Sitting Down with Gretchen Carey

Thanks to the time I spent volunteering at Watertown Recycle Center, I was introduced to a member of Republic Waste Services, named Shane. He was very receptive to me once I told him what career path I wanted to follow, and the things I wanted to accomplish in recycling and sustainability. He handed me a business card, and told me to get in touch with Gretchen Carey, Republic’s Recycling Coordinator. Next thing you know we were having a conversation at Dunkin’ Donuts in Revere, MA.

Gretchen and I are very like-minded in that we both are passionate about the environment, but we don’t let it cloud our vision. She has a Project Management Professional (PMP) certificate, and a plethora of job experience outside of the sustainability field. This led her to her current job at Republic, where they were looking for a balanced professional candidate, passionate about recycling but also with a realistic mindset about what can be accomplished. It’s okay to think big, but you have to be aware of the constraints before making decisions. Gretchen definitely thinks big. Currently, she’s working on a project that I can’t disclose, but would save so much waste from going to the landfill. It would make a huge difference, and hopefully spur the change needed in Boston’s Zero-Waste Initiative.

Another big part of our discussion was about networking, and how to reach out to others in the industry. Gretchen shared with me the Municipal Recycling Coordinator meetings, where a number of municipal employees from Boston and its surrounding area meet and talk about their work. Since I volunteer at Watertown Recycle Center, I would be eligible to attend. She was even nice enough to give me a contact to write to in the organization, so I don’t have to show up unannounced.  This is invaluable to me. I imagine that there is no better place to learn about resource management than from local area employees who go through the challenges each day of trying to conserve in a consumer society. Also, she taught me the acronym NIMBY. An acronym that defines the waste industry’s largest challenge whenever they try to accomplish something of great magnitude. It stands for Not In My Backyard, because people typically support some green initiative until it appears in a close proximity to their house (in their backyard). See Puente Hills gas-to-energy facility (http://articles.latimes.com/1987-09-27/news/ga-10285_1_air-quality).

My job interview with Broadway Gourmet (BG) catering company is Thursday, and I plan to pitch my idea of sustainable waste management to their company’s management at the same time as highlight my resume. Republic would be a potential match to haul their food waste, recyclables, and cardboard, and could save BG money while doing it. Gretchen even brought it to my attention that it is now illegal in the state of Massachusetts for organizations who produce more than 1 ton of food waste per week not to divert it from the waste stream. Even though they aren’t enforcing this law, it could be leverage for my sales pitch. I hope that they see a good fit between services.

Knowing contacts like Gretchen is what makes this career fun. There is an automatic bonding experience once the conversation turns to sustainability, and it feels authentic. See flyer link below.

Composting Flyers for Customers.

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