By Tinia Pina
Tamara joined us in June this year to help our team better communicate our commitment to sustainability, from the way our products are made, to what's in it, and how we try to extend this education beyond our team as part of our community outreach. I met Tamara while serving on a panel at the United Nations focused on women and entrepreneurship earlier this year. While there, I shared Re-Nuble's founding story and the challenges of scaling a sustainable manufacturing company while bootstrapping. I must have done something right because Tamara shared her interest in any internship summer opportunities this summer immediately after the event and that is what led us here.
Each person that joins our team, I try to understand what personally and professionally motivates him or her and for our interns by asking the following questions:
Why you chose Re-Nuble to join this summer?
I met Tinia through my supervisor from an internship last summer when she was moderating a panel discussion that featured women running businesses that target the UN Sustainable Development Goals earlier this year. Out of all the featured businesses, Re-Nuble was the most environmentally focused and addressed an urban issue that was really relevant to New York City. I thought it was really innovative how Re-Nuble’s products were resourceful with its ingredients and that it was innovative to market towards hydroponic farming systems, which I believe is a growing trend and lifestyle in this city. I also had a prior interest in urban farming in general and wanted to learn more about this industry.
Do you have a green thumb and how do you practice it?
With the limited space given at basically any apartment in the city, I try my best to have a green thumb. Although it may not be of best practice, I currently have a few plants such as palms and succulents growing on my fire escape, as well as some plants inside my apartment. I am lucky to have a south facing room that gives my plants ample sunlight, so just watering the plants is effective, but I also occasionally use rice water (water used to rinse rice) as a little booster for my plants. I also try to have some flowers in my apartment to add color.
What does a Sustainable NYC mean to you and how do you envision Re-Nuble fitting into that vision?
A sustainable NYC is a city that can reduce its excess production, waste, and usage of resources through utilities and reinvest the saved finances towards empowering lower income communities to create a more circular economy. A sustainable NYC is also a clean city that can protect and clean its natural environment through investing in clean, renewable energy and support organizations that are working to make natural environments enjoyable for future generations. And finally, a sustainable NYC is also a city that is accessible and enjoyable for everybody--regardless of race, gender, age, or disability, because too many times I have seen families and individuals not being able to take full advantage of living in one of the largest cities in the world simply because they couldn’t access places or services.
I feel Re-Nuble fits into this vision by empowering the movement of urban farming. A lot of research has shown the benefits of urban farms or community gardens reducing crime in neighborhoods and increasing its community engagement and involvement. A more engaged community means more eyes on the street and more opportunities for new businesses and friendships to develop. Re-Nuble also addresses the need for more natural spaces in urban areas, as well as the ability for urban areas to be self-reliant and produce some of its own food and these can be addressed by promoting urban farming. Increasing urban agriculture initiatives can inherently reduce emissions from various aspects of the food industry in cities, and Re-Nuble’s product is an effort to reduce and reuse food waste as material for a product, and therefore facilitates innovation.
How do you practice aspects of a circular economy or sustainability at home?
I try my best to be as sustainable as possible such as drinking tap water with a water bottle to minimize waste, buying from second-hand stores to contribute to the circular economy, and being good about recycling. I also utilize New York City Department of Sanitation's composting collection and compost my food waste and yard waste. Although these are very small aspects of sustainability, I believe it will have a stronger impact when it is collectively done in communities and cities.
What would you like to see Re-Nuble do differently for cities that other companies or brands have failed to do so or have not invested the efforts in creating?
I feel many companies and brands often forget to be transparent with their work in the midst of being competing with similar businesses in their industry. I hope that Re-Nuble will be a role model for other businesses in the same field to be transparent with their business plans. I also hope to see Re-Nuble be more actively engaged with supporting local businesses in some way and strengthen the circular economy movement in cities.