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The Zero Waste Countdown Podcast
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The Zero Waste Countdown Podcast

Author: Laura Nash

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We feature scientists, business owners, activists, entrepreneurs, cooks, and other experts from around the world who have found ways to live more sustainably.
133 Episodes
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133. Love Zero Waste

133. Love Zero Waste

2021-06-0730:29

Evelina Lundqvist and Malin Leth host the Love Zero Waste Podcast and share what it's like living zero waste in Austria and Sweden. 
132. Emerald Packaging

132. Emerald Packaging

2021-05-2030:47

There has been a gigantic increase in the demand for plastic food packaging since the Covid pandemic started. Kevin Kelly is the CEO of Emerald Packaging, a family-owned plastic packaging company in the US. He's disturbed by the significant, increased demand in plastic packaging on food due to Covid. He's even been kicked out of Whole Foods for trying to bring his own grocery bags! Kevin joins the Zero Waste Countdown to talk about the plastic packaging industry and what he feels we can do to reduce plastic waste while working with producers and consumers to come up with reasonable solutions.
    Sahar Mansoor and Tim de Ridder are the co-authors of Bare Necessities: How to Live a Zero-Waste Life.     Sahar is also the founder and CEO of https://www.memphistours.com/India/india-travel-guide/festivals-in-india/wiki/festival-of-colors-in-india  
Leonardo Alvarez is the Chief Executive Officer of Protera, a biotech company he founded in his early 20's alongside his colleague, now Chief Operating Officer Francia Navarrete. Mr. Alvarez has a biotechnology engineering degree from Universidad Andres Bello in Santiago, Chile.       He joins the show to talk about how AI and biotech are helping to solve our food waste problem as well as our destructive addiction to palm oil. Palm Oil is approximately a $57 billion market, making it the largest commercialized edible oil in the world. This harvesting of palm oil for corporations to produce many household products can lead to mass deforestation and larger environmental issues that follow. Protera is working on solving this issue by developing a better alternative.
Early in 2021 Elon Musk offered $100M in prize money for new carbon capture technology and there's a company already using carbon capture tech: Aether Diamonds.       Aether Diamonds is taking that captured carbon from the air and turning it into diamonds, which also alleviates the need for massive diamond mine operations and conflict or blood diamonds.       Ryan Shearman is a mechanical engineer turned entrepreneur with a background in material science and over 10 years of professional experience in jewelry and tech. He joins the Zero Waste Countdown to tell us all about his company that makes diamonds from the air.
128. UBQ Materials

128. UBQ Materials

2021-03-2830:40

    Liat Arad is the VP of Marketing for UBQ Materials, a company that's spent many years developing a patented process to convert unsorted waste -- everything from banana peels to yogurt containers to mixed plastics and paper -- to create a sustainable, plastic alternative that can be used in the production of everyday goods.      UBQ just unveiled the use of its material in a new sustainable McDonald's fast food tray, through a partnership with the world's largest McDonald's franchisee, Arcos Dorados. (See coverage of that partnership in Fast Company).   The company has also struck deals with the State of Virginia and Daimler, among other notable customers.        
Joshua M. Pearce, Ph.D., is the Richard Witte Professor of Materials Science & Engineering, Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering, and Director of the Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology (MOST) Lab at Michigan Technological University. He's also the Visiting Professor of Photovoltaics and Nanoengineering at the School of Electrical Engineering at Aalto University, Finland, and the author of Create, Share, and Save Money Using Open-Source Projects.   His new book is a treasure trove of resources for anyone getting into 3D printing! How is this sustainable? Josh has figured out how to turn waste into high value products by using a plastic shredder for household plastic waste, and then he's built a recyclebot that turns that shredded plastic into filament for 3D printing.  A 3D printer can also be paired with a portable solar panel and operated anywhere in the world, an exciting implication for places with intermittent or no electrical grid at all.  
Jussara Lee is a longtime fashion designer in New York City who came to New York to study fashion from Brazil and now focuses on fashion sustainability. Jussara joins the Zero Waste Countdown to talk about overseas labour issues in fashion, organically grown fabrics, natural dying, and what the zero waste scene is like in New York with her friends and zero waste advocates Zero Waste Daniel and Lauren Singer.
125. Sourdough

125. Sourdough

2021-03-0652:44

Heather MacMillan from Heather's Hearth is a professional sourdough bread maker and educator, hosting sourdough classes around the Ottawa and Barry's Bay area (I took her course at MKC!).       Heather joins the Zero Waste Countdown to talk about the history of sourdough, fermentation, gut health, and lends us some tips and tricks for getting our own sourdough nice and tasty.       Sourdough bread is an important part of my family's zero waste lifestyle, because we keep the loaf in a cupboard upside down on a plate and use it for toast every morning with our own hen's eggs. We don't have to drive into town for bread and eggs, we don't have to buy bread in plastic bags or store the bread in plastic, and we don't have to ingest all those questionable ingredients that are listed on bread from the grocery store.
124. Madawaska Kanu Centre

124. Madawaska Kanu Centre

2021-02-2701:00:13

Madawaska Kanu Centre (MKC) west of Ottawa is a sustainable whitewater paddling school and resort, offering guests whitewater experiences, friendly staff, and incredible food.     Stefi Van Wijk is the third generation to run operations at MKC, and she joins the show to talk about resort sustainability, the special relationship the resort has with the upstream dam, and how whitewater is a powerful way to connect with nature.   Ronin Nash, pictured above, learned how to whitewater kayak at MKC in 2020 at age 9. He can't wait to go back this summer!  
123. BC Salmon Farms

123. BC Salmon Farms

2021-02-2131:25

  The Canadian federal government recently announced that it would order about 19 salmon farms closed in British Columbia (BC) but without any local community consultation. Farmed salmon is BC's number one agri-food export and provides thousands of tonnes of nutrients to people around the world, so why would they do this?     Michelle Franze is the Manager of Communications, Partnerships and Community at the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) and Co-Founder and Director of BCSFA Youth Council. She joins the ZWC to explain how fish farming works, why it's so sustainable, and the reasons behind the Canadian federal government's ordered shut down.        
122. Urban Salmon

122. Urban Salmon

2021-02-1229:54

    Caption: A team led by researchers at the University of Washington Tacoma, UW and Washington State University Puyallup have discovered a chemical that kills coho salmon in urban streams before the fish can spawn. Shown here Edward Kolodziej (left), an associate professor in both the UW Tacoma Division of Sciences & Mathematics and the UW Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering; Jenifer McIntyre (right), an assistant professor at WSU School of the Environment in Puyallup; and Zhenyu Tian (background), a research scientist at the Center for Urban Waters at UW Tacoma, are at Longfellow Creek, an urban creek in the Seattle area. Credit: Mark Stone/University of Washington   Coho Salmon have been dying off in urban areas of the Pacific Northwest for years. Scientists have been working hard to figure out why, but have thousands of chemicals to sort through that enter creeks through storm runoff.     Caption: A team led by researchers at the University of Washington Tacoma, UW and Washington State University Puyallup have discovered a chemical that kills coho salmon in urban streams before the fish can spawn. Shown here Zhenyu Tian (left), a research scientist at the Center for Urban Waters at UW Tacoma; Jenifer McIntyre (right), an assistant professor at WSU School of the Environment in Puyallup; and Edward Kolodziej (right, background), an associate professor in both the UW Tacoma Division of Sciences & Mathematics and the UW Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, are at Longfellow Creek, an urban creek in the Seattle area. Credit: Mark Stone/University of Washington   Edward P. Kolodziej is an Associate Professor at the University of Washington with a Civil and Environmental Engineering background and currently working at the Center for Urban Waters. He was part of a study that isolated the preservative compound 6PPD found in tires as the culprit responsible for killing coho salmon.     Edward joins the Zero Waste Countdown from Tacoma to tell us all about the study, why salmon are so important to the health of our ecosystems, how the culprit was found, and what we can do going forward to prevent salmon die-offs.     Caption: A preservative in vehicle tires keeps them from breaking down too quickly. 6PPD reacts with ozone and is transformed into multiple chemicals, including the toxic chemical the researchers found that is responsible for killing coho salmon. Credit: Mark Stone/University of Washington  
2.7 million takeaway coffee cups are being sent to landfill in Australia each day. Luckily, Catherine Hutchins and Aniyo Rahebi founded a new startup called Good-Edi, making edible takeaway coffee cups to mitigate the problem of coffee cup waste.       The cups are made locally in Melbourne with the goal to one day provide edible cups to all of Australia. The cups are grain-based, vegan, and they take less than two weeks to break down.  
    Jocelyn Burzuik, President and Senior Construction Manager at Sundance Construction, joins the Zero Waste Countdown once again to talk about a very important issue here in Canada that she has lots of personal experience with: clean drinking water for First Nations and remote Canadian communities.   When treated water is filtered with chlorine it creates trihalomethanes (THMs), causing problems for northern communities that lead to people bathing in bottled water to avoid rashes, and sometimes people need flights into bigger cities with hospitals for treatment. We also see antibiotics being prescribed to combat H. pylori which leads to antibiotic resistance in our communities.   But can't we just drill a well and be good to go? It's not so simple. Even where I live, drilling a well for one family was complicated, problematic, and expensive. Drilling to get enough water for a whole community in the north is much more complicated and expensive when we add in the costs of getting equipment to remote places. UV with ultrasonics could be the answer.   Jocelyn discusses identity politics and how the Canadian government divides people up by race, which ends up with some communities not being able to share their federal infrastructure with other communities.       Extra Reading:       https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/attawapiskat-water-quality-emergency-1.5204652   https://canadians.org/analysis/attawapiskat-water-crisis-another-failure-federal-government-provide-safe-water-first-nations   https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/h-pylori/symptoms-causes/syc-20356171  
Jocelyn Burzuik is the President and Senior Construction Manager of Sundance Construction in Manitoba, and when it comes to her new housing development, affordability is directly related to sustainability! Jocelyn combines her Metis heritage and First Nations concepts of community, with the physical housing designs of Icelandic culture, to build a northern Canadian neighbourhood built with wellbeing and sustainability at the forefront. While housing developments often go up as fast as possible after a forest clearcut for the most profit possible, Jocelyn is building within nature, and using affordable designs specifically tuned to our northern climate for best efficiency, and affordability for demographics such as retirees and single parents. Concepts that promote maximum wellness and sustainable longevity for the home buyers is Jocelyn's top priority.
118. Carbon Tax Problems

118. Carbon Tax Problems

2021-01-1501:02:19

    Canadians pay a lot of taxes and have a lot of expenses. Far too many Canadians are struggling with poverty and have very high electricity bills, our phone bills are some of the highest in the world, and our internet is expensive.   Our cities and towns were built in the spirit of American-style car culture that makes it difficult to walk anywhere. Much of these cities were designed as urban sprawl and we have to brave a 60 degree Celsius weather variation that goes from freezing cold to very hot in the summertime. It's expensive to live near our workplaces, in large part because our government allows for so much foreign real estate ownership and our immigration rates are so high, so many people get pushed out of city centres and need a vehicle to access food and employment.     The last time I was in France, a bottle of wine was 1/4 the price of the same bottle purchased in Canada, and we have to import a lot of our fresh fruit, nuts, and berries from places like Mexico, Chile, Peru, and California because it's too cold and dark to grow a lot of food here. Transporting fresh food into Canada take a lot of fossil fuels, although we do have fresh food grown during the wintertime in massive greenhouses that require lighting and heating, and our prairie provinces are star producers of many grains. We receive giant cargo ships of goods in Vancouver and Montreal from overseas that are loaded onto trains and trucks and delivered all over our massive country. Not only is it expensive to live in Canada, but we are completely dependent on oil and gas.     Dan McTeague spent 18 years in the Canadian House of Commons as a Liberal Member of Parliament and is currently the president of affordableenergy.ca. He joins the Zero Waste Countdown to talk about the trouble with Canada's carbon tax that was forced upon unwilling provinces who didn't come up with their own carbon pricing scheme. The results have not been pretty. In fact, the argument can be made that the carbon tax takes money from the poor, and gives it to the rich. For example $12M from a "climate fund" was given to the 2nd richest family in Canada to buy new fridges, and the Ontario government used to hand out up to $14,000 to wealthy people who can afford the $137,900 Tesla Model X.     I mentioned in this episode a CBC article that says the carbon tax reduces emissions. You'll notice the title is "Scheer says British Columbia's carbon tax hasn't worked. Expert studies say it has". Many people only read headlines as they scroll through social media, but when you actually read this article, it shows one year of decreased emissions then uses the excuse that population increase should erase emissions increase. Juggling data around like this is how you can lie with statistics to say whatever you like. The CBC article says emissions have dropped in other places that have implemented a carbon tax but fails to mention any increase in efficient technology. Further in the article the CBC repeats the tagline that "most" families will get back more than they pay in carbon tax, but the trouble with using obscure words like "most" is that there's no proof, no data, and no concrete evidence. I claim it is false that "most" families receive a bigger rebate than what they pay to the government in carbon and fuel taxes, because the carbon tax on my transportation costs is more than double my rebate, without even considering the increase in food prices and propane prices (propane heats my water and while I have an electric heat pump to heat my home, propane is required for temperatures lower than about minus 15 Celsius). If you scroll down to the bottom of the article you will see CBC felt compelled to issue a correction that the carbon tax is revenue neutral, which falls in line with what Mr. McTeague is saying, that this is just another tax that fills the coffers of greedy politicians. When you compare the title of this CBC article with the actual content, it's misleading. Here's an article from a trustworthy source that contradicts the CBC article claiming the carbon tax reduced emissions in BC: https://www.taxpayer.com/newsroom/b.c.-emissions-up-despite-carbon-tax?id=18615. They are quoting data from the Sierra Club who explains that due to cherry picking certain data fields, BC emissions are actually 4 times higher than what they're actually reporting, so if we aren't scrutinizing this data ourselves, how do we know the truth? Personally I'm not sure what to think with all this contradictory and politically motivated information, but it seems that emissions in BC were higher in 2015 than in 2010, indicating that emissions in BC have increased despite the carbon tax. The BC government cherry picked data to show emissions decreased by purposely leaving out BC's energy exports (coal!), and their forestry industry, demonstrating how easy it is to lie with statistics.     There are many factors to consider for increases and decreases in Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHGs), such as new tech, government policies, markets, international relations, immigration, and a worldwide pandemic. If you don't know which factors were included in the charts that show increasing or decreasing emissions, you really can't tell if the article you're reading is true or not. You can see here on BC's government site the different emission charts, and you can see coal mining does have a chart, but I doubt this includes the actual usage of that coal in other countries.      You can basically say GHGs have gone up or down, depending on which information you want to cherry pick to make your argument. This is why we need to be weary of data, statistics, and even news sources we have grown up trusting, because they often have an agenda.   It's up to you, the listener, to look into the information you see, hear, and read, but I know that can be exhausting. I'm trying to uncover the truth on my show so that we can go forward making the greenest policies that work best for people, and not just line the pockets of wealthy politicians and their friends while plummeting honest working class citizens into poverty.     Extra references:     Billions could be missing from the new file of the previous Minister of Climate Change Catherine McKenna   Covid models have been wildly wrong, and so too can climate models   SNC Lavalin is very involved in Canada's nuclear industry, but remember the SNC Lavalin scandal even The Simpson's talked about?   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHiQg9eadPA   SNC Lavalin has done some very unethical things   Trudeau fired our first indigenous female Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould when she questioned the government's ethics over the SNC Lavalin scandal   Is SNC Lavalin trustworthy enough to be handling our nuclear waste and nuclear reactors in Canada?      
117. Solar Oysters

117. Solar Oysters

2021-01-0935:41

Oysters from Chesapeake Bay, Library of Congress Oysters are little nutritional bombshells. They're packed with vitamins, minerals, protein, fatty acids, and particularly of note during Covid: Vitamin D and Zinc. More than 80% of hospitalized Covid patients were found to be lacking Vitamin D, and those with low zinc levels tended to fair worse with the virus than those with healthy levels. Solar Oysters has designed a solar powered barge that will farm oysters vertically through the water column in the Chesapeake Bay area. Elizabeth Hines is the Vice President of Maritime Applied Physics Corporation engineering firm that's working on the design.   While solar panels aren't usually the best option for electricity grids, due to their intermittency and need for fossil fuel or nuclear backup, off-grid solar panels produce clean, free energy once built and installed. Oysters are a sustainable source of protein and nutrients that require little inputs.
116. Veteran Compost

116. Veteran Compost

2021-01-0130:44

Justen Garrity founded Veteran Compost over a decade ago after his military service. The company focuses on two things: Employing veterans and their family members; and Turning food scraps into high-quality compost. Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans have an unemployment rate that exceeds the national average. That means that a combat vet has a harder time getting a job than the average person. Justen is not only compassionate about helping veterans, he's also helping the environment significantly by reducing landfill and making an eco friendly compost for healthy soils. https://www.veterancompost.com/
Susanne Khün holding up a fulmar    Susanne Khün has a Ph.D from Wageningen Marine Research in the Netherlands where she has put years of research into her thesis called "Message in a belly - Plastic pathways in fulmars".       Tune in to hear all about Susanne's research on whether seabirds are ingesting plastic from fish, what's happening with toxicants from plastic once in their guts, and how ships are contributing to a fulmar's diet.       There's even some really good news about plastic pollution in the North Sea you won't want to miss!
  Scott Coffin has a Ph.D in environmental toxicology from the University of California Riverside and works for the California State Water Resources Control Board.     Scott has done many studies on toxicants in plastic that involve some fascinating scientific techniques. He found that estrogen receptors are being activated by many different toxicants in plastic, not just BPA, and discusses how this is not only worrisome for fish populations but also for humans.   Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404660/    
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