Stefanie Penn Spear
Founder and president of Expedite Renewable Energy; founder and executive director of EcoWatch, 43
/ Why she’s interesting / A veteran of green-minded publishing, and the president of the alternative-energy consulting company Expedite Renewable Energy, Spear hatched the idea for what would become EcoWatch Journal in college and recently saw ecowatch.org expand to cover environmental issues globally.
/ The big idea / In 1989, Spear was troubled by the overflowing garbage cans inside the student union at her alma mater, the University of Wisconsin. “I realized, Here I am a student at such a liberal, progressive university; however, the students were unconscious to environmental issues as well as general solid waste issues.”
/ The little seed / Spear started a publication to show students’ impact on the earth. “I actually followed the garbage truck out to the landfill, took a photo of the big pile of trash that was generated every two days.”
/ 22 years later / “EcoWatch Journal has grown substantially.” The bimonthly prints 80,000 copies per issue.
/ Sustainability evolution / “People truly understand the value of being conscious of their impact on the earth. It’s much more mainstream, and I’m perceived in a much broader sense.”
/ Make a change / It can be as easy a shift to stop using plastic bags. “They’re the epitome of consumers [being] completely unconscious.”
/ Energy saver / She doesn’t make unrealistic demands in the name of sustainability. “Just stop wasting electricity. Many people reading this piece may have their printers on right now, and that printer, even if it has a sleep mode, is pulling power from the grid 24/7.”
/ Working with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. / The political figure has been the keynote speaker for EcoWatch’s annual Green Gala and other events. His nonprofit, Waterkeeper Alliance, is a partner with EcoWatch’s website. “It's been wonderful getting to work with Bobby. He really has a spirit and dedication to the health of the planet that is unmatched.”