On February 19, COO of The Recycling Partnership Jeff Meyers, spoke at Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business as part of the Business, Environment, and Society speaker series hosted by the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business. I expected Meyers would speak about how recycling plays a critical part in the circular economy, and was therefore drawn to attend through my work as an Undergraduate Sustainability Ambassador. What I could never have predicted was how inspired I would be after his talk to help drive our community (and world) toward changing the way we live.
The downfalls of current US recycling that Meyers described are cringeworthy. Nevertheless, Meyers gave us hope with what The Recycling Partnership is already doing to go beyond alleviating those downfalls by helping cities put measures in place to benefit from the economic and environmental prosperity of recycling.
While Meyers’ vision for recycling in the circular economy was nothing short of inspiring, by far, my favorite part of the talk was his insistence for each of us to discover what makes us passionate and pursue it. His journey depicted his own values, transitioning from corporate America to an environmentally conscious lifestyle and business and eventually creating a non-profit aligned with his goals of environmental protection.
He challenged all of us to align our professional lives with what we care about, recommending Ray C. Anderson’s book “Confessions of a Radical Industrialist.” Meyers attributed the book for helping him change his career course. This resonated with me, as Anderson’s book “Mid-Course Correction” helped me align my entrepreneurial interests with issues in corporate sustainability. In high school, I had the opportunity to work on projects in renewable energy and water conservation, and now I am focusing more on the financial aspects of consumer behavior with sustainable products.
I believe cities are platforms for making the most impact with sustainable innovations. Overall, I left the talk encouraged, having found my personal values aligned with those of Meyers—someone actively helping propel humanity towards a healthier and more harmonic way of living with the environment, specifically with sustainable cities and the circular economic practices. Nevertheless, I was most inspired by all the people around me: students and industry professionals actively seeking ways to align their goals and financials to create a sustainable future.