Debra Baida – Founder, Liberated Spaces
Debra Baida is a life organizer and coach and the founder of Liberated Spaces. She helps overwhelmed and disorganized clients throughout the Bay Area and beyond make room in their lives for what matters most. Deb was a featured guest on KQED’s Forum and she appeared in a PBS Newshour story about San Francisco’s zero waste goals. Her organizing tips have been widely published, and she’s included in San Francisco Magazine‘s annual Best of San Francisco 2018 issue. Liberated Spaces has been a San Francisco Green Business since 2008 and recently became the fifth business in California to receive Innovator tier certification as a green business.
How did you become interested in environmental work?
It happened by chance during my career as a picture editor. Working with documentary photos that covered a wide array of socio-economic, political, and environmental issues was eye-opening. My awareness of the cause and affect of our collective actions and choices became heightened during those years. Then came fortuitous necessity when an introduction to organic food eliminated sudden onset food sensitivities. This opened a path for learning about healthier options in all aspects of my life. Chemical cleaners and toxic off-gassing from new carpets at a place of employment sent me – a lifelong asthmatic – looking for change.
What environmental issues are of most concern to you?
What a complex question! My initial answers are the myriad aspects of resource extraction and waste disposal as consequences of global consumerism. But these are fueled, of course, by the demands of overpopulation which then impacts other concerns including climate change, air pollution, water pollution, species extinction, and environmental justice.
Allow me to rephrase my answer: all of the above.
What inspired you to start your business and how did you take the leap to start it?
After working in various capacities of the same industry for 20 years, making a change was imminent. I was ready to craft a new livelihood around my values along with a diverse array of interests that included educating in an unconventional way, creativity, the environment, and organizing. The greatest gift came in the form of being laid off from my last full time job. Unfettered by somebody else’s schedule, I had time to figure out what to do next. Shortly after an informational tea date with a professional organizer, I spread the word about my new endeavor to everyone I knew. I trusted my gut and leapt. That was 11 years ago.
What are your suggestions on how WEN members can become more involved in your sector and the environmental movement?
There are many avenues for both personal and professional involvement in the zero waste and educational sectors of the environmental movement. What I witness in my work is the empowerment of clients as they shift toward and embrace more sustainable habits. Every single WEN member is a catalyst for this type of positive change simply by showing up each day and leading by example.