Today, I chatted with Morgan Berman while she waited to hear whether or not her company, Philly-based sustainability app MilkCrate, will win the Forbes’ 30 under 30 Pressure-Cooker contest—the company was one in five chosen from all over the country to pitch their idea in a Shark Tank-like setting, with the hopes of winning a $400,000 prize. Sounds stressful, right?
Yeah. And that’s why we decided to lighten the mood by asking Berman, a sustainability expert of sorts, some fun questions about sustainability in Philly, like what her number one sustainable spot in the city is, what the coolest thing she’s discovered about Philly since starting MilkCrate is, and more. See what she had to say below.
1. What’s the coolest sustainable practice you’ve found in Philly?
When I discovered what Revolution Recovery does with its RAIR program, I was really amazed: the company takes recycled materials out of their own waste stream, then artists come and work with the materials and then, eventually, they put them back into their waste stream.
The program is incredibly sustainable, and it also attracts attention to Revolution Recovery, so I think it’s a really smart move as a company, and it’s really inspired me when it comes to MilkCrate.
2. What’s your favorite sustainable spot in the city?
I was born at 10th and Clinton, so my mom used to push me in my stroller over to Reading Terminal Market every day, and I sort of grew up in this bustling, iconic Philly place. So, if I had to pick one—which really is impossible–it would be there. I love to go back there for a quick lunch or to grab produce—something about going in there just feels like a mini vacation. And so many of the vendors are committed to sourcing sustainable goods, so it’s just very connected to MilkCrate and our mission.
3. What’s the coolest thing you’ve discovered about Philly since starting MilkCrate?
I’ve been biking around a lot, going from business to business, and a little while ago, I was biking down in South Philly when I came across FDR Park. I’d never been there before—there are giant lakes, and ponds and fields!
I was in NY the other weekend and I was so jealous: they have the High Line and Central Park and all this stuff, and in Philly, we don’t really get that. But then, I end up stumbling upon these little spaces of green and realize, we do have so many green spaces in our city! So I’d say, discovering that has been the coolest thing. (Editor’s note: MilkCrate has an entire category devoted to cataloging green spaces in Philly, in case you’re ever in need of a green spot on the fly.)
4. What’s your biggest pet peeve when it comes to sustainability in Philly?
Well, I get really frustrated when I see bins for composting or recycling and then I find out that they’re not actually being composted or recycled, at least not properly. This happens a lot.
Also, it really bothers me how car-dependent we still are as a city. I’m encouraged by the new bike share program and I love SEPTA and I just want more resources to go toward pedestrian walkways, bike lanes and public transportation so we can get around without cars—because without access to these resources, we, as a city, are just so much less connected to each other.
5. What can users from MilkCrate expect next?
We are hopefully going to be successfully ending our Indiegogo campaign in the next two days (you can donate here), and once we have the money, we can focus on building our next version which will have much richer content.
We’ve been doing user surveys, and the feedback we get is like, “Well, what makes this business sustainable? I need more information!” And we want to give that to people, but we need money in order to do that. We should also have social media integration, and our own maps within the app soon. And within the next year, we have plans to expand to four other cities: Denver, San Francisco, D.C. and Asheville.
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