Jennie Romer, Esq. is a lawyer, a sustainability expert, and author of Can I Recycle This?, an illustrated guide to better recycling and how to reduce single-use plastics. As a Legal Associate at the Surfrider Foundation’s Plastic Pollution Initiative, Jennie leads policy efforts and litigation efforts to reduce plastic pollution across the United States.
Jennie has more than a decade of experience as an attorney and sustainability consultant fighting for effective legislation on waste reduction and single-use plastics. Her knowledge is routinely sought by legislators, environmental nonprofits, and businesses across the U.S. Her work and expertise has been featured in National Geographic, The New York Times, Vice, Politico, along with other outlets.
Jennie is a native of California who earned her JD from Golden Gate University School of Law. She also holds bachelor’s degrees in Zoology, Environmental Studies, and Black Studies from UC Santa Barbara. In addition, Jennie is a member of the state bars of California and New York.
After law school, Jennie was an associate attorney in San Francisco and volunteered her time with the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to help re-draft San Francisco's original plastic bag ban. Ready to take on a bigger challenge, Jennie then moved to New York City and served as pro bono counsel to City Council Members on the plastic bag bill and coordinated a coalition in support of that bill. Although NYC's bag law was preempted by the state legislature, the New York State legislature later passed a statewide bag law from this early momentum.
By immersing herself in the solid waste and plastic reduction world related to plastic bag laws Jennie gained expertise in recycling and waste systems. She felt it was vital to share her knowledge with the wider public, particularly to help them understand the issues relating to recycling, and how to fix it. Soon after the passage of NYC’s bag law, Jennie began writing her book: Can I Recycle This?
In 2019, Jennie joined the staff of the Surfrider Foundation, where she continues to contribute her plastic pollution policy expertise to Surfrider’s nationwide network. Jennie is based in New York, where she lives with her husband and family.
"Jennie believes that because of plastic bags’ wastefulness and the damage they do to the environment, humans will eventually use a lot fewer of them. New York’s acceptance of this change is only a matter of time. For the city to have come so far and so quickly toward rejection of the single-use disposable plastic bag, when ten years ago nobody in government was even talking about it, is partly because of her." — Ian Frazier, for The New Yorker