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Member Highlight - Marina McCoy, CEO of Waste Free Earth

Hi!  My name is Marina McCoy AKA Sustainability Boss Lady (IG @sustainabilitybosslady) and I am the Founder/CEO of Waste Free Earth. Waste Free Earth creates systems that empower others to incorporate zero-waste behaviours. What I am most recently proud of is how quickly we were able to pivot during COVID-19. We went from building zero-waste strategies for events to becoming a virtual *in-house* sustainability department for companies. Business has been so good that we haven’t been able to update our website fully yet! When I started living zero-waste over six years ago, I got extremely obsessed with and made it into a career. I have even won some awards for it like Vermont’s Young Entrepreneur of the year for 2020. Anyways, don’t be afraid to reach out for everyday zero-waste lifestyle tips or tips for infusing zero-waste strategies within companies. I am your girl. :)

Tell us and our lovely readers what is it that you do? 

I build zero-waste strategies for companies and events all throughout the United States. How do I do that? Through my company Waste Free Earth - a virtual *in-house* sustainability department for companies! This is ideal for businesses that can’t afford a full on sustainability department just yet or they are an established company that is looking for some outside assistance with sought out goals. How do we do it? We dive deep into our clients goals, help them roadmap their sustainability dreams, lead in the execution of sought out goals and communicate with all stakeholders about the journey to increase the success of our programs. On top of all that, I also lead workshops, seminars, panels and courses on zero-waste and sustainable living. It’s safe to say that I absolutely love my job. 

What is your story? How did you end up here?

Although I grew up in Vermont, I didn’t come from a sustainably minded family. I actually came from an over-packaged, over consuming, barely recycles and no compost family. So how did I get inspired? There were many small incidents along the way, but the main one was back in 2013 when I was attending a music festival in my home state of Vermont called the Frendly Gathering. I was walking back from a show to my tent when it was pouring rain outside and glow sticks were getting ingested by the ground. I was disgusted by it but didn’t do anything about it - didn’t even pick them up!! Back at my tent, I realized I had glow sticks from my head down to my toes. After realizing what a HUGE hypocrite I was for studying sustainability in college but not doing a damn thing about it in real life, I quickly changed my ways. For the rest of the weekend, all I could see was trash. All the trash I brought with me and all the trash everyone else brought. I was utterly repulsed. So I decided to take action. I became obsessed with waste and how I personally could reduce my waste and inspire others to do the same. 

The next year I pitched to Frendly Gathering to help them coordinate their sustainability efforts, got the job as a volunteer and the rest was history. Frendly later became a paying client for five years! Where we went from producing four 30-yard dumpsters worth of landfill waste to one 30-yard dumpster of landfill waste thanks to our zero-waste efforts.


Moral of the story - I put myself out there, without knowing what I was going to do, but knew I would make it work. Throughout my time at Sierra Nevada College out in Lake Tahoe, I continued to build up my client base until I graduated in 2016. I bought a sprinter van in July 2016 and decked it out to be a living and working space. I then continue to take to the road to build my client base all throughout the United States while building sustainability programs for festivals. I moved back home to Vermont in November 2017, when I realized that I couldn’t imagine myself doing any other type of work. In order to make this whole thing work, I needed to get serious. Although traveling the country in a sprinter van and touring national parks along the way was the most fun I ever had, it didn’t allow me to dive deep into business development. From then on out, I have been working hard to build a company full of integrity with values deeply rooted in community, diversity, inclusivity and accessibility. 

Do you have a “WHY” for why you do what you do?

After reading almost every book, podcast and taking virtual classes by my idol Simon Sinek (who invented the - it’s not ‘how’ you do it, it’s ‘why’ you do it.) I have FINALLY come to my personal why. To empower each other so that, together we can reach our full potential. 

My business why - To inspire zero-waste behaviors so that, together we can cultivate lasting change.

Notice a theme here? I am all about empowerment, reaching our full potential, and changing our environment for the better. I am on a mission to create a Waste Free Earth and through my everyday activities of living zero-waste and running a company that helps businesses incorporate zero-waste behaviors, I am fortunate enough to live out my ‘why’ every single day. 

What are your plans for the future?

I want Waste Free Earth to be known as the go-to company for organizations looking to enhance their sustainability presence and infuse zero-waste strategies throughout their operations. Not only do I want to be serving clients all over the United States but I want to bring our proven method to other countries worldwide. On top of that, we will be creating online sustainability and zero-waste training for companies and individuals who can’t afford our personalized services. Lastly, we are in the process of creating a Waste Free Earth app to make sustainability education even more accessible to people!

On a more personal note, I would like to give another TEDx (first one was in 2016 here,) speak on the TED stage, be known as a keynote speaking for zero-waste implementation, be on Forbes 30 under 30, write a book, and continue to educate people on what I love the most - zero-waste!

What is the best about being who you are? 

I LOVE EDUCATING PEOPLE! When I see the light go off in their head, when they make a connection and they realize sustainable living doesn’t have to be taunting, it makes me incredibly happy. Getting DM’s, texts, emails, and phone calls all filled with pictures, videos, and words telling me about their sustainability wins, fills my heart with joy. I wouldn’t change it for the world. Keep the messages coming! Together, we can create a Waste Free Earth.

What does your day look like? 

Honestly, my daily routine changes all the time! It really depends on where I am in my menstrual cycle. I plan all my big meetings, workshops, speakings, video recordings, and major business development strategies during my Ovulation phase. I feel like a total badass and crush things out like a superwoman. 

During the Luteal phase, I am still riding high off of ovulation for a week, and then once that week is over, I go introspective. This is when I have really low-energy and don’t feel as creative. However, I still get really excited about answering people’s questions about zero-waste living and creating content for my clients that are more analytical like blog posts. This phase is typically when I clean up my very scary email inbox, google drive, computer and work on admin stuff for my company. 

During Menstruation, I do not feel as low energy as the Luteal phase but I take things slow and begin visioning for my clients, goal setting and road mapping new sustainable systems that I want to explore with clients. Discovery calls with current clients are great for me during this phase. 

Lastly, we have the Follicular phase where I am starting to get amped up for Ovulation. This phase is where I want to tackle more tasks with fierce force by initiating new projects with clients through intensive brainstorming and actionable problem-solving techniques. I also begin taking online classes for personal and business development during this phase by some of my favorite business mentors, as I feel extra impulsive and ready for growth.

If you are a menstruating human, I highly suggest tracking your cycle so you can begin to synch up your cycle with your business. It really does boost productivity! 

*I did jump around by starting with ovulation but it is my favorite phase, so I wanted to start from there. 

What business-related tips and advice do you have for our readers? 

Oh boy… there are so many!! The most important ones though I would have to say is don’t be afraid to ask for advice and admit when you are wrong. When you run your own company, you experience tunnel vision - you only see your vision and the road you're going to take to get there. By doing this, you can turn down some pretty amazing advice from business leaders or mentors. My advice? Connect with your local small business council and get a free business advisor, each state within the USA has tons of free resources for small businesses - use them! Get yourself involved and start talking to other entrepreneurs. Don’t be afraid to email business leaders that you look up too and ask if they would be willing for a phone call. Sometimes you will get ghosted but other times, you will get that phone call with them. Just be sure to do your research, have an agenda in place and questions thought out - their time is extremely precious. 

What mindset advice do you have for our readers? 

As I mentioned above, tracking your cycle if you are a menstruating human is really helpful with business and personal development. I got diagnosed with severe anxiety and major depressive disorder when I was in high school and have been dealing with that ever since. I recently had to be hospitalized due to one of my panic attacks and then had to be on bed rest for a week. Talk about falling behind on work and then wondering if you explain that to your clients or not? Or continue to say that you were out on medical reasons? AWW THE STIGMA. Anyways, owning/running a company, you are thrown many curveballs, no matter how well you plan, things will not go according to plan. By syncing up my cycle, I know when my inner self-doubt voice is talking and not the true badass Marina, especially during the Luteal phase when I am extremely low energy. 

Outside of that, I  highly recommend taking online classes by people that inspire you! There is so much free information out there that you can seek your teeth into and remain positive and motivated. Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey, where you become a prisoner of your own mind, so knowing how to combat that, will help you ride out those waves with a little more grace. If you have the ability to sign up for a co-working space or a start-up incubator, I highly suggest doing that as well. Being around other entrepreneurs, sharing each other’s stories of successes and failures is humbling and makes you feel less alone. Signing up for one in Burlington, VT,  last year (Vermont Center For Emerging Technologies) was the absolute best thing I could have ever done as it has helped skyrocket my business. Plus the people that also rent spaces in there have become my closest friends. DOUBLE WIN.

You also joined one of our courses - which one? Why did you join it, and did it end up being helpful in any way? 

I signed up for the Instagram Course! It has been super helpful working through the course to get a better understanding of my niche for my personal Instagram (@sustainabilitybosslady) and my company’s Instagram account (@wastefreeearth). Sometimes I tend to merge the two together, but really, although they have similar missions, they require way different messaging. The Facebook community that Krista runs for the course is also extremely helpful. I get to help celebrate others’ successes, hear their stories and learn from one another. It was a nice added bonus to the course!

Anything else you want to share with our readers?

I hear it all the time… ‘I can’t make a difference.’ But I am here to tell you, YOU CAN. Either within the business world, your community or individually. When people come up to me and tell me their impact doesn’t matter because corporations have the largest carbon footprint, I politely say, ‘that shouldn’t discourage you from making a difference.’ Why? The average American produces 4.5 pounds of waste per day, that’s 1,600 pounds per year. Imagine if 100, 1,000, or 10,000 people reduced their waste just by 1/4th? That would make a huge difference. Individually you may feel small, but collectively we make a difference. That is why it is so important to empower one another. Also, don’t forget, we support those corporations and their horrible environmental habits through our dollars, so shop wisely if you have the ability to do so. 

We are sure our readers would love to check out your website and your social media. Maybe you even have some special offers that our readers can grab! 

If you want to learn more about zero-waste living, be sure to follow me on IG @sustainabilitybosslady or Facebook/Linkedin at Marina McCoy. I am always dishing out some free advice and am happy to answer questions you may have. If you want some more information beyond social media, head to my website www.marinamccoy.com and www.wastefree.earth, to sign up for my email newsletters! You will get first access to my latest blogs, online sustainability courses, and zero-waste challenges. 

If you own a company or work for a company that is looking to enhance their overall sustainability presence, please reach out to me and let's set up a discovery call! TIP - If you mention this interview, I will give you a 10% discount on our services for the first month. 

Thank you Girls Building Empires for doing a highlight on me! I appreciate this so very much and loved sharing my journey with all of you. To whoever is reading this, don’t forget to check out their banging online classes and sign up for their newsletter to hear about more stories like mine.  I can’t wait to see all of your empires! 

XOXO Marina McCoy AKA Sustainability Boss Lady

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