Photographer: Ben Siegel
Jan 23, 2013
By Tessa Dufresne
The Ohio University Facilities Department welcomed Andrew Ladd on Jan. 7 as the new recycling and refuse manager. He replaced the first manager, Ed Newman, who retired in June.
Ladd, a 1993 OHIO alumnus with a Bachelor of Science in environmental geography, returns to Athens with about 20 years of experience under his belt.
"Ladd was one of the original student team members with Campus Recycling," said Steve Mack, chair of the hiring committee and director of Facilities Management. "He has experience and knowledge about the program. He has seen it at its very early stages, he has seen the growth and he is now able to look at the potential as it lies ahead."
Ladd spent seven years as an environmental specialist and local products purveyor with Whole Foods Market, a top retailer of natural and organic foods and recognized leader in sustainable business practices.
Ohio University Compass recently sat down with Ladd to help the OHIO community get familiar with the new face of recycling on campus.
What began your interest in recycling, waste recovery and sustainability?
Ladd: It began with my father and my family in particular. They were ahead of the curve on sustainability and recycling. My father was a scientist and technician at heart and I specifically remember cases where we'd be walking across a parking lot and he would pick up aluminum cans way back in the 70s. Along with that, we did a lot of nature activities and traveling as a child and I got to see the beauty of this country and learn to respect it.
How did you decide to turn your childhood interest into a career?
I was very interested in environmental studies and in some form of career that makes a specific difference to better our world's situation. I was a student activist on campus in the early 90s and due to that activity, it helped get me a job in Campus Recycling from 1990 to 1993. That's where my passion took a focus toward recycling.
You've had hands-on experience since graduation. What has that taught you and where has it taken you?
I've had experience in environmental education and environmental action and sustainability, specifically in waste management. One of the biggest things it's taught me is that the vast majority of people want to do the right thing if they are given the tools and knowledge on how to do it. As a solid waste and recycling manager, my role is to make sure others have the tools and knowledge base to be able to make the right choice. The overwhelming majority of people are just waiting for that opportunity to make an environmentally sound choice.
I've been to 49 of the 50 states. When I first left college in 1993, my goal was to see the country and live in beautiful places. So I've lived inside Sequoia, Yellowstone and Denali national parks. I've lived in a lot of mountain towns from Alaska to Colorado to California and also in the Bavarian Alps where I spent a year traveling and snowboarding and working my way in Europe. I've lived in a lot of beach towns from Florida to California. It's been a really excellent, eye-opening experience. A good way to see the world, meet the people that are out there, understand the culture and gain experience along the way.
What about environmental geography and recycling excites you the most?
Recycling is one of the most basic steps toward sustainability. It's almost like a gateway habit – when someone takes recycling into their daily behaviors, they are more likely to later think about energy reduction and transportation choices. It's one of the first habits to get people into an environmental mindset and that is very exciting because it's a very hands-on aspect of sustainability. People have the choice every single day as to what they are going to do with their waste stream.
What are your hobbies?
I'm avid into actions sports. My primary sports have always been climbing and snowboarding. I also hike and bike a lot. Right now I'm traveling predominately by bike so I'm biking every day. I garden and love to grow my own food; therefore, I also like to cook. I have a soon-to-be 7-year-old son, so we do everything that a father and son like to do.
What are your goals in the new position?