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Anna Sacks, 29
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THE ENVIRONMENT36 Under 36 2020

Anna Sacks, 29

Trash-walking Towards a Cleaner Future

What you do:

I’m a senior associate at Think Zero, a waste-reduction and diversion consulting firm. In my free time, I do a lot of other waste-related activities, which I document on my Instagram (@thetrashwalker). Before coronavirus, I was focused on going through corporate and residential waste, and pulling out usable items such as vitamins, tampons and other essentials that could help people in need. Now, as part of my job, I’m working on the #SaveOurCompost campaign, urging New York City to keep composting free, public and accessible.

Unexpected fun fact:

I decided to become a vegetarian at age 4, when I found out what chickens are made of (answer: chicken, the animal).

Quote you live by:

“I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.” — Lily Tomlin

How you got here:

After two years at an investment bank, I left to participate in the Adamah Fellowship, which combines farming, intentional community and Judaism. There, I fell in love with composting: this magical cycle of decay, transformation and growth. When I returned home to Manhattan, I knew that whatever I did next professionally, I wanted composting to be a part of it somehow. And now, as part of my job, I get to talk to clients about the beauty and benefits of composting.

How does your Jewish identity/Jewish values influence the work that you do?

I went to the Abraham Joshua Heschel School through eighth grade. Social justice was a big part of the school’s mission, and there was a sense that every person is required to make the world a better place. I also think about Heschel’s own personal life, especially the idea of praying with your feet — that we need to live out our values, not just preach them.

What Jewish source, person, book, etc., has inspired your work?

Pirkei Avot, 2:16: “It’s not up to you to finish the work; neither are you free to desist from it.” I think a lot about this when I get overwhelmed with the scope of our waste, and more generally with the damage we’re doing to the planet.

Follow me: @thetrashwalker 

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