range of industries. Now with three young kids, I wanted to use my experience to help create a more sustainable future for them. I joined the Plant Based Products Council (PBPC) two years ago to advocate for systemic changes to the way we make and design products to reduce our impacts on the environment.
How does your work in the closed loop economy support carbon reduction goals?
At PBPC, we educate stakeholders on the environmental benefits and economic value of consumer products made from renewable inputs like algae, hemp and corn. We also advocate for public policies that support a shift to more circular practices, including more thoughtful consideration of the end-of-life disposal options for products. By educating government stakeholders and supporting circular policies, we are paving the way for a lower carbon future.
Can you tell us about a recent partnership that produced some surprising results?
When it comes to circularity of products, focus is often on traditional recycling. But we have been working with a broad cross-section of stakeholders who are advocating for increased support for composting, which allows for yard trimmings, food scraps and compostable products to be turned into compost, a valuable soil amendment.
In your opinion, what is the next frontier in sustainable product development?
Just as we are shifting to more renewable energy sources, the future lies in the increased use of renewable inputs to make everyday products – from plastics to textiles to cosmetics, there is increasing innovation and public interest aimed at moving away from the use of finite resources like petroleum to make products.
What book would you recommend to your colleagues for some circular economy inspiration?
For my colleagues, I would recommend “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things” by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, and to help inspire our future women in circularity, I would suggest “The Curious Garden” by Peter Brown.
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