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Julia Spangler doesn’t see “waste.” Instead, she sees opportunities to recover and manage useful materials. She is an enthusiastic advocate for the circular economy through her career as a sustainable events consultant.
Spangler first unearthed her love for sustainability through the fair trade and labor rights movement. Through her work, she realized how these social injustices also lead to environmental injustices.
“Being part of that movement and community opened my eyes to the systemic problems with a linear economy, and how senseless it is to generate as much waste as we do as a society,” says Spangler.
She devoted her time to researching and blogging the effects of a linear economy. Now Spangler makes decisive action through her own business. As an independent sustainable events consultant, she helps event planners recover materials for further use and avoid landfills. She started small and utilized recycling receptacles through the Indiana Recycling Coalition’s Lend-a-Bin program.
“The Lend-a-Bin program is actually what allowed me to begin providing waste diversion services for events before I had the capital to invest in my own equipment. This was incredibly helpful in getting my business off the ground,” Spangler says.
Her services reach far beyond recycling. She rescues excess food to donate, arranges for flowers to be donated to hospitals and other facilities, and even composts organic materials. Through these systems, she positively affects multiple spheres of the community. In 2019, Meeting Professionals International recognized Spangler with the Young Professional Achievement Award for her work.
While Spangler shines as a sustainable events consultant, she also bears the heart of an educator. She provides online courses on her website as well as on-site training. These training sessions teach event planners how to navigate towards a zero waste goal. Additionally, they learn how sustainability can impact a guest’s experience. In a more novel approach, she teamed up with Purdue University Sustainability Manager and fellow Recycling Rock Star, Kelly Weger, to sort through the trash at the Indianapolis Star in 2018. Together they found that 75% of the newspaper’s trash could be recycled or composted.
This year she plans to help the events industry transform into a sustainable and carbon-neutral realm. Spangler’s goal is to help citizens find the value in the materials that surround them. Her work exposes the positive results that stem from conscious planning.
“When events recycle, they help prevent the extraction of raw materials,” she said. “When they divert food waste by composting or anaerobic digestion, they help improve our soil quality. When they donate unused food, they directly help feed members of our community.”
Written by Holland Cluff