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Jacquie Ottman:  On a Mission to Eradicate NYC’s Waste

Jacquie Ottman is an internationally recognized speaker, author and advisor to government and industry on positive strategies for advancing greener products and consumer behavior.  In 2012 she founded WeHateToWaste.com with a specific goal: to help define a resource-efficient lifestyle that consumers would want to embrace.

An Ardent Waste Watcher Since Age Four

At age four, Jacquie Ottman was nicknamed ‘Junky Jacquie’ when she dragged home treasures from the neighbor’s trash. Since 1989 she has been advising leading consumer product companies, the U.S. government’s Energy Star and USDA Certified Biobased labels, and several not-for profits on positive strategies for encouraging greener purchasing and more responsible use and disposal of the products we buy. Learn more about her sustainability work HERE.

Still dragging home finds from the treasure-troved sidewalks of her NYC hometown, Jacquie now uses the insights she gleans from WeHateToWaste.com to help New Yorkers, and in turn, people everywhere live better by forging a new consumption culture. She’s particularly taken with the opportunity for apartment dwellers to share, swap, and borrow more amongst each other. Learn more HERE.

Author, Speaker, Facilitator on Green Marketing Strategy

Jacquie Ottman testifying on Zero Waste before New York City's City Council

Jacquie Ottman testifying on Zero Waste before New York City’s City Council

Jacquie Ottman is the author of five books, including the award-winning, The New Rules of Green Marketing: Strategies, Tools and Inspiration for Sustainable Branding (Berrett-Koehler, 2011). It is required reading for college and grad courses across the U.S.

She holds an advanced certification in facilitating creative problem-solving from the Creative Education Foundation. She is certified by the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council as a Zero Waste Business Associate. She is a member of the Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board, and chair, Residential Recycling and Reuse committee. She frequently testifies on zero waste issues to the New York City Council.

Ottman and her colleagues bring their expertise to forward-thinking organizations, businesses and community groups by providing advice, and giving talks and workshops on strategies for helping consumers live better by consuming smarter and more responsibly, and aligning with zero waste.

Read Jacquie Otttman’s Views About What It Will Take to Reduce Waste and Change Consumption Culture in NYC

Reduce, Recycle, Recover: Reduce Waste in NYC in 2018

Zero Waste Oversight Hearing Testimony 09 18 17

Zero Waste Oversight Hearing Testimony & Policy Brief Mktg & Outreach 09 18 17 FINAL – PDF

Stop ‘N’ Swap Events Can Make NYC More Sustainable
4/26/17 – Shareable.net

Are New Yorkers Ready to Rev Up Recycling?
2-17-17  – Waste Dive

How Sharing Can Help Change Consumption Culture
1/25/17 – Shareable.net

Can Plastics Be ‘Green’ ?
9/9/16 – GreenMarketing.com

Op-Ed: Cut Plastic Bag Use
3/8/16 – Our Town NY and The West Side Spirit

How New Yorkers Can Reach Toward Zero Waste This Year
2/9/16 – CityLimits.org

What NYC Can Learn From San Francisco’s Zero Waste Success
7/6/15 – GreenMarketing.com

Turning Trash to Treasure: Jacquie Ottman Shares Ideas for Reducing Waste
3/27/15 – Smith College

Fresh Ideas for Engaging Consumers in Preventing Waste
1/19/15 – GreenMarketing.com

To Get the Last Drop, Consumers Look to New Innovative Gadgets
5/8/14 – GreenMarketing.com

Cultures Around the World Can Inspire No-Waste Lifestyles
4/24/14 – GreenMarketing.com

The Newest Rule of Green Marketing: Help Consumers Live a ‘No-Waste’ Lifestyle
4/11/14 – GreenMarketing.com


Follow Jacquie Ottman

Learn about Jacquie Ottman’s Workshops and Other Offerings: HERE

Jacquie’s Book and Free Sample Chapter:   http://www.greenmarketing.com/our-book






What Jacquie Ottman Does to Prevent Waste

Jacquie Ottman

Jacquie Ottman rescuing a bookcase from the trash, NYC 2013

Prevents waste before it’s created

I carry a Chico bag at all times. It’s so easy to whip out of my purse whenever I need a bag for shopping.

Happy in a school uniform for 12 years when I was growing up, I now usually wear the same thing to work every day: black pants and white tee shirt or turtleneck.

I try to read as much online as possible, preventing paper waste (though I have to admit to still enjoying the New York Times in print — old eyes? old habits?)

I save veggies, chicken bones, cheese rinds in the freezer until I make them all into stock. I started an organics collection program in my NYC apartment building so all of our food scraps can find their way into compost.

I take plastic bag and other film waste to my local grocery store for recycling.

I order my coffee ‘to stay’, and I take a reusable coffee cup for the times when I’m on the go.

Takes care of things

Preventive maintenance keep my things new looking longer and lasting a long time. I make sure to regularly polish my shoes and other leather goods to make them last a long time.  As soon as I drop something on a white blouse or the carpet, I blot up the mess to make sure stains don’t set.

Reuses, refills

I reuse Ziploc bags and store my veggies in those Mrs. Meyers Green bags so they will last longer.  Just bought one of those Rubbermaid Produce Savers, and am enjoying trying it out.

I use a refillable water bottle.


I mend clothes, sheets, socks, etc. so they last as long as possible. (Do you love to hear the words ‘mend’ and ‘darn’ as much as I do?)

I’ve got a collection of glues in a specially marked Ziploc bag ready to repair anything from wood and metal, to fancy plates and tea cups.

Whatever I can’t repair myself, I take to the folks at the FixersCollective.  They’ve fixed tea cups, wooden salad bowls, gave me back my iHome when I thought it was beyond repair, and upgraded my iPhone battery. (Yes, you read that correctly.)

Uses things up

I proudly admit to taking the half-used bars of soap from the hotel shower, along with partially used little bottles of lotion.  Have rarely bought a bar of soap in years!

I attack my antiperspirant container with a pencil and get an additional inch of product that would otherwise go to waste.

I scrape the sides of mixing bowls and inside the mayo jar with some extra flexible spatulas. It’s amazing what you can get if you know how to scrape!

I get out every last drop from the dishwashing liquid bottle, the olive oil jar, and the lotion bottles by turning them upside down overnight. (A lady who works at the Clinique counter once told me over a Chinese lunch near Bloomingdale’s that customers actually slice their tubes to get out every last drop of the precious potions, but I haven’t tried that one yet.  — Maybe because I don’t buy expensive makeup?)

I use the reverse side of paper in my home office.

I keep pens around until the ink has really dried up, and sharpen those pencils down to the nub.

We reuse envelopes in my office — and have extra large mailing address labels so we can cover up the old address.

Uses leftovers creatively

I make stale bread into bread crumbs with my Cuisinart. (Here’s an article on new uses for old bread from one of our Waste Watchers, Jocelyn Deprez. If she hadn’t written it first, I would have!)

Jacquie Ottman Earth Day NYC Recycling Table

Jacquie Ottman teaches NYC neighbors to recycle, Earth Day 2017

I make overripe tomatoes into tomato soup or pasta sauce. (See my post, Recipe for Truly Satisfying Tomato Soup.), and banana bread from the over-ripe bananas. (DYK that black bananas are the sweetest of all?)

I have a special canister in the cupboard where I store all those extra little soy sauce and duck sauce packets that come with Chinese take-out and I turn them into sauces for leftover meats (Check out my post, What To Do With All Those Duck Sauce Packets.)

I carry a zipper bag in my purse so I can take home uneaten food from restaurants. (I even like to rescue cheese cubes and crackers from an hors d’ouevres tray. A lover of fine bread, I’m not afraid to ask for the bread to be wrapped up. (Apparently so does Fredrica Rudell.  Check out her post, Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli — and the Bread Basket).

Shares stuff with others

I sell things on ebay, Craig’sList.org, and give things away on Freecycle.org.

I pool leftovers with neighbors into yummy shared meals.

I swap newspapers with neighbors (I give my neighbor Alison my NYTimes and Bill down the hall passes along his WSJ.)

I started a ‘Take a book, Leave a book’ library in my NYC apartment building. Read more here.  I started a Free Box in my building’s laundry room. I even have a small one in my front hall.

I take things to thrift stores (and happily grab the tax deduction). I think previous owners of the things we find in thrift stores should leave a note. Read more here.

I love to prowl flea markets and antique malls, looking for bargains and just having fun looking.

I ‘regift‘ with friends to make everyday occasions special.  Enjoy this post, too.

I share my scanner, copier and printer with neighbors.

I grow my own plants

I make cuttings from plants, so my plants are always regenerating. I’ve rescued more than one African Violet from near extinction.

Uses space efficiently

For 22 years I lived in a 280 square foot studio apartment; now I live and work in 636 sq ft. consolidated home and office, a 40% reduction that saves me one bathroom, one kitchen, one electricity bill, telephone bill, DSL line and heating.

I work from home, so I save time, money and anguish on the commute (Have you ever tried the #6 train in NYC during rush hour?); and I don’t waste space having an office part of the time, and an idle home the rest of the day.

I’ve never owned a car.  I share cabs. I walk practically everywhere or take the subway, train or bus, and take advantage of opportunities to catch up on all those articles I cut out from the paper and my neighbors and I share our newspapers and magazines with each other.

Makes instead of buys

I make presents (or openly regift) rather than shop for new things. One thing that I’m especially proud of making was a cookbook of recipes that I compiled from five generations of our family.  I gave it everyone in my family for Christmas in 2000 in lieu of regular gifts.

Conserves water

I take the water from the boiled egg and use it to water my plants. If I had a garden, I really would shower with a bucket and water my garden, I just know it. For now, I’ll speed things up in there with a little encouragement from my shower buddy (timer).

Read the stories Jacquie has contributed to WeHateToWaste.com  HERE