Getting to Know ReMA’s Summer Advocacy, Safety and Sustainability Intern

Jun 26, 2024, 15:57 PM
Content author:
Arnulfo Moreno
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Ele Smalley, ReMA’s intern for Advocacy, Safety and Sustainability has been working with the association for the past two months. A student at the University of Virginia, Smalley brings a fresh perspective as she helps the ReMA advocacy team with their work on the Hill. ReMA News had the opportunity to talk with Smalley about her experience, thoughts on the industry and future plans.

Could give us kind of a little bit of background about yourself? What you’re studying? What are your career plans?

I just finished my second year at the University of Virginia. I’m double majoring in environmental thought and practice, and women and gender studies with a double minor in environmental science and social entrepreneurship. I’m looking to go into environmental law. I don’t know specifically what I want to do with environmental law, but maybe something like environmental social governance (ESG) in companies or carbon emission control or something around that.

I’ve had the chance to interact with some of ReMA’s ESG resources like the course, introduction video and quizzes. I did those. I went with ReMA’s Kristin Hildreth to Capitol Hill for a couple days to kind of sit in on hearings and that was really cool.

Are you applying for law school right after that?

Yeah, I would love to go straight into law school right after that. I think right now that’s what my plan is. I informally toured Richmond Law and I really enjoyed that. The students I spoke with were really nice, and I could see myself there.

What did you know about the recycling industry before you started here?

I knew that we weren’t doing enough to promote recycling and implement it in schools. For my first year, I lived in a dorm and we would have recycling bins and we’d recycle. But I later found out that all the bottles, the plastic, the paper would just be put together in the end and would just be mixed in with the trash. So, it was kind of like a front to make us think we were recycling.

That experience always stuck with me. We need to take better care of the Earth and one way to do that is through recycling. I wanted to learn more about what happens when we actually recycle, how do we recycle resources like batteries, how do we break down construction materials, what can we reuse and what we can’t use?

What are your thoughts on ReMA and the recycled materials industry?

I would like to thank everyone for being so welcoming. Everyone has been so open and willing to help me learn the ropes. I’ve really enjoyed my time here.

I think ReMA is doing a great job of promoting a more sustainable and circular economy. So much work has already been done already, yet there’s still so much that needs to get done. It goes further than just promoting recycling, it’s a shift in mindset.

When I got to go to the Hill and listen to politicians, I saw how important it is to change people’s mindset, and changing the public’s mindset about recycling to save our planet. That’s the bigger issue that I think ReMA is working on solving.

Ele Smalley, ReMA’s intern for Advocacy, Safety and Sustainability has been working with the association...
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