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'canvas+conversations' meets Sustainability & Waste


Do you have a passion for art and sustainability? So do we! In a recent episode of Kait Kostelnik’s canvas+conversations visual podcast, she sits down with the ASCP’s Waste Diversion Specialist, Cassy Cadwallader, to explore their shared passions. Kait takes the audience through the creation of a new piece made entirely of trash debris while interviewing Cassy about sustainability in a local and global context.


The two discuss their involvement with sustainability in their lives. Cassy shares how she transformed her passion for sustainability into her life’s work through a Human Geography degree from the Metropolitan State University of Denver. She realized that social and environmental justice are the inextricable link between sustainability and self. Cassy took advantage of the program’s flexibility to allow internships, independent studies, and links to the ASCP student employee program, which propelled her to her current full-time position with the ASCP. In her new position, Cassy feels like she can see tangible impacts of her work capable on a large scale.


Kait remarks that throughout her life living in Colorado, she has seen the toxicity humans have produced, afflicting nature and animals. Climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, and the declining health of the planet are all critical points on Kait’s radar. She believes that no matter who you are or how much money you have, we will all be affected by these issues and we all have a role to play in fixing them. We all must standup to combat it together, taking small steps to change our own behavior and teach ourselves what we can do to help the bigger picture.


Kait’s artistic process includes tearing apart old magazines and refused plastic shopping bags, representing the tearing apart of waste tragedies that the world faces. She and Cassy cover the inextricable links that reach across the globe and bring attention to how waste is imposed upon animals, nature, and how it affects us. They look at harsh topics in depth and tore apart negative repercussion factors like:

  • Global consumerism.

  • Single-use product lines.

  • Mass material production.

  • Mass consumption of environmental resources.

  • Major marketing ploys to falsify recyclability.

  • Nature being overrun by pollution.

  • Overwhelming trash buildup in our communities.

  • Inequitable externalities due to gaps in our social fabric.

  • Waste on a scale we have never seen before.



There remains a sense of levity watching Kait methodically place material on her canvas; each piece given a new purpose and life despite a previous landfilled fate. The belief that a resilient piece of material or product could serve more than a single life brings the ever so important theory that change is possible; progress is possible; and it takes a keen eye to see this hope.

We can’t all be artists in the traditional sense, but who needs tradition! Now is the time for exploration into the possible. The art of hope that we can abolish the systems that are detrimental and create new global dialog and a methodology that may help resolve and reduce some of these issues. So how do we get there? Love for the planet and consideration for others. Understanding how our individual actions, purchasing power, and everyday decisions can either propel these issues or destroy them. We can create impact by ourselves, but more importantly, we must impact those that have created the system for us. Solutions for this current moment include:

  • Extended producer responsibility.

  • Supporting a circular economy.

  • Debunking mass marketing campaigns.

  • Educate ourselves on how to REDUSE, Reuse, and Recycle.

  • Follow legislative progress both locally and nationally.

  • Pressure ethical regulation of waste materials being shipped internationally.

  • Pressure big corporations to produce Fair, sustainable, and materials with integrity for the consumer’s long-lasting use.

  • Pressure our loved ones to have an open conversation about sustainability and waste.

Kait and Cassy both express that passion alone won’t bring us home. Passion must be accompanied with action. They both have experienced the rollercoaster felt by many when learning about these global phenomena. There is sadness in realizing the magnitude of waste and how complex the system surrounding it can be, yet there is hope in hearing that passionate individuals, like Kait and Cassy, are creating avenues for change.


They end with a message to their listeners to never lose hope and to maintain the grit necessary to be introspective and continue to educate themselves. They promote the idea that finding success stories can help bring levity to the journey of self-development. They understand that things like this take time and the best way to get somewhere is to take it one step at a time. Keep momentum by seeking inspiration through identification of individuals who are using their voice to uplift others, supporting companies who are transforming business ethics into a sustainable circular model, and finding the strength to share these successes with others. Share joy and send the ripple effect of positivity even further.

Listen and view the full episode here!


Kait Kostelnik is the founder of KAIT KO art+design, a personal collection of creative works from photography and design to fantastic video series like the one featured in this blog. Kait has been an integral part with the ASCP in the past, animating The Truth Behind the Trash video as part of our Compost Referendum.

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