Ashoka Fellow
,
Fellow Since 2011
Recycle Across America

Citation

This profile was prepared when Michelle Hedlund was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2011.
The New Idea
Mitch is demystifying what environmental responsibility means for citizens and businesses alike in ways that could dramatically increase recycling rates and increase the demand for green products and environmentally responsible businesses in the U.S. Her goal is to leverage lasting behavior change around environmental consumption to incentivize participation in the green economy while guarding against “green-washing” through a market-driven and transparent approach. While there are numerous other initiatives out to increase recycling rates and eco-friendly behavior, none to date are adequately addressing the leading obstacle to behavior change: confusion.

When it comes to recycling, most are surprised to learn that despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent on campaigns promoting recycling, according to the EPA, U.S. recycling rates have barely improved in fifteen years. Through Recycle Across America™, Mitch has developed a standardized labeling system to eliminate public confusion at the recycling bin, thereby increasing the amount of recyclables being captured.

Standardized labels have never been introduced before in the U.S. Mitch is working with schools, property management companies, cleaning companies, and some of the biggest waste hauling businesses in the country to widely distribute the comprehensive and consistent standardized labels she developed to help increase recycling capture rates at the bin.

Moving forward, Mitch will leverage the increased supply of recyclable materials to educate the public about next-life products and increase their supply. Mitch has also created Eco-Profiles®, a universal tool that helps the public easily identify organizations that are greening their practices, to begin driving marketshare increases to environmentally responsible organizations.

Each of these interventions drives at the same goal and uses a similar combination of simplifying information flows to educate the public while linking consumer-consciousness to market opportunities that can be leveraged for environmental and economic impact.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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