• Ariel Green

Conscious Consumerism and the Circular Economy with Sustainable Packaging Engineer, Autumne Stuart

Updated: Oct 18, 2020


Today's featured sustainable brown girl is Autumne Stuart, a Senior Packaging Engineer in the Sustainability department at a top consumer product company. She's also my cousin, and part of the reason that Sustainable Brown Girl was started.  


In this episode, we talk about how she got started within the packaging industry, the challenges companies face with creating sustainable packaging, how to practice conscious consumerism, and what we can expect from companies in the near future.



Follow Autumne on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/autumne-stuart-315504a/

Follow Autumne on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/autumneelizabeth/


How to read recycling labels: https://www.recyclenow.com/recycling-knowledge/packaging-symbols-explained



LISTEN HERE: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Play

Transcription:


Ariel:

Hello and welcome back to The Sustainable Brown Girl Podcast. This show exists to connect black, brown and indigenous women who are interested in sustainability. Our goal is to inspire, encourage and educate each other. From gardening to thrifting, to minimalism to veganism and everywhere in between. We're all on a journey to taking care of our bodies and our planet. I'm your host, Ariel Green. 


Today's featured sustainable brown girl is Autumne Stuart, a senior packaging engineer in the Sustainability Department at a top consumer product company. She's also my cousin and part of the reason that sustainable brown girl with started. I wanted to talk to Autumne because one of the biggest concerns within the sustainability movement is regarding packaging and plastic waste that is clogging our landfills and oceans. In an ideal world, we would transition to a circular economy. That's the system that would eliminate waste and encourage reuse, sharing, repairing, and recycling. But we all know that we're not quite there yet. I'm excited to talk to Autumne about the challenges companies are facing with transitioning to environmentally friendly packaging and how consumers can be more conscious when purchasing products. 


Hi, Autumne, thanks so much for joining us today. I'm so excited to talk to you. So let's just jump right in. Can you tell us about yourself and how you got started in your industry?

 

Autumne:

Sure. So I'll start with before I jumped into my industry and maybe starting with college. I went to Spelman College, a sustainable brown girl, of course. I studied chemistry at Spelman and I did a dual degree program with Georgia Tech, where I studied chemical and biomolecular engineering and then coming out of school. I didn't know what I wanted to do, but I knew that I'd worked so hard for these technical degrees and so I thought I should use them. I thought maybe going into product development or product design might be interesting. And I went to school in Atlanta and there was a company in Atlanta that did packaging development. And so it was an easy transition just coming out of school to jump into that company. And so that's how I got into the packaging industry.

 

Ariel:

Oh, wow. So when you first started, it was just regular packaging?

 

Autumne:

People would never even think about it, but there is a whole industry around the packaging for the foods that you eat. So whether it's a soda can or soda bottle or a chip bag or pretty much any type of food product comes within a package. So there's a whole industry that is built around making those packaging.


Ariel: 

Oh, awesome. What made you go into the sustainability department? If you made that choice, you just applied to a job, you're like, "Oh, this looks awesome."

 

Autumne:

Oh, yeah, good question. I've had a really, I'd say fun career. It's been interesting within packaging. I'd worked for some of the major companies within the industry and then most recently I was working for a company headquartered out of Madrid and I was working to grow their technical business here in the US. And so it was an amazing job. I got to travel everywhere. I really loved it. But at the time I was living in downtown Chicago and I was working out in the suburbs and I had this long commute every day and it just felt so exhausting. So I had said, "You know what, I want to get rid of my car and I want to walk to work." That's where it started. So I didn't even know that I was wanting to go into sustainability. Packaging has been pretty stagnant in terms of it progressing and bringing in new materials or different ideas. Even though I've been in the industry for like over a decade, nothing has been really new, nothing had changed too much. But the area of sustainability interests me because I would say just the idea of what your impact is, I would say not just what you do, but the impact of how you move through the world, how does it impact the world and how does it impact people within the world?

 

Ariel:

Yeah, definitely. So you wanting to get rid of your car? Was that a sustainable choice or just like I'm tired of driving and I just want to be close to everything that I do every day.

 

Autumne:

You know, I can't lie. It was definitely like a... I had moved to Chicago and I was like I moved here and I wanted to have a live workplace lifestyle where you can walk to work or you can go out and eat just by walking around in your neighborhood. For me, it was more of a lifestyle change. I'm really into minimalism, which I feel like goes hand in hand with sustainability.

 

Ariel:

Totally.

 

Autumne:

Yeah. So I had said, do I really need this car? Is this a good way of living my life? And then, I really feel like this...I wouldn't say God-ordained. But, sometimes a door opens and it's just... 


Ariel: 

Yeah


Autumne: The door that you're supposed to walk through. So when I started looking for new jobs, I felt like this one just came to me and it was it didn't even feel like I was interviewing. It was more like, hey, welcome. Let's go through the formal process and check the boxes. But...

 

Ariel:

Wow.

 

Autumne:

I feel like I was really prepared for this. So in the past, even though I'd worked in the packaging industry on all sorts of different projects, I had the experience of working on a couple of projects that had an impact on sustainability. For instance, if you think of Girl Scout cookies, right, Girl Scouts sell cookies, well Boy Scouts sell popcorn.

 

Ariel:

Right.

 

Autumne:

Right. So for like over 50 years, the Boy Scouts had been selling popcorn in these tin cans and they hadn't had a change to it. And so I worked on a project to actually move them out of the tin cans. Because if you think of the weight of those cans compared to something of a flexible pouch. So that was like an example of downgauging. Use only what you need, but also changing materials along with it to help significantly lightweight a package. I'd also worked with one of the major yogurt companies and they're a global company so, what's happening in the United States were really delayed and behind with what's happening in Europe. They had already started to make adjustments to their packaging so that it was more sustainable. I worked on a couple of projects with them to help make their packaging lighter weight and also reduce the amount of chemicals that were in it. It was just like an easy transition, like, oh, this is what I've done. But coming over to my latest company, what I loved about it is, it wasn't just to say that I'm working for a company and working on packaging. My sole job is sustainability. I live, breathe and eat everything sustainability from compostable, biodegradable, recyclable, reusable models. It is very meaningful for me.

 

Ariel:

That's awesome that you were able to find a job that aligns with your lifestyle. That's super rare.

 

Autumne:

Yeah. And I was able to get rid of my car.

 

Ariel:

Seriously, that's amazing.

 

Autumne:

It's kind of crazy, too. They have a shuttle that picks up four blocks from my house. If I don't feel like walking and I can just hop on the shuttle so coming there, it was like rainbows and waterfalls, literally. I'm telling you not figuratively. So I think it was Pride Month or something when I went to the interview. They had little rainbows all over and they had the main building, the innovation center has a garden in there and everything and I was like, "Oh my gosh,I need to be here!"

 

Ariel:

Perfect. Back to the sustainability and packaging. One of the biggest complaints that circles within the sustainability movement is the use of plastic packaging. And you're actually the person who introduced me to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which is the charity that's working to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. What does that mean for consumer product companies? 

 

Autumne:

Good. That is an excellent question. The first thing that you have to think of when we say the circular economy is the goal, we have to understand that we're not there. And so if you think of where are we today, we're using a take, make and discard model. We're taking resources from fossil fuels from the earth that are not sustainable, they're oil derivatives. They get processed into some sort of plastic that has all these great properties that makes food last longer, keeps it fresher. It's able to solve a lot of issues in terms of hunger and food storage and shelf life. But when we're done with it, we haven't thought about what happens at the end of life. Best-case scenario, we throw it in the garbage. Worst case scenario, it gets tossed on the ground somewhere, maybe in a river and potentially ending up in the ocean.


Moving to a circular economy is to say, how do we take that flat economy where we're taking from the Earth and then throwing back into Earth in a negative way? You look at the beginning of life, we say from the cradle to the end of the life to the grave. If you look at, where can we change where we're getting our materials from? Right now, I was saying we're using fossil fuel-based polymers or plastics. We can change that and we can use biobased plastics. Plastics that are made from sugar cane, that are made from corn. And then also, we can use recycled materials instead of virgin materials. And then if you think of the end of life, instead of something going into a landfill or ending up in the ocean, it can be recycled it goes back into that circular economy model or maybe it can biodegrade or it can compost.

 


Ariel:

So what are some of the challenges around that?

 

Autumne:

So many. If you're looking at, say, the first example that I talked about; biopolymers, these fossil fuel-based polymers, we have companies that have built empires around them. They've been around; they're multibillion-dollar household name organizations like Dow and Exxon Mobil, Chevron. And there's a huge infrastructure that's set up so that they can do what they do very efficiently versus these new biopolymer companies. They're newer, they haven't been around as long, the technology hasn't been there, they're not producing to scale. There's a huge difference in the cost that it takes to make a biopolymer versus a traditional fossil fuel polymer, that's a major problem. And then also, the different properties or the ways that those plastics operate. Maybe you want a plastic that seals, maybe that biopolymer doesn't seal or maybe you want a plastic that is clear. I'll give you a good example. 


Back in the early 2000s, Frito Lay came out with a compostable Sun Chip bag. They were well ahead of their time. I saw this YouTube clip for the Sun Chips bag and I was like, "Oh, my God, this is the best thing since sliced bread." It has this amazing commercial where they're like, "Well, you eat the Sun Chip bag" and then they showed somebody just like throwing it on a lawn or something but really like a compost then having an accelerated video that showed it actually biodegrading, You're like, "Woah, this is amazing Sun Chips" for their brand and everything. But, when they launched it the consumers, we weren't ready for something like that. We weren't ready to understand the give and takes of the differences of using different plastics or different polymers. There was this huge complaint to say, "Every time that I try and sneak some chips, it's so noisy and people can hear me eating a chip. I don't want people to know that I'm eating chips in the middle of the night. I'm trying to hide this from my friends or my kids."

 


Ariel:

Right.

 

Autumne:

So they're like, "Oh, we hate this, this sucks". Are you serious? Do you know how much development and what huge progress this is to have a compostable chip bag? But that's the other challenge around that is there's going to be different properties. But what is the consumer perception going to be around it? It's going to be different. Are people going to say this is different and I hate change and I don't want it?

 

Ariel:

Usually, if you want to compost something, you should have a compost bin or there has to be a specific composting facility that it goes to. So is it really beneficial to have a compostable product if composting isn't widely acceptable?

 

Autumne:

That is such a good question. And that is a challenge to say what is the solution. We had talked a little bit about some of the challenges around the beginning of life and using different alternative materials like biopolymers, but end of life. What are the options? Do we want to recycle it? Do we want to compost it? And just because something's compostable doesn't mean that it's going to end up being composted. In order for it to break down and biodegrade, it has to be under the right set of conditions. And the way that the US is set up right now, who knows where your local compost is? Industrial compost for most of the states is just not a realistic option at this point in time. If you live in a place like California, they're leading the world. That infrastructure has already been set up, their industrial compost facilities to where you can separate your trash and say, "This will go to the compost," just like today, you can say, "Here's what's going to the recycle plant." But for most of the country, that's just not our reality today. We have to ask ourselves if something says that it's compostable, so what? And I really hate this, it's something that irks me. You'll have restaurants sometimes and they'll be like, "We've got compostable silverware." And I'm like, "So?" Honestly, it's really the same as regular fossil fuel-based plastic silverware because if it ends up in the landfill, it’s not going to decompose, it's not going to break down, same thing. So, yeah, you're right, it's a challenge.

 

Ariel:

Yeah, definitely. Also too, this is just a random question. If, say, one of those compostable spoons ends up in the woods, do you know how long it would take for it to biodegrade if it would at all?

 

Autumne:

Oh, yeah. When you think of biodegrading versus composting, everything biodegrades at some point. People biodegraded, hangar's biodegraded, boxes biodegraded. But the question is just when and how long? For those spoons, I'm not sure. Typically, it's a combination of UV light, what the temperature is, what the time is, are there any microbes in that environment? All that to say is, I would it be able to say for sure?

 

Ariel:

Yeah.

 

Autumne:

Yeah, it all depends. It will break down and it will break down a lot faster than a typical spoon would. If you're talking like a thousand years for a plastic spoon, it’s not going to be that long.

 

Ariel:

Okay, so are there any industry standards that companies are moving towards, or is that still being figured out?

 

Autumne:

So we, I say we. The companies are feeling their way through it. I was absolutely amazed to hear about the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

 

Ariel: 

Yeah.

 

Autumne:

And so the reason why is a lot of change that's happened traditionally, there's a huge problem and people are like, "Oh, let's write our senators, let's get our local government to do something." And we as the United States had been making some progression. We had Al Gore informing people, putting it on the radar, "Hey, we need to think about climate change." The United States was part of the Paris climate agreement, but Donald Trump pulled the United States out of that.

 

Ariel:

Right.

 

Autumne:

From the perspective of having a change and having an impact through governments and through the political avenue that wasn't happening in the United States. I feel like the Ellen MacArthur Foundation took another route. It's like, we are the people and so they started gathering globally, who are the people or these organizations that need to come to the table to have this conversation about change that needs to happen? And what does that change look like? So they had with this new plastics economy, they got a significant number of not only companies but non-profit organizations, along with some educational institutions committed to make this change. And so when you start to say, "What does that change look like?" We want from a packaging perspective for nothing to end up in the environment. When we say end up in an environment, we shouldn't have to worry about eating fish that have eaten all these microplastics and are we harming ourselves? We don't want plastic in the environment. In order for that to happen, we want our packaging to be reusable or compostable and with compostable, biodegradable or recyclable. The commitments have been towards focusing on the end of life, but also there are additional commitments. When I was talking about using fossil fuels, there's been a different commitment made to reduce the amount of virgin plastics used. We say virgin plastics, those virgin fossil fuel plastics. How do you start transitioning into these biopolymers or how do you start transitioning and using recycled content in packaging?

 

Ariel:

And I'm sure you've heard about the timeline that we have for climate change to really accelerate and be universal.

 

Autumne:

2050

 

Ariel:

Yeah

 

Autumne:

Yeah. It's like there have been a lot of really aggressive goals. Thankfully, I say aggressive because I'm working to help implement the changes that need to happen and I'm like, "Oh, my God, it's 2020. We only have three years to get this done so that this can happen." People are definitely making some aggressive commitments financially with time to make sure that we can start hitting some of these goals.

 

Ariel:

Yeah, that's awesome. Do you think that it's going to be possible to meet...for instance, I think I saw that we have to make so many changes by 2030, 2050 shit is going to be really bad, but if we can do a certain amount of things by 2030, then maybe 2050 won't be so bad. Do you think we're on track to, make some significant changes by then?

 

Autumne:

I can say looking back at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the commitments that people have made, it's not just this commitment that's 3 years in the future or 5 years in the future, 10 years in the future. But they are reporting, here's our goal, here's what we did this year, here's what our next step is and here's how we think that we can achieve the goals that set ahead. Something has happened with solving this problem. I'll say, shout out to Lauryn Hill original black girl there. She has a song called Everything Is Everything and I just feel like that is so true with everything that's happening with sustainability and how people are addressing the problem. I talked about how people in different organizations, the government is working with industry, is working with grassroots groups which will work with actual people to help educate them to say here's what we need to do.

 

Ariel:

Yeah.

 

Autumne: 

It's not just a matter of a single company doing what they can. That company is working with their suppliers, who's working with their suppliers all the way down the supply chain and they are also working with their customers who eventually work with the consumers like you and me at home to say what is our part. And so to meet these goals, it's like I said, it's kind of like everything is everything. We ourselves can be a part of these companies meeting their commitments. It's one thing for something to be compostable or another thing for something to be recycled if you don't recycle, what is all this work for? If I've done all this work to change everything; this whole portfolio, hired new teams, switched the entire portfolio to make it happen but people don't do their part and everybody has a role like we all have a role. And part of that is what's our responsibility in this?

 

Ariel Green: 

Yeah, definitely. I did plastic-free July last year where you try not to consume any plastic and I learned that that is very hard. 

                                             


Autumne: 

Yeah. It's so hard. What did you think? 

 

Ariel: 

People have done it and I know people are doing it, but for me and the type of lifestyle that I want to live and enjoy, I want to be able to go and get takeout. I want to enjoy a candy bar here and there, it's difficult to be like I'm not going to consume any plastic. But of course, you want to be responsible and you want to encourage companies through your purchasing habits, that I want you to make changes. So really, what do you think is the best way for people to make their voices heard with what they're what they want from companies? Or what can they do to help companies change?

 

Autumne: 

Good question and I do feel like I have a legit opinion on this because I've worked in plastics for my whole career. I would equate a plastic free-living or plastic-free lifestyle to the lemonade cayenne pepper diet, it's not realistic. But if it can maybe work as a catalyst to have you start to have a different type of awareness of how are you impacted with plastics in your life and how can you make a smarter change, then yes it's worth it. Yeah. If you go on that lemon, pepper excuse me, lemonade cleanse for three to seven days and then you say, "Okay I'm not going to eat a whopper, a Big Mac, eat some fruit instead." So when you say, how can you make that change? I would say it starts with what we call conscious consumerism. We have a responsibility. We have a responsibility to know where our products are coming from, what went into it and where are they going. And we live in the age of information now, this is the best time for all of this to be happening. Everybody has a cell phone. A lot of companies have QR codes. A lot of companies are building information into their websites so that they can educate consumers. There's this whole trend of transparency within the food and beverage industry so now people... if you go onto Whole Foods, you're like, "Oh, my cow came from this farm, which is located here" and pretty much that same idea with any product that you buy. What are the type of materials that are in that package and then what are you supposed to do with it? 


Here's the thing, though. Companies are starting to make this easier for us. And I know Wal-Mart gets a lot of flak sometimes by being this behemoth company. But. I'm really impressed because Wal-Mart has started to change all of their packaging so that all of their products will have on information on it, where it's a symbol called, how to recycle. Now that I'm telling you about it, you're going to start looking for it and then you're going to start seeing it. You're like, "Oh, here it is." Because if you think about it, we have this obesity crisis in America and you're like, "People need to know the calories." Alright, let's put that information on the package so it's like that same thing but for the materials in package and what you're supposed to do with the end of life. 


On the side of it will be how to recycle. And I can actually send you a link to it because it might be helpful to just point it out. Here's what a how to recycle symbol, looks like. But it will tell you what the material is, so it might say paper or it might say plastic or might say glass or something like that, but then it will tell you, yes, this should go to a landfill or it'll tell you, recycle or it'll tell you compost. I think there's a how-to compost symbol as well. 


For you as a consumer, we need to start paying attention, is this recyclable? Somebody who works in materials, they're going to look at the material and they're going to be able to say, "Oh, I know this is polyester, oh, this is polyethylene." But if you don't work with plastics, you need something to tell you, what is it and what are you supposed to do with it? That's the first thing; have an awareness of what it is that you're buying and then the second thing I would say is to do your job. So your job is if it's supposed to go... I don't even say in the trash anymore if it's supposed to go in the landfill because that's really what the trash is.

 

Ariel Green: 

Yeah. 

 

Autumne:  

Then you say okay this is going in a landfill. But, if you're really doing a good job like recycling, you'll see probably 60, probably 40% - 60% of what goes into the trash can really get recycled. Starting to recycle the things that need to be recycled or composting the things that need to be composted. And then I think the last thing besides being aware, putting things where they need to go the last piece is staying informed and demanding change. Like you said, if you go to your local takeout place where you get food from and they're using Styrofoam, you should be informed to say Styrofoam is bad for the environment but your voice has power. Maybe sending a note to the business, the manager and saying, I'm a consumer and this is some of my concerns because that's where you're going to have the biggest impact. If you speak as a consumer and you say, I am purchasing this service or I'm purchasing this product and I care about it being sustainable. If you say those things... we're on Instagram, look up your favorite products, suppose it's L'Oreal and say, "Hey, I care that you guys have recyclable cosmetic packaging." They will take that into consideration and they'll start changing how they make business decisions. They'll say our consumers care about this when they're making their purchase decision.

 

Ariel: 

Yeah, definitely, because it seems like just deciding not to buy something, that's okay, but at the end of the day, I'm one person and they may not miss my $20 here and there, but I totally agree that by making your voice heard, even if it's just sending an email, sometimes it feels like that's not anything. But...

 

Autumne: 

Oh no, it's huge.

 

Ariel Green: 

Okay.

 

Autumne: 

It's huge because most people... you know how like on a lot of packages, they're like any questions, complaints and they have a number, think of how many people call that number, not that many. But I have I've had projects I've worked on, they're like, "We had 10 calls," so we're changing it. 10 you know.

 

Ariel: 

That's nothing.

 

Autumne: 

That is nothing. So I'm like, "Think if we started to organize and demand..." not demand but...

 

Ariel: 

Yeah.

 

Autumne: 

Maybe that's a little bit strong but.

 

Ariel: 

Suggest.

 

Autumne: 

Yeah. 

 

Ariel Green: 

Voice your concerns. 

 

Autumne: 

Yeah. Let people know. I would prefer this; I would prefer something that's sustainable. I would be more likely to buy it if it was sustainable. If your competitor has an option that's sustainable, I might buy it over what I'm buying from you. If they know that it will affect your purchasing decision, then the change will be made quickly.

 

Ariel: 

Okay well, that's good to know. I'll definitely start sending more emails. 

 

Autumne: 

Yeah, no, it's a big deal.

 

Ariel: 

I feel like you answered this earlier but, just to circle back, in regards to packaging, what can we expect from consumer companies in the near future?

 

Autumne: 

Oh, man. Consumer companies are running with the speed of a cheetah to address sustainability as soon as possible. Some companies have been responsible and they've been working on it for decades. Some companies are just now getting on board, but everybody knows that we need to get to this finish line soon and it's urgent and they're putting money behind it to make sure that it's happening. What you can expect to see, I would tell you, when you go to the grocery store or if you're ordering online, start looking at your products and you'll start to see a change. Whether it's something like Unilever having ocean-bound plastics in their shampoo bottles or I think even Helman's mayonnaise had like recycled content in one of their new bottles. It will start to hit, you just have to start paying attention to it and it's going to significantly move. I would just encourage you, any product that you're buying, just as you would look to say, maybe some people read the ingredients and say, "Oh, it's high fructose corn syrup in this," start looking [inaudible 36:30] what are they...? Are they...? Is this company communicating to me their responsibility for sustainability?

 

Ariel: 

Yeah, going back to what you were saying earlier about Wal-Mart, I have noticed... I don't really shop at Wal-Mart, but some of the other products that I buy, I do look at the back to see because sometimes they have the little triangle that says what number plastic it is. But they've started to expand that more. I've noticed where it says, for example, a cereal box. It says that the box is made out of cardboard, it can be recycled and then the plastic bag that the cereal is in you should just put it in your trash. I've definitely noticed that on some products like you said, not everyone's gotten there, but it's definitely gotten much better in the last year that I've been paying attention to that type of stuff.

 

Autumne: 

I have to give a helpful hint. I don't think a lot of people know this and just because I'm working on a project that's involving it. You have curbside recycling, but you also have storefront recycling. 


Ariel:

Right?  


Autumne

Right. And before I started working on this project, I had no idea about storefront recycling. In storefront recycling, a store like Target or Whole Foods or Wal-Mart. 

 

Ariel: 

Publix.


Autumne: 

Yeah. Definitely Publix they have where you can recycle plastic bags. Now, this is for polyethylene. I think polyethylene is number two recycle symbol. That cannot be recycled curbside. If it's a bag, so if it's a film, it actually causes issues at the recycling plant. But if you see a number two on a flexible or a film type bag, it should be storefront and in the plastic bag bin.

 

Ariel: 

Yeah definitely, I've noticed that, too. Also, at the Publix that I go to, they have a place for the Styrofoam egg cartons. 

 

Autumne: 

Yes. 

 

Ariel: 

So that's great. Let's transition a little bit. I'm interested since we are sustainable brown girls. What's been your experience while working in your industry as a brown girl?

 

Autumne: 

Oh, good question. It started as me being the only sustainable brown girl or the only brown girl period. "Look to your left, look to your right. Oh, wait, we had an intern. Oh no, we didn't." For years and years and years. Whether it was my company or just the industry as a whole, I'd go to trade shows and I'd be like, "Surely there's somebody else."

 

Ariel: 

Yeah.

 

Autumne: 

And it would just be me. And part of it was like the company that I started my career with, they were privately held in Atlanta. And I just don't feel like diversity was... not that I don't feel like when I worked there diversity is not like a top priority for them. But the next company that I moved to, it was at least in my bubble, the opposite. And part of the reason why I decided...I would say two reasons why I decided to work for that company. The first one is that I was going to report to a manager who was a Mexican lady.

 

Ariel: 

Okay.

 

Autumne: 

And I was like what? I get to report to a person of color and she's a woman? Because that's just that hadn't happened before. And them with on my team with my peers, there were a lot of women and a lot of women of color and I don't know that it'll ever happen again. And it was a very special moment. And then additionally, that company I worked in their innovation center and walking into the company, they had a room named after Marie Curie.

 

Ariel: 

Wow!

 

Autumne: 

And George Washington Carver.

 

Ariel: 

What?

 

Autumne: 

I know. As soon as I saw the George Washington Carver room, I was like, "I could work here."

 

Ariel: 

Right? 

 

Autumne: 

Yeah. Makes all the difference in the world. 

 

Ariel: 

Yeah it does.

 

Autumne: 

So I have to comment on this a little bit because it really does change how you feel every day. Being able to show up as yourself and not having to like mask who you are so that people feel comfortable around you.

 

Ariel: 

My last question is what is one simple step that anyone can take to be more sustainable?

 

Autumne: 

One simple step. I would say being conscious, if there was one step. When I think of being conscious, it's just being awake, being informed. Don't sleep, don't just walk through the world sleepwalking. Wake up, you have something in your hand. Where does it go now? You're driving a car, what does that mean? Just having a deeper awareness of how you move through this life.

 

Ariel: 

Definitely 100% agree. That's definitely the first step is to be aware. Totally. Thank you so much Autumne. This was so much fun. I've learned a lot about the packaging industry and where we're going from this point forward, so I'm excited to see some changes. I'm going to be sending some emails, get my voice heard. 

 

Autumne: 

I'm so excited.

 

Ariel: 

Yay! Thanks so much for talking to us. 


Autumne:

Of course.


Ariel: 

Is there anything you want to share? Do you want to shout out your Instagram? Do you want people to follow you anywhere?

 

Autumne: 

Sure! You can follow me on LinkedIn. My name is Autumne Stuart. I had a black mother so I have an E on the end of my name. You can also follow me on Instagram @autumneelizabeth.

 

Ariel: 

Perfect. Thanks so much Autumne. Really appreciate you taking the time to talk with us. 

 

Autumne Stuart: 

Thanks, Ariel.

 

Ariel Green: 

Thank you so much for listening to The Sustainable Brown Girl Podcast. Be sure to subscribe and share it if you loved it and leave a review. You can find us on Instagram @sustainablebrowngirl and check out our Facebook community, we would love to have you there. Until next time, let's continue to make healthy choices for the health of our planet and the health of our bodies. Thanks for listening.

 


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