Today on Sea Change Radio we talk with two people working on very different fronts of the environmental movement. Our first guest is Dale Wannen, a Presidio Graduate School alum who runs a sustainable and responsible investment firm. We learn about the latest in sustainable and responsible investing (or SRI), including whether or not the small investor stands a chance in the age of flash trading. He also explains how owning just a small amount of stock allows an investor to influence a corporation’s sustainability practices, creating a return that is both monetary and socially beneficial.
Then, host Alex Wise talks to composting expert Gail Loos. She tells us about the growing trend among municipalities to encourage composting through curbside pick-up programs. She also describes how to get a return on your biodegradable garbage, in the form of nutrient-rich soil, even if your city is not yet composting.
Have you ever been to the dump? It’s a pretty smelly place. Part of what you’re smelling is methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that’s created as biodegradable garbage breaks down. A number of studies have found that approximately one-third of all waste entering landfills can be composted instead, and over 90 American cities have responded by initiating curbside composting services. Residents separate out their garden waste (and in some cases food scraps), the biodegradable garbage is picked up and diverted, maxed-out landfills experience relief, and the city has a marketable product in the form of rich compost soil. Everybody wins – who could possibly be against this? Well, it turns out that some people are. Waste Management Inc., the nation’s largest waste disposal company and landfill operator, now captures methane from some of its landfills and converts it into energy. While that sounds pretty good, too, our guest this week on Sea Change Radio explains to host Alex Wise the complex set of issues that surrounds the question, “what’s the best use of biodegradable garbage?” Jason Mark is both a journalist and a farmer – listen now as he gives us the dirt on compost.
So many of us try to be responsible, eco-conscious consumers: we walk or bike to our local food co-op or natural foods store, our re-usable canvas shopping bags in tow. But try buying organic or green products that don’t come in petroleum-based plastic packaging and you’ll soon be presented with another slew of challenges. Those of us who’ve been frustrated by this reality will be happy to learn that there are some people and companies working to reduce the use of plastic packaging in the food industry. This week on Sea Change Radio, host Alex Wise speaks with the founder of a zero-waste grocery store opening soon in Austin, TX, a nut butter entrepreneur who hosted an industry-wide summit to come up with compostable squeeze packs and a snack chip executive whose company has introduced a greener bag for its products.
This week on Sea Change Radio we feature two different ways that strategic partnerships can help organizations make better progress toward environmental sustainability. First, host Alex Wise talks with Jem Bendell about some strange bedfellows. More and more, nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations are getting together with multinational corporations in cross-sectoral partnerships. Ostensibly, these partnerships increase the nonprofit sector’s capacity for good, and they certainly represent an increasing trend as other revenue streams dry up. But what are the implications, compromises and repercussions involved when nonprofit entities partner with these unlikely allies? Is this trend the hope for benevolent organizations or a Faustian bargain?
Next we learn about Earth-Baby, a Bay Area-based company that’s trying to cut into the number three contributor to our country’s landfills – disposable diapers. In order to accomplish their mission, this small for-profit company has partnered with a local composting company and an international compostable diaper producer to help Bay Area families with infants and toddlers leave their kids with a cleaner world.
It wasn’t so long ago that we didn’t even pick up after our dogs. In the U.S., we’ve made a lot of progress in cleaning up after our estimated 77 million pups but now we need to figure out what to do with the mess. With this many dogs, we’re talking about thousands of tons of dog poop being produced, picked up and thrown away in plastic bags every day that goes straight to landfills. It’s the smellier side of our love affair with man’s best friend. It’s also a significant environmental blight. But today on Sea Change Radio, we’re going to hear from some folks whose innovative project is eliminating this elimination problem. First we speak with Mark Wittig, of Cayuga Compost, whose company is taking dog waste from a nearby dog park in Ithaca, NY and composting it. Then, we speak to Leon Kochian, a professor of plant biology at Cornell University and the President of TCDOG, a local dog owners association in Ithaca that started the program. Last, we talk to Dave Williams, President of BioBagUSA, the maker of the biodegradable plastic bags that are being used for the project.
Sea Change Radio West Coast Correspondent Alex Wise speaks with Karen Nelsen, co-founder of EarthBaby, which produces compostable diapers. Alex also talks with clean tech analyst and green business investor, Daniel Hunt, about corporate interests crowding out ecological progress.