Zero to Hero!
Climate activist, Sofia Ratcovich leaves her mark as the founder of the Zero Waste Company. A service where waste is organized, minimized, and recycled for you!
Sofia wastes no time! As we sat at a local cafe, the Hollywood weather reflected what the planet could literally look like if we don't do something about this climate chaos soon. Sofia had already ordered a croissant and tea served on a glass plate and mug. I ordered an iced matcha latte, which was served in a plastic cup with a plastic straw. Whoops! Fortunately, Sofia was forgiving. She knew her purpose was to educate me about how much our daily lifestyle choices, like ordering a cold drink in a plastic cup, can damage the earth.
Sofia's story begins with her first pregnancy. "There were so many things I couldn't do or eat. I started to wonder, what exactly is in our food and our products that limit expecting mothers so much. Cigarettes and alcohol I get, but everything else just shocked me." Since then, Sofia started her own company, Zero Waste Co. She provides a service minimizing waste at special events. "It actually comes down to preparation. If you don't take the time to prepare, then you will likely end up with more actual waste than zero waste." When booking clients, it is important that the client gives her enough time to consult with them on how to host a zero waste event. This gives Sofia the opportunity to make alternative suggestions to use reusable or recyclable materials in lieu of single use or disposable materials.
"If a client gives me enough time to prepare, I help them find the best materials possible that can go directly into recycling or compost. If a client is a last minute client, the chances are they already ordered plastic water bottles, forks, spoons, plates, and whatever else that isn't biodegradable. At that point, all my company can do is just sort through the trash by putting everything in its proper waste bin. If we are given enough time to prepare prior to the client ordering supplies, you could say we could make the whole event zero waste."
After each event, Sofia gives her clients a report illustrating how much total waste was recyclable, how much was compost, and how much was actual trash. "Our goal is to encourage our clients to understand that they are doing a really good thing for our planet. When they see the numbers of how much waste from their event(s) can be diverted from the landfill, it is really rewarding."
Sofia's service applies to more than just clients throwing events. She also consults with individuals on how to live a sustainable lifestyle. As Sofia whipped out her stainless steel straw she said, "I recommend ordering a reusable straw." It turns out there are a variety of reusable straws to carry with you. Some straws even fold up so you can carry them in your pocket or purse. Perfect for the person who isn't a fan of plastic or paper straws.
In 2012, the beginning of Zero Waste Co, Sofia was practically a one woman show. Sofia's company is refreshingly innovative and has now expanded to the level Sofia charges what the job is actually worth. In the beginning, Sofia's kind heart and eagerness to help save the planet, left her to do most of of the heavy lifting with a small support system of friends. "Back then I only wanted to hire women and had only been hiring women, all who were my friends. But as the jobs got exponentially bigger, I realized we needed more muscle and I needed more people to help me. I was also speaking to the fact that I have since discovered, through tons of hard work (literally) that my specific skill set is better suited to take on different and more layered aspects of my consulting business - beyond just sorting trash."
Sofia runs everything! She takes charge of the social media, marketing, consulting, and much more. In 2019, her company has expanded to a point she can hire people to assist her. Sofia clients include greening conferences, music festivals and galas with companies like The Los Angeles Times, Adidas, RedBull, and the United States Green Building Council. "My goal is to make sustainability a realistic goal and a regular part of event operations going forward. With each client, I create a detailed plan that will reduce the negative environmental footprint of any project. Zero waste isn't just about sorting trash, it's about seamlessly implementing more innovative ways of doing things through creative messaging and custom activations. I show my clients how to host events that are more socially and environmentally responsible on every level."
As I sat there drinking out of my plastic cup, I could not help but feel guilty about my daily choices. After all, whether you believe in climate change or not, we all can agree that recycling is a good thing to do. I asked Sofia for some more tips on what else we can do to help make a small difference. "A good thing to do is carry your own take home kit." Sofia pulls out more items from her purse to place her left over croissant and tea in." The glass jar is for my salads and I even carry my own silverware." Bam! Out came the stainless steel the fork, knife and spoon. "Most of the time when people take home leftovers, employees put the take home boxes in plastic bags. I don't understand why because you only need the box, and literally the first thing you do with the bag is throw it away. It's just so wasteful. The proactive thing to do in scenarios like that, is to ask what materials your take home food or drink are served in." If it's plastic (like my matcha latte), then thats when reusable items, like Sofia's, can come in handy.
As I sat there observing all of Sofia's items, I thought about all the little changes I could make to my own lifestyle to follow her example. I have to admit, I'm not one to carry as many items as her, but a good start would be to get my own reusable straw and to go mug for the next time I order an iced matcha latte. I drink coffee nearly every day, so to think of how many cups and straws I have wasted over my entire lifetime is actually embarrassing. For more information email Sofia directly at email@example.com or follow her on Instagram @zerowasteco or visit www.zerowastco.com