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  • Lars Lawson

Julie Rhodes: IRC Recycling Rock Star

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

Celebrate the awesomeness of Julie L. Rhodes by donating to the IRC in her honor. Your tax-deductible contribution will help the IRC reach its 30th Anniversary fundraising campaign goal and helps fund our education and advocacy projects – and more

Julie L. Rhodes always had an interest in ecology. Now, as the Collective Impact Director at Reconnecting to Our Waterways (ROW), she is able to share this passion and build an appreciation in her community. 

Rhodes began working with volunteer organizations in the late 1980s before working in local and state governments. She also served on the IRC Board of Directors for nine years. During that time, she learned how recycling is a gateway to environmental engagement for many. 

She helped publish the IRC’s first E-Scrap Toolkit to help citizens properly handle electronic waste. This program was awarded the 2006 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Recycling, as well as the 2006 National Recycling Coalition award. Ultimately this program laid the groundwork for the IRC’s work to pass an E-Waste law in Indiana. Rhodes then helped lead the Indiana Food Scrap Initiative, a glass recycling grant, and a commercial compost route grant.

Among other positions, Rhodes served as Executive Director for the Association of Indiana Solid Waste Management Districts and worked for the Indiana Department of Commerce in the Office of Energy Policies Recycling Market Development Program. 

She then caught the attention of ROW, an impact initiative dedicated to improving water quality and ecology in Indianapolis. In June 2018, Rhodes was named the Collective Impact Director for ROW. Her wealth of experience as a sustainability consultant and a government worker serves her well in this position.

One of the most impactful missions of ROW is to help residents learn about the waterway and position it as a valuable community asset and resource. Rhodes loves how these hyper-local connections between people and their waterway spaces translate into knowledge, care, and advocacy. Much like recycling, education about waterways is a critical link for positive change. 

“We need to realize that these environmental issues are all interconnected and that in helping to solve one, we can help solve another,” Rhodes said. 

Rhodes creates comprehensive waste reduction efforts in Indiana. She educates Indianapolis residents about opportunities that lie in our consumption decisions. 

“Being thoughtful about product decisions — purchasing and use — in our daily lives, at work and at home, could result in significant reductions,” she said. “Take a moment to think about what you are doing and the impact it has on the environment.” When each person makes their individual changes, they educate others by example.

Written by Erin Edwards


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