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.
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.