Ripples of change: Making a difference with Millie
Incorporating sustainable habits into your daily life is essential, but figuring out where to start can be intimidating. Luckily, there are people in the world and at EF Education First like Millie. Millie is a Senior Tour Consultant at EF Educational Tours the global captain of the EF Green Team, and she is inspiring EFers at the EF Austin office and beyond with her passion for creating a sustainable future.
Millie is a lifelong nature lover, a passion rooted in her childhood in rural Pennsylvania. "I grew up before cellphones and laptops, and we didn't have cable TV, so I played outside in the woods all the time," Millie reflects. "That is really where my love of being in nature comes from."
She also credits her parents for influencing her sustainable habits. "My parents were ahead of their time—we composted and recycled almost everything. Our family of four created very little waste, to the point where we did not have garbage pickup, and my dad could take our waste every couple of months."
Millie found EF after spending a few years teaching English in Thailand, and she started her EF journey with EF Educational Tours at the EF Denver office. It was in Denver where Millie first joined the EF Green Team, a staff collective focused on inspiring eco-conscious habits at EF and beyond. To Millie, "The EF Green Team is a group of people who care about protecting the planet and protecting people."
"It is special that EF allows us to bring our passions outside the office and incorporate them into our in-office culture. Having that in the workplace is rare.”
When offered the opportunity to help open the EF Austin office in the fall of 2021, Millie traded in her hiking boots for what she classifies as the best tacos and live music in the US. Of course, creating an EF Austin Green Team was at the top of her list of things to do. "It is a community that I did not want to give up, so creating that in Austin was a big priority for me."
Co-founding the EF Austin Green Team gave Millie a chance to directly influence the culture of the new office from the start. "It is special that EF allows us to bring our passions outside the office and incorporate them into our in-office culture. Having that in the workplace is rare."
"The awareness we create in our office makes a broader impact.”
From turning the Austin office compost-friendly to hosting sustainable clothing events, the EF Austin Green Team is doing its part to make a difference in the Austin office and beyond. The most significant indicator of the team's success in Millie's eyes is their ripple of impact on the community.
"What makes me the proudest and most aware of our impact is when one of my colleagues tells me they started composting at home, or convinced their family to start recycling, or stopped buying clothes from fast fashion sites. That's when I realize the awareness we create in our office makes a broader impact. "
Millie recently became the EF Green Team global lead. She will host quarterly meetings for EFers to come together and share what is happening in our offices and schools, what is working, and how to approach any challenges. "I think it really helps for people to feel like they are part of a bigger movement here at EF."
For the first time, Millie will attend the EF Global Leadership Summit in Berlin this summer, a three-day conference EF hosts that asks students from across the globe to create a solution to a global problem. The winning team's prototype is displayed at the Nobel Prize Museum in Stockholm, Sweden.
This year's Summit theme, creating a sustainable future, speaks directly to Millie's passion, and she hopes to come back inspired by the next generation. "I am so curious to hear what solutions the students will come up with, and I am excited to learn more about their vision for the future. I want to bring some of that passion and some of those ideas back to Austin and use that to continue to inspire me in my work."
“It is not just about the impact we are making with events we are hosting; it is also about making structural and long-lasting changes in our offices."
In addition to inspiring her coworkers and community, Millie focuses on creating changes that will last. "In Austin, I want to be at the forefront of helping get this building running on renewable energy. When I talk to other EF Green Team captains, they think similarly. So, it is not just about the impact we are making with events we are hosting; it is also about making structural and long-lasting changes in our offices."
If you are looking for a way to start incorporating more sustainable habits into your everyday life, Millie suggests starting small and specific. She references Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson's Climate Action Venn Diagram designed to help individuals address the climate crisis.
"It is not a one size fits all solution," Millie notes. "We need people doing different things that work towards sustainability and decrease emissions in different ways. That is how you can figure out where you can make the biggest impact and have the largest ripple effect in your community."