Pashon Muarry: A Sustainability Superhero Who Is Creating A Community-Focused Low Carbon Economy With Her Organization Detroit Dirt
We are SO EXCITED to that we were able to catch up with this sustainability hero! Often times, when you think about sustainability and environmental Vanguards, you’re not thinking of a stylish Black women and a big beautiful afro - but you should!
Detroit - which is often amplified as an environmentally toxic city full of crime, poverty and job insecurity - PASHON MURRAY- founded Detroit Dirt! After graduating from Wayne State in Detroit, she decided that she wanted to reduce the amount of waste heading to the landfill. Thus, created an organization whose leading model focuses on organic waste recovery and reuse.
Murray is helping to change the carbon footprint of Detroit through revitalizing neighborhoods, finding solutions for everyday waste, and eliminating trips to the landfill through composting.
Check out this interview
When and why did you start Detroit Dirt?
I started Detroit Dirt in 2010, food waste is an epidemic in this country and globally, Recycling efforts were addressing other issues except food waste. I wanted to create a model that would tackle multiple issues via composting. At first we started out as a engine for urban farming then it became an engine for waste reduction.
What does creating a Low Carbon Economy look like in Detroit? And what has been the biggest growth factor thus far?
Creating a low carbon economy in Detroit focuses on resources within the city and managing them properly so we don’t contribute to greenhouse gases or pollution. Transportation (logistics), Recycling and saving on fuel matters. So many leaders are addressing the low carbon economy and we’ve seen mobility evolving, electric vehicles and an evolution of a bike friendly city, tons of mixed use communities are being developed. I believe the environment will become more of a priority, my role is diverting as much food waste as possible within the city limits. Detroit is becoming more conscious with respect to the environment and climate.
Does being a woman of color influence the work you're doing? If so how?
Being a woman of color influences me to encourage awareness and education for the younger generations. I hope to encourage them to see agriculture, biology and life sciences as an important part of culture. I would like for the youth to pursue careers in various science fields. As an environmental entrepreneur sharing Market and industry possibilities, developing solutions for urban communities and environmental justice. Urban communities with people of color are impacted the most and it’s important to create change and share solutions.
Specifically for communities of color - what do you suggest is the first step in minimizing waste? composting? Re-imaginging a relationship with the dirt / the Earth?
Communities of color have to care about the neighborhoods, first we have to all value the community in which we live. It’s important to keep our communities clean, no matter where you reside. Regarding waste, we can’t throw trash on the ground or wherever, we have to take pride in keeping the communities clean. Wasting less is something we all have to participate in, the rules apply to everyone. Recycling is top priority, watching what you eat, conserving on food...by what you need, we are the largest consumer, we have to start with our own households. Eating healthier is the first step and we have to audit our kitchen, we should look at what we’re wasting.
Create a garden and utilize organic waste for the garden, if you don’t have the space participate in a community garden. Contact the city or county regarding facilities or locations. Reimagining a relationship with the earth is understanding the soil, learning about soil will lead to a healthy relationship. We are what we eat!
Are there any projects and/or initiatives you're looking forward to in the near future?
I’m looking forward to scaling Detroit Dirt, selling byproducts, and utilizing technology to mass produce byproducts and combat climate. We also have a foundation and I’m looking forward to introducing education programs for K-12. It’s imperative that we teach our youth about climate change and what role they can adopt.
What is your greatest inspiration?
My greatest inspiration is witnessing change, I remember when I started this journey, cities, municipalities, universities etc didn’t have sustainable departments or programs. Over the last ten years we’ve seen LEED standard buildings, urban farming and composting movements, climate goals and timelines. The shift is happening, the second inspirational experiences is the hope that I have when the youth are excited about working on climate issues. The legacy of knowing that they will be the leaders in sustainable practices brings joy to my heart.