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  • Writer's pictureTracy

Sit Down with Michaela Barnett of Knoxfill

We had the incredible opportunity to sit down with KnoxFill founder, Michaela Barnett in this full length episode on the VWC podcast. Michaela is a busy PhD student, with her dissertation only months away. While working on her doctorate, she also decided to open a business, which is how we heard about her.

Michaela has no recollection of a time when her obsession with waste was not a part of her life. Since childhood, she recalls dumpster diving, not in a needs-based way, but in a 'why are people throwing this out' way, which she credits learning from her mother. Fast forward to high school, where she set up her first recycling program, then in college where she set up a cafeteria composting program, to today as she makes final preparations for her dissertation within sustainable science and behavior.

Michaela was a pure joy to learn from giving us insight, as well as hard truths, and ending with a measure of hope.

Here are actionable take-aways:

  1. Re-educate yourself on methods of sustainability that work. For too long we have relied upon recycling as a method for justifying purchases that we make. Michaela challenges us to consider what would happen if the things we bought could not be thrown out, but instead, had to remain in our homes. This is exactly what happens with waste, it never really goes away, but becomes another community or another country's problem.

  2. There are things you can do now to improve sustainability efforts. Though it is an uphill battle, there is a shift emerging, people are becoming more aware and want change. Michaela gives us two ways we can make a difference: working to create a low waste home and writing letters to retailers and corporations to encourage them to use less packaging.

Michaela reminded us that it takes individual efforts as well as system changes in order to make a difference.

And this difference, is needed urgently. The more Michaela dives into the work she does, she reports the outlook as positive. She has turned frustration into action, and believes heroes are any person who does the same to make the world a better place.

You can connect with Michaela @knoxfill and @wasterenegade and her shop is at

Our talk with Michaela can be heard on Spotify or Anchor.

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