A wide array of economic analysts are increasingly recognizing the link between economic development and gender equality. Research is showing that when women succeed, developing economies thrive. But what impact, if any, does the increased economic role of women in the global south have in terms of the environment? This week on Sea Change Radio, we feature two stories of women in Asia who are leading the way both economically and sustainably.
First, host Alex Wise talks to Jenny Fernan, the President of Pangea Green Energy, a landfill gas company based in the Philippines. She tells us about this pioneering company which runs a biogas plant, converting hazardous garbage into electricity. Then we hear from Shilpi Chhotray, a consultant with Future 500 who discusses the burgeoning seaweed industry in India and the important role that women are playing in making it a success.
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.
“There’s so much plastic in this culture that vinyl leopard skin is becoming an endangered synthetic.” -Lily Tomlin
We all know plastic is a problem. It has been estimated that between 500 billion and one trillion plastic bags are manufactured across the world each year. In the US alone, 12 million barrels of oil go toward plastic bag production. And with the popularity of bottled water, the number of plastic bottles disposed of every year around the world has soared to 200 billion. This massive use of “disposable” plastics creates an enormous amount of harmful waste, and exacerbates our unhealthy reliance on petroleum. So what is to be done?
This week on Sea Change Radio we speak with the leader of an organization that’s trying to raise awareness of a particular plastic problem, and with a scientist whose team is developing a new process that could help actually solve the plastic problem. First, we talk with Doug Woodring, a Hong Kong-based entrepreneur and environmentalist whose Project Kaisei is making strides to highlight the enormous floating plastic mass in the North Pacific known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Then we hear from the head of IBM’s Almaden Research Center, Chandrasekhar “Spike” Narayan, who describes his team’s latest breakthrough, an earth-friendly, endlessly recyclable plastic.