In Spotlights

Jency James, Recycling Coordinator

Jency James is a Recycling Coordinator at Republic Services (a solid waste hauler), where she works with apartment complexes on their recycling and composting programs and works to make city-wide events zero waste oriented. A Roseville native, Jency moved to the Bay Area to attend Saint Mary’s College, where she worked on several sustainability projects and received her BA in Environmental Studies. Before joining Republic Services, she interned at PG&E and CAL/EPA and consulted for the Contra Costa County Climate Leaders. After five years as a consultant, she is now the Director of Climate Leaders program. When she isn’t working on environmental projects, she enjoys endurance running, hiking, and reading.

What initiated your interest in the environment?

I grew up with a modest awareness of environmental issues. I made sure to turn off lights when I left the room and to recycle as much as I could. But my passion for environmental solutions didn’t take root until my AP Environmental Science class. That’s when I learned about the science of climate change as well the impact of economics and politics on the environment. I was shocked at how much I didn’t know up until that class, and worried that most of the population had little understanding about issues that affected our lives in such significant ways. After dabbling in environmental journalism, I decided I wanted to be part of the solution.

What environmental issues are of most concern to you?

When we talk about environmental issues, it literally encompasses everything under the sun. But I believe the most basic environmental issue is population growth. Our population growth rate is outpacing our supply of resources. Yet, this topic doesn’t seem to get as much coverage as other issues. In the current political climate, we’re also seeing attacks on the most basic needs of clean air and water, which is frightening. But it’s all the more reason to fight back and make our voices heard.

Discuss any people (mentors, parents, etc.) that helped or inspired you to reach your aspirations.

My AP Environmental Science teacher, Nathan Giorgi, and his class, changed my life. Mr. Giorgi went beyond simply teaching a curriculum. He incorporated sustainable practices into his class by reusing handouts and encouraged his class to consider how our choices impacted the environment through creative assignments like keeping a food log to track our meat consumption and carrying our trash around for a week. I used to refill and reuse the same plastic water bottle – thinking it was a “green” choice. Mr. Giorgi made using reusable bottles as part of our participation grade – and I’ve stuck to them ever since. His passion for the subject and creativity opened my eyes to the power we each have in the choices we make.

What do you think are some challenges and opportunities facing women in the environmental movement today?

In my experience, there seem to be more women involved in the environmental movement (chalk it up to Ecofeminism?), but as a previous boss once told me, men are usually the leaders in this field. So I think we still face the same issues that women in other fields experience: sexism, wage-gap, etc. The fight for equality continues on, but I don’t think it’s impossible to achieve. As more and more women take on leadership roles in different aspects of the environmental movement, I think we’ll see a positive change across the board. One of the great things about getting involved in the environmental movement is that you don’t have to be an expert to care. In the 70’s, the landfill at Love Canal was a dumping ground for toxic waste before homes were unwisely built near it. After families and young children were sickened from the waste, it was the mothers that rallied and fought for justice. If you care, you can make a difference.