Gray is the New Green

Lucy Servidio, Senior Vice President, CAPACCIO

Attending a recent Environmental Business Council (EBC) Ascending Professionals meeting sparked an idea…maybe being the oldest (the woman with the gray hair) in the crowd of blondes and brunettes could have its advantages. Maybe I could share my years of experience from the world I grew up in through this blog “Gray is the New Green.” I could not only compare and contrast what I learned then to today’s world, but could have some fun along the way. I hope you get some takeaways from these blogs.

Last month, I attended EBC’s Ascending Professionals charity fund raiser for Rosie’s Place. Since our firm was one of the sponsors and our firm’s “Ascending Leader Award” recipient, Cristina Mendoza had organized it, I thought I should attend.

It did not take long to realize that I was the only person in the room with gray hair and probably one of the only people over 35. Smile. This did not dissuade me from mixing in and finding out what folks were chatting about…weekend plans, current projects, certifications to be obtained, what door prize people were hoping for…I must admit there was a great energy vibe. These young professionals were pumped about sustainability, climate change adaptation and resilience, emerging contaminants and I thought to myself, at their age I was focused on making sure drums were labelled properly and there were lines on the floor to segregate hazardous waste from raw materials. I had a comforting feeling that the future of this field is safe.

After I made the rounds I decided to turn in…I wasn’t drinking that night…gave it up for Lent…so I left earlier than most of the crowd. It was on my way home that I started to think about what I was doing at that age, why I chose the environmental field 41 years ago, what was I thinking…oops, I mean what was I hoping to achieve and wondered if I’m still on the right path?

It all started in 1977 when I decided that I was going to save the world…I had done well in science in high school, environmental science felt like a good way to apply science, it was the 70’s and I was not the only teenager who was moved by the “Native American with a single tear falling on his cheek.”

Only a handful of colleges/universities even offered an Environmental Science degree back then as compared to today (526 according to the College Board), I ended up at Cook College, Rutgers University. Best move I’ve ever made. I remember my parents driving me down to school and while on the New Jersey Turnpike my mom saying, ”Lulu, are you sure you want to go to school down here it really smells bad,” and I said ”what better place to go and study about pollution, Ma…and this is where my story begins.”

Nick and Lucy Servidio, Rutgers University, 1977

Side note: I got a great education and also met my soul mate Nick who I eventually married, had 3 wonderful kids with and are still madly love…but that’s another blog that I have been meaning to start…why am I so lucky to have found true love….smile.

My next post of this blog series will dive into what studying Environmental Science was like in 1977… RCRA had just been enacted and CERCLA was in development. As I mentioned accumulating experience and gray hair has its advantages. Looking forward to sharing my stories and lessons learned.

Crying Indian Photo: A Keep America Beautiful advertisement by the Ad Council, which was launched in 1971. (Ad Council) – Original Credit: (HANDOUT)


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