In the fifth episode of our NothingWasted! Podcast, we chat with Sarah Womer, founder of Zero to Go, an education-based waste management company focused on composting and recycling in Hudson Valley, N.Y. We got to speak with her about growing a grassroots entrepreneurial business, the importance of composting and more.
Here’s a sneak peek into the discussion:
Waste360: What sparked your initial passion for sustainability?
Sarah Womer: I didn’t set out with a vision for a business; I just wanted to solve a problem. I saw that friends and family were having trouble understanding where to get rid of electronics responsibly. So, I started digging for the answers and connected people to the hazardous waste cleanup days that happened eight times a year in our county. I loved learning about the solutions—and ended up falling in love with understanding where materials go and helping people. Every city and every town needs to have a solution for e-waste and hard-to-recycle materials, and I was hooked.
Waste360: How did you transition from volunteering to starting a business?
Sarah Womer: I realized there was more to be done in my town of Beacon, N.Y., which has about 20 to 30 public events that bring in many people—and lots of waste—each year. The town would regularly get trashed, and I was disgusted that we weren’t recycling. I started volunteering to sort recyclables and ended up developing my own garbage cans to help with this. After begging friends to do their events, I started charging to work at events and handle recycling—and that’s when I realized I had a business on my hands.
Waste360: What’s next for you?
Sarah Womer: My hope is that I can partner with people who know a lot about data and why recycling works and why it doesn’t work. I want to work with a team to help bring recycling and composting to the next level. My dream is to walk through giant production facilities and look in every garbage and recycling can, understand the waste streams and develop programs to help big-scale businesses reduce their footprint.