UWL alumni works to reduce environmental impact through The Finnovation Institute


Photo submitted by Ashleyn Przedwiecki.

Liberti Jonas-Jongebloed, General Assignment Reporter

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse alumni Ashleyn Przedwiecki joined other innovators and entrepreneurs as she began her fellowship in Minneapolis, Minnesota at The Finnovation Institute funded by the Bush Foundation. Through this fellowship, Przedwiecki has the opportunity to incorporate her ideas and business model into plausible changes that contribute to solutions within the events industry. Chosen out of a competitive pool of candidates, Przedwiecki who graduated in 2013, chose to focus on solutions for tackling waste and the environmental footprint of the events industry through a sustainable events academy and creative design agency.  

As a first-generation college student, Przedwiecki said she had no idea where her path would take her. Though she started at UWL with a medical major, Przedwiecki graduated from UWL with bachelors’ degrees in Communication Studies, Costume Design, and a minor in Environmental Studies.

While studying her undergraduate, Przedwiecki was able to travel to London for research regarding gender roles in the fashion and textile industry as well as take part in the environmental council and was able to bring composting and vermicomposting to UWL. “As of December 2011, the program has diverted greater than 40,000 pounds of food material from the UWL solid waste stream and produced more than 2,000 pounds of finished worm castings.”  

Following her undergraduate, Przedwiecki began work in San Diego at an environmental education non-profit. There she said she was able to use creativity to educate others about environmental issues. Specifically, she was able to lead her own film festivals, maker’s markets, pop-up dinners, and events all while educating others regarding sustainably and even doing it sustainably. She said this is when she realized the true issue of overproduction of waste in the events industry. 

Through this fellowship, Przedwiecki plans to focus on the event industry, but she is also focusing on individual impact. With this, she plans to create, “a sustainable events academy and creative design agency with a training program, workshops, and digital network meant to connect the many industry professionals that make an event come together,” she said.

She said she plans to educate individuals on how they can build social impact and sustainable practices into their own businesses and events. With her work being at the intersection of events, art, and the creative economy, she hopes to activate creative leaders. From small business owners to freelancers, to design-oriented people, she hopes to help others see themselves as critical leaders in fighting the climate crisis.  

Going forward Przedwiecki said she hopes that her solutions will expand far beyond the Midwest and continue to contribute to ending the climate crisis. Przedwiecki said, “If we can just use our skills and our passions and expertise to just take one step every day, in our personal lives, or in our professional lives or in our creative lives, I really think that every small step leads to incredibly large impacts.”

“Having the confidence and understanding for yourself and your vision is important,” she said. “But as long as you listen to your heart and your inner voice, you are always going to find a way to get closer to where you need to be, every choice you make is an opportunity and a step in the direction of the life you want. There is no perfect way to do it, just your way of doing it.”