JUNE #MAMACRUSH: SARAH
June, 3 2018
We love writing about women who inspire us on many different levels; as mothers, as individuals, as doers. And our June #MamaCrush is no different. Say hello to Sarah Currie-Halpern. She’s a mom to two adorable girls, a stylish lady (if we do say so ourselves!) and a woman who dedicates her professional and personal life to making New York a “greener” Big Apple - in other words, an environmentally sound city for us and future generations. She’s the woman behind the Zero Waste Challenge developed by the New York Mayor’s office and a mom who is passionate about raising a “zero-waste” family.
Did you know that New York residents produce 12,000 tons of waste a day and only 17% of it gets recycled? In 2018, New York was once again named “The Dirtiest City in America” in a study of the largest cities in the US by the cleaning and janitorial services company BusyBee.
While this isn’t great great news, there are positive changes underway, including improved city-wide recycling programs and educational initiatives. A lot of companies big and small make it their mission to reduce waste by incorporating sustainable and recycled materials into the production cycle, implementing less or no packaging, and producing long-lasting products that don’t have to end up in the landfill only after one use. As a side note; at Allette, we are one of these companies working to reduce our footprint by working with sustainable fabrics, using recycled packaging and limiting waste throughout our operations. We’re also dedicated to making “slow fashion”, meaning our clothes can be worn well beyond the postpartum and nursing days and passed onto other women, giving them an even longer life cycle.
These positive changes mean we’re headed in the right direction. And if you are among the change-makers, and are ready to embrace a “zero-waste” lifestyle, our #MamaCrush of the month will definitely inspire you to join this important movement. After reading Sarah’s interview, we have a feeling you’ll appreciate how surprisingly easy (and money saving!) it is to live a green(er) life.
Where do you live?
North Tribeca, NYC.
Where are you from?
Born and raised in Greenwich, CT.
What is your occupation?
Waste reduction and diversion consulting.
What are your children’s names and ages?
Sophia 5, Olivia 3
Describe each child in a few words.
Sophia is super sweet, sensitive, thoughtful, artistic, fun loving, likes to play the good guy - she’s my sunshine!
Olivia is super smart, always thinking and talking, full of energy, has a naughty streak, likes to play the bad guy - she’s my baby!
What is your favorite thing about being a mom?
I love listening to my kids talk, learning from them, watching them play and interact with one another. I adore hearing their little voices, laughing with them. I love everything about being a mom!
How has motherhood changed you?
I have had to become more organized and diligent.
What do you do? And how did you choose this field?
I work with building owners and corporations to help them cut down on waste, recycle/compost more, comply with waste related regulations, and overall, meet sustainability related goals.
While working at the Mayor’s office Office of Sustainability, have you worked on any initiatives that you feel will make a major positive environmental impact in NYC?
I think the Mayor’s Zero Waste Challenge, which I developed and managed along with a small team, has had a major influence on companies around NYC and beyond, encouraging them to step up and do better in the way of generating less waste. Companies see others they respect setting Zero Waste Goals and implementing them and they want to do the same so that they can remain competitive.
What will it take to make New York a “zero-waste” city? Is it a dream or reality?
It will take long-term planning, much more funding and support for the Zero Waste program and a full commitment by City government to make this happen. Right now, all these pieces are not in place, unfortunately, but I do believe that it is possible if the city can commit marketing dollars towards a Citywide advertising campaign on Zero Waste and if City Council is able to pass legislation supporting the various Zero Waste programs laid out in the OneNYC plan.
I know your family is committed to living a “zero-waste” life. How hard is it to do?
It’s hard at times, but not that bad and totally worth it, because not only do we help the planet, but we also save a lot of money and we are teaching our kids to respect the planet and be more resourceful. It’s a gradual process to establish a Zero Waste (to landfill) home, I started by studying what is and isn’t recyclable in NYC and then eliminated anything we were using over time that was not recyclable. I cloth diapered both my kids and we used a hand held sprayer on our toilets to remove all the messies, then washed and dried them at home. Once you have a process down, it’s not bad at all.
I always leave home with a refillable water bottle and reusable coffee cup, and when I travel I bring my set of reusable cutlery then I wash it all wherever I am- this cuts down on a lot of waste. I also bought a set of reusable party plates, utensils and cups from Preserve (love this brand!) and use them for all my kids birthday parties and class parties. So a lot of it is thinking about where you are generating unnecessary waste and switching to reusables. We also bring our own bags and jars to the grocery store and buy bulk in my own jars whenever possible. In the past few years, I started making my own body and hygiene products including serum, toothpaste, astringent and mouthwash that my kids use as well- we save so much money and they are so much better for us too! We also make our own green cleaning solutions.
How can we, as New Yorkers, make a difference in making New York greener? How can we get our kids involved?
Cloth diaper your kids! Diapers take a long time to break down in a landfill and the poop gives off methane creating GHGs. You save SO much money cloth diapering too.
Switch to reusables! Stop using single-use coffee cups, utensils, straws, plastic bags and takeout containers- most of them are not being recycled so they are going to landfills where it will take them hundreds of years to break down or to incinerators where they pollute the air we breathe. Start making your own beauty and cleaning products; it’s so easy and fun and the kids can help make them and get really into it.
Switching gears a little, since we are a nursing clothes company, tell us a bit about your early breastfeeding journey?
I breastfed my older daughter for 6 months but struggled towards the end as I wasn’t producing enough milk to fully nourish her. Fortunately with my second daughter I produced more milk and breastfed her for 8 months even while working at the Mayor’s Office (pumping during the day!) I really enjoyed the experience.
What do you wish someone told you about breastfeeding beforehand?
Go with the flow, don’t get too stressed about it. Your baby will be ok.
How important is fashion to you? How would you describe your style?
I like to look good but staying up on the latest trends is not important to me. I like to find looks that are classic and fit my body type. I love wearing colors, I try not to wear too much black.
Any tips on looking put-together for work and play? What are some of you fashion must-haves?
I love a great fitted pair of dark jeans with a bright colored top and flats. For daytime, a great day to night dress is a must. For night, a great pair of heels is a must!
On Work / Life Balance
Any advice to new moms about balancing work and raising children?
Quality time is so important, put your phone away and pay attention to your kids.
Any time-saver tips to get it all done?
I schedule my entire day from 9am to 3pm while my kids are in school so that I can enjoy the late afternoon with them most days so I have to be super efficient with my time. Sometimes I book 30 minute meetings, often 60 minutes isn’t necessary!
Who else feels like they can now go off and save the world? Thanks, Sarah, for sharing this important issue with us and making it seem much more accessible than we thought.