Goodbye to the EcoFellowship Class of 2019

Each year, the Center for EcoTechnology recruits and trains recent college graduates from across the country to join our EcoFellowship Program. After a year of trainings, projects, and many other experiences these EcoFellows are ready to take on some of the most pressing environmental challenges. Here are just a few of the incredible and impactful things they’ve accomplished:

Becky Kalish:

  • Updated the CET Style Guide and created a Marketing Addendum to help with consistent branding across our organization.
  • Lead classroom lessons about paper recycling in the Pittsfield elementary schools.

Jonathan Ruiz:

  • Gave presentations and workshops that engaged high school students in ways to make positive environmental impact.
  • Created and ran webinars for the Solar Access program.

    Jonathan unfortunately could not attend the graduation ceremony because he already began his new and exciting job in Washington D.C. 

Morgan Laner:

  • Wrote the technical assistance page for the Wasted Food Solutions website.
  • Discovered a Massachusetts small business that she could assist with a major mercury recovery.

Natasha Nurjadin:

  • Effectively provided new ideas for energy-efficiency that were implemented.
  • Worked with sustainability committees in towns across the state to educate residents on Solar Access.

Olivia Horwitz:

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Pittsfield Elementary Schools Teaching Experience

For over 40 years, the Center for EcoTechnology has helped people and businesses save energy and reduce waste. Our mission is to research, develop, and promote those technologies with the least disruptive impact on the natural ecology of the earth. CET is a resource for objective information and guidance when it comes to navigating the world of energy efficiency, renewable energy, waste reduction, recycling, and composting.

One of the ways we accomplish our goals is to work with people of all ages and from all walks of life to educate and promote sustainable actions.

 

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EcoFellows (try to) Live Zero Waste for a Week

When thinking of living a zero waste lifestyle, mainstream media pictures a mason jar with years of trash stuffed inside. This is a popular approach for bloggers who, after maximizing recycling, donation, compost, and purchasing reduction opportunities, provide a visualization of their impact by fitting the leftover waste in a jar. We wrote a blog on how this extreme zero waste lifestyle might not be the most accessible way to reduce waste as individuals. The associated cost, time, local infrastructure, and location are some of the most notable barriers. Taking this information into account, our EcoFellows – Becky (BK), Morgan (ML), Olivia (OH), Jonathan (JR), and Natasha (NN) – challenged themselves to live zero waste for a week to see what it was like! The goals were to test the feasibility of living the stereotypical zero waste mason jar lifestyle as young professionals in Western Massachusetts, as well as understand the challenges and successes for each person.

For seven days, each EcoFellow kept a list of all of the waste they produced, making note of what could theoretically be composted and recycled in our area. Throughout the challenge, they actively thought about reducing waste and made changes accordingly. Some of the areas of waste tracked included food and associated packaging, hygiene products, receipts, and cleaning materials.

The responses below to speak to each fellow’s experience. All five live in Northampton, so the physical infrastructure and location are relatively standardized. This area has multiple stores with bulk sections, a plastic bag ban, and a progressive mindset towards sustainability and environmental issues in general, which many of them found to be beneficial during their zero waste week.

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The EcoFellowship Experience: Olivia Horwitz

The last semester of college was a very nerve-wracking, yet exciting time for me. I was overwhelmed with what I would do after college and how I was going to make it as a young professional in the environmental field. I was studying Environmental and Urban Studies with a focus in food systems and agriculture at Bard College. I knew I wanted to go into the environmental field, but I had no idea what I wanted to focus on. Prior to the EcoFellowship, I worked on farms, greenhouses, and waste reduction initiatives on campus, yet I was fearful I didn’t have enough work experience or wasn’t qualified enough to work in a professional environment. I originally thought I would go into food waste prevention. However, during my time here at CET I have been able to explore different sectors in the environmental field, causing me to shift my focus from food waste to building material waste. CET has a retail store, EcoBuilding Bargains, which is the biggest reuse store in Western New England, and being able to work at the store combines my passion for the environment and sustainable building practices while also including my strong interest in interior design.

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The EcoFellowship Experience: Morgan Laner

About halfway through my senior year of college, I felt slightly panicked. I was completing a degree in environmental studies and sociology at Rollins College and realized that I had no idea what my next steps were. In this period of uncertainty, I came across the Center for EcoTechnology’s EcoFellowship program. It was the perfect opportunity – the ability to explore my options through data-driven and meaningful projects and work with likeminded, empowered people. Once I began, I learned that the term ‘professional development’ wasn’t just a buzzword that CET used to recruit potential fellows – I actually got to conduct informational interviews, take tours of facilities, and explore passions outside of my direct responsibilities as part of my paid work day. Throughout these past five months, I’ve realized the benefit of the EcoFellowship for my own personal growth and am looking forward to furthering my knowledge and interest in waste reduction in order to solidify my career aspirations.

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