This week, we caught up with Shifrah Jacobs, Chief Impact Officer at Plastics For Change, one of our three plastic collection partners. Shifrah oversees fair and ethical supply chains, develops impact parameters, and focuses on growing the community side to waste collection. Hear more about her work below…
What gets you up every morning?
Great philosophical question! :)
For me, it's knowing that I have a clear sense of purpose in this world whilst I’m alive. That my life is not random and that I’m in this time and place for a reason. And that reason isn't about “me” but others - to help and support others that have not had the same opportunities as I have. I do my best to live up to that reason however small or big my circle of influence is.
What drew you to work within the impact space?
I started my career in advertising and was heading down a very corporate career in my early 20s. I took a 6-month sabbatical to intern at a non-profit. This was a non-profit that provided free medical aid to underprivileged individuals struggling with cancer. Part of my job early on was visiting homes to screen the economic needs of individuals. I’ll never forget meeting a young 12-year-old boy writhing in pain who eventually died due to lack of medical aid. The grief and desperation of families I encountered here changed me forever - to do anything in my power and ability to help those who couldn't help themselves.. This was the starting point and there’s been no turning back since.
What is the most rewarding part of your role?
Seeing individual lives transformed and changed! Seeing families and communities living freely and fully to their potential.
How have you noticed the waste management sector evolving?
I can speak for India and say that we’ve seen some good progress in the last decade. Consumption has increased rapidly, particularly in urban cities and local municipalities/waste management have struggled to cope. While collection systems have been largely run by informal groups riddled with exploitation and opaque business methods, the government's recent taxation on producers to ensure collection has helped bring more accountability. It’s also helped bring more professional players to manage collection which has been a boost to the waste management industry. Besides collection, we’re also seeing increased technological breakthroughs in upcycling, brands willing to explore changes in packaging design to support recycling systems, etc. It’s slow but sure progress!
Learn more about our exciting new partnership with Plastics For Change in our 2021 Impact Report.