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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.
108 Episodes
      Emily Thorn Carthay is founder & president of Thorn Associates, an energy and carbon management consulting corporation, and one of Canada’s top industrial energy efficiency experts. She joins the ZWC to discuss how our electricity grid works in Ontario - it's actually very clean!       Emily currently chairs the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers’ (OSPE’s) Energy Task Force and is a past elected director of the Board of OSPE. She is also co-founder and chair of the Board of Directors of StepUp, an organization dedicated to breakthrough energy management performance through improved gender equity, and past director of Energy Optimization and Management at Hatch Ltd., an international engineering consulting firm.     A laureate of the 2018 RelèveTO Young Professional Award and the 2020 International Energy Engineer of the Year Award, Emily has been a project manager, technical reviewer, and energy engineer for over 70 energy projects, resulting in over $100 million in implemented energy savings.   One of five Canadian instructors for the Certified Energy Manager course, and a Certified Measurement and Verification professional with a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering, Emily has been featured in a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) video, on Radio Canada and on multiple podcasts. She has published 10 articles in respected journals such as Chemical Engineering Progress and has been a keynote speaker at multiple energy conferences.
Lauren Gregor is the founder of Rent A Romper based in LA, which is a monthly clothing subscription service for young children who tend to grow out of their clothing extremely quickly. Lauren joins the ZWC to talk about the environmental benefits of a clothing subscription model for kids, as well as the convenience for busy parents with growing children.
  Zion Lights is the UK Director for a group called Environmental Progress, which is a research and policy organization fighting for clean power and energy justice to achieve nature and prosperity for all.     She was previously a spokesmen for Extinction Rebellion, and she’s the author of the book: The Ultimate Guide to Green Parenting, she’s written for the Huffington Post, and you can find her Ted Talk on YouTube here.      We discuss the value of nuclear power, and why it's important to talk with people you may not agree with. 
Dr. Denise Hardesty is a principal researcher at CSIRO Oceans & Atmosphere in Hobart, Tasmania. She's done extensive research over the years on marine plastic debris by studying sea birds, sea turtles, and waste reduction campaigns. We discuss what happens when certain marine animals digest plastic, whether it's safe for us to eat seafood that contains plastic, and what it's like to be a distinguished scientist in the field of marine debris research.
Bob Powell is the CEO of Brightmark, a disruptive and innovative company based in San Francisco who's turning plastic waste into Renewable Natural Gas (RNG), while also recycling all types of plastic.  For this “Call for Plastic Waste” - Brightmark is working to procure 1,200,000 tons per year of ALL post-use plastic types 1 through 7 from the Eastern half of the United States for recycling at its existing and soon-to-be-built plastics renewal plants nationwide.   Brightmark’s Ashley, Indiana plastics renewal facility, where the plastic will be processed and transformed, is the nation’s first commercial-scale plastics-to-fuel plant. The financing for the facility includes $185 million in Indiana green bonds, which were underwritten by Goldman Sachs. 
BEYONDPLASTIC has announced the 2020 award winners to those who have come up with viable alternatives to plastic pollution.   Ulrich Krzyminski is the founder of BEYONDPLASTIC and he joined the ZWC to tell us all about the award program and the 2020 winners. The BEYONDPLASTIC Award honours the innovation and creativity in sustainable product and packaging design in four categories: I. Most practical impactII. Most innovative approachIII. Most beautiful solutionIV. Best Initiative For each category there is a Gold, Silver and Bronze Award with trophies and cash prizes of more than 7,000 Euros in total. BEYONDPLASTIC received over 100 entries in total from 30 countries around the world. Students, designers, charities and businesses all took part to create a world with less plastic. You can find out more about the 85 nominated entries by clicking here.
  Lisa Zimmerman is a Ph.D researcher in the Department Aquatic Ecotoxicology at Goethe University Frankfurt and  part of the PlastX Research Group.     She conducted a study called Benchmarking the in Vitro Toxicity and Chemical Composition of Plastic Consumer Products. Lisa and her team took 34 products from German supermarkets like food containers, a water bottle, and a shampoo bottle, and cut them into pieces, then used an organic solvent to determine the toxic chemicals in the plastic packaging.     Lisa discussed the findings of her study, how it was conducted, and provided us some insight into what we can do to avoid harmful substances that may be in contact with our food. We discuss bioplastics, and how they might not be as healthy as we think, and I got to ask Lisa if it's true that plastic can act as a sponge by absorbing toxins.      The Study:   Plastx Group:
101. Apocalypse Never

101. Apocalypse Never


Michael Shellenberger joins the ZWC to talk about his new bestselling book Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All.  We discuss the problem of ocean plastic, highlighted in his book, but from an unusual angle - some animals have been saved from human hunting because plastic has replaced valuable animal parts. While we know plastic waste is a big problem, Michael has found some intriguing information about ocean plastic through his research. Bernadette from the Congo, one of the featured women in Michael's new book The main focus of the book is how development and progress ultimately saves the environment. We can save wild spaces by using cleaner energy, advanced technology, and therefore put less pressure on wildlife and wild lands. We discuss the hierarchy of energy which starts at wood, (even whale oil at one point!), coal, liquid natural gas, and finally nuclear. As we go up the ladder in clean energy, will it be possible for developing nations to skip the dirtier stages and go right to the cleanest energy, which is nuclear? Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Station, California   Why are people so against nuclear, and what about all that nuclear waste? What about the bomb? Tune in and listen to one of the biggest names in the environment discuss science, ideas, and personal experiences in his new book, Apocalypse Never. Suparti, who worked at the Barbie factory in Philippines   Michael Shellenberger, Founder and President of Environmental Progress   The Breakthrough Institute 
Christian Shaw is one of the founders of, an organization that matches youth interested in sustainability with mentors from around the world. His goal is to combine adventure and science through SUP (stand up paddle board) expeditions, researching ocean plastics with a device they tow behind their boards.   We discuss how to get youth involved, as well as SUP (stand up paddle boarding), and how getting out on the water for an adventure helps people care about these natural places.  There's still room to sign up students for the 2020/2021 season!  Find out more: Plastic Tides The Microbead-Free Waters Act Anato  Bad Fish SUP
Glass is very popular in the zero waste world. We know it's BPA free, and we know it's not going to end up as microplastic in our environment, or leaking out into our hot beverages. But glass is difficult to recycle, it's expensive to collect and reuse glass bottles, and glass is easily breakable. How can we increase recycling and reuse rates of glass?  Ionut Georgescu is the CEO of a non-profit called End of Waste Foundation, a blockchain service platform that's funded by environmentally conscious citizens and businesses. The funds are used to develop new technologies and offset costs associated with glass recycling.    Ionut has been a waste management expert for more than 15 years, he's worked closely with the European Commission as a Waste Director for the Romanian Ministry of Environment, and as the Chief of Staff of the President of the United Nations Environment Program.
Cora Young is an atmospheric and analytical environmental chemist from York University in Toronto. Chemical and News Engineering Magazine has named her to the Talented 12 list, which recognizes up-and-coming chemistry researchers and innovators who are tackling some of the world’s most pressing issues. Cora went to the Arctic on a scientific research trip to take samples and found forever chemicals PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) in the Arctic. CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) as an aerosol propellant were banned when we discovered they were breaking apart our planet’s ozone layer, but they were replaced with other forever chemicals that can cause problems as well. These chemicals keep getting replaced again and again as we discover the damages they are causing. Cora and Laura discuss ways to reduce using these forever chemicals in everyday items around our home.
97. Pika Diapers

97. Pika Diapers


CEO of Pika Diapers Alon Cohen joins the ZWC to talk about his company's new diaper washing machine, making it easier for parents to use cloth instead of disposable diapers. 
96. Bottled Water

96. Bottled Water


Rich Razgaitis is the co-founder and CEO of FloWater, a company determined to stop the horrific flow of plastic from bottled water into our environment.  Find out why Rich says bottled water is the new cigarette, and how his machines are filtering out tap water problems to bring the cleanest drinking water in the world to where we work, rest, and play.   
You may not eat seafood, but for nearly a billion people worldwide, seafood is their primary source of protein.  Teresa Ish is the Program Officer for the Environment Program at the Walton Family Foundation and an advocate for sustainable fisheries. 
94. The Mississippi

94. The Mississippi


The Mississippi River is the 4th longest in the world, and the 3rd largest watershed, stretching from as far away as Montana and draining into the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana. Part of the watershed is even in Canada, in the southern provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta! The watershed is a water source for millions of people and many different species in the U.S.   Moira McDonald is the Interim Environmental Program Director for the Walton Family Foundation and an expert in wetlands. She joins the ZWC to talk about conservation efforts on the Mississippi and the current projects happening with the foundation. Moira is committed to a world that's both good for people, and the environment. 
Environmental talk show host and producer Betsy Rosenberg started her career at KCBS San Francisco and became a network news anchor and started a Trash Talk segment back in 1997, offering waste reduction tips on the CBS network. In 2004 she expanded into America's first syndicated sustainability show on commercial radio, Eco Talk Radio, and has interviewed some of the biggest names in the environmental movement such as Al Gore, Bernie Sanders, John Kerry, and David Suzuki. Betsy currently lives in Austin, Texas with her husband. 
92. Kathryn Kellogg

92. Kathryn Kellogg


Kathryn Kellogg is the founder of Going Zero Waste a lifestyle website dedicated to helping others live a healthier and more sustainable life. She’s a spokesperson for plastic-free living for National Geographic, Chief Sustainability Officer at the One Movement, and author of 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste which breaks eco-friendly, sustainable living down into an easy step by step process with lots of positivity and love. Kathryn joined Laura from her home in San Francisco to discuss what she's been up to since her first book and had a surprising announcement for us - a second book is coming out soon!
Elsbeth Callaghan hosts and produces the Practical(ly) Zero Waste Podcast and funny enough, she lives an hour and a half away from Laura! Elsbeth and Laura talk about the difficulties of trying to live a zero waste lifestyle during COVID, what it's like living so close to each other, and what got Lisbeth into the zero waste movement. You can listen to her podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or your favorite podcast app.
David Hill joins the ZWC to talk about the company he works for, Power Knot, and how their machines digest food waste in a matter of hours, saving companies money and time, but most importantly, the environment! Cannabis Digester Power Knot America Power Knot Canada
Garik Himebaugh is the founder of, a marketplace for sustainable men's fashion. Garik joins the ZWC to discuss fast fashion, price per wear, the benefits of tailoring, how to choose sustainable brands, and even Billie Eilish!  Check out Garik's fantastic blog on sustainability in the fashion world here: Eco-Stylist Blog
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