The Fish Are Really Getting Wasted


This is a hard one folks!  It is critical to change our use of plastic.  There will be more plastic by weight than fish in our oceans by 2050!

A feature length adventure documentary film, called Plastic Ocean, is being made to expose the devastation on our marine coinhabitants  by the huge quantities of plastic entering the oceans every year, thanks to us.  Here is their trailer through Waste Management News.

The film project began four years ago, when producer, Jo Ruxton, joined an expedition to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch just 1500 miles off the coast of San Francisco and discovered free-floating microplastics instead of the anticipated solid mass that could be contained.  Jo  started a charity to raise funds for the project, created a team of scientists, environmentalists and a free diving champion and set off on a globetrotting expedition that covered 20 locations.  Their film documents the global effects of plastic pollution and introduces workable technologies and policy solutions that could, if implemented in time, make the difference.

The report that announced “there will be more plastic by weight than fish in our oceans by 2050″ was produced as part of Project MainStream – a collaboration between the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the World Economic Forum, with analytical support from McKinsey & Company.  It provides a global economy vision where plastics never become waste.  It outlines concrete steps towards achieving the systemic shift needed to create  a new circular plastics economy.

The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics states that between $80 and $120 billion of plastic packaging enters the waste stream each year, 95% of that is lost to the economy after a short first use, with significant environmental implications.

The report outlines a new model based on creating effective after-use pathways for plastics, drastically reducing leakage of plastics into natural systems (especially oceans) and finding alternatives to crude oil or natural gas as the raw material that makes plastic.

Dominic Waughray, Head of Public-Private Partnership, World Economic Forum said, “This report demonstrates the importance of triggering a revolution in the plastics industrial ecosystem and is a first step to showing how to transform the way plastics move through our economy.”

The use of plastics has increased twentyfold in the past half-century and is expected to double again in the next 20 years. While plastics and plastic packaging are an integral part of the global economy and deliver many benefits, their value chain entails significant drawbacks.

Dame Ellen MacArthur of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation said, “By demonstrating how circular economy principles can be applied to global plastic flows, this report provides a model for achieving the systemic shift our economy needs to make in order to work in the long term.”

The change will require major collaboration between all stakeholders across the global plastics value chain – consumer goods companies, plastic packaging producers and plastics manufacturers, businesses involved in collection, sorting and reprocessing, cities, policy-makers, consumers and NGOs.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation said that it will initiate a global dialogue mechanism and drive the shift towards a New Plastics Economy.

“Plastics are the workhorse material of the modern economy – with unbeaten properties,” said Martin R. Stuchtey, McKinsey Center for Business and Environment. “However, they are also the ultimate single-use material.”

A first of its kind study of plastic pollution in the waterways of New York City and northern New Jersey turned up a sobering statistic: At any given time, an estimated 165 million plastic particles are floating in the estuaries that stretch from the Tappan Zee Bridge, along the lower Hudson River, south to Sandy Hook Bay, in New Jersey. That is more than 256,000 particles per square kilometer. That’s half a NYC block heading out to sea!

How You Can Help:

  • Follow up on the EPA new Clean Water Rule set by Barack Obama. It found that small streams and wetlands have the greatest impact on the health of downstream waters and sets out to protect those areas from polluters.
  • Stop buying one use plastic anything.
  • If you do find yourself using it throw it away responsibly.
  • Pick up plastic around water bodies of all sizes.
  • Make our marine cousins happy!

Until next week,shutterstock_152866337

Garbage Girl



Reducing Waste Gets Competitive


As Fashion Week draws to another close and buyers from all over the world place their orders, its important to focus on the global impact this huge industry has on our planet’s resources.

The Global Change Initiative is a collective of minds from the worlds of academia, business, institutions and government brought together for an interactive summit to focus on sustainability, conscious consumerism, responsible thought leadership and social justice.  Endorsed by the United Nations Canada, GCI became the first global change forum that is results driven, not ideas focused.

They gave their first Global Change Award at a ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, this February.  The five winners were chosen by an expert jury and a global online voting public to share a grant of €1 million given by the H&M Conscious Foundation, a non-profit funded by H&M, the Sweden-based clothing manufacturer and store chain.

The Foundation’s mission is to drive long-lasting positive change and improve living conditions by investing in people, communities and innovations. They established the Global Change Award to take on one of the biggest challenges facing the fashion industry today; protect the earth’s natural resources, continue to create fashion for a growing population, reduce its impact on the environment and bring fashion closer to  a more circular economy.  This is the first such initiative in the industry.

This year’s winning teams were lead by:

1. Michael Hummel, Finland. Making waste-cotton new – conversion of waste-cotton into new textiles.

2. Akshay Sethi, U.S.A., The polyester digester – using microbes to recycle waste polyester.

The Polyester Digester – Polyester, produced from raw petroleum, is the world’s most common fibre for making textiles and clothes.  It is difficult to recycle waste polyester because it is often mixed with other fibres. The Polyester Digester uses unique microbes that eat polyester and break it down into its most basic substances. The raw material can then be sold to polyester manufacturers  to produce new textiles without a loss in quality.  This process also works on textiles where polyester and, for example, cotton is mixed as well as dyed polyester. The method is currently under development, partnering with a producer/manufacturer and an early-adopter brand are the next steps in starting a pilot project.

3. Ann Runnel, Estonia. An online market for textile leftovers – a marketplace for industrial upcycling of spill in production.

4. Enrica Arena, Italy.  100 percent citrus – creating new textile out of citrus juice production by-products.

5. Tjeerd Veenhoven, the Netherlands.  Growing textile fibre under water – utilizing algae to make renewable textile.

Inspired by the response from the global innovation community, and to spark impact beyond the five winners, the Foundation said that it has now launched the Global Change Award Network, a public digital space where teams and ideas can grow.

“When the application period closed, we sat with thousands of amazing ideas,” commented Karl-Johan Persson, board member of the H&M Conscious Foundation and CEO of H&M.  “So we decided to create the Global Change Award Network.  You can look at it as a matchmaking site, where innovators can present their ideas, get feedback, make contacts and investors can find the next big thing.  A digital greenhouse for innovative ideas,”

How You Can Help:

  • Keep your current clothing and textiles out of the landfill.
  • Make responsible fashion purchases by reading the labels.
  • Is that T shirt from Bangladesh really worth supporting what made it?
  • Stop buying fast fashion. Invest in timeless pieces that get passed on.
  • Join Akshay Sethi, submit your ideas to the Network and get happy!

Until next week,  akshay-sethi-and-moby-ahmed

Garbage Girl


Share Your Waste


Brooklyn-based, Josh Treuhaft, founded Salvage Supperclub in 2014.  He sporadically organizes dinners for a mere $50 per patron.  On a mission to save waste, his delicious food is made from perfectly edible and safe ingredients that are past their prime and headed for the trash.

And!  His customers get to eat their gourmet meals inside a dumpster! The totally cleaned and hygienic venue is a symbolic gesture to demonstrate the enormous amount of food we trash without thinking.

Food waste is a growing problem both in the United States and across the globe.  In North America, 30-40% of perfectly edible food ends up in the trash each year; almost 20 pounds of food/person/month!  Most of it ends up in our landfills, while over 48 million Americans, including 15.3 million kids, do not have sufficient food.

People everywhere are coming up with creative solutions to share what we waste.

In New York’s Westchester County, students at 18 schools participate in a program called We Future Cycle.  Started by Anna Giordano and Ashley Welde in 2014, students are taught to recycle, compost, and curb food waste at their school by using three clearly marked bins – compost, recycle and share.

While the first two are self-explanatory and common in schools, the third is rare.  This is the bin where kids can toss their unwanted drinks, fruits, and untouched sandwiches.  Items in the container are available for any student who wants them.  Whatever remains at the end of the day is donated to the local soup kitchen or food bank.  Giordano says the three bins have helped reduce the number of trash bags generated at the mid-day meal from an average of 22 to just 2!

After your local supermarket closes,  countless items are taken off their shelves. From canned vegetables and salad dressings to fresh vegetables and deli meats, approaching their expiration dates or because they are no longer at their peak quality, most stores consider them unfit for sale.  With 15,000 different products in an average supermarket and 25,000 in a superstore, food retailers in the US are left with endless “past their prime” items.

So, fresh vegetables and meats get cooked up for in-store deli and salad counters, some portion gets thrown into the dumpster and ends up in landfills or gets picked over by dumpster divers. Surprisingly much of it finds its way to food banks, soup kitchens or salvage stores.

Salvage stores are seeing a steady uptake in business from cost conscious consumers.  Food banks reported an increase of 40% in the demand for emergency food assistance in the last year, according to Feeding America, a network of over 200 food banks.

Expired food is becoming an increasing part of America’s diet.  The Food and Drug Administration approves.

“Food can remain safe to consume for some time beyond sell-by and even use-by dates provided they are handled and stored properly,” says Dr Ted Labuza, professor of food science at the University of Minnesota.  For fresh produce and refrigerated foods this means storage at below 41 degrees Fahrenheit.  Canned foods and shelf-stable goods like salad dressings can be consumed for years beyond their expiration dates.  While their quality might suffer, they will not pose a safety hazard unless contaminated.

Apart from baby formula and certain types of baby foods, product dating is not uniformly required by federal regulations.  Dating of some food is required by more than 20 states, but there are areas of the country where much of the food supply has a type of “open date” and other areas where almost no food is dated.

Check out Rob Greenfield  He finds enormous amounts of food for free. 1411536318117_wps_33_DonateNotDump_Food_Waste_





How You Can Help:

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Until next week,

Garbage Girl


Our Wasted Infrastructure Gets a Better Grade


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What the civil engineers’ ranking really shows is that the United States can create an opportunity to surpass our competition, succeed at “A” levels in the global economy  and improve our quality of life if we understand the needed improvements at all local levels.  Our country continues to demonstrate an ability to compete and innovate at high levels when we grasp the problems we face.

How You Can Help:

Until next week,    highway-infrastructure

Garbage Girl