NationSwell is kicking off 2020 with a series that looks back on our biggest moments of impact from 2019. In our first installment, we’re delighted to celebrate a project that encouraged us all to stop worrying and embrace the circular economy.

In late Spring of 2019, Barnard College Director of Campus Sustainability Sandra Goldmark launched Good Stuff, a pop-up installation that showed us how we can live and thrive within the circular economy. With support from the NSC community, her installation inspired more than 3,500 visitors and included 6 panels, 20 workshops, and 75,000 impressions on social media. It garnered a glowing review from the Wall Street Journal, which highlighted the great lengths Goldmark’s “miniature Pottery Barn” took to fully commit to providing consumers with sustainably-produced and second-hand wares for purchase. Good Stuff was also covered in the Sustainable Brands, Ideas for Good, Refinery 29, Refashin, and PSFK. Below, Sandra shares how the NSC helped support this initiative, including how more than fifteen fellow NSC members supported Sandra as advisors, speakers and collaborators.

NationSwell: So happy we could connect! Tell us more about the Good Stuff pop up.

Good Stuff’s Sandra Goldmark: I wanted to engage people [around the circular economy] at the individual, community, business and policy level, to get people to come and look and see alternatives. The term circular economy is exploding but a lot of people don’t know what that means — it sounds very abstract. So we wanted to show people that the circular economy is alive and thriving and you can tap into it right now, right here in NYC and begin to consume in a much healthier way. We set up a store to show physically what it might look like if shopping was not just buying new things, but buying fixed things and used things. If repair and services upgrade were part of the retail experience. We had what we call good new stuff, so anything that was new in store was sustainably and ethically produced. We brought together a corporate partners, real estate partners, city partners, and nonprofits to bring this idea to life and show visitors that this is how shopping could look in the future.

NS: What problem is Good Stuff solving — and why is solving this problem personal for you?

SG: In addition to serving as a professor and the Director of Sustainability and Climate Action at Barnard, I’m the founder of Fixup, a social enterprise aimed at tackling over consumption and waste by promoting reuse, repair and other circular economy solutions. I started Fixup to open repair shops, to explore fixing stuff and Good Stuff was a natural extension of that work — of really thinking about how we approach consumption of material goods and we can do it better. How can we do it in a way that doesn’t tax resources? How can we do it in a way that doesn’t harm the communities where our work, where our stuff is made? And how can we do it in a way that’s easy and achievable and appealing for everyday people? Personally, I feel like our stuff is a huge problem — the way we manufacture and use and dispose of goods. And I actually think that it is fixable, so that is why I’m passionate about it.

NS: How did NationSwell help make this possible?

SG: The first thing I did was connect with my NationSwell Council community manager. I trust her judgement and she was able to recommend useful connections and potential partners. I also approached fellow NSC member Alison Curry and together with the NationSwell team we hosted a Strategic Advisory Group where I was able to leverage to the community as a sounding board. Some members had extensive event experience and were able to help me connect those dots. Others joined as panelists at the popup. Others dove into exciting additions to the pop up like a “good used dogs” area to showcase rescue animals in the theme of the popup. Many fellow members volunteered to support the concept as advisors, brand partners, speakers, and connectors, including Gigi Lee ChangJohn Opperman, Matthew Schwartz, Melody SerafinoSydney Sherman and Mohini Tadikonda.

NationSwell is always trying to learn more about how we’ve supported our Council members in their efforts to make the world a better place. If we helped you, we’d love to hear more about it. Let us know.