Jenny Hogrefe is the Wellness and Sustainability Manager at KIND Snacks. KIND is a food company with a mission to spread kindness and create snacks made with nutritionally-dense ingredients that avoid secret ingredients, artificial flavors, preservatives, and sweeteners.

ODP: How did you choose your career in corporate sustainability?

JH: I was raised in a very “environmentally aware” household so being mindful of my impact was part of my upbringing. As cliché as it sounds, all it took was watching An Inconvenient Truth for my passion for environmental issues to crystalize. I came to realize that if there is no planet, trying to advance other causes would be pointless so I decided to channel my passion, energy and skills towards advocating for the environment/preserving our natural resources, and haven’t looked back since. I landed at KIND because I have always liked the idea of working “on the inside” as a change agent, helping to advocate and advance more sustainable, ethical practices.  What I love about this company is that while we’re a very healthy, well-run business, we think of KIND as a not-only-for-profit, striving to not only get healthy snacks in the hands of millions of people, but also meaningfully contribute to the world and society at large.

ODP: As a Millennial do you think you bring a unique perspective to your workplace as issues like climate change and global pollution will have an outsized impact on your generation? 

JH: Every time I hear this narrative I try to challenge it. Not because it isn’t true — climate change/pollution will impact future generations more deeply than the older generations alive today — but because it suggests that climate change has not already arrived. It has — we are witnessing more extreme weather events across the globe, with no signs of slowing. Whether that’s the record high temperatures, sea level rise, Arctic sea ice decline, a warming ocean, I could go on — there is a ton of evidence that climate change is not some far off-event. Generally, I find that our generation is more dissatisfied with the status quo and that lines like, “that’s just how we do things” have much less resonance with us. Many of us feel an innate responsibility to evolve beyond business as usual, probably because we realize it is not going to serve us in the long-haul.

ODP: What keeps you hopeful when it comes to the fate of our planet? There’s certainly a lot of doom and gloom but what prevents you from giving up?

JH: It’s the people doing the good work, fighting the good fight and developing real solutions that keep me hopeful. I enjoy listening to the Climate One podcast, which often centers on people who are driving solutions forward, as well many of the features in Our Daily Planet. A couple of people who really stand out to me, and who I deeply admire for their advocacy and leadership are:

    • Rhiana Gunn-Wright, architect of the Green New Deal
    • Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist who has galvanized millions of other young people, encouraging them to raise their voices and advocate for climate solutions
    • Katharine Hayhoe, the climate scientist and evangelical Christian who is helping prove that climate science and religion can go hand in hand  
    • Annie Leonard, head of Greenpeace USA and creator of the Story of Stuff. I had the pleasure of watching her speak at The New School last summer (you can watch here), it was a thought-provoking talk that left me energized
    • Jay Inslee, bringing climate change to the forefront of a presidential campaign — showing the intersection of the issues Americans care about and the realities of climate change, and challenging the DNC to put the issue where it deserves to be: front and center on a debate stage