Sustainability Spotlight: Robert Putney

About This Series

Sustainability Spotlight is a blog series sponsored by Impact Earth that allows readers to discover the best zero waste practices in Rochester. We totally support our nominees that are living their best #zerowaste lives and hope that you do too! If you would like to nominate yourself or another local for our Sustainability Spotlight series, just let us know!

About Robert

”Parenting and being a Dad is my favorite "job". My wife and I have 6 wonderfully creative and absolutely maddening children. We live in Brighton, New York which is a fantastic community in which to raise a family.”


His “favorites”

Sport? Basketball

Team? Boston Celtics

Podcaster? Bill Simmons on the Ringer network

YouTube? Good Mythical Morning

Netflix series? The Blacklist


TV reruns? MASH & The Office

Comedians? George Carlin & Robin Williams

Books read as a kid? The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings trilogy

Books read as an adult? Soooo many but I'm going with "Consilience the unity of knowledge" by Edward O. Wilson and "The Book of Basketball" by Bill Simmons

Movie? Anything Marvel or Avengers

Cartoons? Bugs Bunny and Avatar, the Last Airbender 

Fruit? Plum or Pear

Vegetable? Brussel sprouts

Protein? Organic chicken from Camman Acres

Beverage? Darjeeling black tea

Flower? Giant Sunflower

Color? Blue

U.S. President? Thomas Jefferson

Robert’s Background with Sustainability


“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” -Maya Angelou

“I came across this quote from the great American poet Maya Angelou in 2010. It was a chaotic time in my life but for some reason these words resonated with me. I like to joke that my mid-life crisis began with these words and started me on my zero waste journey.

I grew up in a small rural community in NYS. My grandparents had a working 90 acre farm where I was first exposed to the living philosophy of "waste not, want not" and the "clean plate club". My first college internship was with the Erie County Water Authority. I was assigned to one of the Sewer Treatment facilities where I learned about our water and landfill systems. These experiences laid the foundation for my interest in how humans impact the environment and stayed with me simmering under the surface for the next few years. I majored in American History, so how to reconcile my chosen career path and my observations wasn't yet obvious to me.

Personally, I love to garden and watch things grow over time. I get excited every winter thinking about and planning the vegetable and flower plots that dot our 1/2 acre. The work that goes into planting, weeding, watering, and watching life mature keeps me humble and grounded even in our fast-paced and technology driven world.

During my 15 year packaging career, I developed a curiosity of systems, process and the exponential benefits of collaborative efforts. I put these critical lessons to good use as I traveled to client manufacturing facilities all across the U.S. The biggest issue I identified was a disconnect within our economic model. A friend gave me a copy of "Cradle To Cradle" and after reading it I realized that I needed to change my way of thinking about how we value human creativity and the economic models we use to measure success. 

I drew upon these work/life experiences when I co-founded Impact Earth in 2014, a behavioral change company focused on zero waste education, services, and products within a circular economy.”

His Motivations to live Sustainably

“The kids we work with everyday in the public schools are inspirational. Most importantly would be my family. My wife Elizabeth and I worry about the environmental legacy we are leaving them and how we can make behavioral changes now.”

What Robert likes about Living Sustainably

“It takes dedication but it's not as hard as you think it will be. You just need to get started on your zero waste journey.”

His favorite Green Space in Rochester

“Highland Park in the Springtime, Mendon Ponds (Devils Bathtub) in the Summer, Mt. Hope cemetery in the Fall, and High Falls in the Winter.”

Interested in learning more about the zero waste lifestyle products that Impact Earth offers? Check out our store.

Learn more about how to get involved in the Rochester Zero Waste Movement by getting in touch with us.

Or if you’d like to nominate someone for our sustainability spotlight series, drop us a line.