Founding Member Spotlight
If you’ve been following our Instagram feed (and if not, you should!), you already know Hillary, as she serves as our social media maven. We are so lucky to have this renaissance woman supporting us with both her experience and her enthusiasm.
Why did you join Circular Philadelphia?
I’ve been volunteering for various environmental causes for almost 30 years now … and it has always seemed to me that there could be ONE overarching philosophy that would solve all or most of our environmental problems if only we could figure out what that was! To my mind, the concept of a “circular economy” is the closest we’ve ever had to such a broad set of green solutions contained within one model of thinking. It solves so many of our carbon footprint problems with local and sustainable sourcing, while also addressing our waste challenges via local repair, reuse and recycling. I honestly feel like I’ve been waiting my whole adult life for such a philosophy of sustainability to emerge … and so when I saw it being advocated for by people who have so much experience and credibility within Philadelphia’s sustainability community, I jumped at the chance to ask them how I could help.
What kind of work do you do and/or interests do you have?
I am currently a jack of many design trades, including restaurant and commercial interior design, garden design specializing in historic spaces, as well as graphic and social media design. I also own what is now a much-smaller-than-it-used-to-be antique shop here in Chestnut Hill. I’m a dog-hugging history buff with a passionate devotion to Philly’s historic architecture as well as a biophilic love for all the green spaces that thread so much beauty right through the heart of our city. I’m also the mom of a super-amazing 12 year old.
What does a circular economy mean to you?
Five or six years ago, I coined a phrase here in Chestnut Hill that represents to me both the rich meaningfulness of ”urban-village” living, as well as a deep environmental commitment to keeping our needs and our footprint small enough to be sustainable. “Keep it on the Hill” embodies a mini/neighborhood version of the circular economy philosophy by which I do my very best to find it here, buy it here (especially if it’s made here) and then use it here, repair it here, and when necessary, repurpose or recycle it here. That there’s an incredibly capable group seeking to design into being the larger, city-wide version of this idea … with all the pieces included that are pretty impossible in just a tiny neighborhood, is beyond exciting. The model of a “Circular Philadelphia” fills me with so much hope. I feel like we have everything we need right here in Philly to really DO this!! And I’m already proud of us for daring to try.
What advice would you give to someone to help move the circular economy forward?
Address one piece at a time — not only in terms of individual AREAS of your life … but I mean literally one piece of wasteful consumption or dysfunction at a time. Start with straws and get rid of them. Then ditch those plastic bags forever. Then say “no more” to disposable coffee cups, and then to plastic containers for food in the grocery store. Replace each single-use thing with something you’ll love so much more and will delight in using over and over. And if you’re like me, it’ll help that the reusable thing is so much more beautiful than the garbagy-throw-away thing. Pretty soon, you’ll find that you have a whole set of sustainable “gear” that is always with you … and you’ll rule out all that waste from going to the landfills.
For anyone involved in the long-haul work of environmental stewardship and activism … it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed by the realities and get burned out and disheartened. But I always try to remember the advice of one of our most epic sages, who just never seems to tire or lose faith. The luminous Jane Goodall advised us to “envision the whole problem [of environmental challenges] as a jigsaw puzzle. If you look at the whole picture, it’s overwhelming and terrifying. But if you just work on your one little part of the puzzle and know that people all over the world are working on their little bits too, that’s what will give you hope.”
Every little thing you do does help and is a part of the big solution. The idea of a Circular Philadelphia (or a circular city anywhere) really IS one of the biggest solutions I’ve encountered … but it also means that we can start with the manageable idea of our own beloved city first and just try to make it all work HERE.
I know that other cities will follow what we do once we figure out all the ways to do it.
And I’m so excited by that.
I hope you are too.