Sustainability Spotlight: Sarah Quirk
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!
“I'm from Lockport, NY- north of Buffalo, and studied environmental sustainability at RIT. My background is in energy and sustainability planning for organizations. I manage Brighton Central School District's zero waste program! My job allows me to help the school district reach their zero waste and landfill diversion goals. It's an awesome challenge. In my free time, I practice yoga and listen to podcasts, and try to catch any sunlight that makes its way to Rochester.”
Her background with zero waste living…
“I'm lucky to have always known that I wanted to work in the environmental field, so recycling was always normal for me. Once I started college, though, I began practicing more zero waste principles in my day-to-day, by always bringing my own (cutlery, kanteens, napkins, straws, etc) and separating my food waste for composting in a community garden.”
Sarah’s motivations to live sustainably…
“Once learning about the impacts of consuming plastics and landfilling organics, I couldn't allow myself to participate in a system I knew was damaging the planet, and still feel okay about it. Although I'm far from entirely zero waste, I can now see all of the ways that plastic subconsciously enters our day-to-day lives, and I opt to refuse it whenever possible.
Every day, I see plastics and disposables entering the landfill from the school building I work at, and collect data to find ways to reduce those plastics for sustainable alternatives. Seeing their community's progress over time is another motivator to continue working towards zero waste in my own life.”
Her favorite zero waste lifestyle products:
“One of my favorite sustainability quotes, from Patagonia's Worn Wear program, is "be an owner, not a consumer."
My ride or die is my Klean Kanteen. It's been with me for two years!! Even though it's covered in dents and scratches, it's been on every adventure with me, and I would be lost without it. (I even put my phone number on it just in case I ever lose it.)
A reusable water bottle is an awesome investment- it saves you on paying for bottled water or using unnecessary plastic to stay hydrated. I know wherever I go, I've got a way to store water from a fountain, usually for free.”
What Sarah likes about living zero waste:
“It helps me slow down, and think critically about the impact of my actions. Our world moves so quickly, and it's very easy to alienate ourselves from the reality of landfills, plastic pollution, and the waste crisis, all because it seemingly goes "away" after we put it in the trash.
By planning my routines without plastics or excess carbon, I make choices that I feel good about. I choose more purposefully which groups and causes I want to support with my dollar, and time. Equally important, I choose who I don't support. It's one way that I feel connected to the environment, especially during times when it's too cold out to appreciate it in person.”
Sarah’s favorite green space in Rochester…
“My very favorite place to hang out in my neighborhood is Cobbs Hill Reservoir, whether I'm going for a run, or to watch the sunset or look for the moon. It's a beautiful place to see the Rochester skyline, and catch a minute of serenity above the hustle of the city. Of course, I think it's the best during the warmer months, but it's also a great spot to go sledding!”