From Zero to Hero: The Zero Waste Movement


Written By: Nina Bhattacharyya, ACEL Microgrant Recipient

Where does our trash go after it’s tossed? This simple question has prompted communities and individuals across the world to rethink how they handle waste and adopt practices that minimize the garbage they send to landfills. I first learned about the zero waste movement through blogs that provide information and resources for leading a no-waste lifestyle. I am amazed by the number of people who are able to fit 5+ years of trash in a single mason jar! As a life-long environmentalist, I decided to adopt many of the zero waste practices into my own life and revise my consumption habits to reuse and repurpose items.

When I learned about Gainesville’s move to adopt zero-waste goals, I knew I wanted to be involved and to show that the community is behind this effort. I decided to start a group called Zero Waste Gainesville that focuses on raising awareness about zero waste policies and lifestyle. Thanks to the ACEL microgrant program, I was able to launch a website and establish a presence on social media. Through this experience, I have developed new skills in design and messaging that will continue to serve me well professionally and through the community initiative. I understand the importance of having this skill set to organize movements, inform people about important issues, and share how they can get involved. In addition, a big part of the effort to raise awareness about zero waste has been to network and join forces with other partners. I have developed relationships with organizations that have similar goals, and together we are growing the zero waste movement locally and reaching a broader audience. I am proud to say that ACEL is one of the partners who supports zero waste policies, and the microgrant program has been instrumental in helping launch the initiative.

You may be asking yourself, has this made a difference? Through our outreach efforts, we had our first success! On October 26, 2017, the city voted unanimously in favor of adopting zero waste goals. This was the first key step in Gainesville becoming a zero waste city. In the coming months, Zero Waste Gainesville will continue to advocate for implementing the zero waste goals, such as passing a plastic bag and styrofoam ban. Visit our website and follow us on Facebook to keep up with the latest information and action items!

ACEL Microgrant Recipient: Irina Javaheri

ACEL member Irina Javaheri received an ACEL micro-grant to help her attend Coffee Fest last month. She learned all the ins and outs of starting a small business. Check out her story.

Written by Irina Javaheri

My husband and I had the opportunity to attend Coffee Fest in Portland, one of the premiere trade shows in the specialty coffee and tea industry. Coffee Fest offers education, hands-on training, new products, and networking opportunities to industry professionals. As aspiring coffee shop business owners, with backgrounds in unrelated fields and no ‘real world’ coffee experience, attending Coffee Fest gave us a unique opportunity to learn more about the industry and meet great people.

In my workshops, I learned about the basics of starting a coffee business. This included developing an authentic mission statement, picking the right location and negotiating a lease, writing a business plan, estimating costs, developing a menu, designing a space to fit offerings, and hiring best practices. I also learned about common (and costly!) pitfalls and how to avoid them (e.g., not researching building/health codes, or signing a lease before designing a floor plan). I was exposed to the latest beverage products (ever heard of a ‘matchata’?) and brewing methods. I also gained a historical perspective on how coffee drinks have changed over time (think classic Italian espresso beverages), and where they are headed (think ‘third wave’ specialty coffee).

I learned about the importance of social media in engaging customers, creating loyalty, and adding value. My husband, Josh, toured several local roasting facilities and learned about the latest roasting equipment. Both of us took hands-on courses about espresso machine maintenance, pulling espresso, and latte art. Coffee is more complex than we thought. It goes through a long production process from seed to cup and can have about 1,200 different flavors (almost double that of wine!).

Aside from all of this training and education, Josh and I connected with many professionals, including coffee bean importers, roasters, retailers (e.g., coffee/tea wares, brewing products, food and drink items), and owners. Just being in Portland was also a great learning opportunity. The city is a leader in the industry, supporting just over 2,500 coffee businesses alone! In our down time, we visited local coffee shops/roasteries, connected with their owners/baristas, took photos for inspiration, and sampled lots of coffee. 

Here in Gainesville, coffee education is hard to come by, barring working in a coffee shop. Those three days at Coffee Fest jumpstarted our knowledge about this dynamic industry and the connections we made will certainly help us moving forward on our coffee journey. Perhaps most importantly, Coffee Fest has helped me feel more confident and passionate about making the leap toward becoming a small coffee business owner. 



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Member Spotlight: Joshua Javaheri

Not quite sure what ACEL is all about? Well, one of the best ways to get to know our organization is by getting to know our members. Collectively, we represent young professional across Alachua County. In an effort to spread the word about the awesome things our members are doing and dreaming, we’re launching a series of Member Spotlights. 

First up, get to know a little more about Joshua Javaheri, a founder of Trendy Entertainment. Trendy is an acclaimed independent games developer located in Gainesville, FL. 

Josh, when why did you decide to join ACEL?

I’ve lived in Gainesville most of my life, and now I’m trying to figure out how I can best give back and make Gainesville better.

As a founder of a successful start-up, I can say that it’s very difficult in Gainesville to both bring in talent and to retain graduates from the University. What Gainesville badly needs right now is the right leadership and a stronger cultural infrastructure.

This is why I joined ACEL – to try to contribute and connect with people looking for the same things.


Why did you decide to join the Professional Development Committee?

I have a very keen interest in growing as a young professional. It’s really important to keep a pulse on what’s happening around you. I think I have both a lot to give and a lot to learn.


What do you like about living in Gainesville and Alachua County?

Gainesville has a small town feel within the entrepreneurial community. There’s a sense among many of the small businesses that “what is good for you is good for me” – that we’re not just in this to better ourselves, but to push Gainesville forward in a more altruistic way.


What is the best advice would you give a young professional?

Definitely surround yourself with smart people all the time. Smart people will take your ideas to the next step, and they’ll see things that you don’t see. It’s very rare that somebody can accomplish anything alone.


ACEL 2017-2018 Board of Directors Application Now Open

Calling all leaders! Are you looking for a way to get more involved in ACEL? Does the chance to lead one of our committees or to complete a special project appeal to you?

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Lunch With A Leader - Exactech Founder and CEO, Dr. William Petty

On Tuesday, February 28, 2017, members of Alachua County Emerging Leaders (ACEL) had the opportunity to have lunch with Dr. William Petty -- a local success story and founder of Exactech, Inc. This was part of ACEL’s Lunch With A Leader program, which is a lunch series organized by our Professional Development Committee.

Dr. Petty is an orthopaedic surgeon by profession, but is noted most prominently as being the founder and current Executive Chairman of Exactech, which develops and produces bone and joint restoration products that help surgeons worldwide make patients more mobile. With global headquarters in Gainesville, Exactech manufactures innovative solutions that improve patient outcomes for hip, knee and shoulder surgery. The local company distributes products in more than 30 markets, including the U.S., Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Pacific.

The lunch began with an introduction of Dr. Petty by Stacia Madden, a member of ACEL’s Professional Development Committee, who spearheaded this event. Dr. Petty provided background on himself and then spoke about the very early and humble days of Exactech. He described coming together in 1985 with two other co-founders, starting the company with virtually zero dollars in profits and funding. He remembers joining his co-founders during the early days of the company to celebrate individual product sales. It was thanks to a $400,000 bank loan for product development that allowed them to jumpstart the company and develop their first hip replacement product.

Speaking for about 20 minutes and then taking questions from ACEL members in attendance, Dr. Petty spoke proudly of the truly customer-centric approach employed by Exactech. He also described hiring as being ‘the most important thing to an organization.’

Throughout the lunch, he stressed the importance of his company’s value system and, more generally, Exactech’s belief in managing by values. These values include integrity, compassion, teamwork, excellence and innovation. Thank you for your helpful insights, Dr. Petty, and for a great conversation.

More information about ACEL and upcoming events can be viewed on our calendar. For more information on Exactech and Dr. Petty, check out

Looking for New Year's Eve Plans?

It’s the week after Christmas which means you’re doing one of two things. You’re wondering why you’re at work when it seems like everyone else took PTO or you’re looking for New Year’s Eve plans.


Lucky for you, we took a little time this week to compile a list of events going on around town so you don’t have to. Gainesville is a diverse place, so we’ve done our best to put together a diverse set of options.


Take a look and let us know where you’re heading! For an added twist, read the entire post doing your best Stefan impression and make up your passcodes.


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Florida Ballot Initiatives - November 2016

In Florida, there are four ballot initiatives up for vote this November. Ballot initiatives are proposed amendments to the Constitution of the State of Florida. These amendments are important because it is very difficult to repeal them, and all future Florida laws must comply with their directives. Ballot initiatives must win by a supermajority of 60% of the vote to pass.

Read on for our quick guide on all four initiatives on the ballot this November.

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Member Spotlight: Gabi O'Grady

Some buildings are so important that they have their own managers. Gabi O'Grady manages the Straughn Center for the University of Florida. She's also a member of the Community Service Committee, and she holds a Master's degree in Management.

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8 Places to Explore in Alachua County this Summer

Alachua County is home to a variety of beautiful parks, springs and adventure facilities. The University of Florida is located in Alachua County where students seek out exciting activities during the school year. Most of the students are gone this summer studying abroad, working or interning. Now is the perfect time to go to their favorite attractions to have an eventful, active summer. Below are 8 of my favorites you should check out.


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ACEL 2016-2017 Board of Directors Application Now Open

Calling all leaders! Are you looking for a way to get more involved in ACEL? Does the chance to lead one of our committees or to complete a special project appeal to you?

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