“I’ll bring my own dishes.”


By Ana Tampanna


A rally for the environment? Gayle Tuch gets excited. This petite woman, an attorney by trade, will call on her 14 year-old daughter or a close ally, put on a professionally made sandwich board that totally engulfs her, and show up eyes-a-blazin’ at a local rally or on the Washington, DC Mall to call attention to her cause.

Rooted in her fearless determination to save the planet for her children and future generations, Gayle has statistics, factual stories, and scientific concepts down flat. She knows her stuff. She can recommend the best educational documentaries, and works with a team that hosts environmental movies/speakers to a community gathering of forty or more followers twice a month. There is always a list of actions one can take related to the topic of the night.  She serves on local environmental boards, statewide boards and has been active on environmental issues since 1979, where as a teen, she – with a homemade sign – protested the construction of a nuclear power plant outside her hometown of Cincinnati.  While on the Yadkin Riverkeeper Board, she brought environmental warriors such as celebrity Erin Brockovich and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.  to speak in Winston-Salem.  She completed Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Program as well as many others.  So dedicated to the cause is she, that Gayle returned to law school in her 50’s, to get a Master of Laws in environmental law –  a dramatic shift from handling personal injury cases, estate plans, speeding tickets, and litigation. She even represented a 14 year-old girl who filed a petition to enact a rule to protect our atmosphere for her generation and generations to follow.

The most inspiring aspect of Gayle’s commitment, however, is how Gayle actually LIVES her commitment to the cause. Gayle has refinished the floors of her home in bamboo manufactured without petroleum resin. Her sofa, chairs, and pillows were manufactured by one of the top ten sustainable furniture companies in the country – which is also a local company. Gayle is a vegan, avoiding dairy, eggs, and anything with eyes or a mother. She recycles and composts meticulously, takes her own ceramic dishes and cups to Chamber of Commerce luncheons where guests are served with plastic and foam plates, and has even been known to keep a tub of worms in her dining room.  The worms compost her food scraps and you would never know they are there.

Transportation is no exception to Gayle’s environmental awareness choices. While she keeps her cars for 10 years, when she was ready for a new one it was a Prius with solar panels on the roof.  She is currently on the list to buy a Tesla Model 3 electric car and expects it to arrive in mid-2018. She has been cycling since she was young and until she had kids, she cycled to work and appointments. She canoes the Yadkin River and has treated her daughter to a vegan cruise. Gayle sometimes travels by plane for work and environmental seminars, as well as, for fun to visit other cultures and ecosystems.  

Her future? Gayle is transitioning her law practice from litigation (which is adversarial) to collaboration where people with grievances come together to work out resolutions.  She has been studying co-housing communities and is planning for the day that she lives in a sustainable community with energy efficient homes with sustainable energy systems (solar power, wind power, etc.), while using composting toilets, community gardens, walkways and a community house where the members come together for dinners, movies and the like. There is much to do in the meantime. Her book exists only in her head, and the new business cards with an environmental logo have not yet reached the people needing her. She’s the real thing, and a force of nature that nature actually can count on.


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