Change agent Sheila Morovati is waging war on waste

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Sheila Morovati intends to break our wasteful habits one plastic fork at a time.

Born in Iran, Morovati and her family moved to the United States when the Iranian revolution began. Like many immigrants, Morovati didn’t have the luxury of wasting – anything.

“It was the foundation of my ideology,” she said. “I studied sociology at UCLA. It was so interesting to see that you can create some basic moves. There is a formula and people can get enough energy to change massive standards. I started to put these pieces together.

Morovati has several successful moves to his credit. Through her foundation, Habits of Waste, she tackled plastic utensils and straws and packaging for e-commerce orders. With a campaign, Lights, Camera, Plastic, she tries to convince Hollywood to remove single-use plastic items from movie screens, arguing that images normalize their use.

“We have been in contact with the Endeavor Talent Agency team,” said Morovati. “Leo [Leonardo DiCaprio’s] the manager is a friend of mine. He has done everything he can to keep up to date with the new and fresh ideas that we continue to bring forward. It takes all of us. The plastic solutions crisis we are facing needs everyone on deck. ”

The Crayon Collection, Morovati’s other non-profit foundation, collects lightly used pencils from restaurants and puts them in the hands of vulnerable children from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. She got the idea when her daughter received pencils at a restaurant. “I thought about my childhood and how many kids would have dreamed of these pencils,” she said.

Habits of Waste’s #ShipNaked campaign is Morovati’s latest venture. Its goal is to convince retailers and brands to ship products to consumers with less packaging. The outer packaging of products accounts for 850 million tonnes of paper and cardboard that are thrown away each year, she said. This represents 1 billion trees.

“I received a small handheld vacuum cleaner that I ordered and it came in a box with a shipping label,” Morovati said. “If this is possible, why can’t we do more. This is not a solution to all shipping problems, but it is a very big part. Sometimes we get this huge box. We asked the biggest e-commerce companies to ship products without packaging.

“We wanted to get a wave of people and created a call to action,” Morovati added. “It’s called Show Us Your Package, where you take a photo of the package and label the company that sent it. The other call to action gets people to head over to our site and send out a pre-written email we prepared for Walmart.

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and target

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. “

While facing behemoths like Walmart seems intimidating, Morovati isn’t intimidated. In fact, she has a scheduled call with Amazon

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next month to discuss excess packaging. “I think they all want to do better and find solutions,” she said.

Lest anyone underestimate Morovati, his record speaks for itself. “We have been successful in convincing major food delivery companies including UberEats, Postmates, Grubhub

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, Veggie Grill, and DoorDash to change their default delivery settings so that only those who choose to request plastic cutlery receive them with their orders.

The opt-in feature is now a new ordinance in the city of Los Angeles, and is also a new bill in the State of California, # AB 1276. “In restaurants I have seen water be brought with a plastic straw we would ask. Plastics do not break down.

Movorati launched the campaign in his hometown of Malibu, California. When the city enacted a ban on plastic straw, the local Starbucks was forced to create a new cup-shaped lid for the drinks, which is now in use across the chain.

“Reduce the consumption of single-use food products [also] is helping restaurants that have been greatly affected by the pandemic by reducing their expenses while keeping non-recycled items out of the environment, ”Morovati said.

Habits of Waste’s # 8Meals aims to reduce the consumption of animal protein meals. Morovati conducted a large study on climate change and used his learnings to launch an app, # 8Meals, available on the Apple Store or Google Play. By swapping eight meals of animal protein per week for plant-based foods, people would reduce their animal protein intake by 40%, Morovati found. The # 8Meals app allows users to track their carbon offset per week based on the number of plant-based foods consumed.

“By participating in this challenge, we can reduce 540 kk CO2 per year, which is equivalent to an average American family driving a hybrid car for a year,” Morovati said. “This slow-start approach can lead to long-term habits and takes the pressure off of having to stick to a perfectly vegan diet immediately. The eight meals are 35-45% cheaper.

“If people are wondering how to make a difference, I was a person too,” Morovati said. “I put one foot in front of the other and before I knew it it had snowballed into a real movement. Use your voice and get out.


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