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When Trash is Your Business

Talk about inspiration seemingly coming out of nowhere! All her years of conventional studying and actively participating in community-oriented events, might today seem to pale in comparison to that single, life-changing moment for Sian Cuffy-Young, when she was literally struck in the face, and subsequently realised her professional calling.

It happened one fateful day while she visited a beach on Trinidad's western peninsula with her father and siblings. There she was, enjoying the sun, sea and sand, when suddenly, whap! A loaded disposable diaper made a dramatic, close connection with her eyes, nose and mouth. Utterly disgusted, she immediately vowed to herself, and equally insisted that her father swear to never again bring her back to that beach. And would you blame her?

Thankfully, that was yesteryear! Nevertheless, that diaper episode triggered her curiousity about environmental protection and waste management in Trinidad and Tobago. Fast-forward to today, and this dynamic female entrepreneur, Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship alumni, public speaker, children's author, former teacher, wife and mother of three is making bold, brave steps to create a lasting paradigmatic shift in our perspective on all things glass, paper, plastic and kitchen scraps.

She wants us to know the distinction between reusing and recycling. She urges us to know how to effectively and efficiently manage our waste as Small Island Developing States in the Caribbean. She encourages us to see the value in using our kitchen scraps like carrot peelings and potato skins to make valuable compost. She hopes and believes that we should engage in wider networking and collaborations with our fellow global citizens in order to combat the deleterious effects of climate change.

So, is waste literally how she earns a living? Yes. And do you know what? She loves it!

And it seems that local and international organisations have been taking a particularly keen interest in supporting her cause. To date, Ms. Cuffy-Young has received numerous invitations to present on waste at home and abroad; as well as being the recipient of countless accolades, citations and awards for her work as a small entrepreneur and a policy developer-cum-project manager, not to mention being featured prominently in various print and electronic media.

Apart from serving as the CEO/Manager of her El Dorado, Trinidad and Tobago-based business, Siel Environmental Services Limited, she has immersed her collective energies, talents and expertise into influencing younger generations, through her 'edu-sessions' conducted across the spectrum of educational institutions. Even during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, this 'can-do', resilient lady remained quite resolute, opting to engage the public through the facilitation of virtual webinars, Q&A interviews and even a puppet-show!

Clearly, what she endeavours to do, she will undoubtedly accomplish with verve and panache. Yet, what makes Ms. Cuffy-Young's mission all the more relatable and endearing, is that she and her husband struggled in their first few years of pursuing this dream. There were the days when their passion was very strong, but making ends meet proved quite frustrating and daunting. There were the days when she knocked on doors, only to encounter many closed doors and even windows. Giving up and calling it a day at that point, seemed a plausible, dignified option.

However, as the time-cherished adage reminds us, perseverance seldom fails. Buoyed by her fervent belief that (sic), 'what God decides is for you, no-one can take away from you', and compounded by the unwavering support of her family and close friends, Ms. Cuffy-Young pressed on until finally, a door did open!

Then, in true domino-effect, it was gradually followed by the opening of additional doors, and even windows. Today, this waste pioneer is seeking to ensure that as she was blessed, she too is able to bless others by sharing of her knowledge, and also creating a pathway for those who desire to emulate what she is doing. With the sky being the proverbial limit, what the future holds for this amazing young woman is anyone's guess, but it is undoubtedly going to be phenomenal!

Be sure to remember the name Sian Cuffy-Young. It will definitely not be a waste of your time.


LinkedIn Local Caribbean, Sian Cuffy-Young, waste, environment, education

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