Becky Brodsky spends a lot of her days looking for ways to reduce waste. It all started 11 years ago. She was attending a coffee for the parents of new kindergartners at her son’s new school. “And I saw the volume amount of waste on that first day of school,” she recalls.
For someone who grew up with a strong connection to the natural world, hiking, canoeing and backpacking, this mortified her. Becky decided to take matters into her own hands and introduced zero waste practices to the school. She also founded the school’s Green Team and brought composting to many schools in Evanston.
As the new Zero Waste Schools Consultant at Seven Generations Ahead, Becky will support the Zero Waste Schools Program by visiting schools to help them set up a zero waste lunchroom and do trainings and education. Becky started at the end of May and got to work right away on creating the School Food Waste Reduction Toolkit.
SGA’s Zero Waste Schools Program works with school staff and students to shift operations and minds towards generating zero waste through source reduction, recycling, composting, and food recovery.
“Alongside my colleague, Susan [Casey], I’m researching and writing best practices to share with school communities across Illinois that will provide them with tools to reduce food waste,” she explained.
A business case for composting
Becky’s work in zero waste extends beyond schools. She works with businesses, too, as a zero waste consultant with Collective Resource Inc., one of the Chicago area’s first food scrap recycling services. “Businesses that compost can save money on their waste hauling,” she said.
“CRI has composting contracts with fives schools in Evanston and will be bringing three more on board in fall,” she said. One of Becky’s jobs was getting all D65 schools set up with compostable trays and arranging the logistics to have them composted.
Living green every day
She has earned her Green Classroom Professional Certificate from the U.S. Green Building Council and helped create a live workshop of the online course that is now used around the country.
Before becoming immersed in the world of waste reduction, Becky worked in graphic design for years 12 years and taught Spanish for about seven years as an after-school teacher in Evanston area. As a young child in St. Louis, she has memories of her parents volunteering for Greenpeace and working at their local food co-op.
For two summers, Becky worked as the Nature Program Head at Ramah Day Camp in Wheeling, IL, while also greening the camp’s operations, including implementing a composting and recycling program.
She takes her own waste reduction seriously by composting in her backyard, as well as with Collective Resource, and by bringing her own reusable shopping and produce bags to the grocery store.
When her family eats out “I bring reusable containers for leftovers,” she said. “I also recently started keeping a bandana in my purse to use as a napkin, in addition to a set of bamboo utensils.” For her, it’s all about “trying to be prepared so that you don’t have to take single-use plastics.”
That’s the kind of commitment she brings to her work at SGA. Actually, Becky has wanted to work at SGA for some time. “I’ve been following SGA for years and would look at website [at their zero waste work], saying I want that job. For me, this a true dream job.”