Prior to founding the society-wide standardized label initiative Recycle Across America in 2010, Mitch had over 20 years experience in marketing, communications and branding, serving Fortune
500 companies as well as small to mid-sized companies. In fact, she has relied heavily on those communications and branding disciplines while she developed the society-wide standardized labeling system.
Mitch has proven to be an effective entrepreneur and businessperson by being able to cut through confusion to identify practical opportunities that improve economics, efficacy and participation. She has done this while employed with Dayton-Hudson Department Stores, Fingerhut Companies and when serving her marketing clients for 11 years.
She is a frequent contributor to articles on the subject of recycling and the environment, including Forbes
, NY Times
and industry publications. Mitch is an ongoing speaker at U.S. conferences and business seminars that have a focus on sustainability and recycling. Additionally, she has been invited to speak internationally and was recently a keynote speaker at the European Union’s Environmental Summit in Brussels.
As a passionate entrepreneur and patented inventor, she is also a recurring speaker at the Carlson School of Management (a M.B.A. and entrepreneurship program at the University of Minnesota). And her social entrepreneurial work has been chronicled with George Washington University Women Studies.
In 2012, her environmental solutions were deemed “world changing” which won her an Ashoka Global Fellowship. She has won two pro-bono patents for her environmental solutions through a historical USPTO program at the William Mitchell College of Law.
Recycle Across America has recently been invited to be the benefactor of media tools and a campaign created by Participant Media to help advance the standardized label initiative and have 1 million labels placed by the end of 2014.
Her solutions have been referred to by the NY Times
as “one of the most important environmental fixes of today”.
How did you first get involved in the green industry?
In addition to being raised environmentally conscientious, watching the film Inconvenient Truth
with my daughter was the first major eye-opener for me. And, then I had two dedicated “green” clients hire me to create marketing for their businesses (one, a solar company, the other a geothermal and ICF foundation home-building company). When I started on those marketing projects I decided to look at green from a broad public perspective and realized just how confusing everything is — from recycling to identifying which companies are green. Even identifying what green means is confusing.
I’m a solver… if I see something that is really important but doesn’t work well, I obsess over what could make it better. Green doesn’t work well — despite all the hype. And yet, it’s critical for all of us to engage and act. The confusion is relatively easy to fix and fixing it is a game changer for all of us. That’s what energizes me.
What interests you most about being green?
Solving the confusion and making it easier for the general public and consumers to engage and use their purchasing influence to expedite progress.
What is your biggest “green” pet peeve?
Aside from people not conserving and not recycling, I would have to say green washing is my biggest pet peeve — it desensitizes the public and undermines the entire movement.
What green trend is most exciting to you or your industry?
Aside from the standardized label initiative, I really love what TerraCycle does. They are constantly proving that “recycling right” in a very educated and controlled manner is economically viable and beneficial for all parties involved. And, they have taken it upon themselves to tackle the notoriously “least” recyclable materials.
Educating the public and creating a more controlled way of recycling a national level with mainstream materials is what we’re working on with Recycle Across America. If TerraCycle can successfully educate the public, and collect and recycle cigarette butts and diapers, we can certainly do the same with the mainstream materials.