Founding Member Spotlight
In her day job, Aviva works as an attorney for the EPA to ensure that our environment is protected. After a tour to a local landfill left her with the realization that single-use plastics are generating ubiquitous environmental impacts, she started seeking a better way. That search led her to Circular Philadelphia and the work that we do to change the system from end to end.
Why did you join Circular Philadelphia?
As soon as I heard about Circular Philadelphia, I was immediately drawn to it. A few years before, I had occasion to tour and experience the colossal vastness of a local landfill. I also learned that 1) barely any plastic is actually recycled, and 2) terrifyingly, microplastics are now in our air, water, soil, and even food. Once I became attuned to of all of the plastic, single-use and non-renewable materials in my life, I realized they were everywhere. And it is tiring not having options to avoid those materials and products, or to continually troubleshoot the best ways to responsibly dispose of them. It’s too much work for an individual, and displaces all of the responsibility from companies onto individuals. We need better systems, and Circular Philadelphia is working towards that goal at the local, city-wide level.
What kind of work do you do and/or interests do you have?
I am an attorney in EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Regional office. I primarily work on administrative and civil cases to enforce the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and also serve on the Region’s Climate Change team. Before that, I worked on water and wetlands cases in the Southeast Region of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. My favorite part of my job is working with and representing dedicated government inspectors and scientists to enforce our environmental laws and regulations. I am also interested in finding new ways that households can reduce waste, and exploring zero waste products that help achieve this goal. In my “free time,” my husband and I are raising our almost 5-year-old twins, and if there is any time left over after that, I occasionally dust off my canvasses and paints.
What does a circular economy mean to you?
It means reducing waste by never generating it in the first place. It means being intentional with our resources.
What advice would you give to someone to help move the circular economy forward?
I taped a fortune that I got from a fortune cookie to my laptop that says: “The difficulty is not in coming up with new ideas, but to undo the old ones.” As a government employee, this resonates with me. The idea of a circular economy flows once we undo the idea that we can just throw things away. There is no “away.” That thing was made out of something, and took resources to make. And it’s not going to go away just because you don’t see it anymore. The next step after that is, how can we make this easier for individuals to participate in the circular economy? For the circular economy to work, the process needs to be easy and seamless for the average user.