Every two years, StopWaste undertakes a priority setting process to inform budget development, program selection, and strategy. In addition to updated guiding principles adopted in December 2020 by our board, we established a new set of aims to help orient our work over a longer term. These aims reflect the many external forces that affect our collective work, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate impacts, and persistent social and racial disparities in our communities.
Agency Update - Winter 2021
Michelle Fay joined StopWaste’s Mandatory Recycling Ordinance team in 2012 after eight years serving with the Castro Valley Sanitary District. She received a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from Cal State East Bay.
What do you do at StopWaste?
I primarily work on the messaging and technical assistance side of things for the Mandatory Recycling Ordinance. I develop the public-facing content and tools to help businesses and multifamily properties comply with the law. I also lead our annual Business Efficiency Awards program and our long-standing reusable transport packaging project.
What are your favorite parts about working here?
What’s not to love? If I had to choose, it would be the collaborative work environment and supportive leadership. I love our office with all the natural light and friendly chats in the kitchen. I love that staff are encouraged to work on things that they are good at, and that our strengths are valued. I also enjoy being a public servant and feeling like I am in some small way helping people figure out how they can be better stewards of the environment.
How has working for StopWaste impacted you?
Working for StopWaste has fostered my passion about recycling tricky items and the importance of clear messaging. What started with getting people to sort right, the focus has shifted a lot with the realities of offshore recycling. I’m passionate now more than ever about transparent messaging and helping folks understand that really, prevention and reuse are where we need to focus. Of course, sorting right is important, but there’s so much environmental cost and embodied energy in the things we use, even when we recycle.
Do you have a life motto that you live by?
I have a lot of little mottos that I half live by. I try to live in the present and enjoy the little moments connecting with my kids. Lately we’ve been designing their bedrooms – both were ready for a pre-teen refresh, with the addition of desks! Another one is “no regrets,” but I’m sure I have some. There is something to the idea though; I try to trust my intuition, not dwell too much on the past, and stay positive.
What do you enjoy doing when not working?
Mostly I feel like I’m trying to keep my kids out of my hair and focused on their schoolwork, but having this extra time at home with them has really been a blessing. We usually love to travel, anywhere warm with a beach is ideal, but these days we’ve been enjoying exploring the hills surrounding Castro Valley. It’s been fun to take them to trails and view spots that I used to go to as a kid.
We’ve got lots of house projects at the moment (they seem never-ending), but I actually don’t mind. I love the design process – it’s a creative outlet for me. I’ve always been a thrifter and I love the hunt for a good vintage piece or something with a story. In fact that’s kind of another motto I’ve been living by lately: buy used before new whenever possible!