Inspiring Communities to Embrace and Achieve Zero Waste


RIP – Gretchen Brewer, 1946-2017



By Mary Lou Van Deventer

In San Diego on Tuesday, February 21, 2017, pioneering recycler Gretchen Brewer of Earth Circle Conservation & Recycling transitioned out of this life. As many people know, she had been using oxygen for chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). Then in late 2015, while helping a friend in hospice, she seriously wrenched her back. By 2017 she was receiving physical therapy in a rehabilitation center and recently had been hoping to move back to her apartment. But early Monday February 20, she was taken to an emergency room and later that day had a respiratory crisis. She lost consciousness, and at about 8:30pm on Tuesday she slipped away.

Gretchen started her recycling career in Chicago, working at the Resource Center for Ken Dunn, whom she always called her mentor. Over the years she also worked for state governments in Massachusetts and New Mexico.  For a couple of years, she worked for the plastics industry, in hopes of remolding them from the inside. But when she wanted to carry away a muffin and was upset at being presented with a styro-foam clamshell instead of a paper bag, it was clear the job was no longer a good fit. Fiercely independent and creative, Gretchen returned to being a consultant for the next fifteen years. During this time, she did stellar buy-recycled procurement projects for the US Naval Stations in San Diego, which won a White House Closing-the-Circle award, and Hawaii. Most recently, she was writing a memoir of her innovative career for Urban Ore.

… When Gretchen was working as a consultant in San Diego, she introduced Dan Knapp to some Australians from Sydney, Melbourne, and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) in Canberra. They hired Dan to do some consulting, and on his first trip to the ACT in 1995 he brought back a governmentally endorsed plan called “No Waste by 2010.”  “No Waste” immediately became “Zero Waste” and spread across the country like a grassfire. So Gretchen set up the contact that arguably began the Zero Waste movement in the US. Read more… NCRA



Gretchen Brewer, Earth Circle Conservation & Recycling, San Diego, CA – RIP
Independent consultant in recycling, Zero Waste, and resource conservation serving governments, non-profits, and industry. Advanced think tank, design, research, planning, and implementation of innovative reduce, reuse, and recycling enterprises with emphasis on local capacity building, jobs creation, ‘deglobalization’, appropriate technology, community sustainability, triple bottom line, forest protection, and strategies to combat global warming.