In Spotlights

Julie Bryant – Co-Director, Cascadia Consulting Group

Julie Bryant is the Co-Director of Cascadia Consulting Group’s California office.  Julie has 18 years of zero waste planning and project management experience, including 10 years serving as the Zero Waste Senior Coordinator at SF Environment, where she developed policies, administered hauler agreements, co-managed the green procurement program and oversaw all zero waste activities for SF government’s 30,000 employees and 1,000 facilities.  Julie has served on the boards of the California Product Stewardship Council (2014-June 2018), California Council on Carpet Recycling (2016-2017), and also as an advisory member for Cradle To Cradle where she provided leadership to improve product stewardship implementation and 3rd party certification standards. Julie was presented with Waste360’s 40 Under 40 award in 2016 and holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Barbara.

What is the educational and career path that led to your current career?

I wasn’t always an environmentalist.  In fact, in high school and early college, I was an uninspired student just doing the bare minimum to get by.  But in my sophomore and junior year I had several experiences that changed my world view enormously. I took classes with several professors who were incredibly inspiring, I became close to a group of friends who loved to backpack and in my junior year, and I studied abroad for 8 months in Kenya where I did wildlife research.  These experiences – specifically, my exposure to the wonders of nature and learning about the enormous pressures humans are putting on our ecosystem – changed my world view forever. I knew then that environmental work would be my career path. During and since college, I have worked doing hazardous waste management at an environmental non-profit, spent 2 years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Benin (West Africa), worked for 13 years at the San Francisco Department of the Environment, and I am now at Cascadia Consulting Group helping communities and businesses protect and restore our world.

What environmental issues are of most concern to you?

Global warming, resource destruction and toxic consumer goods.  These issues have always been incredibly concerning for me but my feelings were heightened after I had my two little girls.  At times, I’ve felt deeply sad and worried about their future and fear they might not get to enjoy this beautiful planet in the way I have.  I can quickly go to a place of feeling scared, overwhelmed and dispirited, but to overcome those feelings I have learned to divert my worrying energy into action.  I try to learn as much as I can about environmental issues, and am very choosy about what I purchase – including simplifying my life as much as possible, writing my legislators to advocate for good environmental policies, and choosing a job that is mission driven and fights to protect our precious planet.

Discuss any mentors that have helped or inspired you to reach your aspirations.

I have had a lot of mentors and people who have deeply inspired me (sometimes from afar), but since this is an interview for WEN I’ll focus on some of my female role models. Debbie Raphael from the SF Department of the Environment is an amazing woman who hired me for one of my first jobs out of college. I saw her grow and advance, going on to inspire hundreds through her work at the CA Department of Toxic Substances Control, and later as the Director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment.  I am also a huge fan of the science-based activism of Arlene Bloom from Green Science Policy Institute. I love her framework, the 6 Classes, that helps all of us and lawmakers eliminate regrettable chemical substitutions and accelerate reductions in toxics use. And finally, one of my all-time favorite women environmental leaders is Dr. Jane Goodall. I adore her passionate, lifelong dedication to the protection of plants and animals, giving them a voice and providing a message of hope for the world.

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