WW: What issues in the solid waste industry are being addressed by the National Alliance of Women in Waste?
TS: We try to educate our members through services such as tracking legislation and summarizing court cases that will affect how they are doing business. In addition, NAWIW presents several technology programs each year to keep members up-to-date on the industry. We recently featured a program on life-cycle analysis, comparing it to traditional recycling. A lot of times recycling does not make sense, so we are looking at other possible approaches. We also have an upcoming program on labor issues facing women in the industry.
WW: In what ways can the alliance contribute to the entire solid waste industry?
TS: If you look at some of the statistics published, certain areas of the solid waste industry have always been dominated by women. The recycling industry, for example, was about 80 percent women in the beginning. We were the mentors and facilitators that helped to develop that industry. I think that knowledge like this makes us a valuable resource for the industry as a whole because we have the experience. We have watched it grow, and we have watched the changes.
WW: What can the organization do for women working in the waste industry?
TS: It offers them a forum for professional and personal development through networking. It also offers members the opportunity to move around in their career. The membership tries to support other members that are trying to relocate or advance.
WW: What services does the organization provide for its members?
TS: We produce a newsletter three to four times a year, hold local and regional meetings and provide a job exchange hotline. We also provide opportunities for networking with other professionals and for working on innovative and unusual projects.
WW: Where do you see the organization in five years?
TS: I would like to see NAWIW become international. My firm was recently doing some business in England and Spain, and I met several women who were very interested in getting involved with a group like this. Once we begin to get more support locally, we hope to expand into the international community. On a domestic basis, we would like to expand our membership to include individuals involved with the day to day aspects of the solid and hazardous waste industy. We want to have a chapter in each state. I also hope to see the organization endorsing political candidates, acting as a lobbyist on legal affairs in Washington D.C. and providing a mentoring program for the next generation of women entering the environmental field.