Q & A with Hadia Ghandour,
How would you describe yourself?
With a very varied background, I weave many cultures and experiences together, and tend to pick my own way rather than follow any particular path or trend. I have been blessed in my life, and in gratitude, I look for ways to pay it forward. I am deliberate in my decisions and work steadily towards my goals.
What motivates you to support environmental efforts personally?
I first learned about greenhouse gases while studying Chemistry for my undergraduate degree in the 80s, but even before that I felt the need to tread lightly upon the earth. For many years, I felt a disconnect between what I learned in college, and how progress was taking us to a disposable future.
In the 90s I was hiking in the Sinai Desert in Egypt, along the path where it is said that God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. The hike is done at night when it is cool. After several hours of hiking uphill, I arrived at the top just as the sun was rising to witness majestic views over the desert. When I looked down into the valley I saw a sea of discarded plastic water bottles. That jarring view planted the seed that we should find ways to locally recycle plastic into products that are useful to the local community. That seed germinated as I meandered through career, geography and time. Now is the time to implement that idea and harvest our local resources.
When did you decide to start investing in the movement, and what are some of the projects that interest you and why?
There came a time in my life several years ago, where I was looking for more authenticity. This is not a one and done, but a continuous practice looking at different areas of my life.
In a push to align my life with my values, I reviewed my investments to refocus them towards more impact or socially conscious companies before there were such labels. Now these things are a lot easier to do, having become quite popular. I try to align those investments with my values, investing in alternative energy and medical technologies, the sharing economy etc.
Tell us about Inspired Plastics, what’s the vision?
We started Inspired Plastics because:
- We felt that hauling “recyclables” thousands of miles, often only to have them rejected and sent to the landfill is a very uninspired thing to do.
- We have precious resources that are at our fingertips if only we could open our eyes.
- When we throw something away, it does not go away. It either sits in our environment, in a landfill, or emits gases as it decomposes or is incinerated.
- With all the recycling hype around us, not even 8% of our plastic is recycled.
So we asked ourselves:
- What if we could harvest our waste plastic to make beautiful durable products?
- What if we could create jobs right here to make them?
- What if people were inspired by these products to get more involved in the circular economy ?
- What if one organization after another, aimed to get to zero waste by engaging their employees and customers?
Our Vision is:
To create a world with zero waste
As a start up, what are your biggest concerns and challenges.
A start up is full of challenges every day! I would say our biggest challenge is getting organizations to make a commitment (backed by a budget) to get towards zero waste. The things that are not currently taken by our municipal recycling system end up in the landfill precisely because we do not want to pay the higher price of recycling them. However, by producing desirable products with harvested plastic, we can recoup much of that cost and cut our waste bill.
Where would you like to see IP by this time next year?
By this time next year, we will have moved beyond the pilot stage, implemented zero waste programs in organizations in the community, and become a known resource for plastic recycling.
How can people learn more about IP and get involved?