Next-generation leader

February 4, 2021


By Josie Holland, '23

When Jennifer Huffman, ’10, purchases a pack of soda, the bottles may have scuffs or scratches on the outside, but she doesn’t mind. In fact, for her, it’s normal. That’s because Huffman lives and works as a strategic communications and public affairs consultant at Brunswick Group in Germany, where many companies use a circular economy. In this case, consumers can return bottles to the store for the companies to clean and reuse in future products.

“If we had [American] government invest in this kind of recycling, it would be incredible for sustainability, and it reduces costs,” she says. “That’s the thing about sustainability so often, and what you call circular economy. Instead of going from take-make-waste, you take the end product and put it back into the take and make processes.”

As an American in Germany, she finds that her international perspective “shows you what's possible in very specific concrete ways: This is what I, as an individual citizen, can do in my personal way on a daily basis.”

As the climate crisis becomes more urgent, Huffman sees millennials as the new industry leaders in sustainability. They are well-positioned to take meaningful long-term steps to promote corporate sustainability and purpose-driven economies.

“We’re a generation that, compared to previous generations ahead of us, are saying, ‘I see the writing on the wall. Short-termism doesn’t work, and I’m footing the bill. The can keeps being kicked down the road, but I’m going to be the one that first has to deal with it.’”

While the situation is fast approaching the point of no return, Huffman is hopeful. “It’s only with radical change and radical system restructuring that we can reverse the trend. It’s just a mammoth task. That being said, you would be shocked how many incredible organizations are working on it.”