meet dani

Dani Brown

Reporter, photographer, grad student

I’m a reporter, photographer + proud snail mom. I’m pretty jazzed about the planet and low-waste + mindfully living. I’m an environmental science grad student studying online at the University of Illinois.

where are you from?

I live in Beaver County, about 30 minutes north of the city of Pittsburgh. You don’t have to live in the heart of Dormont, Millvale or McKees Rocks to be a yinzer. Come to Beaver County, we’re full of down-to-earth sports fanatics and cook-out hosting, friendly neighbors.  

tell me about yourself, but make it quick.

Husband — Mike Brown

Family — I’m the youngest of four and an aunt to 9!

Music — I’m a sucker for anything with a killer beat, poetic lyrics or a soulful singer. Here are some of my current favorites: Thrice, The Black Keys, Kendrick Lamar, Tame Impala, J Cole, Johnny Cash, Logic, Anthony Hamilton, Anderson Paak and Stevie Wonder.

Books — I’m into a lot of different genres but here are some of my all-time favorites: The Brother’s Karamazov, Harry Potter, Dracula, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Jane Eyre, The Kite Runner, anything by Flannery O’Connor, The Road, Queen of the Tearling…

Fun Fact — I lived in Thailand for half a year and am internationally certified to teach English as a foreign language.

what’s the deal with this blog?

I became a zero waste enthusiast about two or three years ago after stumbling upon Lauren Singer from Trash Is For Tossers. I didn’t realize how much plastic I used until I started following zero waste gurus like Lauren, and Kate Arnell from Eco Boost.

Since then, I’ve started making small, sustainable changes. There aren’t many yinzers I know pursuing a zero waste lifestyle, so I thought I’d write a blog and document my progress along the way. Here’s to a plastic-free Pittsburgh (+ Pennsylvania!).

what’s up with the name?

I named this blog steel city wasteland because the steel industry was a huge piece of history not only in the city of Pittsburgh, but in Beaver County and all across western Pennsylvania. These cities and towns are known as the “rust belt”, a term that describes an area where industrialization once boomed, but about thirty or so years ago, fell, resulting in hard times and poverty. The reverberations of that industrial fall are still evident in my town and throughout a lot of western Pennsylvania.

Often when poverty strikes, people are stuck going for the cheapest most convenient options for food and supplies. And typically, that means items wrapped in plastic.

My goal with this blog is not only to spread awareness about the waste problem in our area, but to give practical ways to combat unnecessary plastic use. It’s possible to live a zero waste or low-waste life and not break the bank. Trust me.

I hope a name like steel city wasteland is jarring to folks, like me, who, maybe at first didn’t realize the importance of limiting waste, but the fear of living in a brimming wasteland will propel us forward to a cleaner rust belt.

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