Ginger Spencer changed my perspective about the City of Phoenix with her passion and dedication for making it sustainable. Her leadership and vision give me great optimism for the future. While Ginger personally cares for the environment in how she lives her life, she has also dedicated her career to reducing waste and sparking innovation around the circular economy. I asked her for her thoughts on how to live a renewable life. I hope her words will inspire you too.
Nicole Bassett: What do you do and why?
Ginger Spencer: I’m a public servant and I love working in government and making a difference in my community. I am currently the Public Works Director for the City of Phoenix and get to lead the zero waste efforts for the City. It’s a wonderful job and I have a great team of dedicated employees passionate about helping the environment.
NB: What is your internal monologue when you should recycle something but it is a pain in the ass?
GS: Recycling takes effort but not a whole lot of time. I think about all the cool things that can be made from the recyclables. This often plays out in my mind whenever I’m getting rid of plastic bags. I think I can easily throw them away and they will end up going to the landfill or even worse ending up on the side of the road as litter. Or I can take them to the local grocery or hardware store right up the street and then one of our local plastic recycling companies can turn them into patio decking for people’s homes. How cool is that?
NB: What do you do for self-care? What is the way you care for the community and the planet?
GS: I definitely believe in giving of my time, talent and treasures. I put in a lot of hours at work and in the community so self-care is important. I’ve got a demanding job so to be effective as a leader of a large enterprise operation I must take care of myself. For me, exercise is key. I walk a mile a day and love Pilates and hiking! We’ve got some of the most beautiful mountain preserves in Phoenix. If you’re ever in town, be sure to check out South Mountain or Camelback Mountain. You won’t regret it!
NB: What do you hope people say about you?
GS: I hope people say that I’m humble, kind and a true leader – passionate about my family, my community and the environment.
NB: The Renewable Life is “An invitation into a different style of living. One with simple habits and practices that center around love, joy, meaning and appreciation.” Can you share a behavior of yours that you think someone would benefit from hearing from you?
GS: I try to minimize what I consume and throw away. I actually just started practicing minimalism. Everyone who knows me knows that I love suits. I wear them all the time they’re like my uniform. There’s a national program here in Phoenix that empowers women to achieve economic independence and success by providing them with professional attire and tools to help them succeed in the workforce. It brings me great joy when I donate my suits to the company knowing they’ll make a woman feel strong and confident when she’s entering the workforce. Pure joy!
NB: The Renewal Workshop is trying to change the apparel industry; why is that important to you?
GS: I commend The Renewal Workshop for your leadership and your efforts in bringing about change in the apparel industry. Unfortunately, many clothes, purses, belts, shoes and bags are thrown away and end up in the landfill each and every year. We’re still working on developing technology that will make textile recycling less challenging. A lot of these items can be passed down, donated, upcycled or repurposed, but they definitely don’t belong in the dump!
NB:What question do you wish I would ask?
GS: A question I don’t get asked a lot is what did I want to be growing up? A fashion designer…of sensible, sustainable fashion of course! But that’s another story.