047: Anastasia Mikhalochkina (Lean Orb)

Anastasia Mikhalochkina on Innovation City

“It’s not a business that I’m building for myself. That business builds a community for everybody—it builds a new city—and we’re building it for everyone.” — Anastasia Mikhalochkina

Welcome to Innovation City—powered by Venture Cafe—where Tyler Kelley and Michael Johnson, Co-Founders of SLAM! Agency, interview innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency in cooperation with Venture Cafe St. Louis and Venture Cafe Miami, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community. Venture Cafe is the largest combined gathering of entrepreneurs and innovators anywhere in the world. Events are held every Thursday in St. Louis, Miami, and other leading innovation cities around the globe.

Today’s guest is Anastasia Mikhalochkina, Founder at Lean Orb. Anastasia is an advocate for sustainability in South Florida. Lean Orb offers food service packaging made from plant-based materials, with a goal of ultimately replacing plastic and styrofoam with greener, more sustainable options. Anastasia joins Innovation City to talk about building better single-use products, educating consumers about sustainability, and her goal of helping Miami become a zero-waste city.

They discuss:

  • Anastasia was a recently finalist at WINLab Miami at Babson College
  • Circular economies
  • Tackling the problem of plastic waste in South Florida
  • 80% of plastic ends up in the ocean
  • The problem of single-use plastic and how it winds up back on our plates
  • The amount of plastic we accidentally consume each year as a result of plastic waste being eaten by marine life
  • The U.S.’s broken recycling system; we don’t have a proper recycling infrastructure
  • China is no longer buying our recycling waste
  • Natural fibers that can effectively replace single-use plastic
  • The ethical responsibilities to develop better solutions
  • Building products from agricultural waste; creating pulp from wheat straw or sugar cane
  • Experimenting with fungus as an alternative to styrofoam
  • Being inspired by Burning Man’s “No trace left behind” principle, and being shocked at the amount of waste she was personally accountable for over the course of the week-long festival
  • Moving toward a zero-waste lifestyle
  • San Francisco’s zero-waste goal; currently at 93% waste-optimization
  • The importance of composting to proper waste optimization
  • The importance of looking at things from a different perspective
  • Learning from Europe’s recycling programs, which are years ahead of the U.S.
  • The various natural fibers and agricultural waste that her company is currently working with
  • Testing products with a local composting group, Fertile Earth
  • Replacing disposable products with compostable products
  • Focusing on restaurants, hotels, food groups, and festivals
  • Thinking beyond the dollar sign, to consumer education