>>When it comes to bettering the environment, people often feel overwhelmed with where to begin or that their efforts are merely a drop in the pan. Enter Impact Earth and experience its “one choice at a time” mantra. Co-founder and CEO Robert Putney encourages people to “make one change and stick to it.” This can be a simple change, like bringing reusable shopping bags to the grocery store, or a larger lifestyle change, like considering your transportation choices or your food sources. All these changes add up to a growing level of eco-consciousness across Rochester that excites and motivates Putney and his team at Impact Earth. Impact Earth’s mission is clear and commendable: to create zero-waste communities, together. “There’s an awful lot of waste that’s been built into the system,” says Putney. The organization works to divert this waste in sustainable ways ranging from organics hauling and zero-waste event services to consulting and school-based education programs.
Although not from a traditional educational background in sustainability, Putney explains that his “life’s work led me to this path.” He interned as a college student at the Erie County Waste Water Authority, where he learned about water treatment and systems. He spent twenty years working in packaging sales and saw first-hand all the waste involved. More recently, Putney wrote grants for the green industry in New York State as part of his consulting company, R.M. Putney & Associates. Finally, the time came for Putney to open his own business. He teamed up with Cassidy Putney, who has a degree in sustainability, and Elizabeth Carey, who has a background in foodservice. In 2014, Impact Earth ran its first zero-waste event in Ithaca. They continued to consult with event owners, helping them “deal with their trash issue in a more environmentally friendly way.” Businesses began to seek them out for consulting on sustainability initiatives.
Eventually, Impact Earth was contacted for municipal projects. They are currently a part of the City of Rochester’s Single Stream Organics Feasibility Study. The city launched this study in preparation for the plastic bag ban that will go into effect in March of 2020 and the food waste ban that will be enacted on January 1, 2022. “That’s a great project we’re really excited to be a part of as the City of Rochester decides how it’s going to divert its food waste,” explains Putney. The city is responding to a growing demand from its residents to become more sustainable and lessen its waste.