Interview Issue 02 â€˘ Fall | Winter 2017
People Creating a Better Planet
Paul Hawken Environmentalist, entrepreneur, journalist and editor of the new book "Drawdown," Paul talks to us about the history of the climate movement and where we go from here. 1
Whatâ€™s Inside? Interviews, articles, art, products and photography from ecologically conscious creatives around the world.
Issue 02 The tree that never had to fight For sun and sky and air and light, But stood out in the open plain And always got its share of rain, Never became a forest king But lived and died a scrubby thing. The man who never had to toil To gain and farm his patch of soil, Who never had to win his share Of sun and sky and light and air, Never became a manly man But lived and died as he began. Good timber does not grow with ease: The stronger wind, the stronger trees; The further sky, the greater length; The more the storm, the more the strength. By sun and cold, by rain and snow, In trees and men good timbers grow. Where thickest lies the forest growth, We find the patriarchs of both. And they hold counsel with the stars Whose broken branches show the scars Of many winds and much of strife. This is the common law of life. â€“ Douglas Malloch from "Good Timber"
Photo Kyle Calian
This issue is dedicated to Cris Stanton and Hallie Ulrich. May their light shine on.
The Regeneration People Creating a Better Planet Issue 2 â€˘ Fall | Winter 2017 ISBN: 978-1979298704
Chelsea Greene Jena Schlosser Megean Weldon Amanda Jackson Dani Arama Buck Butler Joey Lawrence Shawn Heinrichs Sam Barratt Alyssa Bassett Kyle Calian
Director / Founder
Kyle Calian Editor-in-Chief
Ashley Goetz Editor-at-Large
Olivia Lapierre Hannah Phang Ryan Madden Chelsea Greene Lauren Haggerty Megean Weldon Dani Arama
Paul Hawken Katharine Wilkinson Summer Rayne Oakes Chanelle Crosby Sah D'Simone Merijn Everaarts Max Ernst Corinne Gentile Dune Ives Chantal Plamondon Website
Ian Crispi Staff
Editorial & Submissions
The Regeneration Magazine is produced by Kyle Calian. It is printed in Northport, New York, by Eco Friendly Printer on recycled FSC certified stock. The Regeneration is an independent, biannual publication. The ownership of each article contributed is copyright. This copyright belongs with the contributor of the respective article, which is stated here. All other ideas expressed by The Regeneration are put forward with the intention to inspire productive conversation about humanity's relationship with the environment. The opinions published in The Regeneration belong to the respective authors of each article, which do not necessarily represent the views of the publishers and editorial staff. Some content in the magazine is republished with the written consent of the publisher. Certain content republished in this magazine is in the public domain. No other content in this magazine may be reproduced in any form without written consent from The Regeneration. The Regeneration Magazine reserves the right to accept, reject or edit any material submitted by contributors prior to publishing the magazine.
Our Values 1
Drawing the connections between the largest movement on Earth.
Showcasing contributions that drive meaningful conversation.
From businesses to nonprofits and small personal passion projects, we're here because we share a mutual love for planet Earth.
These are inspired by positive change, resiliency and innovation, not fearmongering.
Promoting the commonly forgotten connection between social justice and environmental sustainability.
Believing that sales figures are not the only measurement of success.
The goal of this movement is to improve the quality of life for all living things.
Therefore, we don't pursue growth for growth's sake, but only if all of these values can be upheld.
Acknowledging the evolution of the economy away from free market capitalism.
Practicing what we preach and taking great efforts to minimize our environmental footprint.
We need to showcase the businesses that are trying to achieve a true triple bottom line. These organizations are at the forefront of the next economic movement, and the more we can learn from them, the better we can adapt their models to solve social and environmental problems.
We use recycled materials, plant a tree for each physical copy sold, optimize our supply chain and do not pulp unsold copies. Additionally, we only accept support from organizations that align with The Regeneration's values.
Contents The overarching theme of this issue is plastic pollution and its connection to climate change. However, because of the breadth of factors that contribute to climate change, we've included
Letter from the Founder
Who to Follow
Summer Rayne Oakes
pieces about environmental justice, palm oil, ocean plastic and environmental racism. We have also included some mindfulness techniques to move you forward.
Products We Love
Zero Waste Tips
The Plastic Problem
Sah D' Simone
The Last Rainforest in Borneo
106 Guest Interview with Surfrider
Letter from the Founder
Words Kyle Calian 6
I write this with a heavy heart for all of those impacted by the recent hurricanes that swept across Texas, Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. At this moment, there is so much going on in the world that it is nearly impossible not to feel overwhelmed. We live in turbulent times, where superstorms or earthquakes could (and have) destroyed homes and communities. Meanwhile, countries are bolstering their militaries and reducing their global cooperation. What hope is left lies in the parcels of empathy that we often muster too briefly before returning to our selfinterests. The real tragedy here is that we have the potential for so much more. Our current political mess is the result of this dichotomy between our desire for personal security and our ability to extend compassion to others. We must realize that we live in an increasingly globalized world. When our neighbors and allies struggle, we struggle. When society has a bounty to harvest, when there are good jobs that help move the needle on progress, we all thrive. Right now, that is what we are missing most. We are not thriving. We are just getting by. And when natural disasters like the most recent superstorms strike, the poorest often bear the brunt of our carbon debts. These catastrophic weather events do not discriminate based on politics. And they aren't going away anytime soon. So, as we work to rebuild the communities impacted by these storms, why donâ€™t
we take the opportunity to create more resilient structures and a more regenerative society?
of climate change is raised, many people ask, “What can I do? There are so many problems. How can I make a difference?”
I apologize if this sounds like gloomy realism, but these tragedies are very real for millions of people. Sometimes, with devastation comes a moment of opportunity. By focusing on what went wrong, we can identify exactly what needs to change. We know there is no single answer—climate change is caused by a myriad of factors, from deforestation to plastic production and pollution. So, in this issue we focus on people who are tackling these problems from a variety of angles. From personal action to policy change and advocacy, these inspiring individuals are doing as much as they can to steer spaceship Earth in the right direction.
And so, in this issue, I tried to focus on exactly that—people making the connection between plastic pollution, deforestation, climate change and individual action. From interviews with Paul Hawken and Katharine Wilkinson who worked on “Drawdown,” the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming, to Dune Ives, who recently launched the #stopsucking campaign to reduce the 500 million plastic straws Americans use each day, we are not only focusing on problems— we are sharing solutions linked to action.
That is why I created this publication—to highlight the individuals who wake up everyday with optimism in their eyes and empathy in their hearts. The people featured in these pages are just a small selection of the many doing all they can to slow down and reverse the climate crisis. They are working to solve a multitude of problems, the accumulation of which cause this invisible thing we call climate change. It is a slow-simmering pot that will eventually overflow. I salute those who, struck by natural disaster, have had to disproportionately bear the brunt, as well as those working on the ground to save lives, even as I write these words.
My hope is that this issue will lift you up in these confusing and stressful times. Within this magazine, you will find inspiring interviews, beautiful contributions, stunning photography and exciting products that take the work out of making conscious choices. We face a collective problem, and only through collective action will change (the good kind) happen.
The common thread among the individuals in this issue is their ability to take the guesswork out of action. When the topic 7
Photo Edoardo Busti
In this section, we dive deep into "Drawdown"â€”the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warmingâ€”with lead editor Paul Hawken and lead writer Katharine Wilkinson. "Drawdown" maps, measures, models and describes the 100 most substantive solutions to global warming.
Each solution is broken down by its history, how it works, the carbon reduction it provides, the relative cost and savings, and the path to adoption. The goal of the research that informs "Drawdown" is to determine if we can reverse the buildup of atmospheric carbon within 30 years. We discuss the team's vision for what this book will accomplish and the role their new organization, Project Drawdown, will have on the global stage.
Photo Terrence McCarthy
Paul Hawken Lead Editor of "Drawdown" Paul Hawken is an environmentalist, entrepreneur, journalist and author. Since the age of 20, he has dedicated his life to sustainability and improving the relationship between business and the environment. As one of the inspirations for the launch of this magazine, Hawken answers a few questions about his hopes for the climate movement and his latest endeavor, Project Drawdown.
Kyle Calian 11
Q: Your work played a pivotal role in the creation of The Regeneration Magazine—it's an honor to be speaking with you. You've done some incredible work on issues like environmental justice and civil rights. How have you seen the largest movement on Earth change over the years? A: That makes me happy. I believe the world will awaken soon to regenerative development as the only path that can restore our atmosphere, seas, land and society. In fact, it's the subject of my next book. The nature of the “largest movement” is that it cannot be seen … by anyone. It is so vast, diverse and widespread. It mutates and evolves constantly. There is no way to track it. My sense is that as certain issues become prominent, it may seem that [the movement] is shifting, but I tend to doubt that. I think what happens is that as new issues arise and become more commonly undertaken, we hear about them more. More layers are being added, like tree rings, but nothing is forsaken. Are you worried about the current stance the U.S. government is taking and the message it sends to the rest of the world about our inaction on climate change and the Paris Agreement goals? I am very concerned about the current administration, because it is taking a wrecking ball to America in every way possible. The new president does not understand his job or the oath he took. I am not so worried about the Paris Agreement, however. Most Americans did not understand the Paris Agreement 12
until Trump showboated his non-support. So, that was a big plus. It has awakened the responsible institutions—states, cities, corporations, universities, churches, as well as individuals—to double down on their commitments. Further, J.P. Morgan announced that because the price of renewable energy continues to plummet, the U.S. will meet its Paris commitments regardless of Trump. He has no say in how Americans respond. In this, he is powerless. The environmental movement needs strong leaders. It has always been the sum of its parts. Who and/or what organizations do you see at the helm of progress right now? Actually, I do not see any organization at the helm. I am not sure there is a helm, to be honest. What are you hopeful about? I am not sure hope is a useful emotion. Hope is a condition that depends on fear. If you are not worried or apprehensive about something occurring or not occurring in the future, there is nothing to be hopeful for. In essence, hope is the pretty face of fear, and what we need now is fearlessness, not hopefullness. Science has created excellent problem statements, from global warming to ocean acidification, biodiversity loss and more. Our job is not to fret and cling to threads of hope; our role is to solve the problems. Blame, demonization of others and handwringing waste our time and energy. We need to focus on actions that reverse global warming and regenerate all living systems, including human society.
Photo Elijah Allan-Blitz
When did you realize you wanted to write "Drawdown"?
The idea occurred to me in 2001, when the IPCC (United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Third
Assessment came out. Like all assessments before and since (except the first), it was
more pessimistic than the prior. Because it
is “consensus science,” the IPCC has a bias
toward moderating the predictions of future impacts of global warming.
Countries with large fossil fuel resources
played down what the best climatologists were saying. There is no such thing as
consensus science. Science is evidentiary.
Later in 2001, Princeton University’s Carbon Mitigation Initiative came out with its famous eight global wedges made up of 15 solutions that, if adopted, could achieve stabilization of atmospheric greenhouse gases by 2050. Eleven of those 15 could only be accomplished by very large energy, utility or car companies. But all 11 were deeply underwater and unaffordable. In other words, to solve emissions, the boards of directors of conservative companies would have to vote to spend down their balance sheet, if not go out of business. Of those 15 [solutions], the only thing you and I could do was put a solar panel on our roof and drive less. There was no mention of agency—what cities, communities, neighborhoods, small business, provinces, states or farmers could do. 13
Photo Kyle Calian
"I see the science of climate change as a gift, not a curse. Global warming is feedback from the atmosphere. The Earth is a system, and any system that does not incorporate feedback fails."
And that is when I started to suggest to friends at big environmental NGOs that we/they should make a list of all the top extant solutions, do the math on carbon, calculate the costs and determine whether the solutions, if scaled, could achieve drawdown in a reasonable amount of time. What I also suggested is that we name the goal: drawdown, the point in time when greenhouse gases peak and go down on a year-to-year basis. The goal then and now has been reduction, mitigation, stabilization—and that too did not make sense to me. There is no stability at 450 to 500 ppm. Those levels of CO2 in the atmosphere bring about climate chaos. In any case, my friends either shrugged or said they did not have the expertise, and neither did I, so [I] forgot about it until 2012/2013. During that time a series of articles came out, including Bill McKibben’s “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math,” that shocked people, including friends. I began to hear people say “game over,” that all was lost. I had a different take, that maybe it was “game on” now. So, I decided to create an organization and do the research, even though there was virtually no money or support for it. Can you tell me about Project Drawdown and the goal of the book? The organization, Project Drawdown, consists of a small staff, 70 research fellows from 22 countries, over 120 prominent and knowledgeable advisors and several dozen outside expert scientific reviewers. The goal is to map, measure and model the 100 most substantive solutions to reverse global warming. It is fascinating that although we have had public
discourse about global warming for over 40 years, no one had measured the top 100 (or 25, 50, etc.) solutions to climate change, until now. I do not know why. Eighty of the solutions analyzed are in place, well understood and are scaling. What our 70-person global research team did was measure the impact the solutions would have if they continued to scale in a rigorous but reasonable way, and what the cost and profits would be. All carbon data was based on peer-reviewed science. Could we reverse the buildup of greenhouse gases with techniques and practices already underway? We didn’t know. The goal of the book was to present the findings, describe the solutions in ways that fascinated and informed, and accompany them with images that enlivened and inspired. Can you take me through an average day of work at Project Drawdown? Until the final draft of the book was submitted Feb. 12, we were consumed with hundreds of details pertaining to the text, imagery, licenses, credits, numbers (models), harmonizing impact statements and more. We were tying together two and a half years of work. The months of March through mid-April focused on website design and content, pre-publication interviews, publicity coordination, event scheduling and social media outreach, commencing with the publication on April 18. Until now, the team at Drawdown has been a bit overwhelmed in its effort to respond to incoming queries, comments, requests, talks, seminars, webinars and offers. Since that time, the research team has been fully occupied with preparing the 15
descriptions of the research for publication on drawdown.org, including technical assessment summaries, sector summaries and upgraded models. I think all of us would welcome an “average day.” Haven’t seen one yet. How do you feel this book fits into the context of your other work? It might be too soon to evaluate how it fits. My intention has always been to look at possibility, to honor the true nature of humanity—its kindness, brilliance and goodness—and to do so through a matrix of biology and living systems. I have never been interested in polemics or right-left political divisiveness. I see the science of climate change as a gift, not a curse. Global warming is feedback from the atmosphere. The earth is a system, and any system that does not incorporate feedback fails. This is true of our body, ecosystems, social systems, and business and economic systems. Global warming is creating huge breakthroughs in energy, transport, agriculture, housing, urbanization, materials and more. If it wasn’t for the science of climate change, we would be destroying the Earth faster than we already are. I wanted to bring this point out into the open. Focusing repeatedly on the problem does not solve the problem. The science of what will happen if we do not act has been here for a long time. Because there is a perception that society is not taking sufficient action, there has been a tendency to focus mainly on the serious impacts of global warming. Ninety-eight percent of the media stories on climate change are about loss and damage. I wanted to change that emphasis. 16
How can people get involved or purchase a copy? Depends on where they are. For some reason, although we are published by Penguin U.S., Penguin U.K. has hesitated to publish. And those are the editions that would naturally go to Commonwealth countries. Their thinking is the same as Penguin in the states, that books on climate and the environment do not sell. The U.S. publisher was hesitant. The good news is that "Drawdown" became a New York Times best-seller its first week (number nine), something no climate or environment book had done for over 25 years. It can be purchased through Amazon at least, but it would be so much better if it was available in bookstores. Who are some of your biggest influences? My wife, Barry Lopez, Byron Katie, Jane Jacobs, Janine Benyus, Mary Oliver, Gary Snyder, Margaret Atwood, William Merwin, Henry David Thoreau, Pema Chödrön, Doris Lessing, Stephen Mitchell, David James Duncan, Arundhati Roy, Mooji Baba, Jane Goodall and Alexander von Humboldt. What are some things you do to reduce your impact? Honestly, no matter what I do I will have an outsize impact, because I travel to speak and teach about "Drawdown." At home, we eschew meat and dairy, buy local and organic, pay close attention to food waste. We have solar electricity, one car, a bike for commuting, a cooperatively owned organic farm and more. But mobility is significant. And we do not watch TV.
Paul Hawken is senior editor at Project Drawdown and writer of several seminal books about the environmental movement, such as "Blessed Unrest" and "Growing a Business." To learn more about Paul and Project Drawdown, visit drawdown.org or paulhawken.com
Photo Raymond Baltar
"My intention has always been to look at possibility, to honor the true nature of humanity—its kindness, brilliance and goodness—and to do so through a matrix of biology and living systems."
PROJECT DRAWDOWN TOP 10 SOLUTIONS BY OVERALL RANK
Wind Turbines (Onshore)
Reduced Food Waste
Every refrigerator and air conditioner contains chemical refrigerants that absorb and release heat to enable chilling. Refrigerants, specifically CFCs and HCFCs, were once culprits in depleting the ozone layer. Thanks to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, they have been phased out. HFCs, the primary replacement, spare the ozone layer, but have 1,000 to 9,000 times greater capacity to warm the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Through an amendment to the Montreal Protocol, the world will start to phase out HFCs in 2019.
The wind industry is marked by a proliferation of turbines, dropping costs and heightened performance. In many locales, wind is either competitive with or less expensive than coal-generated electricityâ€”and it has no fuel costs and no pollution. Ongoing cost reduction will soon make wind energy the least expensive source of electricity, perhaps within a decade.
A third of the food raised or prepared does not make it from farm or factory to fork. Producing uneaten food squanders a whole host of resourcesâ€” seeds, water, energy, land, fertilizer, hours of labor, financial capitalâ€”and generates greenhouse gases at every stage, including methane when organic matter lands in the global rubbish bin. The food we waste is responsible for roughly 8 percent of global emissions.
Plant-rich diets reduce emissions and also tend to be healthier, leading to lower rates of chronic disease. According to a 2016 study, business-as-usual emissions could be reduced by as much as 70 percent through adopting a vegan diet and 63 percent for a vegetarian diet, which includes cheese, milk and eggs. $1 trillion in annual health-care costs and lost productivity would be saved.
As a forest ecosystem and it's flora and fauna return the interactions between organisms and species revive, the forest regains its multidimensional roles: supporting the water cycle, conserving soil, protecting habitat and pollinators, providing food, medicine and fiber, and giving people places to live, adventure and worship. The simplest scenario is to release land from non-forest use, such as growing crops or damming a valley, and let a young forest rise up on its own. Protective measures can keep pressures such as fire, erosion, or grazing at bay.
Education lays a foundation for vibrant lives for girls and women, their families and their communities. It also is one of the most powerful levers available for avoiding emissions by curbing population growth. Women with more years of education have fewer and healthier children, and actively manage their reproductive health. Education also shores up resilience and equips girls and women to face the impacts of climate change. They can be more effective stewards of food, soil, trees and water, even as natureâ€™s cycles change.
Honoring the dignity of women and children through family planning is not about governments forcing the birth rate down (or up, through natalist policies). Nor is it about those in rich countries, where emissions are highest, telling people elsewhere to stop having children. When family planning focuses on health care provision and meeting womenâ€™s expressed needs, empowerment, equality and well-being are the result; the benefits to the planet are side effects.
The sun provides a virtually unlimited, clean and free fuel at a price that never changes. Solar farms take advantage of that resource, with large-scale arrays of hundreds, thousands, or in some cases millions of photovoltaic (PV) panels. In many parts of the world, solar PV is now cost competitive with or less costly than conventional power generation. In tandem with other renewables and enabled by better grids and energy storage, solar farms are ushering in the clean energy revolution.
Silvopasture is an ancient practice that integrates trees and pasture into a single system for raising livestock. Research suggests silvopasture far outpaces any grassland technique for counteracting the methane emissions of livestock and sequestering carbon under-hoof. Pastures strewn or crisscrossed with trees sequester five to 10 times as much carbon as those of the same size that are treeless, storing it in both biomass and soil.
Rooftop Solar Rooftop solar is spreading as the cost of panels falls, driven by incentives to accelerate growth, economies of scale in manufacturing and advances in PV technology. In grid-connected areas, rooftop panels can put electricity production in the hands of households. In rural parts of low-income countries, they can leapfrog the need for large-scale, centralized power grids, and accelerate access to affordable, clean electricityâ€”becoming a powerful tool for eliminating poverty.
Photo Buck Butler
Katharine Wilkinson Lead Writer of "Drawdown" Katharine Wilkinson brings an interdisciplinary background to Project Drawdown that cuts across sustainability, strategy and thought leadership. Previously, Wilkinson was the director of strategy at the purpose consultancy BrightHouse. She has also taught at the University of Oxford and worked for the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Boston Consulting Group. Wilkinson sat down for a conversation about her work helping to bring Paul Hawken's vision to life, as she drives the project forward, forging partnerships around the world.
Kyle Calian 21
Q: I'm very interested in your background. You've been a director of strategy at BrightHouse. You taught at Oxford. You worked at NRDC. Would you describe your path to writing about climate change issues? A: My bio can look a little schizophrenic, but it's all part of finding my way as a deeply interdisciplinary human. When I was 16, I spent a semester at the Outdoor Academy in western North Carolina—in Pisgah Forest—which was the birthplace of my trajectory as an environmentalist, for lack of a better word. It was when I first got interested in the stories that we tell about ourselves and this planet that we live on. How do those stories shape the action that we take or don't take? In undergrad at the liberal arts college Sewanee—The University of the South, I did environmental studies but also majored in religion. Again, what are these big stories that we're telling? What are the big questions that we're grappling with as human beings? After graduating, I spent a year working for NRDC on forest and land-use issues on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee. To be overly simplistic, I was working in megachurch, NASCAR, country music land. I had grown up in Atlanta, in the progressive bubble of John Lewis’ congressional district. But going to school in the rural south and then the work for NRDC really left me frustrated. It left me struggling with the way in which the environmental movement speaks right past most of America, sitting as it does in New York and San Francisco for the most part. This experience was smack in the 22
middle of the second Bush administration, and I thought, there have to be other ways of shaping political will and public engagement on these issues. During that year at NRDC, the Evangelical Climate Initiative launched with a full-page ad in the New York Times that said, "Our commitment to Jesus Christ compels us to solve the global warming crisis." I'd been thinking about the intersection of these things—of religion and environmental advocacy—and yet this surprised me. I ended up at Oxford for grad school on a Rhodes Scholarship. I used that opportunity to dive into understanding what was, at the time, a burgeoning evangelical climate movement. I was wrapping up my doctoral dissertation in 2009, when it looked like we had our best chance in a generation of passing federal climate legislation. It passed the House, and then couldn't get through the Senate. Then, the climate negotiations in Copenhagen dissolved. It was all really depressing. I didn’t know how to spend my days in the doom and gloom of climate and stay sane. Having known Ray Anderson and been inspired by the story of Interface, I thought there might be ways to get closer to the site of impact through sustainability in business. So, I veered into consulting at the Boston Consulting Group and then found my way to BrightHouse, a boutique consultancy focused on purpose. Five years of consulting convinced me that most change in large corporations is extremely slow. Those institutions are rarely vanguard change-makers. It wasn't a longterm fit for me.
"Then, the climate negotiations in Copenhagen dissolved. It was all really depressing. I didnâ€™t know how to spend my days in the doom and gloom of climate and stay sane."
Photo Kyle Calian
Photo Buck Butler
I had turned my doctoral research into a book that came out in 2012, "Between God & Green: How Evangelicals Are Cultivating a Middle Ground on Climate Change." And I really wanted to get back into the climate space, into more thought leadership, more writing and speaking. How did you meet Paul Hawken and get involved with "Drawdown"? Paul and I met through a consulting project I was leading for Interface, when I was still at BrightHouse. My team was helping Interface to codify their purpose and values, their story. At the same time, they were thinking about their next mission beyond Mission Zero, to become a regenerative company. They're now calling that mission Climate Take Back. Paul has advised Interface for many years. We met through that project, stayed in touch, and one thing led to another. Ultimately he asked if I wanted to come work on writing the book, "Drawdown." And of course I said, yes! Were you one of the group of editors that helped work on the research for the book? Yes. We had over 60 research fellows who worked on literature reviews and modeling of the "Drawdown" solutions. I came on board to write the prose of the book, which also involved expanding on that research. Paul also wrote, and we edited one another’s work. It was a wonderfully collaborative writing project. I'd like to ask about your book, "Between God & Green," before diving into "Drawdown." I'm fascinated by the evangelical environmental movement
and the dichotomy between the Bible saying we have dominion over nature or are its stewards. I think that's the seminal question of that movement and want to hear what you think. What you saw in the early 2000s was a bubbling up of interest in climate change among a core set of more moderate evangelical leaders, who managed to bring a bunch of folks on board, at least in name. That group became the Evangelical Climate Initiative. I wanted to understand: Where did this effort come from? How are its leaders making sense of this issue? How are they framing it? And to what degree is it resonating or not with the evangelical public? What’s really powerful is the way that creation care—which is the broader interest or movement of which this focus of climate is one part—takes two streams of theology and pulls them together. The first is a responsibility to care for creation or to be stewards or to “tend and keep the garden,” as you see in Genesis. The other stream of theology is around care for the poor and the most vulnerable, “the least of these.” Creation care leaders weave those two together quite intentionally and thoughtfully, which contrasts what a lot of the environmental movement has done historically. As far as the dominion idea—the way that word gets used elsewhere in the Bible refers to thoughtful and generous rulership, such as what a good, responsible leader does. It is misunderstood when read as license to do with the Earth as you wish. 25
In a good federalist system, the good noble, so to speak. Yes. During the research, I sat down and talked with focus groups in churches around the southeast. Generally, people said, "Yeah, absolutely, we think we're called to care for God's creation. Definitely we're called to be stewards." Some people said, "And so we should do something about climate change." Many others said that theology sits over here, and climate change and Al Gore are over there. There was often a gulf between the two and a resistance to applying that theology to an issue that reeked to folks of a broader, progressive agenda. There's this idea that the Christian monotheistic God created this amazing Earth, so why would he create an Earth that would be so temperamental and fragile? How could humans be connected to climate change if we're just part of the picture, not the whole thing? As a systems thinker, that disconnect has always perplexed me a bit. We're a part of the larger whole. I'm sure you have thoughts about that. There are certainly people who believe that it’s hubris to think humans could have this kind of impact on the planet. That’s a pretty straightforward perspective. I really wrestled with understanding something more implicit that I was hearing from people. “Yes, I think I should drive a car with better gas mileage. No, I don't think that has an impact on people's lives in Bangladesh. Yes, I agree that we shouldn't cut down trees. No I’m not responsible for the atmosphere.” There was a deep localization of problems. 26
Photo Kyle Calian
"There was often a gulf between the two and a resistance to applying that theology to an issue that reeked to folks of a broader, progressive agenda."
I ended up reading some work that flipped a light switch for me. It was about evangelicals' perspectives on race and racism, typically seeing racism as an individualized issue. So, if I'm not actively being explicitly racist toward you, then there's not a problem. Of course, this ignores the larger, systemic racism we face as a nation right now. There's a resistance to more systemic, or more structural, ways of thinking about those issues. The biggest factor I saw at work was political ideology. Even at that point, there was already such a partisan divide on climate. And I think that was the dominant factor for most folks. Religion or theology could only carry people so far. I left the research at a really interesting and fraught moment for those leaders. They were grappling. Do we set climate change aside, given all this political baggage, and go headlong into seminaries and churches with creation care theology that will not rile people up? Or do we stay focused on this most important issue and stay focused on Washington? Leaders were divided, and the evangelical climate effort suffered the same kind of dip that the overall climate movement suffered in 2009 and 2010. That was at the peak of the Heartland movement, with political opposition groups funded by big oil. Media coverage of the climate movement shot down for those four or five years. Totally. It was back to these bigger questions about the movement. If the whole game is national policy and an international agreement, and those stall or collapse for the foreseeable future,
then what are you doing? What are you pushing for? I think much of the movement became a bit unmoored. Precisely. Well, let's transition back into "Drawdown." I'll say quickly that the connective tissue between the two is that I used the lens of discourse analysis for that research, for "Between God & Green." So, it was really about the question of, what are the stories that we're telling? How are we communicating this phenomenon of climate change and our relationship to it? Instead of sitting in the seat of an academic and analyzing that, it's been really interesting with "Drawdown" to be in the seat of shaping the story. It's been a cool shift. I think that this book does a phenomenal job of really breaking down what we need to do and what the impact actually looks like. What does your work at Project Drawdown, now that the book has been released, look like on a day-to-day basis? I really loved the writing phaseâ€”bringing these solutions and our message to lifeâ€”but I also really love this phase of engagement and sharing and teaching. My work now involves a lot of talks, interviews, and conversations with folks who want to put "Drawdown" to work in curriculums or at the city level or within their organizations. In other words, catching the interest that's coming in, while also being a messenger for "Drawdown" going out, which has been really, really exciting. As a team, weâ€™re figuring out what the future of this living research project looks like, what the future of "Drawdown" as a 27
living communication project looks like. We’re working on other communication mediums, thinking about subsequent publications—lots of good stuff. Gotcha. So you're the senior writer, and there are all of these research fellows and other people within the organization. I imagine you guys are working on media partnerships and writing pieces for major outlets, but how localized is it? Is everyone all over the globe, or is there an HQ where you guys are thumbing away at stuff ? Paint the picture. The core team is very small—but I like to think mighty—which is Paul, Chad Frischmann who’s our research director, and Crystal Chisel, who keeps everything running and humming (particularly on the research side). They're all in the Bay Area, in Sausalito. I'm in Atlanta, working from my treehouse-esque office. Beyond the fulltime staff, we have a great senior research team who shaped and shepherded the modeling side of the work. There were 60-plus research fellows who touched it at some point or another, and they’re all remote. They're on six continents, 22 countries. It's really a fantastic cross section of folks. Layered onto that is a big community of advisors, who have been involved to varying degrees. There were some who really wanted to engage in reading draft content of the book, in giving feedback. Others wanted to be more engaged on the modeling side. So imagine a small core team and then this big and broadening coalition that's scattered all over the place. 28
And now, post-publication, do you feel like you're tapping into that network still? Or do you feel like you can be doing more work with them? Absolutely, this is a collaborative, community effort, and it’s blessed with many messengers, many champions. What you want is for all of those voices to be voices for Project Drawdown. That’s happening—many voices bringing this work and rigorous vision of possibility to the world. On a personal note, what do you hope results from the project? The story that we have been telling one another about climate change in recent decades is worrisome. That is, it's bad. It's going to be really bad. We're heading toward a potentially unlivable planet, as a species that's not super well-equipped to change course. Please change your lightbulbs, recycle your Coke cans and cross your fingers for some silver-bullet solution. That’s the gist of it. In my own experience of working on climate—and stepping away from working on climate for a time—I know what that story can mean. It leaves people feeling overwhelmed, scared, guilty, sad, confused, paralyzed, depressed, cynical, hopeless. All these things that are super valid and not at all a good foundation for action, when what we need to be doing is digging in and taking action. Even folks who are really engaged in related issues say, “I don't want to touch climate change. Not because I think it's not happening or not important, but I have no idea what my foothold is in this space or how to not be subsumed and in doom and gloom.”
"We also need a clear and credible vision worth fighting for, beyond averting catastrophe." The subtext of that climate story is that human beings are terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, greedy, lazy, incompetent, intransigent and all the rest. If that's what you believe about humanity, then why would you show up and do this work every day? When you come in through the lens of solutions, the other side of the story becomes really clear—which is that we are also creative and compassionate and collaborative and committed. And every now and again, we manage to be brilliant and gutsy. For folks in the work of climate action, I think you have to hear and tell and own that story—both if you want to stay courageous and driven, but also if you want to invite other people in. I'm hopeful that this work reenergizes folks. I'm hopeful that it gives people who haven't participated in this work before a sense of ways they can contribute. I hope it's a counterpoint to the "I have a nightmare" speech that the climate movement is really good at giving—and reasonably so, if all you look at is the science of the bad stuff that could be coming our way. We also need a clear and credible vision worth fighting for, beyond averting catastrophe. I hope that "Drawdown" begins to articulate that vision, and that our work moving forward continues to expand on and clarify that vision. I think we’re filling a big need in the climate movement and shifting how we talk about climate in the public square. Photo Kyle Calian
What are you working on at the moment, other than Project Drawdown? I live in Atlanta, which is a bit of a teenager city that's writing its next chapter. What's fun about being here (and sometimes frustrating) is that that's happening, and you can be involved if you want to be. Everyone says that Atlanta would be a great city if only we had a waterfront. We actually have a river. It doesn't run through the heart of downtown, but there are 8 miles of river that form one boundary of the city limits. But you can't see it, and you can't get to it. It's an intensely industrial corridor that then gives way to forest and farmland. Yet the river is cleaner than it has been in decades, and maybe than it has been in a century. I'm very involved with an organization called Chattahoochee NOW, which is trying to get the city to imagine and pursue the potential that we have with this riverfront. Basically, where rich white people live, north of the city, you have great access to the river. It's a National Recreation Area. But we've done some equity analysis that communities of color and communities that are lower income have almost no access to the river at all. So, how do we make the river reachable by all? What does the riverfront end up being like, end up looking like? I think about that work as creating onramps to environmental concern. How do you pull people in gently, to becoming more engaged through the avenues of wonder and exploration, as opposed to â€œthis is terribleâ€?? It's really hard for folks to care about a river they never see. There are a lot of people who drive out of the city and go to the Chattahoochee farther north. But how 30
Photo Kyle Ryan
do you make it a part of our identity, right in the heart of Atlanta? Who are your biggest influences? I have many. One is Parker Palmer—a Quaker thought-leader and wise man who has written about so many things, from purpose to democracy to education. He started and ran a wonderful organization called the Center for Courage and Renewal. Parker talks about “the work before the work.” It’s the work of staying in what he calls the “tragic gap” between the reality of what is and the possibility of what could be or should be. It is easy to flip out of it—into cynicism or hopelessness on one side or into starry-eyed, gee-whiz optimism on the other. How do you stay grounded and sustain that ability to face the hard things and hold the vision and do the work? We can get so caught up in technologies and practices and policies that we forget about the human work that also has to be done to be effective.
And lastly, do you have a favorite thing that you bring with you everywhere you go, as a writer? I take my dog, Arthur, everywhere that I can. I try not to leave home without a paper book. I think in my bag right now is Rebecca Solnit's book on hope, which she wrote after the re-election of George Bush in 2004. I'm thinking a lot about this tragic gap/possibility/hope thing—what it all means, how we understand it. Climate is such a big field and it’s moving so fast. There’s a risk of thinking that you only have time to read about that, if you want to keep up. I try to keep the other inputs coming. Katharine Wilkinson Ph.D., is senior writer at Project Drawdown, working to bring "Drawdown" to life and to the world and translating research into message. Find out more about Project Drawdown at drawdown.org.
The wonderful thing about being in this phase of Project Drawdown, of sharing the work and engaging with folks, is that I'm mostly so inspired by people who have been at this and are staying at it in ways that don't always get lifted up and championed and have their stories sung. That perseverance is remarkable. I recently hung out with a group of primary school and high school students from all over the world, at an event called The International Schools Debate in the U.K. I was absolutely blown away by 9-year-olds who are so thoughtful about climate action and the Paris Agreement and taking down Scott Pruitt. None of these were American kids. The evolution of consciousness that’s happening is quite amazing. 31
Disclaimer: This piece may not be particularly insightful for those who have been speaking about and experiencing colonialism and oppression for hundreds of years in this country. My hope is that it will be helpful for people already on (or interested in beginning) their personal journey of understanding privilege and complicity in structural oppression.
My realizations are unique to me, my personal growth and my continuing political education as an activist and organizer in anti-racist and antioppressive leftist movement spaces. This piece is not meant to guilt or shame myself or othersâ€”only to contextualize my understanding of inherent complicity in systems of oppression and the need to confront those systems. My name is Ryan Madden, and I am a settler colonialist. I also spend my life organizing around issues of climate justice, which forces me to come to terms with complicated and conflicting truths.
Words Ryan Madden 32
I am a product of tremendous privilege; privilege I am afforded because of a sordid history of white supremacy, imperialism, colonialism and genocide. While I am not responsible for the sins of the past, I am responsible for understanding how those sins afford me an existence in this life that is not guaranteed to everyone: a life free of racial oppression and violence, of gender discrimination and sexual exploitation, of economic disparity, and of other structural barriers to a full existence with dignity and respect on this Earth. I am a cisgendered, straight, able-bodied white man from an upper-middle-class family with a strong educational upbringing. And I have lived
my entire life benefiting from forces that value my life over others. I have never questioned my safety among police. I have never gone days without eating. I have never been subject to scrutiny, suspicion or hatred because of my physical appearance. These privileges have afforded me the opportunity to pursue my life without fear of retribution from society. There is a spectrum of privilege in this complex world, of course, and I acknowledge how many of mine intersect. I lived 20 years of my life never understanding this, never having to learn these truths. This is what privilege is in its varied forms: insulation from a reality unavoidable for others—a reality marked by exploitation, discrimination, persecution and violence. It wasn’t until I participated in an anti-oppression training with a youth climate justice organization after college that the veil began to lift. While I had always considered myself a progressive person, I had never questioned how I conducted myself in public life. Because of my class, race, gender and sexual orientation, I never feared for my safety in public. I never questioned whether my voice would be listened to. I never had to worry that an authority figure would question my intelligence. I never had to concern myself with access to education, employment or housing. I still don’t. Not in a country that values my life over all others. My path has led me to the climate justice movement: a movement to tackle the climate crisis with equity for communities and workers, for those historically oppressed by an economic and political system that exploits land, labor and people—systems which leave particular communities disproportionately 34
burdened by an extractive economy and the impacts of climate change, while having contributed least to the problem. Today’s climate crisis is the culmination of centuries of exploitation of people and resources, the result of an inequitable economic system that prioritizes endless growth and accumulation over equity and justice. It is the planetary reaction to a culture of oppression and domination, a symptom of settler colonialism, white supremacy, patriarchy and capitalism—all systems that I personally benefit from and am morally obligated to combat. I graduated from SUNY Binghamton and did what a lot of millennial recent graduates do: moved to an affordable area in the five boroughs. For me, that was Queens. And although my mother— the daughter of a Jewish refugee who escaped Austria after being expelled by the Nazis—grew up in Jackson Heights and my grandparents spent 30-plus years in Bayside, I am not from Queens. That means I am part of a gentrifying force in the area, given my economic and social upbringing in Westchester, New York. Unbeknownst to me, until I began my journey in anti-oppression and anti-racist movements, I was contributing to the legacy of colonialism and displacement. I was complicit in centuries of domination over land and people—an insidious process that began with the forced displacement and genocide of indigenous people and has continued in various manifestations up to the present day, from land grabs and racial segregation to redlining and gentrification. All of these processes are part of an inherent inertia in American society that dates back
to our endeavors in settler-colonialist expansion. Gentrification is the new form of colonialism, and a lot of us are complicit in the process. I want to stop here to remind readers that the intention of this piece is not to shame or guilt (I myself can't always internalize these realizations without spiraling into paralyzing existential dread) but to give pause and think deeply about the structural forces that shape our existence. It made sense for me to move to Queens. While I am economically well off, I am not rich. When I got a job in Manhattan a few years ago, it was a logical choice to settle in an affordable borough. But I hadnâ€™t given enough thought to that choice and what it meant in the context of modern-day colonialism. I imagine many of my millennial friends reading this havenâ€™t either. I think we all need to sit with these truths about
ourselves and our roles in perpetuating systems of oppression, so we can then ask ourselves what we are doing about it. As a climate organizer, I know my path is to continue intentionally building relationships and challenging power structures with those most impacted by the forces that created this crisis. I do this by following the leadership of communities on the frontlines of climate change who have been fighting for decades; by showing up to spaces, forming new relationships and understanding the privileges I enter them with; by constantly questioning my assumptions; and by keeping myself open to new ways of thinking based on othersâ€™ experiences. What forced me to frame my role in settler-colonialism was attending a party a few months ago in Astoria. Of nearly 30 people, there was not a single person of color. In the most linguistically and 35
ethnically diverse area in the country, there was not a single black or brown person to be found. This isn’t surprising when three-quarters of white people in this country don’t have a black friend. But this stark situation really brought the process of gentrification to the forefront of my mind. Having recently read “An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States,” it sunk in that gentrification really is the new form of settler-colonialism, and I was in a room with 30 perpetrators. As I continue to grow and develop as a white accomplice to indigenous movements, to queer movements, to black liberation movements and more, I think it’s important to share my experience with other folks, especially white folks, who may be at different stages of their learning and, more importantly, unlearning. Unlearning the baked-in assumptions about our particular worth, about what we are entitled to and about what we should expect from the world and others. Racism, colonialism, sexism, ableism and classism are systems of oppression, and those who are white or non-indigenous or male or able-bodied or wealthy or straight or cisgendered are all participants and beneficiaries. To the extent that we aren’t actively trying to dismantle these forces, we are racists, colonialists, sexists, ableists and classists—myself included. I am humbled by the education I have been afforded by others patient enough to teach me. I am grateful to be a part of movements that so thoughtfully work toward dissecting power and privilege and what it means for everyone’s lived experience—for those who hold and wield that power and for those who are 36
subject to its oppressive forces. There are a litany of resources out there for people trying to better understand privilege and power. I hope this article encourages you to start that journey, to further it or to push me further on my own, so that we can all better understand our role in dismantling the layers of oppressive forces that viscerally harm people every day. For those who do not currently consider themselves part of any movement, ask yourself why. Know that there are organizers out there prepared to have these conversations with you and orient you to this work: to guide you to an organization that needs volunteers; to point you in the direction of the next canvass, phone bank or direct action; to teach you how to build power in your community. Signing a petition is great, and showing up to a protest is important. But we need more people flyering neighborhoods with those petitions and organizing those protests. We need more people knocking on doors for electoral campaigns. We need more people lobbying their elected officials. We need more op-eds pushing our narrative into the mainstream. We need more dedicated activists pushing for change. We need you. Ryan Madden is a climate activist and organizer. He currently serves as the Sustainability Organizer for a grassroots group on Long Island where he leads efforts for energy democracy and climate justice in New York State.
The Plaine Products team knows that small changes can make big impacts. That's why they've created a unique, sustainable packaging system. Their aluminum bottles are returnable, refillable, reusable and paired with natural shampoo, conditioner and body wash that are paraben, sulfate and toxin free, biodegradable and color safe. Their products have organic, non GMO, vegan ingredients to nourish your hair and skin.
More than 550 million shampoo bottles end up in landfills every year.
Reduce waste and help stop the spread of single-use plastic. When your aluminum bottle is empty, order a return label from the Plaine Products website, and ship it back. The bottle will be
Check them out at: plaineproducts.com Follow them: @plaineproducts
cleaned, sterilized, refilled and sent back out into the world, creating a loop with minimal waste and keeping plastics out of our landfills and oceans. Shampoo is just the start of a packaging revolution. 37
Who we're following
Stevie is an optimistic, inspiring zero waster who photographs her adventures from the bulk section of her local co-op to the Catskill Mountains. Check out her blog for tons of amazing stories and delicious recipes.
Ethically Engaged is dedicated to finding ethical lifestyle options to lead you in the direction of conscious consumerism. Check out their blog for tips on eco-fashion, green beauty and sustainable living.
Summer Rayne Oakes Entrepreneur, Model and Botanist As an entrepreneur with a background in botany, Summer Rayne Oakes has been working on creative solutions that address a number of different environmental challenges. For the last 11 years, she has been flexing her green thumb in her 1,200-square-foot apartment in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood, where she grows more than 500 plants. We talk to her about horticulturist classes, the Foodstand app and her sugar-free detox workshops.
Hannah Phang Joey Lawrence
Q: So, I know you've kind of been at this intersection of sustainability with creativity, fashion, food, art and health. To start off, could you just give me an overview of some of your recent projects and tell us what you’re working on right now? A: Of course. I think the main threads through my work have always been health, wellness and sustainability. I usually find my way to a project by thinking about the things that connect us on a daily basis. I think about what we eat, what we wear and what products we put on our bodies. Then, I think about how to incorporate sustainability into the picture. So, my work has been defined by focusing on those aspects of our daily existence that connect us as human beings, whether it be through health and wellness or fashion and style, all the while maintaining sustainability as a throughpoint. I would say that the first good ten years of my life were really spent on that intersection of sustainability as it relates to fashion and beauty. Those two industries are very disparate, but they also overlap with one another in various ways. This intersection gave me the opportunity to do some interesting things. By working with companies as a consultant as well as the model for their brands, I found myself in a very unique position that not many people, even to this day, operate in. As a female founder of Source For Style (a B2B marketplace, now called Le Souk), and then also writing a book on sustainability in fashion, "Style Naturally," those things kind of helped jump-start the sustainable fashion industry. Then, about four years ago, I stepped more into the world of food. And it 42
was like a new adventure for me. You have to always ask yourself, "What's different? What's new and exciting?" For me, the fashion world, in a way, ran its course. It became less challenging, or, perhaps, a little less interesting. I always felt like it was one aspect of me, but I didn't see it as the only thing I would do for the rest of my life. I welcomed a new challenge and entered the world of sustainability through food. I helped launch a couple venture-backed, startup food companies—some with less success compared to a few of the other things that I have done. But they still exist, and they're still going. It was a lot of solid learning experience. I thought, naively, that I knew a little bit more about the world of food than I actually did. I found out that it was a much more isolated industry than I had originally believed. I thought there would be a lot more crossover from what we wear into what we eat, but they really are two different worlds. Not many people had worked between the two industries, so I kind of just found my own way. The first project that I looked at was how to get more organic, local, farm-fresh food to people's doors in the city. That allowed me to start thinking about food, and I took a closer look at what I was eating. One of the things that I always felt held me back from reaching optimal health was my sweet tooth. If somebody says, "Oh, wow. You worked in sustainable fashion. And now, you’re the author of this book, ‘SugarDetoxMe?’ Those things feel very disparate.” But for me, it's all connected. What we put into our bodies, what the industries are putting into our foods, how that then makes us feel—it’s all part of the greater whole.
"It's not a business yet. It may never become one. But a lot of these things start off as projects, and then you kind of throw spaghetti on a wall, and you see what sticks." 44
Like I said, it's just one piece of the many different interests that I have as a person. So, that really manifested itself as a website, sugardetox.me, where people could do a 10-day or 30-day guided cleanse. It also led to the book that I just came out with in March, called “SugarDetoxMe.” It's really a recipe book and guide to help people on their journey reduce or eliminate sweet stuff, as well as become more active in the broader scope of their lives. So, not just taking advantage of what they can do within their home, but becoming savvy enough and maybe even fed up to the point where they take action. Whenever I become angry about certain things, I usually try to get active about it. Otherwise, I just try to tune things out, because there are a lot of things that one can get angry about, but you can't be shooting on all cylinders at once. My book came out in March 2017. What I didn't expect was for my house to go viral mid-last year. And it has been for a year and running. Due to the excitement of living with houseplants and what that kind of means to people, I launched Homestead Brooklyn, which is nothing more right now than a blog, Instagram and YouTube account to help people reconnect to nature through very simple things, whether that's a potted plant or a walk in the botanical gardens. Since February, I've written almost 60 blog posts and put out 22 YouTube videos, called Plant One On Me, where I just take people's questions on plants and answer them. It's gathered quite a bit of a following so far. It's been exciting, launching that and seeing that grow. It's
not a business yet. It may never become one. But a lot of these things start off as projects, and then you kind of throw spaghetti on a wall, and you see what sticks. Anyway, that's kind of in a nutshell, what I have done in the last few months. Wow. I have so many follow up questions. Let's start from where you just left off with Homestead Brooklyn. You said something really interesting about it being a way to talk about reconnecting with nature. As New Yorkers, we're literally in the concrete jungle. I would love to hear more of your thoughts on how we got to a point of being so disconnected from nature, the value of reconnecting and your advice on getting started on that journey. I think the place that I'm most comfortable in is not speaking for anybody else, but speaking for myself. You know, I came to this city because of opportunity. What I mean by opportunity is that I believe this city affords me the ability to become the person that I aspire to be. But I needed to have other like-minded people and energies around me in order to create that person. When I was in university, I was kind of “playing around.” Seriously playing, but playing around with this idea of sustainability in fashion. And I had no idea where that was going to lead. In fact, my sophomore year of college I thought I was going to be working on large-scale, ecosystem-based management projects that maybe would involve multiple countries, or groups within countries, and transboundary issues—that type of stuff. I always felt like I was going to be working on big projects and navigating those waters. 45
There wasn't language around becoming the “eco-model.” I didn't know what that was. No one else knew what that was. I kind of equate it to the fact that most of the jobs that we're going to be in haven't even been created yet. So, if I told someone that I was going to be an “eco-model,” I wouldn't expect them to know what that means. But, I could explain, "Well, it's somebody who has values and who models with those values." It made sense to me. Why would I represent a company or an organization that I didn't believe in? I'm not an actress. I'm a person who's representing a specific brand, and that should feel genuine and authentic to me. That's how I feel everything should go, whether you're using your face or using your talents as a mechanic, or as a person in advertising, or as a consultant, or whatever. I felt like New York was the right place for me to be able to exercise my creativity. Can you provide a bit of background about your education and how that led you to modeling? I got a B.S. in natural resources from Cornell, but since then I think they changed the name to environmental science. People seem to understand that a little more. Natural resources is kind of an old term. I also earned a minor in entomology, which is the study of insects. About three years into college, I started commuting to New York to work in the fashion industry. I also proposed a couple of my own classes that dealt with fashion and sustainability. I had a great advisor, and Cornell really gives that flexibility to be able to propose your own class. I had the freedom early on 46
to be able to do that. My professors really responded to that, because they wanted to see me thrive in an area that was outside the box. I'm grateful for my time at Cornell. I was actually just up there last week researching for a new book. It was really wonderful to see some of my professors from the time of yore. To answer your previous question, I think that New York was the place for me to be also because of the fashion industry. It really exists here. If you're going to do something in fashion, you have to be able to do it in New York City, really nowhere else. If I think about it, I was a kid of nature. Now, if I could have a backyard, of course I would take that. But that’s just not really an option here. Cities didn't necessarily grow with urban planning in mind, and so you just kind of accept the situation that you're in. Luckily, humans are pretty malleable. But I really do think that we kind of came out of the Garden of Eden, so to speak, and our beautiful garden has now become four walls. And that's very inhuman or inhumane. But because we're flexible, and we're resilient and we're malleable, we can deal with it to a certain degree, but we’re not necessarily always thriving. Even if you have a ton of money in New York, it's very, very hard to have a high quality of life. Whereas, if you're fairly well off in places like San Francisco, there is a sensibility that you could be near the ocean, or be in Muir Woods or be in the mountains very quickly. That might even be some of your backyard. But with New York, you have to get a little bit further up the food chain, I think, in order to have that.
Then, you realize that you stay here because of the way people think. You don't stay here because of the buildings or living space or anything like that. What I've been able to create in my living space though is a place like an oasis that serves as a center of calm in a very hectic city. I often share with people that your lifestyle is what you surround yourself with and the people that you surround yourself with. With Homestead Brooklyn, my goal is not to just get people to have house plants but to help them understand their relation to the broader aspects of the world. The mission that I want to create with Homestead Brooklyn is not just look at what you can surround yourself with in your home. Itâ€™s here's how you can actually create a better community in which you live, and hopefully people around you will benefit from that. It's a subtle message, but you always have to have a road in for people to understand, and sometimes that starts with a house plant.
"Why would I represent a company or an organization that I didn't believe in? I'm not an actress. I'm a person who's representing a specific brand, and that should feel genuine and authentic to me."
The whole fashion thing, it was the hook that reeled people in. And I made very sure that people wouldn't just take me or my ideas for face value, that I spoke up a lot. That benefited me most of the time, but not always. I'd rather speak up and share my vision of the world, than stay silent and do something that isn't fitting to me as a person. Amazing. It sounds like thatâ€™s something you thought about a lot with your book as wellâ€”that connection between the personal decision to live more connected with nature and the larger impact, whether in your community or on an environmental, global scale. What I find, and what I'm sure a lot 47
of people who work in the world of sustainability and environmentalism find, is that what’s really challenging is making the connection between something like climate change and its impact on me, as an individual. It sounds like you've started to do that, whether through personal health with “SugarDetoxMe” or now with Homestead Brooklyn. I would love to hear your thoughts on continuing to make those connections between personal benefit and global change. Well, I feel like people have to see a solution that can work for them. I try to always hook the greater thing to tactical solutions that people could do in the home or in their lives that really work for the modern day man and woman. I could speak about it through a very articulate example in “SugarDetoxMe.” I started out doing this specifically for me. It was very selfish. You know, I had a sweet tooth. I wanted to figure out how to resolve it. I put up a blog for the idea that if somebody read it, it would at least keep me honest, because I'm a terrible journaler. Lo and behold, people did read it, and so it kept me a little more active. It did what it was supposed to do—it kept me honest. When I realized other people were going through the same issues, I was like, "Well, this works for me, but let me test it on other people." I really went into research mode. I'm a big believer in just testing, testing, testing, doing market research, seeing if this actually even makes sense. You might learn a lot along the way, but you don't want to waste too much of your time, your precious time. Put in that work in the beginning versus just trying to, you know, do stuff right away. 48
An example that came to be with â€œSugarDetoxMeâ€? was when I was working in the farm-to-fridge grocery delivery service. People had this assumption that local, organic food was more expensive. That was their perception, even though that wasn't necessarily the reality. So, I would talk to those folks and say, "OK. Well, tell me what you typically eat. Great. Let me put these 10 items in your basket, and I'm sure you have these 10 pantry staples already in your homes, like onions, and garlic, and salt and pepper. I could teach you how to make eight or nine different recipes, and you'll be spending less than $3 a serving on your meals. So, no more than 50 bucks or so in your grocery cart." All of a sudden, you have local, organic, fresh food with recipe plans for less than what you could get at a fast food restaurant. You have to break people's perception that it's prohibitive. You have to be savvy enough to understand that not everybody is going to be in the same place you're at, whether financially, or psychologically or culturally. There's all sorts of things that might prohibit that. Of course when youâ€™re talking about food, especially local and organic food, that's a particularly culturally and financially sensitive topic. The book now features 10 Meal Maps. Meal maps are meal plans, recipes and shopping lists all in one. It was just the same premise that I shared with you earlier, whereby it says, "Here are the pantry staples that you probably already have. If you don't, you can put them on the shopping list. Here are your fresh ingredients. There are like 10 to 15 of them. Go to the store. That's all you're going to get. Just take a photo of the lists that are in the book. Here are eight to 12 49
different recipes that you're going to make out of it." It tackles affordability. It tackles food waste. It tackles not having a plan. All those things that I think I'm personally passionate about. It’s meant to be accessible to everyone. I don't want anybody coming back to me and saying, "Well, I have a metabolic disorder, but I can't afford to be healthy. I can't afford that expensive meal delivery service." If you can afford fast food and you can afford to spend 10 to 15 minutes in your kitchen, then you can afford to do this for yourself. Of course, that's just one challenge. There's also the behavioral shift. There is the psychological shift. There are a lot of different challenges that a person can be up against. But if you, as a creator of this program, start to think through all of those different things, then you will be better able to answer those questions. I kind of equate it to starting a company. If you're an entrepreneur, what’s one of the things you have to do in order to get investors? Well, you have to analyze the risks for those investors. You have to have answers to those risks before you actually present your company. You have to say, "Well, this company could actually release a product or a service just like mine, and here's how I'm going to handle it.” It shows that you've put some foresight and some thought into it. That investor is going to feel much more comfortable if you've thought through the risks, because you don't want to be there hemming and hawing about something that you've never thought about. “SugarDetoxMe” is about empowering people on an individual level, and connecting them to the greater whole. 50
Part of that also comes with language. A woman who read the book came up to me and was like, "I really feel so strongly about the language that you used in the book, because so many books made me feel guilty about who I am and how I am as a person and that I shouldn't be eating these things. You're speaking from a standpoint of like being my best friend." That's important for people. If you're overweight and you go to the gym, you don't want to go to the gym to be berated. You want to be motivated and you want to be supported. It’s the same thing with climate change. People can't go and say, "You shouldn't be doing this. You shouldn’t be doing that." No one wants to hear that. People want to hear solutions, and sometimes the solutions are really hard to imagine. And sometimes the solutions are the things that are only at the end of the documentaries. The solution is like the last five minutes of the documentary to make you feel somewhat good, after you've listened to an hour and 45 minutes of the problems. No. It should be five minutes of the challenges and an hour and 45 minutes of the solutions, so people really understand the blueprint for how they can address it in their daily lives. And then maybe once I do it for myself, I get so excited to say, "You know what? This has really worked for me. You should try it too." I would love to jump back for a second to your metaphor of being an entrepreneur and analyzing risks before asking for investment. You mentioned earlier that some startups you worked on in the past few years haven’t succeeded in the same
way some of your other projects have. Could you speak about those startups that didn't succeed? Was it challenges related to business, or did you feel the mission and purpose was what hindered them? Well, I wouldn't say that they weren't successful. I helped launch them, but I didn't launch them myself, just to clarify that. With the farm-to-fridge grocery delivery service, Good Eggs, and then with Food Stand, which is an app to help people eat better. You know, whenever you start a business, it's hard. Most businesses don't survive past seven years. I'm happy to say that Source For Style, Le Souk, was started in 2009. It's now 2017. It's kind of beyond that mark. Each business has its own challenges. Good Eggs still exists in the Bay Area, but it's hard to operationally make those things work. The last mile in food delivery, I think people are still trying to figure it out. No one has it exactly right. It's sometimes a question of how much money you have, and is that money running out, and can you figure out your operational challenges before that wick comes to an end? Generally speaking, that was one of the biggest challenges with Good Eggs, especially because they had a quick rampup where they launched in four cities. They had to determine that, "Hey, we're not a tech company. Even though tech is a big part of it, we're really a food company. We're a logistics, an operational company." Food Stand had to go through some pivots of saying, "Well, what does this product look like? Do we have enough users to be able to ask is this working for folks? How are we going to get that user base?" These 51
are some of the challenges, especially because apps are really saturated these days. Maybe they weren't five or six years ago, but they are today. You have to really stand out of the crowd and have something that's sticky. But then you have to compromise with this idea of, “Is this truly adding value to people's lives, or am I just trying to suck people into spending time on an app for my investors?” Those are struggles that entrepreneurs have to deal with on a daily basis, professional as well as ethical struggles. Both companies exist. I wouldn't say that they were less successful or more successful. They have different challenges. It's really hard to compare them. That makes me think of your other point about perception being prohibitive. Being in a sustainable business world, have you ever found the perception of sustainability to be something that hinders growth? First of all, I think sustainable business is a little bit of an oxymoron in this current state. We have this perception of scarcity, and that inhibits and prohibits us from being the fullest human beings that we possibly can be. If we really looked at and shed everything else outside of our lives and asked ourselves what we would be doing now if we had no limitations, no restrictions, chances are it'd be something very different than what you are doing now. I find that a lot of people interested in or working in sustainability didn't know they were going to go down this path. There’s often one moment or 52
insight or reason behind how they got started. Could you share where your interest sparked from? I feel like I was one of the blessed ones who always knew. I was very much interested in art growing up, but all of my art was inspired by the work of Edward S. Curtis, who photographed American Indians in the 1800s. I was also inspired by my mother's 1970 and 1980 collections of National Geographic Magazines and also just nature and the outdoors. For a while there, I thought I would go to school for art. But all of my art was inspired by that deeper level of nature and American Indian culture. Obviously, that for me won over and has permeated throughout my life. I've been with kids in school who probably to this day still don't know what their passion is. That's why I said I feel like I'm one of the blessed and kind of fortunate ones to know that this was always my calling. From 2007 to 2012 or so, when sustainability was becoming popular, I told my agency, "You know what? What's different about me and these other folks who are out there, who are doing it just because it's cool at the moment," I said, "I'm going to be the person who's doing it until the day I die, when it's not in vogue any longer, literally and physically." I think that a lot of people have their “aha” moments. But for me, I feel like I was born saying aha. So cool. My last question, and you touched on this earlier, but given the journey you’ve been on in your career, I wonder if you have further thoughts on that vision of yourself in the
futureâ€”who you want to be and what impact you hope to have? If you had asked me 10 years ago what I would be doing at this moment, it wouldn't be what I'm doing right now. I think that's the beauty of not having a plan but having a path. I don't have a plan. I have a path, and I usually go from project to project. A project could mean six days. It could mean six months. It could be a six-year project. It could be a 60-year project. That's how I feel comfortable. I don't look at it like a career. I look at projects that in total sum are a career. I guess I haven't really thought through much of what the legacy would be, but I would hope itâ€™s that I left the world a better place, for how trite that is. And usually that means influencing other people to kind of carry on your beliefs and take them beyond what you had ever imagined them to be.
"I'm going to be the person who's doing it until the day I die, when it's not in vogue any longer, literally and physically." Summer Rayne Oakes is a botanist, urban farmer, entrepreneur and hen mother based in Brooklyn. She frequently teaches workshops, gives talks and even recently hosted a plant swap. To learn more about her book "SugarDetoxMe" and her other work check out sugardetox.me or summerrayne.net and follow her @homesteadbrooklyn. 53
Photo Kyle Calian
On a mission to build a better way for people to find furniture they love. Check them out at: stemgoods.com Follow them: @stemgoods
Stem makes all of their furniture one piece at a time in Los Angeles, ready to ship in only four weeks. With their hand-to-home craftsmanship, each item goes directly from the maker to the buyer's home. No shipping from overseas. No designer markups. No oversized showrooms. And all the items are made with eco-friendly materials to reduce toxins for a healthier home. Each item is made to the exact size and look needed to fit a unique space. Clothing has been made this way for years, and now it's time for furniture. Instead of settling for generic or almost, you can finally get exactly what you want. Furniture tailored to you and your home. To ensure customer satisfaction, Stem has added a 100-day, in-home trial, free shipping, as well as free design consultations. Stem represents the culmination of a vision to modernize the furniture industry in the digital age and offer a better way for people to find furniture that is healthy for the planet and their home.
By Olivia Lapierre 56
The zero waste lifestyle is a movement that has been popularized by bloggers, such as Bea Johnson and Lauren Singer, and grassroots organizations, such as Be Zero (bezero.org). Be Zero defines “zero waste” as an industrial term referring to a circular economy. Mainstream media defines zero waste as a lifestyle in which one does not produce any trash. Though the movement has gained attention for its amazing efforts, it has not been sufficiently challenged on its lack of representation. This is especially troublesome when considering that communities of color are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change. As a person of color who leads this lifestyle, I began to ask myself many questions, including: how is it that environmental movements can fight for change without including in the dialogue the populations that are most affected? I started thinking about the sign I held at the Women’s March that read, “Feminism without intersectionality is just White Supremacy.” But isn’t any movement without intersectionality just white supremacy? If environmental activists aren’t using their platforms to speak on the oppression of people of color, they are passively contributing to systemic racism. Are environmental movements that are not intersectional perpetuating environmental racism by creating an elitist culture for sustainability?
"If environmental activists aren’t using their platforms to speak on the oppression of people of color, they are passively contributing to systemic racism."
The first time I came across Chanelle Crosby was while scrolling on Be Zeroâ€™s website. At that time, I was feeling desperate and hopeless due to the election season. Despite feeling that everything was going to shit in our world, I knew I needed to mobilize. I needed to be a part of something larger than me, in order to affect real change. But where could I start? I was feeling divided on what injustices I should put my attention toward. On one hand, I am a black female immigrant, but I am also a human who depends on the planet for survival. Because Iâ€™ve never felt like I could affect real systemic change if I were to be a racial justice activist, I chose to focus my attention toward environmental justice and, more specifically, helping communities to reduce their trash.
zero waste nonprofit that focuses on trash consumption at a macro level and examines how systems, institutions and policies have impacted a disposable lifestyle and culture. When I joined Be Zero, I found an environmental space that showed me I could belong. Growing up in rural Vermont, I have always had a deep connection to my local ecology. However, I have never felt like I could express that admiration and desire to preserve the natural world in white-dominated environmental spaces.
After not finding success connecting with the global zero waste community, I was excited to discover Be Zero, a
Speaking to Crosby for this first time was a breath of fresh air. I was so ecstatic to find her, and other people of color, who were part of the team. I had my first conversation with Crosby as she was giving me an ambassador tutorial. It was my first time ever talking to another black woman about the intersection of 57
racial justice and environmental justice, black feminism in agriculture and why it is critical for the zero waste movement to be more inclusive. Crosby taught me that I don’t have to choose between identities when it comes to advocacy and that, in fact, it’s important that we fight to end all systemic oppression. Since then, I have identified as an intersectional eco-feminist. Crosby's pivotal role in my understanding of activism inspired me to learn more about her thoughts on these issues and to open up further discussion.
Interview: How were you introduced to zero waste? C: Andrea Sanders at Be Zero introduced me to zero waste. We met a few years ago at a networking party in Boulder, Colorado, and hit it off. Andrea is an amazing human, and I’m sure I’m not the only person that leaves meeting her feeling incredibly inspired. I started to see ways I could apply my budding “minimalist" mindset to all of my consumption, not just my clothes and closets. When I was a kid, I was taught to “take what you need.” Over time, in adulthood, I lost sight of that and bought into latest trends, collecting shoes and even Dunnys. I learned about zero waste at a good time for me (I was moving from an 800-square-foot apartment into a small bedroom). I began to make huge shifts back to giving and taking in a much more responsible way.
Upon your exploration of the zero waste movement, how aware were you of the overrepresentation of white activists?
C: I wasn’t! Not at all. I was excited and dove right in without thinking much about it at first. I wasn’t actively involved in social media at that time and really focused on having conversations with friends about zero waste in person or over the phone. Once I created an Instagram account, it became blatantly obvious who had space for the zero waste movement online. I also work in the nonprofit world, and the overrepresentation of white activists, especially women, is something that can’t be ignored. Was this daunting? If so, what was/is one challenge you face being a person of color in this predominantly white space? C: Oh goodness, yes. It’s something you can’t “un-see.” I began to ask myself, what is the motivation and intention of the zero waste movement? Who is it for? What are the people sharing in the movement fighting for? I feel there’s a lot of room for education within the zero waste movement as a whole, and specifically around environmental racism. There’s an awareness that is missing and, as a person of color, it can start to feel daunting if you constantly take on the role of educator.
What are some reasons why you believe this movement could be exclusive of POCs (People of Color)? C: The way it’s marketed now is a hot, new trend. There’s fancy, upcycled you name it and beautiful bamboo and white everything. When you scroll through social media pages dedicated to zero waste, you see a very small, privileged population of people who are able to spend a lot of resources (like time and money) to transition their lives to zero waste. If we are simply replacing 59
the “bad” things with “good” things and calling that a zero waste movement, we’ve missed the point. Zero waste is an industrial term used to describe how products move through the economy. For example, a circular economy is zero waste. A linear economy, the one we are in now, creates products that are designed for single or limited use and then meant to be discarded. To me, zero waste is part of a solution to the worldwide environmental problems we’ve created driven by our economic values. We want more stuff. We’re dependent on oil. Plastic is oil, so we use it (a lot). A poet, Rudy Francisco, talks about why black people are underrepresented in X-Games sports in a video I recently saw online. He says being black in America is an extreme sport with everyday threats of violence and discrimination solely based on race. To me, the zero waste movement as it is presented often comes across as extreme, elitist and superficial. Honestly, sometimes I’ve even pushed away—and it's my way of living. We can change the representation of zero waste as people of color by sharing our stories and allowing space for everyone in the zero waste movement to see the big picture (which is definitely not matching mason jars!). We need to be active, not just hopeful and well meaning.
"We can change the representation of zero waste as people of color by sharing our stories and allowing space for everyone in the zero waste movement to see the big picture (which is definitely not matching 60
mason jars!). We need to be active, not just hopeful and well meaning." Why do you believe representation matters in environmental communities? C: Because people of color are impacted by environmental issues more than anyone else. If we don’t see ourselves there we may not participate, and the majority is less likely to include us; they simply won’t notice we aren't represented. We need our voices heard in the zero waste movement, because the outcome directly impacts people of color. Do you have any advice about how to make the zero waste movement more inclusive to people of color? C: Firstly, don’t assume you know what other people want. Secondly, decentralize yourself from the movement. Thirdly, collaborate and combine efforts to create more impactful change. And lastly, discover your own unique intention behind participating in the movement. Why are you here? How do you show up? How do you want to show up? What does it mean to you, your community, your neighbors, your country and our planet? And if you’re a person of color reading this, please join us in the conversation! What would your message be to members of this community? C: If you can’t draw the line between environmental racism, gentrification and the zero waste movement on your own, do your research, listen and then listen some more. I feel we can create an inclusive zero waste movement by approaching one another
with respect, by showing appreciation and gratitude for the conversations and hopeful action we take and by being open enough to not put each other down for not knowing what we don't know. In other words, let's keep the conversation going, uplift one another and be kind. There's no way in this movement besides together. This article first appeared in Loam Magazine on Aug. 6, 2017.
"I feel we can create an inclusive zero waste movement by approaching one another with respect, by showing appreciation and gratitude for the conversations and hopeful action we take and by being open enough to not put each other down for not knowing what we don't know. In other words, let's keep the conversation going, uplift one another, and be kind. There's no way in this movement besides together."
Chanelle Crosby works in the zero waste industry professionally as a program manager in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is also an aspiring farmer-herbalist, creator and consultant at thinkfeelbe.co and board member at 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Be Zero. Olivia Lapierre is a Be Zero ambassador and racial justice activist. She is a recent graduate of Lyndon State College with a B.A. in applied psychology and human services. She began her transition to a zero waste lifestyle in January 2016. Through Be Zero, she works to bring awareness to environmental racism and to provide platforms for POCs in environmental communities, which are traditionally predominantly white spaces. As a community organizer and activist, Lapierre is drawn to making the zero waste community more inclusive. She does this by organizing community discussions that address, educate and work to dismantle systemic oppression.
Products We Love Original Heart Chakrub "Chakrubs, being that they are created from natural crystal from the earth, last a lifetime. When people feel love for themselves and connect with their sexuality, they create more love by emanating that energy." - Founder, Vanessa Cuccia @chakrubs â€˘ chakrubs.com
True Botanicals Hydrating Cleanser This hydraying cleanser is designed with a natural sudsing agent that is gentle on skin, with extra nutritive oils that add hydration. Green and white teas are used as a base to boost your skin's intake of antioxidants and polyphenols. These powerful anti-aging agents inhibit the enzymes that attack collagen and elastase, while also delivering astringent, toning, skin-soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. Aloe vera preserves the epidermis' water content and helps to improve your skin's firmness via antioxidants, such as beta-carotene and vitamins C and E. Camelia oil breaks down the oil complex that binds dead skin cells together, so theyâ€™re easier to remove. It's the perfect defense against those harsh winter winds. @truebotanicals â€˘ truebotanicals.com 62
Life Without Plastic Folding Spork Super practical and handy, this foldable stainless steel spork can fit in your pocket, purse or in your child's lunch bag. It features a deep, bowl shape that easily scoops soups or stews and little tines for grabbing foods, such as carrots or potatoes. It's great to bring on a plane—no problems with security in our many tests—or to your favorite take-out restaurant. And the companion certified organic cotton pouch makes it easy to stow cleanly when on the go. Every time you use it in place of take-out utensils, you will prevent a plastic spoon and/or fork from ending up in a landfill. @lifewithoutplastic • lifewithoutplastic.com
Vial and Ivy Eucalyptus Tee Made from the wood of eucalyptus trees, this shirt is sustainably engineered to keep you comfortable. The buttery soft Tencel fabric makes it a pleasure to wear, while its breathability and moisture regulation keeps you fresh. The half sleeves increase protection against unwanted UV exposure, and the longer torso keeps you covered when on the move, whether up in the mountains or around downtown. Tencel is composed of hydrophilic nanofibrils (water-loving microscopic fibers) that absorb any excess moisture on your skin and channel it to the core of the fibers. This unique moisture regulation inhibits bacterial growth, which in turn reduces odor, while allowing the fabric to remain breathable when wet. @vialandivy • vialandivy.com 63
Pela Compostable Phone Case The Pela case is meticulously designed to protect your phone from drops and scratches as well as any traditional plastic case. Pela is created with a flax shive, an annually renewable agricultural byproduct that provides strength, natural shock absorbing qualities and a unique look to each case. This innovative, plant-based material is formulated to only break down in a compost environment – #zerowaste. This zero waste alternative to a traditional phone case is also shipped in plastic-free packaging. @pelacase • pelacase.com
EcoPod Kiosk EcoPod is the quick, simple refill station that allows for EcoPod containers to be re-used and re-filled whenever someone needs them. And thanks to its compact design and ability to refill multiple kinds of cleaning products, EcoPod easily fits almost anywhere people need it—from condo laundry rooms and dorm buildings to supermarkets, laundromats and more. In addition to reducing users' environmental footprint, it also saves customers money and time, because it bypasses standard distribution. EcoPod believes that this concept can help our world become greener and allow all members of the community to live a greener, more affordable life. @ecopodusa • ecopod.us
Committed to creating thoughtfully designed, quality bedding, bath and loungewear that are friendly to both people and planet.
Check them out at: coyuchi.com Follow them: @coyuchi
Founded 20 years ago in Point Reyes on the northern California coast and based today in San Francisco, Coyuchi has been a pioneer in bringing organic cotton bedding to the U.S. market.
Coyuchi For Life is a first-of-its-kind subscription model that provides customers with new, fresh, GOTS-certified organic sheets, towels and duvets regularly, while taking back their old ones and keeping them out of landfills.
Minimally processed fibers and responsible production practices are used to ensure everything created reflects the companyâ€™s core ideals: sustainability, organic and natural fibers and a truly human commitment to the hands that touch each product.
Going Zero Waste Words & Photos Megean Weldon Living a zero waste lifestyle can seem daunting and overwhelming, especially if you have a family, pets, a house or a busy schedule. Luckily, lessening your impact doesn’t have to be complicated. Try implementing these tips into your daily routine to get you and your family closer to creating less waste.
You may find some of these tips more challenging than others. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so don’t stress—these things take practice. I can’t emphasize enough that “zero” waste living isn’t necessarily about making zero trash. It’s about changing the way we think about consumption and replacing wasteful habits with greener behaviors. So, let’s begin!
1 Reusable Bags
Plastic bags are often a convenience item. We use them for minutes before discarding them, but they are made to outlast even our lifetimes. In creating plastic bags, we take a precious, non-renewable resource and turn it into a worthless piece of trash. Americans alone discard nearly 100 billion plastic bags each year. It’s time to stop.
2 Reusable Water Bottles
Get (or make) some reusable bags, and vow to never use a disposable bag again. If you forget your reusable bags, carry your goods by hand or use an empty cardboard box from the store. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. If you are prone to stocking up on plastic bottled water, this switch will reduce a considerable amount of waste and save you money. Sixty million plastic water bottles are discarded in the U.S. per day. That’s right, per day. And sadly, our consumption is only increasing. Don’t like the taste of tap water?
3 Eliminate Fast Food
Try charcoal filters. The huge surface area of activated charcoal gives it countless bonding sites. When certain chemicals pass next to the carbon surface, they attach and become trapped to the surface. When charcoal filters stop working, typically after about six months, they can be composted. Fast food creates a ton of garbage. In one visit, your food probably comes wrapped in paper and shoved into a plastic bag stuffed with paper napkins, plastic straws and cutlery, and disposable condiments. And you only use these items for a very short amount of time.
4 Ditch the Paper Towels
At about 49 percent, fast food is the biggest contributor to the waste floating in the ocean. Cutting fast food entirely can be difficult, but reducing it is still a good step. Prepping healthy meals and snacks can help diminish the need for fast food in the first place. Try replacing disposable paper towels with rags. Once dirty, throw them into the wash for reuse.
5 Reusable Coffee Cup
6 Cloth Produce Bags
If youâ€™re like me, you probably drink a lot of coffee. Try bringing your own cup to the coffee shop. Many shops even offer a discount. If youâ€™re making your coffee at home, consider using a French press or investing in a reusable coffee filter.
Small cloth bags can serve multiple purposes at the grocery store or farmers market. Use them for produce, bulk products, breads, pastries, etc. 67
7 Bulk Shopping
8 Bring Your Own Utensils
9 Returnable Containers
More and more grocery stores are implementing bulk sections, which are usually composed of a few aisles of flour, sugar, spices, nuts, cereals, grains and candy that are completely package-free. Many stores even have bulk peanut butter, honey, oils, soaps, shampoos, laundry detergents and cleaners. The zero waste trick? Bring your own containers! I use cloth cinch bags for dry foods and mason jars or bottles for wet foods. To ensure you donâ€™t pay for the weight of the containers, either utilize the TARE option on the scale in the bulk aisle, or write the weight of the empty container (lid included) on the container for the cashier to deduct at checkout.
Plastic cutlery is obnoxious. It's flimsy, wasteful and used almost everywhere. It's estimated that 40 billion plastic utensils are thrown away every year in the United States. Avoiding this single-use disposable is as simple as keeping your own reusable utensils on hand. Keep a fork at work, stick one in your backpack or even store one in the car. Take advantage of products that come in returnable containers, such as certain milks, yogurts, maple syrups, oils, vinegars and even bath soaps. These items may require a deposit during the first purchase, but donâ€™t let that deter you. When you run out of the product, you just return the empty container to get your deposit back, or exchange it for a refill at regular price. The empty container then gets sent back to the producer, cleaned, refilled and restocked in stores.
10 To-go Containers
11 Compostable Toothbrushes
12 Homemade Toiletries
13 Reusable Menstrual Products
Reusable containers have served me well in my zero waste endeavor. I use them for a quick bite of food at food trucks, to store bulk items at grocery stores, to take lunch to work, for take-out and even for leftovers at restaurants. They are truly an important and versatile item for reducing waste. More than 4.7 billion plastic toothbrushes that will never biodegrade are dumped in landfills and oceans worldwide every year. When your current plastic toothbrush is worn out, add it to your cleaning supplies, and get yourself a sustainable toothbrush, such as one made from bamboo! They work just as effectively and can be composted when they wear out. The bathroom is typically the second most wasteful room in our homes. We use a lot of products that come in packaging that canâ€™t be recycled. Even scarier, many of those products contain questionable ingredients that may not be the best for our bodies. Making your own products eliminates these two concerns. Toothpastes, scrubs, lip balms and lotions can be made at home, and there are plenty of online tutorials to help you get started! Periods are wasteful, stressful, uncomfortable and expensive. A woman will use nearly 11,000 tampons or pads in her lifetime. That's about 62,415 pounds of garbage going into the landfill every year in the United States alone. Many products are also made with chemicals that I, personally, don't really want near my lady bits. Bleached cotton? No, thanks. My life changed when I found the menstrual cup, and reusable cotton pads are also an option.
15 Visit Your Local Farmers Market
16 Junk Mail
Did you know that about two-thirds of household trash can be composted? Instead of throwing your biodegradable scraps into the garbage, consider composting to allow food scraps to naturally decompose. Here are a few options for various living situations: Build a compost pile or bin in your backyard. Start a vermicomposter (a composter that uses worms) in your home. Sign up for a compost pickup program in your city. Check your city for local compost drop off locations—if you have space in your freezer, store it there in between trips to the farmers market, so it doesn’t smell up your space or start to turn. Composting can be even more rewarding if you have a garden. The compost you baby for months eventually turns into rich nutrients that give your garden a nutrient and mineral boost. Not only is shopping local better for the environment, it also gives you access to products that are handmade and homegrown— and that means less packaging. Shopping for household essentials doesn't have to be a task you dread. My husband and I visit our local markets bimonthly to stock up on items we need. We’ve grown to love zig-zagging through the produce, baked goods, spices and handmade items! It gives us the chance to support local families and farmers, learn about where our food comes from, connect with our community and save some money. Junk mail has gotten seriously out of control. Flyers, insurance marketing, business solicitations and meaningless other junk litters our mailboxes and usually ends up in the garbage or recycling bin. But why worry about recycling junk mail when you can stop getting it in the first place? Thankfully, there are a few
resources dedicated to our junk mail reduction endeavor. You may still have to make a few phone calls, but these websites are a place to start: catalogchoice.org, 41pounds.org, optoutprescreen.com and dmachoice.org.
17 Soap and Cleaning Supplies
19 Opt for Secondhand
Other steps you can take include opting for online bill pay, choosing online newspapers, excluding your address from online forms, asking your post office to stop sending flyers and adding a “no junk mail” sign to your mailbox. A lot of waste is generated from soaps, shampoos and conditioners. Take advantage of bulk products that are sold package-free or in paper, or check out companies that sell liquid soaps in returnable containers (see tip #10). You could also ditch shampoo altogether by trying the "no poo" method of using baking soda, apple cider vinegar or water instead of shampoo. It works for some people. Of course, making your own soaps is also an option, and it’s quite easy to make your own cleaning spray with a little bit of lemon juice, distilled white vinegar and tea tree oil. Plastic straws may seem harmless, but we use and throw away a lot of them—an estimated 500 million a day. In restaurants, they are almost unavoidable and often make it to your table before you even think about it. Trust me, I'm still fighting this battle. This tip comes down to remembering to say no. As soon as you place your order, tell your server that you don’t want a straw. It’s no different than asking for light ice or extra lemon! We are a world of consumers. We spend billions on the latest fashion trends just to discard them year after year. Fast fashion— you've probably heard the term—is designed to fall apart and quickly lose its appeal. Many of us may even have closets so full that we 71
20 Opt for Secondhand
21 Grow Your Own Food
run out of hangers on laundry day. When you think about waste, how often does clothing come to mind? We buy clothing with the intent to re-wear it, so it's not disposable, right? Sadly, Americans still throw away 70 pounds of clothing a year. Five percent of our landfills are composed of the stuff. Buying secondhand clothing takes new clothing out of the waste stream. Of course, donâ€™t let your new found love of secondhand shopping stop at clothing! Holidays, birthdays and other celebratory events that "require" gifts can be wasteful. We sometimes get items we don't need, and theyâ€™re often wrapped in disposable gift paper, ribbons and bows. Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, household waste increases by more than 25 percent. Added food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons all add up to an additional 1 million tons of garbage in our landfills per week. Opt for experience, homemade or secondhand gifts. Choose reusable wrapping, such as cloth, or skip the wrapping entirely. Growing your own food is one of the most rewarding, sustainable ways to get packagefree produce into your kitchen. If you have a yard, building a garden can be easy. Till a spot (or build raised garden beds), add some of that compost you've been working on, plant the seeds of your choice and reap the benefits! Having my own garden has allowed me to grow an abundance of produce and preserve items to use throughout the year. If you live in an apartment, there are still ways to grow your own food. Start simple by growing herbs on your windowsill or sticking your green onion and celery "butts" into water to watch them come back to life.
22 Safety Razors
23 Eat More Plants
24 Reusable Tissues and Hankies
We toss about 2 billion disposable razors each year. Safety razors are a great alternative to disposable razors, and (as the name implies) they are safe and easy to use. Instead of discarding the entire razor, you simply replace the metal blade. You can purchase a quality safety razor for around $30 or may even find one in a secondhand shop. The blades are sold at most pharmacies, and a box typically lasts several years. Itâ€™s better for your wallet, better for your health and much better for the environment. Try eating more plants instead of animal products. Meat consumption contributes to more than 50 percent of global carbon emissions. Commercial, factory farming wastes an abundance of water and often uses feed grown with oil-based pesticides. I'm not suggesting you go vegan overnight, but swapping one meal a week or each day adds up over time. To avoid disposable tissues, use a hankie or make your own homemade tissues by cutting up old t-shirts. Once the tissues have been used, toss them into your weekly wash.
25 Home Efficiency
Minimizing excess energy and water usage is good for the environment and good for your wallet. Lessen your energy consumption by replacing old incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs (certain companies will even provide bulk discounts as well), unplugging appliances that are not in use and turning off lights and fans when you exit a room. To lessen water consumption, use aerators with flow restrictors to decrease the amount of water flow, set a timer for showers and keep a bowl in the sink to catch excess water that can be used for plants.
26 Ditch Plastic Wrap
Since its invention in 1949, households all over the world have adopted the convenience of plastic wrap to store food. Just rip off exactly how much you need, cover your bowl and discard later. But we all know the true cost of these conveniences. A few alternatives to plastic wrap are reusable beeswax wraps, silicone bowl covers and reusable containers with lids.
27 Repair and Mend
Thanks to the internet, we have every how-to and DIY imaginable at our fingertips, yet we often choose to discard something rather than fix it. As cheap as some products are, isn't it easier and more convenient just to buy them new? Unfortunately, we live in a throwaway society where manufacturers capitalize on planned obsolescence. This cycle rewards plastic production and puts more items into the waste stream. To live more economically, we have to start repairing what we have and purchasing products we know will last. As your zero waste journey progresses, the amount of products you recycle should decrease, because youâ€™ll be bringing less packaging home. However, given the differences in our lives and what each of our communities offer, you may still find yourself with things to throw away. When that happens, recycling is still a better option than the trash. Have a designated bin for recyclables, and recycle everything you can. Most cities have recycling drop-offs, as well as scheduled curbside pickups. There are even companies, like Terracycle, that will recycle some items you may have been certain were destined for the landfill, such as cigarette butts, toothpaste tubes and cheese packaging.
You may have noticed a theme in the last 28 tips. What's so bad about plastic? •
It’s not biodegradable.
Most of it doesn’t get recycled.
The production process is extremely wasteful.
The longevity of plastic products is shorter than their counterparts.
You can have a huge impact by giving some of these suggestions a shot, refusing plastics and reducing waste. Lead by example, and encourage your friends and community to join you. Inspiration through action is contagious.
Sah D'Simone Health and Mindfulness Teacher After living in ashrams, monasteries and retreat centers around the world, Sah D'Simone has integrated his training and experiences to create a cohesive philosophy for optimal well-being. He teachesâ€‹his methodology, the "Art & Science of Well-Being," around the world, from wellness events and corporate workshops to private one-on-ones. Here we discuss his work with the United Nations and the stress that people working on climate change issues encounter, as well as some techniques that can help.
Interview & Photos
Q: Could you describe your path to teaching meditation? A: Great question. I started a magazine when I was 23, and many different things led me to sell it when I was 26. My best friend, who was also my investor, and I had a personal falling out. I don't know if you're familiar with Bullett Magazine, but it was a very downtown, cool magazine. We were featuring a lot of people in Hollywood, a lot of the young kids who were trying to do something cool and wanted to be photographed in a way that wasn't too advertisement-driven. We actually had enough funding to not be in desperate need, and we also had Louis Vuitton and Chanel as advertisers in perpetuity after the first issue. They gave us some credit, a way to expand. To keep a very long story short, I left the magazine, and I found myself really depressed, really feeling a lot of betrayal. And my genetic makeup is already rooted in mental illness. There's a lot of that in our family. One major key point is that my grandmother committed suicide, so the trauma molecule really lives on in us, full power. So, I left and went to Florida for a little bit. I started to live by the beach, and that was really nice. But I was still having this existential paralysis, where I wasn't really able to connect with the world or with myself. Things just didn't make much sense. When you give birth to a project, and the person who says they're going to support you every step of the way decides to take the project away from you because of creative differences ... there's a lot more personal stuff in there. Let's just keep it at that. 78
I started to research about meditation and clean eating, and it led me to visit a friend who has always spoken in an emotionally intelligent way. So, I went to visit her in Zurich. And after being in Zurich for 24 hours, she's like, "Let's go to Berlin." So, it was during this breakfast in Berlin that I heard people speaking about swimming in a sacred river, meeting their teachers, funding for an NGO in Tibet, drinking entheogens and a lot of stuff that I was likeâ€”what the f*** are you talking about? I'm a creative director of a magazine. I have done this, this and this. But my vocabulary and theirs didn't have anything in common. Everything about it was very strange to me. I went for a walk right after breakfast. I got totally lost, and I started to realize that we're spending a quarter of a million dollars every three months to get people to buy things that they don't need in order to express themselves in a way that isn't actually beneficial to all beings. And I didn't even understand the vocabulary of world peace and the Buddhist philosophy or your dharma or karma. I had no awareness of any of that. Although, I've always had a lot of spiritual pieces in my life. When I was starting the magazine, I was going to Kabbalahâ€”maybe I was just going because Madonna was there, too. I don't know. It's a funny thing. So, it was at that breakfast table that a lot of awakening came through. And then I left Berlin. I went to Amsterdam, and I was taking some mushrooms and riding my bicycle, and I stumbled upon this Volkswagen van. And this woman in the back of the van, she's chanting a Buddhist mantra. And I'm looking at this thangka and I'm like, whoa. What is this? It drew me in so profoundly. I didn't really
interact with her that much, because I was inward at the time. But then I came back and started to write about sustainability. I started to write about meditation and yoga, and building a plant-based eating regimen. I started to write about all this stuff from a very intellectual point of view. That's how I really understood it. So, we started a blog called Oracle Talkâ€”me and my brother. Then, something crazy happened. Oracle, the big tech company, sends me an email saying that I was going to be sued if I didn't stop using the name, because we were coming up on Google more than they were. Within six months we had 4.2 million unique visitors, because of some of the stories we wrote. We were approaching it from a place of ignorance, but keeping it cool, New York, downtown. We had to shut it down. Sorry to hear that. So what happened next? Thatâ€™s when I arrived in India. I bought a one-way ticket and went to a 10-day silent retreat. Then, I went to a 30-day silent retreat, and that's when things just shattered. Completely got blurry. I believed my thoughts so much that I thought my whole family had died during this silent retreat. You can't have any physical contact with people, and I was literally desperate, sobbing. People were coming up to me and handing me paper notes, being like, "I'm here for you. You're OK. Whatever is going on." But I couldn't have any human connection. Eventually, I ended up paying a monk $10 to let me use his phone, which is totally not allowed. I called my brother and he's like, "No, we're fine. Everything's great. You're just tripping." 80
With that experience, I decided that I wanted to realize the power of the mind. The more we believe our thoughts, the further away from reality we get. The point is that we're the listener, and we can actually determine the quality of our thoughts and notice when we're being hooked and have spacious awareness, right? Become metacognitive. The awareness behind awareness. That was such a new way of thinking for me. Then, I saw His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New Delhi doing a talk with a group of quantum scientists, going back and forth. There were neuroscientists and people from all walks of life at this three-day conference. And he [the Dalai Lama] was speaking about how human beings are inherently compassionate. I actually hadn't heard that before. I thought some people were just bad, some were good. I didn't think people were all born good despite our deeds and anything we've done in this life.
"Because the fact is that we are inherently blissful, non-conceptual and luminous. It's just that the mind is too busyâ€”we don't have the awareness to become cognizant of these inherent qualities that are always present. "
emotional intelligence that we are working toward. Becoming original. Finding our inherent qualities. Being able to observe our inherent qualities. Because the fact is that we are inherently blissful, nonconceptual and luminous. It's just that the mind is too busyâ€”we don't have the awareness to become cognizant of these inherent qualities that are always present.
And then, there was His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking about being inherently compassionate or inherent qualities. The scientists were speaking about the vagus nerve and saying that it connects the microbiome of the gut to the core of the brain. It's connected to the oxytocin networks, and that really proves that human beings are biologically compassionate. And it was just that shattering moment where I said to myself, Oh, my God. This is what I've been looking for. I can understand these ancient wisdom practices through a totally evidence-based, scientific approach. So, it was that perfect merger. It was everything I needed to just really set me off on a much-needed journey for integration and deep research. What I've been doing is finding ways to speak about spiritual practices, ancient wisdom practices. And if you've noticed in my work, I usually don't even use the word spirituality a lot. I usually keep it as
So, it was through a lot of sitting, a lot of integrating, a lot of speaking to really high-vision people. And spending everything I had on training after training after training. I took four years off of living in a city to live between India, Nepal, Thailand and Indonesia. And then also doing trainings in the States with really great people in an effort to acquire the vocabulary that bridges this linear and creative approach, this way of mathematical and whimsical delivery. Then, I had the great opportunity to start teaching at the Omega Institute last October. That was a six-week course that was looking at happiness through a physiological, psychological and spiritual perspective, and showing people that all these things really match flawlessly. What the mystics have been talking about for thousands of years, we're just now coming around to understand. I find it really important, when sharing with people who are not aware of these practices, to be able to support them with evidence. Because it's all there, and it's really where science and spirituality are becoming one in the same. It's just different vocabularies, you know? Science explaining things from the outer-in and spirituality speaking from the inner-out. 81
So, you said you trained for four years? And then how long have you been teaching? I've been working on getting to know suffering and the human condition for about four years. Nov. 22, 2012, was when I started. So, in November of this year, it's going to be five years. Teaching since last July. But officially teaching, right? Everything that I've learned, it was always something I wanted to share. It's the nature of who I am. Anything that worked for me on any scale was always like, OK. I have got to bring it out to people. And what have been some of your proudest accomplishments doing this work? My proudest accomplishments would be working with American Express, the MoMA, the United Nations—being in these spaces with people who are highly successful and have been able to work with their suffering in a really interesting way. It’s so nice to be in that space and hear them speak about suffering, hear them speak about the neurotic, sometimes psychotic states of mind that we encounter. It's kind of all happened really fast, which is wild and amazing and fun. And I think the largest accomplishment is to have healed my depression—my suicidal depression and chronic anxiety—by myself. I’ve gone to see the teachers, have taken, have learned the practice and have just done the work of sitting and cleaning my diet. That's the accomplishment I’m most proud of. I crawled out of the pit. That's really what happened. Thanks for asking that. All the other stuff is secondary. I think it has to do with my own personal transformation.
That's great to hear. That's awesome. Could you talk more about your core philosophy? It was really interesting when you mentioned how science and spirituality have been coming together in the 21st century. Maybe tell me more about that as well. I feel like the most important thing is to know that these practices actually work. Certain people really speak from the angle of: breathe in love, exhale light. I'm really much more about: let's sharpen the focus. Let's change the brain in five main areas. Let's become biologically compassionate. Let's change how we eat. Let's clean the gut. Let's honor the vagus nerve. Let's bring coherence between the biological heart and the brain. They're not hard. The reality is, it’s the repetition of simplicity that leads to insight. That's all the scriptures have always said. It’s just the discipline of showing up, sitting on the mat, sharpening your focus, having an object of focus and cleaning out the yucky stuff. Letting go of limiting beliefs. All this stuff is really all connected, right? When you start to feel good, you make other people feel good. When you make other people feel good, that's the flow state. You have these neurochemicals coursing through your brain. And it's really so beautiful to look at research and know that when you start to meditate, you have better cognitive abilities. You become more compassionate, more empathetic and essentially more emotionally intelligent. I think one of the most incredible research papers that I've read was from Marian Diamond, 1969, from U.C. Berkeley. She was one of the first neuroscientists to 83
say that we actually are not determined completely by how our brains are shaped after adulthood. That we actually have the potential to use intentional behaviors to change the infrastructure of our brain, and that was such a freeing notion. Because if you were born, like in my case, in a family tree that has a lot of mental illness, then you were going to be the byproduct of your genealogy. That was so scary. But we finally know that through these practices, through intentional behavior, we can change completely. Not only physiologically, but psychologically. And (to use the big word) spiritually—to really start to connect with these things that we can't really construct, that we can only feel.
It does. And I think we need that now more than ever, especially emotional intelligence. Once you reach a point where you don't need a teacher, you don't need Sah standing over you shoulder teaching you, then in a way you should be able to help yourself. And, eventually, share what you've learned with others. Is there a particular mindfulness exercise that you’d like to share with our readers?
That was a big one. And then, obviously, all the supported research from when Richard Davidson started to really bring neuroscientists and molecular biologists into the mindfulness space, and Scientific American was backing up a lot of that research. I really love to speak to people, share simple practices and show them the power of the research. It's all there. It's all available. And there's nothing woo-woo about spirituality anymore. I mean, you will find some people still wanting to say, "This practice is so esoteric that you need me everyday to be able to do it."
Well, one of the most powerful tools is coherent breathing. It's learning how to breathe. Medical research shows that the average person breathes about 16 to 20 times per minute, which creates incoherence between the biological heart and the brain, which then leads to inflammation, which leads to scattered thinking, which leads to rumination pattern. And rumination pattern, in layman’s terms, is catastrophic thinking that a lot of us enter into many times during the day. The simplest practice is to actually slow down the breathing to five breaths per minute. It creates coherence between the variables of the heart and the brain and then that way, you lower inflammation and you can actually become emotionally intelligent.
But the Buddha just said that the more you meditate, the more you notice how chaotic the mind is. Then, you realize that you are your own spiritual teacher. We need guides who have integrity, who have been doing the work. But the reality is, things have to go from intelligence to wisdom. We need to take that leap. You've got to build a new neural pathway in the brain where it becomes experiential, and I think having scientific evidence helps you enter into that space more easily. Does that answer your question?
This research is done by Dr. Richard Brown, who's a psychiatrist from Columbia University. This practice has shown positive results in the lab with South Sudanese refugees with extreme cases of depression and anxiety, as well as for Asian tsunami victims. Essentially, all we would need to do is breathe in, two, three, four. Pause. The pause would be for one, two. And then breathe out, two, three four. Pause. Breathe in, two, three, four. It's just essentially going over and over, breathing
"When you start to meditate, you have better cognitive abilities. You become more compassionate, more empathetic and essentially more emotionally intelligent." in for a count of four, pausing for two, breathing out for a count of four. And you can do that for five minutes. The research shows that doing this for 20 minutes a day is when you can actually see major results. So, if you do this breathing technique for 20 minutes a day for two weeks, you will notice massive shifts. Anxiety and depression will be lifted, in some cases totally eliminated. You look at the research from Sara Lazar from Harvard, and she talks about doing these practices for 20 minutes a day for the course of weeks and being able to change five main areas of the brain. There's proof that if you started this practice today, did it for eight weeks and then used an MRI on your brain (had a brain scan), you can actually see the changes there. That's really incredible. Can you give me another technique? A very simple one that you can do is called tracing fingers. It's like breathing in all the way to the top of your finger and breathing out all the way to the bottom. Breathing in, this is what I teach for kids. One of the challenges I face teaching is that people want to meditate right away, but their 85
"The lack of congruence creates incoherence, and then inner chaos creates outer chaos." 86
breathing, they've never taken a long, deep breath to the bottom of their belly. They have no clue what it is to feel the physical sensation of the breath. Plus, the ACE study shows that seven out of 10 people in America have experienced enough trauma that it's really hard for them to close their eyes. But with the breathing, you can do it with your eyes open. You can do it anywhere. That's why I always encourage the breathing first, as a precursor to having a good practice. I want to transition into some of the work you've done at the United Nations. Have you found that people working on climate issues are under a lot of duress right now? Yes. Oh, my god. How did you know? Did I tell you that? No, it's just something climate change journalists talk about a lot right now. That they are under intense stress and feel like a lot of pushback has made it difficult to feel comfortable publishing. Or that they are being ridiculed or criticized. Yes, yes. Wow. I think it has to do with what you said. But I could also say something on a personal level. And this is something that I go back and forth with different groups of people. It's like, "I'm an environmentalist, but I still eat meat three times a day. I work for the climate, but I still drink out of plastic bottles." I think what happens is there's a lack of congruence between intentions, speech and actions for a lot of people. The commodity of modern life allows people to say, "I'm an environmentalist. I am here for climate
change." But they're going back and eating the cheeseburger and drinking out of the plastic bottle. The lack of congruence creates incoherence, and then inner chaos creates outer chaos. That's something that I really notice and I see a lot. I ask people, "Is that OK? For environmentalists or people who are working for climate change to eat meat all the time? Is that OK for them to drink from plastic? Where is the fine line crossed? When is it OK?" What is it to you? For me? It's changed over the last year. I was mostly vegan, pretty much produced no waste. Then, I went on a trip to Central America, and it was nearly impossible not to produce any waste. It was extremely challenging, and I really didn't have the choice but to eat some animal protein while I was traveling. Otherwise, I would be hungry every two hours, or just not feel nourished. So, I'm in this place right now where I feel like I need to be back in my own space at home in order to get back into my routine. Traveling this much, it's really challenging. And I'm sure a lot of these businessmen and women are traveling all the time. They probably need ways to hack their routines. I sympathize with the challenges that they have, but I also know that there is a lot of incongruence with the way that people think and the way they act. That disconnection causes a lot of internal chaos for people who work in this space, for sure. So, I'm actually caught in that space right now. I have to practice what I preach. Yeah, it's so important to have that high integrity with the work that we're doing. It's something that I really am fascinated by. 87
I know you just had a retreat. What else are you working on at the moment? Another retreat actually, because there were people on a wait list. The whole idea with “Rewrite Your Story” is knowing that you can actually rewrite your story. We can actually reframe trauma. We can actually release trauma. We can actually overcome and create more congruence between all of the things that we’ve experienced. It’s so powerful, because when I work one-on-one with clients, I see them every week. When I do these large-scale things, sometimes I don't see these people ever again. And being on a three-day retreat, you really get to see people transform. We really try to bring in all kinds of things. There was one thing we did that was so powerful. National Geographic went to do something on this tribe in South America where these kids were all sick, and the elders were singing the kids’ names. And they were being healed, just hearing the elders sing their names. So, we have things like that. We also did the breathing exercise that I shared with you, three times a day, and we meditated. We did screaming therapy in the forest. That was really cathartic for so many people. And we eye-gazed and asked, “Who are you?” You know, Sri Ramana Maharshi's practice of inquiry, of let's get to that place. Even as you're listening to me speak, if you tune into that space of “Who's listening?” and then go to that very subtle part of the very corner of the mind. You can actually take another leap, and look at it all from this awareness behind awareness space. So, it was really powerful stuff, and we ate 88
"At every moment, there's the potential for enlightenment. "
really clean. A lot of people are coming from a space of eating unhealthily, because of their high-stress jobs. So, the food was lightly seasoned, clean stuff. Who are some of your biggest influences? His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He is the catalyst for all this transformation. When I took refuge in Buddhism, it was like, I'm going to take up refuge for a year, and I'm going to see what this is like. I'm going to see what it's like to live with high integrity, and it was the best thing I've ever done. But I had so much resistance. I remember having a dream the night before I was going to take refuge, and the dream was so tricky. I had committed suicide, and I was hanging naked from my neck in the gompa—in the big meditation hall—with all 250 people. So, I spoke to some people about the dream, and there were so many different interpretations. The reality is that I was scared of what it is to actually be cautious and to be aware of the things I'm putting into my body, the kind of music I'm listening to, the kind of people I'm surrounding myself with, how I'm eating, how I'm treating others, how I'm treating myself. I was so afraid of having to live up to that. And I didn't think there was conversation beyond gossip and talking shit. I thought that was the hardest thing—to be aware of your thoughts. And [His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s] big thing was, every moment is a moment. At every moment, there's the potential for enlightenment. And it was so scary to live up to that.
And then, Dr. Richard Davidson. Huge influence. I think Deepak Chopra is also a good one. But if I could pick one, it would definitely be His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I think he just embodies all of those qualities. You can see the high level of enlightenment by the size of someone’s smile and how loud their laugh is. You know what I mean? He's constantly laughing. The deeper you get to know yourself, the more you realize that it's so ridiculous that we get caught up in… we just get hooked about the littlest things. And that becomes our reality until we get unhooked, and then we get hooked again. He's got swagger about the human experience, and that's inspiring, you know? Dancing the cosmic dance. What's your favorite thing (or things) to bring with you everywhere you go? I don't really have that, to be honest. I do bring a prayer book everywhere I go, from my time in Nepal. It helps me realign, to continue to live up to this bodhisattva nature. My intention, my speech and my actions, may it all be for the benefit of all beings. But no, I'm really trying to rewrite that story of attachment. I'm really trying to be able to live this modern gypsy life, where I'm constantly traveling and able to really live up to non-attachment. So, no, I don't have anything. Oh, actually, I do have one thing I bring everywhere. My meditation cushion. That's what it is. And the prayer book. Yeah. The prayer book is always tucked in with it. I used to carry a bracelet from John of God, but I gave that to somebody. The meditation cushion was made by a group of Tibetan refugees in the Himalayas. It’s 89
totally falling apart right now from all the traveling. I think that is the one thing I bring with me everywhere. For sure. Awesome. And my running shoes. I love arriving anywhere and being able to run. Yeah. I've actually been pretty inspired by seeing you do that, and I've been trying to do as much as I can. I have been doing a lot of hiking though. OK, this is going to sound like coaching, but can you really be in your body as you're running and notice when the tabs are opening up? When you have a new tab open about this idea, that idea, this person, that person, lunchâ€”and be able to close the tabs, and just feel the ground underneath your feet? For sure. Running is one of the only things that lets me do that. Sah D'Simone is a meditation and wellness teacher based in New York City. He frequently teaches workshops, gives talks and hosts retreats. Book a private session or learn more about his upcoming events at sahdsimone.com
"My intention, my speech and my actions, may it all be for the benefit of all beings." 90
Words Ian V. Crispi Photo Kyle Calian 92
It is a Sociological Fact, that we have been dehumanized— So, what I next would ask is how have the masses not realized? But what gives me hope is when I remind myself— that our Tribe is growing, Because no matter how hard they try, they will never slip inside every one of our Minds, and steal what every one of us has: The Energy of the Divine— planted deep within our souls, rooted in our spines. NO. No matter how hard they try, they will never take us all fully, because humans have an X-factor of unpredictability, and an A-factor of compassion and empathy— And so you see, when we put this incredible piece of biology to work and explore all the possibilities, we see that we can be anything we want to be; Life is an incredible mystery. Yet simultaneously, it’s as simple as dippin’ your feet into the sea; It’s as simple as closing your eyes, delving inside your inner world, inner eye— Slip right out of here Rise above Transcend Then, come back down here and spread Love: The Philosophy of True Men.
EMPIRE GLOBAL VENTURES LLC
On a mission to amplify green technologies, helping them scale and grow. Empire Global Ventures specializes in all aspects of business development: identifying target markets, creating strategies, developing relationships and closing deals. They work with clients to amplify their message across both traditional and social media platforms, through strategic partnerships, marketing campaigns, special events and branding initiatives. EGV has more than a decade of expertise working with green-technology companies to promote products, such as wind power, solar power and electric vehicles. They've even worked on designs for hydroponic farms in Iceland. Their committed team embodies these beliefs, which drives how they choose their clients. EGV is passionate about building a better planet for future generations.
They look forward to working with you. egvllc.com email@example.com +1 646.527.7305 95
Merijn Everaarts Founder and CEO of Dopper Dopper is a Cradle to Cradle, B-Corp water bottle company. Their mission is to reduce single-use plastics and to create a world where everyone has access to safe drinking water. Our conversation focuses on Everaart's personal transformation into social entrepreneurship, his journey building the only Cradle to Cradle certified water bottle and his vision for the future, as Dopper continues to expand across the globe.
Kyle Calian Dopper
@theregenerationmag @dopper_official 97
Q: You started as an entrepreneur, and now you're the CEO of Dopper. How did you get to where you are now? A: It's a long story, and it's only been seven years. I’m originally from the event business. And being in this environmentally unfriendly business, where there's a lot of business pollution and also props being thrown away, I was really frustrated. Living close to the coast, I realized that all the plastic that was staying on the beach wasn't going away. I really wanted to turn the tide on plastic waste and start something inspiring. After some brainstorming, I decided I wanted to come to the solution for the PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottle, a replacement for it. I decided to initiate a design competition, and Dopper was born. Eventually, I thought over doing this as a project. So, that's how Dopper got started— from the initial design competition? Yeah, as a solution for the problem. And the design was then well-received. I wasn't really sure before if I wanted to do this, but it was an instant success. We got a lot of orders right away, especially from consumers. So, there was a great kickoff for the brand Dopper, but especially for the mission as well. Nice. So, that was when you realized you wanted to create a sustainable business? I read somewhere that you watched a documentary. Did it happen to be “Bag It”? 98
No, it was before “Bag It.” It was in 2000. I don't know from which year “Bag It” is, but it was the first documentary about the plastic soup. And it was originally from BBC, but it was broadcast on national Dutch television. And had you always felt the responsibility to contribute to something larger than yourself ? No. I always was brought up in that way, but until then (or the last few years before starting Dopper), I was a consumer. I was a real consumer. I just didn't think about it, especially the environment. I was like, OK, if I can buy new jeans, I buy new jeans. If I want to go out, I just eat out. There was no awareness in that sense, although I was brought up in a very natural environment and also taught to care about the environment. But for me it was not the top priority. So, it really turned my life for the better, which was also a nice discovery. Can you take me through an average day at Dopper? I always give two or three talks a week in different places where people want me to be speaker, to get inspired about a sustainable lifestyle. Either focused on the design or focused more on sustainability. So, that's what happens during the week. I'm the CEO of the company, but I have a managing director in the U.S. and also in Brazil. So, my daily contact with the team is mostly via those people. And I think everybody's so drilled in and aware about the Dopper mission—or my mission, initially, but the Dopper mission—that I don't have to focus myself on keeping the
team focused on the mission. Everybody is so engaged and mission-driven that I don't have to worry about that. But of course, as an entrepreneur, you have to look after the finances and run the company. My task is still that we always have a good product. The next continual task I have is spreading the message. I feel that I am responsible for Dopper, that we also have the best products we can make. At the moment, we have a plastic and a steel version. The plastic version is mainly from virgin materials, and I'm working with Brazil to make a â€œDopper UPâ€? from upcycled material. It's been such a success that we're going to implement it in the United States and
in the Netherlands. So, innovation and products are also my cup of tea and what I'm busy with. What do you feel is your biggest challenge right now? The problem of plastic pollution is international. We are well-known in the Netherlands, and also becoming slowly but surely more popular in the U.S. and Germany. But to really get our company to be international and international-thinking, that's the hardest challenge at the moment from an entrepreneurial perspective. The biggest challenge to achieve our goal is to connect with other like-minded initiatives, so we can really make a change. There's a lot of people cleaning up the beaches, which 99
"We are mission-driven and productdriven. We need the product to work to complete our mission, instead of the other way around." is very good and very important. But plastic water bottle consumption is rising still. So, it means there's a lot to be done, and that's my main focus. What was it like becoming a B-corp? Actually, for us it was very natural. And it came about actually in a quite funny way. We started our first office in the U.S., in San Francisco, and we were looking for office space. We were in our Cradle to Cradle process, and Cradle to Cradle actually offered us an office space. So, we were already in their office. Then, going over the assessment for Cradle to Cradle, they said, "Actually, if you have your Cradle certification, you get extra points for B-corp.â€? And we hadn't heard about B-corporation at that time. That was 2012. So, we actually looked it up and checked what it was. And the CEO of Cradle to Cradle said, "Actually, you are a social enterprise. Why don't you register with them, or why don't you get certified?" And we thought, OK. This is the best idea, because we always have the problem [of trying] to explain who we are. Yeah, on one side we are a foundation. On the other side we are a corporation, which has to make money, because it's 100
a business with the bottles. I was very happy that I could say we are a social enterprise that is both at the same time. We are mission-driven and productdriven. We need the product to work to complete our mission, instead of the other way around. Exactly. We hope to go that route as well with The Regeneration. Yeah? Oh, great. It was a big thing to do, because at that time our organization was very small, and you needed to file a lot of paperwork. But it's totally, totally worth it. Because the B-corp community is really a very tight community, where people really help each other, especially in the Netherlands. I think we work almost on a daily basis with four other B-corps, and maybe even more. For example, our accountant is B-corp certified, and we have contact with Patagonia on a daily basis. And we work together with B-corp itself in Europe, so I'm in quite a lot of talks for them, to inspire other companies to become B-corps. So, you said the Cradle to Cradle process was sort of a precursor to the B-corp process? Was that more challenging, or less challenging?
It's on a completely different level. Cradle to Cradle is really product-based. Thereâ€™s also the human factor in it, but it's more about how people work in the factories or at the facilities where you make your products. So, it's not so much about your own employees. B-corp is actually talking about your own business. So, it's different, and different people look at the certification. I think in the product world Cradle to Cradle is important. But communication-wise, in the press, being a social enterprise is more needed. Interesting. And what are some trends that you're seeing in the world of sustainability? I'm happy actually to see that sustainability is a trend, a never-ending trend. Just had a talk today with the Surfrider Foundation about worldwide networks of people who are cleaning the ocean or want to clean the ocean or tried to find solutions. Compared to seven or eight years ago when I started Dopper, itâ€™s changed a lot in awareness and also in the number of people who act. You see it not only in my field with plastic pollution, but you also see it in fashion and in the changes in foods. There are so many people eating less meat and healthy vegetables, instead of GMOs or chemicals. I'm happy, surprised. Eight, nine years ago I wouldn't say the same as what I am saying today. I would 102
be very pessimistic. When I started Dopper, I really was angry at the world, because I didn't see any change. And now I see change in so many fields. When I speak at universities, the students are so eager to learn, because they want to know a more sustainable world. They don't want to be in this f***ed -up world with oil and money. They really want to be part of a sharing economy where people are happy and don't make war and eat healthy foods. It's a totally different understanding than say, 10 years ago. So, I'm positive. Of course, there will always be differences. But I think the more sustainable ways of living will be the inspiration for many who are not there yet. And if the small companies grow, the big ones will follow. Because they see already that they are losing terrain. And luckily they see it. Who are some of your biggest influences? Elon Musk, heâ€™s one of the biggest. In the Netherlands, there's a few people, really die-hard litter-pickers, as they say. And they do it out in the open. I love them. I love Lauren Singer from the U.S. [She] is an inspiration, how she actually (like dopper) saw a solution for a problem and made a business out of it. I think that's a very good motivation for everybody. For the new entrepreneurs in the world. She's been a friend and an inspiration to me for quite some time as well. She's great. How can people get a Dopper bottle? 103
You can order one online. I'm very lucky here to say this, finally. It took a while. And now the first chains are carrying it. Stein Mart department stores are now selling them. We're very close to becoming part of Whole Foods. At the moment we are looking for other partners. In New York, we're selling quite a lot. And it's really nice collaborating also with Natchie Arts in Dumbo. She made a drawing for us, the Brooklyn Bridge, because of our plastic bridge project, which is going to launch on probably the 22nd of September. You probably heard about this from Amer Jandali, one of our amazing employees in New York. We're going to build this big bridge out of plastic water bottles. You can walk over it and step into a plastic-free world. Take the bridge into a plastic-free world. Is there anything personal you do to reduce your impact? So many things, if I look at what I did before. I buy way less clothes, and if I do, I only choose sustainable brands. I had some tea today, which I’ve transitioned to loose leaf. Since the tea I used to drink was packed in plastic bags, and the tea inside the bag itself was also plastic. So, yeah. My life has been changing slowly for the better. My daughter just proudly said that she bought new school stuff, none of which was made out of single-use plastic. So, we are totally aware in the family. Great. And what's the one thing you bring with you everywhere you go? Dopper. And I also always bring a reusable bag with me, always.
Which bag? I'm still waiting for a Braceletote from Amer! So, I hope he will give me one. But at the moment I have a very similar one, which I use. And most of the time, I have two in my bag, so I can fit all my groceries. Always a bag. Got to have a bag. Yep, it's so easy! Merijn Everaarts is the founder and CEO of Dopper—the only Cradle to Cradle certified water bottle company. If you're interested in ordering one for yourself or learning more about what they do, check them out at dopper.com.
"When I speak at universities, the students are so eager to learn, because they want to know a more sustainable world. They don't want to be in this f ***ed-up world with oil and money. They really want to be part of a sharing economy where people are happy and don't make war and eat healthy foods."
A Chat With Surfider
The sun was finally shining just after 1 p.m. in San Francisco’s notoriously foggy Sunset District. I sat down with Max Ernst, chair of the San Francisco chapter for Surfrider, and Corinne Gentile, chair of the chapter’s Ocean Friendly Restaurant program, for lunch and a few beers at Beachside Cafe. We discussed the beach cleanup they hosted earlier that day, what Surfrider does to fight plastics and how these savvy environmentalists reduce their own impact. Dani: Thanks for joining me. I’m sure you’re both super hungry after that massive beach cleanup. Max: It was awesome. Today was International Coastal Cleanup Day. We had quite a few participants, far more than our typical monthly cleanup. We filled four 95-gallon rubbish bins with assorted materials you wouldn’t normally find at the beach. How much of that will get recycled? M: A lot of it will, so luckily we’ve partnered up with the National Park Service and Recology, our local waste company. They’ve offered to put out and collect bins for us, as well as do all the sorting and processing from what we collect. What is the weirdest thing you found on the beach today? M: A dildo and an old computer in a leather bag. It had a floppy disc it was so old! We’ll send that out for e-waste. That's hilarious. Tell me about Surfrider and how you got involved.
Interview & Photos Dani Arama 106
M: Surfrider foundation is a grassroots nonprofit that is dedicated to the
protection and enjoyment of our oceans, waves and beaches. I got involved in Surfrider because I wanted to be involved in the San Francisco community. I thought that being a part of something bigger than myself would be a good way to give back to the community, meet some cool people and make an impact while I do it. I grew up in L.A., so there’s a pretty heavy Surfrider influence down south. And then the job that I had before moving here was as a plastic injection molding manufacturing engineer. So, I saw the creation of plastics firsthand. Luckily, they weren’t single-use but I’d decided I didn’t want petroleum to be the background to my livelihood. So, when I got here I really engaged with what San Fransisco did to improve the waste stream and shoot toward zero landfill waste. That really was exciting to me. I found Surfrider Foundation. I knew they were here, and the passion was pretty infectious. I came to my first chapter
meeting in July of 2015. Within the next year I was leading the chapter as the chair. On your first visit did you think, “I could run this!“? M: I don’t know if that crossed my mind, but eventually it did. Some of the really involved volunteers encouraged me to go after a leadership position when there was a gap. I’ve been really glad for that opportunity to grow. I thought it would be a fun, exciting opportunity to see what it's like to lead a nonprofit. It’s been incredible. I’ve met some amazing people and feel like I get to make an impact on the community. Corinne, tell us about Ocean Friendly Restaurants and how you got involved. C: I was brought to a couple Surfrider events by my partner Mike, who’s the volunteer coordinator. But I was actually recruited by the Rise Above Plastics lead, 107
Eva Pullman, at the [Surfrider] holiday party. She was talking with me about this Ocean Friendly Restaurants program, which is an initiative under [the] Rise Above Plastics campaign, and how it really needed a leader. I have a background in nonprofits that support local small businesses, and now I do sales for a small business in packaged food. So, I’m in the food industry, I’m really interested in food and the environment, and it seemed like a natural fit for me. I just jumped in! It’s only been a few months, and we already have nine restaurants certified! Ocean Friendly Restaurants is all about getting restaurants to avoid single-use plastics … to-go ware and cutlery, straws, any disposable products. Trying to replace that with reusable products where possible, and if not reusable, compostable.
I’m really supportive of RAP as a major tenant of our mission and philosophy. The idea behind it is to evaluate your dayto-day life and see where you can make improvements to how you use products daily. Our goal is to educate people and make them think twice before they use a piece of plastic.
What is Rise Above Plastics, and why did Surfrider develop a program specifically against plastics?
What are some ways we as consumers can lead by example and get more restaurants to think about their impact?
C: There are several reasons why Surfrider targets plastics. It messes up the ecosystem, especially microplastics. Fish eat those plastics. Turtles eat them too and are dying because of it. Even if you don’t care so much for turtles and fish, you might care about swimming in clean water, and at the least you might care about what you eat! A fish that’s been eating plastic is obviously not good for your own health. M: And on the other side of that, speaking to my background, it’s really important for me to advocate against new manufacturing of anything petroleum-based. The way we extract, process and use petroleum is so harmful to the environment, and it never really breaks down. 108
C: The Ocean Friendly Restaurants program fits really nicely under that umbrella, because if you think about how much waste each restaurant produces, when you add up all the restaurants we’ve certified (and this is a national program) it makes a difference! Plus, it’s an opportunity for business owners who care about the environment to educate their customers in a really learned behavior sort of way. They can lead by example.
C: One of the biggest problems for ecosystems, and also one of the easiest things to give up, is straws. Those little plastic straws you get almost automatically with each drink can be really destructive. If you want to know where to begin, just refuse plastic straws. Businesses respond to that. So RAP works to both reduce the damage plastics currently cause our oceans and beaches, as well as to reduce demand in the long term. M: Exactly. Has the program seen any big wins? M: We have, actually! We strategically supported the passing of the plastic bag ban in California. That ban started off here
in San Francisco. Our legislators were willing to pass it through state congress, but big plastic lobbied hard against it. The bill was eventually turned over to the citizens of California as a referendum, and fortunately it passed! That was last year, and we’re really happy about that progress. We’re hoping to be the first state of many to enact that kind of legislation.
I noticed when I moved here that I could go weeks without seeing a plastic water bottle!
What are some things you do to reduce your impact?
C: I carry around reusable bamboo cutlery, which I love. It's easy to carry in my backpack or purse. I use them all the time. I bring reusable bags to the grocery store and shop bulk where I can. M: Yeah, a lot of the same. Definitely reusable coffee mug and water bottle.
M: Yeah, it’s pretty great. I think people are realizing how bad plastic is, and we’re really trying to help make that lifestyle a little easier. We’re excited to be a part of the good changes happening!
Soon after, the group of volunteers headed out to the beach to catch a few waves. It was, by then, a perfectly sunny afternoon and a great day to enjoy the beach! If you want to get involved with Surfrider, locate your local chapter. If they don’t already have one in your area, maybe you could be the next leader in your community to Rise Above Plastics. 109
Of Course Global builds smart systems with long lasting impact through unique, immersive experiences.
Helping companies craft conscious innovations, turning challenges into opportunites. Check them out at: ofcourseglobal.com Follow them: @ofcourseglobal
Businesses are the driving force of our society. Their proprietary methodology, The Social Sprintâ„˘, leverages a businessâ€™existing expertise to tackle challenges in a creative, innovative and profound way. At the heart of the experiences is our transformation process. This helps us shift from solving problems linearly with short-term thinking, to solving them for the long term with the most positive impact.
In a college class, Alejandro and Nikhil learned mushrooms could grow entirely on spent coffee grounds. After watching hours of how-to videos and turning their fraternity kitchen into a big science experiment, they eventually decided to give up their corporate job offers to become full-time mushroom farmers.
On a mission to reconnect families through fun and delicious, ready-to-grow and ready-to-eat products.
Today Back to the Roots® produces easy-to-use farm kits, aquaponic systems and now the first Certified Biodynamic® cereal—the only breakfast using regenerative agriculture to bring vitality back to the farm and incredible flavor and nutrition to your bowl!
Check them out at: backtotheroots.com Follow them: @backtotheroots
Dune Ives Executive Director of the Lonely Whale As the former head of Paul Allen's Vulcan Philanthropy, Dune Ives has designed and overseen change-making initiatives that address key drivers of environmental degradation and species decline. Ives holds her Ph.D. in psychology, is co-founder of the Green Sports Alliance and an inaugural member of Al Goreâ€™s The Climate Reality Project. Ives and I sat down to discuss the Lonely Whale, #StopSucking and ways to prevent plastic from getting into our oceans.
Kyle Calian Lonely Whale
@theregenerationmag @lonelywhale 113
Q: How did you get involved with the Lonely Whale, and what led you to working with them? A: I spent about two and a half years working for Paul Allen, designing and then leading his global environmental philanthropy. One of the questions he asked us, as an executive team, we could never fully answer. That question was, how do you get people to care for the ocean? That's really the heart. That's the most important question for us to answer. He recognized that as a philanthropist you can keep spending money and spending money and spending money to solve problems but never really get at the root, until people truly care for their environment. The ocean is so far away from us. Even though I live in the Puget Sound, and I can see it every day out my window, when I look at it, it doesn't change. There's no billboard to tell me that it's getting too warm, or that it's acidifying, or that there is tons of plastic pollution or that it's really loud under the water because of all the sirens and blasting. There's really nothing that tells me that it's hurting, and that it's a result of our behaviors. I left that organization, because I really wanted to dive into that question, which was creating care for something that is so unattainable for the vast majority of the world's population. Even when you're on the water, you're still not really in the water. When I left, I was introduced to Adrian Grenier, the co-founder of our foundation. I found that he and I and the other cofounder, Lucy Sumner, shared a passion 114
around creating content that really engaged the hearts and minds of people around ocean health, in a way that didn't let them just forget about it. I think sometimes campaigns are really great at attracting attention and getting individuals to take an action. But what they were really interested inâ€”which really sparked a passion in meâ€”was how do you essentially create a brand for the ocean that is so sticky, that as consumers of the ocean, as its customers, we never want to separate ourselves from it. Just like BMW grabbed me when I was 12 years old. I visited their plant. Although I've never owned a BMW, I really want a BMW, just because of that experience. We really want to create the same kind of emotive connection between people and the ocean. It was nice to land with the Lonely Whale team, where there is a shared interest in creating care and doing something in a way that really results in persistent action and impact that isn't just a one-time thing. Why is ocean pollution so important in terms of climate change? The ocean gives us every second breath. I think most of us think that it's really the trees (and the oxygen that comes from the trees) that provides for all of our breath. But, the ocean gives us every second breath. We know, because of the increasing greenhouse gas emissions and carbon dioxide, that our ocean is not only becoming warmer and more acidic, it's actually de-oxygenating.
"The ocean gives us every second breath. We know, because of the increasing greenhouse gas emissions and carbon dioxide, that our ocean is not only becoming warmer and more acidic, it's actually de-oxygenating."
Photo Shawn Heinrichs
Photo Shawn Heinrichs
We need to care for the ocean as if it's a tree on a property that takes in the bad air and gives us oxygen. Secondly, related to ocean and climate change very specifically, the ocean has been our second most important carbon reservoir. It no longer is. It can no longer retain the carbon dioxide that it once was able to. If we care about climate change, we should care about the ocean's health. We should really better understand the changes that are occurringâ€”the chemical changes that are occurring within the oceanic environment that are going to make it difficult for us, as a human species, to continue with life as we know it. Could you take me through a couple of the projects that Lonely Whale is working on? The way Lonely Whale is structured, we have two main programs. One is education, and the other is impact. On the education side, we have this great program, called Catch the Wave. It's a K-12 plastic pollution education program and campaign. We did a pilot in Canada this spring, and we're rolling it out in the United States in partnership with 5 Gyres Institute. We're really excited about giving K-12 kids all of the information and tools they need to tackle single-use plastics in their home, in their community, in their city and in their state, or even their country. That's very exciting. It's the first of its kind. No one has ever done this in such a cohesive fashion. We find that when kids are engaged around
single-use plastics, they are the biggest champions for a healthy ocean and doing what they can to eliminate single-use plastics globally. We've got all these amazing global youth ambassadors for the program as well. It's teaching kids all over the world about how they tackle, let's say, single-use plastic bags in Bali, or Indonesia at large. Or singleuse plastic water bottles in Canada. Or the plastic straw in Georgia. It's nice to see this cross-fertilization of ideas coming from these youth ambassadors. Our big impact campaign right now is Strawless Ocean. That has multiple parts to it. Ultimately, our goal is to eliminate 500 million single-use plastic straws during 2017. That equates to just one day of our annual consumption. Every day in the U.S., we use 500 million single-use plastic straws. Zero percent of those are recyclable. If a small percentage is recyclable, chances are they aren't recycled. We wanted to do a test to see if we can engage consumers to be aware of the single-use plastic straw and pledge to ditch it. Can we also engage establishments to move forward with an on-demand offering to customersâ€”which means that you and I have to ask for a strawâ€”and replace their single-use plastic and single-use biodegradable plastic straws with a marine degradable option? The most affordable one is a paper-based straw. There are also reusables, which we love. They tend to be a little bit too pricey for establishments to convert one-for-one. Although there are some, like Renee Erickson's Sea Creatures. Her suite of restaurants have converted to stainless steel in a couple of the restaurants that she owns. 117
"We don't get trapped in the plan and how we think things should go. We just let the plan evolve, as we continue to move forward."
Pictured Sam Barratt, Chief of Public Advocacy and Communications at UN Environment and Dune Ives, Lonely Whale Executive Director
Strawless Ocean is the big initiative. We have #StopSucking, which is the consumer-facing social media challenge, getting people to challenge their friends, family, as well as brands, to #StopSucking. Then, we have our big, city-wide takeover in Seattle. Strawless in Seattle, we call it. That, to date, has resulted in over a million straws already, during the month of September, being removed from circulation. We'll see what we get to at the end of the month. We have over 200 establishments. We have the first football and soccer stadium. We have the first baseball stadium. We have the first landmark property, with the space needle, and the first airport to go plastic straw free. We're really excited about that and really looking forward to taking that to multiple cities in 2018. Can you take me through an average day of work at the Lonely Whale? I don't know that there is an “average day” of work at the Lonely Whale. That's the nature of the work, right? We have to remain nimble and be willing to be flexible in our approach, and take advantage of opportunities we didn't necessarily know were coming our way. That's why every day is a little different than the day before. We have a really tiny team of three of us working full-time on these campaigns. As a small team, being nimble and flexible is paramount in order to take advantage of opportunities when you least expect it. I think that has allowed us to enjoy the success that we've had so far.
We don't get trapped in the plan and how we think things should go. We just let the plan evolve, as we continue to move forward. So, who are the three main people working full time? Myself, obviously. Emma Riley, who is the director of partnerships and strategic initiatives, and Emy Kane, who must be the fastest typer in the world. She's in charge of our digital community. She does all of our design. But she also, importantly, does all of our media and social media engagement. I think social media is really where she shines. As a tiny foundation, to only have been around for a couple of years, we have the third-largest Instagram audience. It's a very, very engaged audience. That's really a testament to her work. Then, we have a very diverse advisory board. They’re all very successful in their own rights, with a lot of experience working on campaigns, which is really what we are looking for from our advisory board right now. Even though Adrian's the front guy, right, he's like—what would that be in the band? He's not the drummer. He's kind of like your lead singer? He's our lead singer, yeah. We've got the full band supporting him as well. Lucy, and Chase Jarvis is on our board. It's really incredible to watch the engagement from the advisory board, too. We couldn't do it without them, to be honest. 119
I met with an advisor this morning about this very magazine. I agree, it's incredibly important to find good advisors. What are some ways people can get involved? Obviously, the #StopSucking campaign is one. Are there others people should know about? There are. #StopSucking would really love for more people to join the challenge. Right now, it's in over 30 countries. What's really cool about its spread is that it's localized in different languages. Itâ€™s #StopSucking in the U.S., but it's not necessarily #StopSucking in French or in Icelandic, which was really important to the success of the campaign, to make sure that it spread virally. But, we need more. We want more people to be engaged in this campaign to directly challenge friends and families, but also to directly challenge brands. There are a lot of watering holes. There are a lot of coffeehouses. There are a lot of big brands that, globally, are responsible for single-use plastic straws and cups and lids. We really need to hold them accountable. We're encouraging direct challenges between our audience and specific brands that they love, but they just need to #StopSucking. That's one way to get involved. We are also about ready to put out a challenge to our audience to tell us where our next 10 cities should be. That's important to us, because we know there's a magic formula for being successful in a city. It has everything to do with passion on the ground and people's connections, their network. We also heard that we're going to get a few early influencers on board, so we want 120
to hear from our audience. That would be a really great way for people to get engagedâ€”to tell us that their city deserves to be the next Strawless Ocean city, which we will absolutely take into consideration. Then, there's a third thing that people can do. They can send us their trash. This is really weird to say. I never thought I would be pining after people's beach trash. But, we have another campaign that we are supporting. It's getting ready to launch next week. Then, we'll do a big reveal in November about what we do with it. Essentially, we call it Ticktock. We feel like marine litter is this ticking time bomb that, in some cases, has already exploded, and you can't put the pieces back together. But in other cases, we still have a chance to turn back the clock and address our plastic pollution issue and our marine litter issue at scale. To do that, we want to create a visually metaphorical piece of art that really articulates the trash that people find on their beaches and in their riparian areas. We would love to have people send us their trash, and we'll see what we can do with it, see if we could turn it into a beautiful piece of art. Then, if we can, they'll be given those digital assets to use locally for conversations with their politicians. That's awesome. What are some trends you're seeing in the world of sustainability? I'm seeing a lot more grassroots involvement, people I didn't expect to get really engaged in the issues. I think it's probably the situation. We don't really know what to call our situation
Illustration Hannah Salyer
in Washington, D.C. It just seems to be changing on a daily basis, so it's hard to put a label on it. But I think the lack of control that people feel like they have—and how policies are being made and implemented and enforced—is creating a growing sentiment that if we don't stand up to march, and if we don't stand up to make our voice heard, then nothing will ever change in the right direction. We see that, as well, on the plastic pollution side. The people that are getting engaged in the #StopSucking and the Strawless Ocean campaigns are really surprising. It's heartwarming to see how many people have already declared, personally and in private, that they're going to make a switch around single-use plastics, but they just haven't known how to actually do it. Now, there's a platform for them to really get engaged. We're really excited about that. It's always really exciting when people get involved, in any capacity, with something that can actually make a difference. Who are some of your biggest influences? That's a really good question. I've actually never been asked that question before. I would say I'm probably unique in that I don't—I wouldn't point to a Teddy or an Eleanor Roosevelt, or a Hillary Clinton or anyone of that ilk. I think those that have influenced me have been those who have been extremely curious about their environment. This one's going to be a little controversial, because he helped actually create the first atomic bomb, but Dr. Feynman. The way that he looked at this world, and his curiosity for really 122
understanding and discovering how things work was really inspirational to me. I think it's something that I really hold pretty dear to how I operate and the way I think about developing solutions to the issues we face. Paul Allen was a huge influence on me as well. Never before have I been as challenged as I was by Paul himself— extremely well-read, extremely smart. He and his sister Jodi were big influences on my life and the way that I think about change. For Paul, it was never enough that we developed the best Band-Aid approach we could possibly develop. He continued to push me toward finding the systemic solutions, and continuing to find ways for the market itself to adopt what a philanthropist was asking the world to take a look at. That's really influenced the way I think about my life right now and the kind of campaigns we fund. I'm also lucky to have two children. I have a 25-year-old step daughter who is incredible and wonderful. Then, my husband and I decided to adopt a child at birth. He is now a little over three years old. But they both look at the world, obviously, extremely differently. At least for our daughter I think she has a chance to experience some of the beauty and the wonder that I've experienced through my life. He might still see coral in its beauty. She has already seen coral in its beauty. I don't know that my son ever will. To think of a world that has already changed so significantly, that there are beautiful things about it that he will never experience is really sad to me as a mother. I guess my fight right now is to make
sure he can actually swim in water and experience that, without getting tangled up in a Doritos bag. Or to make sure that his drinking water and the fish snacks that he eats don't come with the added plastic that we now know is in both of those. I work really hard for him, to do everything that I can. Just one more person that's inspiring to me, who I think also comes from a place of passion with his children, is Shawn Heinrichs, the incredible, Emmy award-winning underwater filmmaker and photographer. Even though he lives in Boulder, Colorado, he does all of his work in Indonesia and remote places thatâ€”whose names I can't even pronounce. He goes home for a day here and there to
reconnect with his family, and then his kids send him out again and say, â€œDaddy, you've got to get out. You've gotta save the mantas.â€? To see how hard he works on behalf of marine species, it makes me make sure I'm not resting on my laurels. I'm constantly challenging myself to be a better human. On that note, is there anything personal that you do to reduce your impact? We try to grow as much of our food as we can, which is really hard to do. But, we definitely buy local. We buy from organic
farmers. We bike or walk or take public transportation where we can. We live in a rural area right now, which makes it so much more difficult to actually take public transportation anywhere. It kills us. Although we've got great access to high quality food, we're driving a lot more, which is really frustrating. I pack chopsticks where I go, so I don't have to take a plastic fork or spoon or knife when I do get a to-go sandwich or salad, because I travel so much. I also talk a lot with my friends and family. I'm not shy about sharing my opinion about things. I think everyone is getting a little sick and tired of me preempting our phenomenal meal at a restaurant by saying, "Just don't bring us any straws." But, I think it's important to stay vigilant on the things that matter to you. Agreed. Finally, what's your favorite thing to bring everywhere you go? I have a silver certificate that my grandfather gave me before he passed away. He gave it to me years ago. I don't know if you know what a silver certificate is? It looks like a one dollar bill. I kind of look at it as old tiny money, because back in the day you could actually redeem it for silver itself. I was so excited to figure out exactly what it was. But my grandfather had a really significant influence on my life. I miss him dearly. He passed away last year. He was one of my best friends in the world. I carry the silver certificate around with me everywhere I go, as a reminder of him. There's just something really simple about the silver certificate. I think, for me, it's about an 124
era in which things were absolutely as complicated as they are today, just in a really different way. But also, in a way, much simpler and much more focused on being connected to humans, which we've really lost. During those days, you didn't have your cellphone. You weren't texting. You weren't on Facebook. You were actually talking with your friends face to face. I think there's part of that silver certificate that just reminds me that being connected to an individual through a thing, through a conversation, through a hug, through looking somebody in the eyes is really important, which my grandfather always taught me. Is there anything you feel we didnâ€™t cover that you want to add before we finish? I guess the only thing that I might add if I could (and I add this because itâ€™s one of the things weâ€™re seeing in our work with campaigns) is that oftentimes I think campaigners move forward with their interest in mind, rather than figuring out how to design a campaign in which all people can see themselves. That they can see their imprints on and feel like they've been able to make a contribution. One thing we really focus pretty hard on, especially with Strawless Ocean, is ensuring that we have a disability community in mind and their input really well represented. Because it's really easy to overlook the needs of seemingly a few people when you think about designing for the masses. When that happens, I think you get misplaced campaigns.
"I think campaigners often move forward with their interest in mind, rather than figuring out how to design a campaign in which all people can see themselves."
But being as inclusive as you can, and really listening to the needs and interests of others, I think makes you a better campaigner. It certainly has for our team. I think that's one of the reasons we are enjoying such an overwhelmingly positive response to the campaign in Seattle, and then in other parts of the world. However, there is an entire group of people who need plastic water bottles. They need plastic straws, they need plastic bags, really, for their daily existence. And weâ€™ve really left them behind. I want to make sure that at some point their voices are really represented in how we think about the kind of work that we do. Because when they are, man, they can help us go fast and be even more impactful than we thought we could be. Yeah. There's no such thing as a blanket solution. No, there really isn't. Dune Ives is the executive director of the Lonely Whale. To learn more and find out how to participate in #StopSucking and the Strawless Ocean Project check out their website lonelywhale.org and follow them on social media @lonelywhale.
Photo Alyssa Bassett
The Plastic Problem
Words Lauren Haggerty Photos Amanda Jackson
It was a typical trip to the store to get some basic necessities. Because I had always considered myself an environmentalist, I decided to reduce my carbon footprint by walking the few blocks to the store rather than driving. Completing my purchase, I refused a disposable plastic bag and chose to put my items in my purse instead. I looked at my purchase when I got home, eager to pat myself on the back for refusing the bag at the store. But my entire haul was packaged in and made of plastic. A new plastic toothbrush with plastic bristles. A set of plastic razors in a plastic container. I took a glance in my recycling bin and saw that it was also full of single-use, disposable plastics. For the first time, I realized just how much plastic I was wasting. Plastic is a nightmare for the environment. While itâ€™s true that natural plastic can be produced, synthetic plastics derived from petrochemicals are far more common and cheaper. Synthetic plastics were first produced in the early 1900s, and the cheap and malleable material quickly became a part of everyday life. Over time, its environmental impact became apparent. Plastic does not degrade in the environment in the same way that natural, organic material does. Biodegradation is the process of microbes or other organisms consuming and breaking down material into smaller pieces. It is natureâ€™s version of reusing and recycling. Becuase plastic is composed of synthetic compounds, organisms cannot recognize it as food or digest it. While there have been some reports of plasticeating worms, for the most part, plastic has no place in the food chain.
Plastic cannot biodegrade, but it can photodegrade, or decompose from exposure to UV light. On the surface, this may seem like the perfect solution to our plastic problem. It isnâ€™t. The issues with photodegradation are twofold. Many plastics sit in a landfill, where they are never exposed to enough UV radiation to degrade. Without the opportunity to decompose, the plastics can sit there for hundreds of years. The other issue is that plastic often ends up in the oceanâ€”about 8 million pounds of it every year. Plastic floating in the ocean is exposed to plenty of sunlight, allowing it to break down into smaller pieces. As the plastic decomposes, its many harmful chemicals, such as Bisphenol A, leach into the water. Aquatic animals, such as birds, fish and marine mammals, mistake the small pieces of plastic for food. Some starve to death, as a result, because their stomachs are too full of plastic to ingest any real nutrients. Others are eaten by larger marine organisms, allowing the chemicals to bioaccumulate and ensuring they remain in the ocean and the food chain for years to come. Those caught by fishermen are consumed by humans, introducing the harmful chemicals to our own diets. For years, I have used my diligent recycling habits as an excuse for my plastic consumption. While recycling plastic is still better than throwing it in the trash, it isnâ€™t a perfect solution. Recycling trucks consume just as much fossil fuel as garbage trucks, and recycling plants are often powered by fossil fuel energy. Additionally, recycled plastics do not currently offset the demand for
new plastics. And even if you do recycle, resources were still required to produce the virgin plastic in the first place. Perhaps most importantly, recycling can leave consumers with the false sense that the modern disposable lifestyle is totally acceptable. Consumption requires huge inputs of raw materials and generates pollution. Simply recycling will not offset the environmental damage of plastic. The best way to combat plastic consumption is to reduce our dependence on single-use, disposable items by investing in sustainable, reusable alternatives. Lauren Haggerty is a freelance writer for The Regeneration Magazine. She has a bachelor's degree in environmental studies from Villanova University and is currently working as an environmental specialist. Amanda Jackson submitted these photos from a series called Dirty Beach, a partnership between Brighton-based artists Louise McCurdy and Chloe Hanks (a.k.a. Hanksy). Through rebranding plastic bottles they have found on the shores of Brighton Beach, their work aims to challenge our relationship with plastic and make us question, when we throw it away, where does it end up? Plastic particles can be found inside a variety of marine animals and throughout the ocean food chain including mussels, fish, turtles and whales. See more at dirty-beach.co.uk You can find more of Amanda's work at amandajaxn.co.uk
An unwavering commitment to sustainable printing. Our dedication to provide the best green and environmental printing services and products is demonstrated in everything we do. We have an unwavering commitment to maintain a low carbon footprint and recognize that the future is our responsibility as a community. We have been passionate and dedicated to a mindful, eco-friendly printing process since 1990. We offer green printing for brochures, tri-folds, stationary, organic t-shirts and clothing, tote bags, banners, posters, invitations and more.
Reach out for all your printing needs: Greg Barber (973) 224-1132 firstname.lastname@example.org linkedin.com/in/ecofriendlyprinter ecofriendlyprinter.com
Chantal Plamondon Co-founder of Life Without Plastic Chantal Plamondon is co-owner and co-founder, along with her husband Jay Sinha, of the online eco-conscious store, Life Without Plastic. Plamondon and I discuss her vision for Life Without Plastic as a company that provides the tools and products for people transitioning to a zero waste lifestyle. Our conversation also touches upon some of the challenges she has faced in growing as a sustainable company in a globalized world, from sourcing materials to supply-chain management and shipping logistics.
Kyle Calian Alise M. Bowler
@theregenerationmag graphidome.com 133
Q: Can you describe your path to starting Life Without Plastic? A: It started back in 2005. My son was about two years old at the time, and as a good mom I was trying to make sure that he was growing up healthy. I was reading this magazine called Mothering at the time, and I started to see a lot of articles about the dangers of plasticsâ€”especially for babies and breastfeeding mothers. I got really worried. At the time, the research was really just starting. That was back in 2004 or 2005. They started identifying these endocrine disruptors that would appear in milk stored in certain types of bottles, and plastic interacting with certain types of content, like acidic, warm and oily content. The research was just beginning, but it was frightening. It was scary thinking that so much plastic is in our lives now. Babies are exposed to so much of it, because we don't want them to break our ceramic dishes or our glass bottles. Everything is plastic for babies. All the toys are plastic. I went on this quest to try to find replacements. Plastics contain so many additives and toxins. Some are made out of more than 100 different ingredientsâ€”additives, colors, flame retardants and things like that. I thought, it's probably the case with at least some plastics that they eventually leach into their content. I wanted no plastic at all. I was looking for a baby bottle and for dishes and food containersâ€”couldn't find anything. My husband Jay, who is also the co-founder, his family on his dad's side is from India. We went to India the previous year, and we saw how much stainless steel they were using (like for dishes and cups). And for storage they were using tiffins. That 134
gave me the idea of going that route. We found some manufacturers who were doing dishes for babies, and I found a manufacturer that was still doing glass baby bottles. When I called them, they said, "We're just about to discontinue this product." To order it, I had to order 1,000 bottles, as there were very few stores that were still selling the glass baby bottles. Really, nobody cared about plastics at the time. I thought, I'm probably not the only one who cares, especially for babies and children. That's how I started. I thought, "OK, so I need to buy large quantities just for my son, but I'm sure other parents need the same thing. So, I'm just gonna put them online and see if anyone else is interested." We had maybe less than 10 products when we first launched the website. That was in 2006. How did you find the other products for this store? What was your process? Well, I was right. A lot of other parents were looking for plastic-free bottles, and it didn't take long for us to start having sales. There was this commune that was selling a bottle called Klean Kanteen. Eventually the company that was doing the fulfillment for that commune bought the company, and that's what Klean Kanteen has become today. But, at the time, it was a group of peaceful people living in a commune somewhere in California, selling these bottles. It's a really interesting story, the very early story of Klean Kanteen. So, I contacted them. That was the next product that we brought in that was brand new in the market at the time. In 2008, the Canadian government actually went forward and banned Bisphenol A (BPA) in certain products manufactured for babies,
like in the lining of cans ofÂ baby formula. It was not a blanket ban on BPA for all products, just for some baby products. But that really raised awareness about the dangers of BPA. I think Canada was probably the first country to do that, but it sent a strong signal that there's a problem with plastics. From that point on, a lot of products became available. Companies started contacting us in 2008 and 2009 and said, "We just created this sandwich box. Do you want to sell it on your website?" A lot of moms and small businesses started creating these alternatives to plastic and were contacting us to sell their products. So, progressively, there were more and more products available. But, there were also a few essentials that we thought we really needed to sell, and some of these products we had to design ourselves. We wanted to sell a stainless steel ice cube tray. We had to get an old one from the â€˜50s and have it remodeled by a manufacturer in India in stainless steel, because they were made from aluminum back in the â€˜50s. We really wanted a popsicle mold for our son, so that's also a product we had to have a mold made for. So, there are a few products we actually got manufacturers to design for us. A lot of products new to the market around this time were created by other small businesses. What would you say your biggest challenge as a company is right now? The biggest challenge? It's always been inventory management, for sure. We just have very organic growth. We never wanted an external investor in our company, 136
because of the nature of it, and how important it was to us that we stick to very strong ethical principles. It takes a long time to gain people's trust. I wanted to make sure we would always be the ones making the decisions about which products are the safest and sticking to our mission. Sometimes external investors, they want more profit, they want more sales, and they push you a bit outside of your original values. We didn't want that, we have growth that is driven by our reinvestment in our inventory. It's always hard to evaluate how much of a certain product we need, and which products are going to be more popular than others. In the past, we often had several products out of stock at any given time, because we were bad at gauging the demand. We're getting better. But I would say that is definitely my biggest challenge. I've been using the site for a while and have noticed that sometimes things are out, which is totally fine. That's just the nature of running a productbased business. We had a whole bunch of sporks, which are one of our most popular products. Then, the city of Santa Monica bought almost our entire inventory in one day. We had to get them all made again, which takes a couple of months. So, we've been out for two months now. Can you tell me about some new products you're excited about? There's one thing we've always wanted from the beginning, and this is a completely plastic-free travel coffee mug. There are a lot of stainless-steel coffee mugs that exist, 137
but they all have plastic tops. Personally, I find that I cannot drink through a plastic cup (whether it's actual plastic or silicone), because I know the heat from the coffee can trigger and mix with the ingredients of the plastic. Every time I drink my coffee, I have it in my stainless steel mug. But I always remove the lid, because I don't want to drink through the plastic.
like the stainless steel straw that we have in a cotton pouch with a little brush. It's a little kit that's always hygienic and clean in your purse. When you look at where the most plastic waste is generated, it's just a few itemsâ€”plastic utensils, coffee cups, straws, food containers. If people would just replace these items, as well as reusable bags, but a lot of people have gotten used to that habit now.
So, we've been wanting a coffee mug with a stainless steel lid for a long time. We did some experiments, and the lid just becomes too hot when we do that. Instead, we recently discovered glass coffee mugs with glass lids. We're going to have our own glass coffee mugs with glass lids in the coming months. I'm super excited about that. I know they're not for everybody, because some people might think it's a bit too breakable.
You don't have to completely change your life and replace everything in your house with non-plastic items, like toilet brushes or shower curtains, things like that. You can, but if you're just starting, there are a few items that generate a lot of waste. Just these items can be a great start.
So far, that's the only vessel I've found where you can actually drink your coffee without touching any plastic. That's an essential product that we've been wanting to carry for a very long time, so we're really excited about that. What are some of your favorite products in the store? I really like the stainless steel food containers that are airtight with three clips, especially the one that has dividers that you can put in and remove. Itâ€™s a great takeout container that I use a lot. I really like the spork as well. I have so many sporks. I have one in my car, one in my backpack, one in my purse, one in my tennis bag. I always have one available, just in case I need to eat from a fast-food place that only has plastic utensils. I really 138
I wholeheartedly agree with you. I've led a couple of workshops on exactly that, and I couldn't agree more. One thing at a time, one week at a time. That's the best approach. Small steps. Yeah, because it feels really overwhelming when you start looking at all the plastics you have in your home. You're like, Where do I start? It's not even worth it. I'm not even going there. But the 20 percent of products that generate 80 percent of the waste are easy to identify, and it's easy to make that little switch. Take me through an average day at Life Without Plastic (if there is one). Sure. We're an online business, so we have an administrative office in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. Orders that have been received in the past 24 hours get sent in the morning to our warehouse, which is located in upstate New York, in Ogdensburg. Itâ€™s just an hour drive from
"You can make a living being small. You don't have to be big. You can just be happy being a small business and making a difference."
here in Canada, just at the border of the U.S. and Canada. We decided to hire that warehouse back in 2009, when our sales in the U.S. were really growing. When the warehouse receives our orders, they split them into orders for the U.S. market and orders for the Canadian and international markets. The U.S. orders get packed pretty quickly and usually shipped the same day, or within 24 hours. The Canadian orders get shipped to Canada once a week by truck. International orders are usually shipped once a week. They're usually shipped through the U.S. postal system, and they get shipped on a daily basis. We have fewer international orders than we do Canadian and U.S. orders, because of the high cost of shipping. So, our orders get dispatched in the morning, and then we will have a few phone calls during the day about issues with certain orders that we need to resolve with our warehouse manager. We also have staff that handle our customer service. They're all remote. We kind of have a virtual team of people working for us all over the place. We have two customer service staff in the morning that work four hours. Then, another works in the afternoon. They each have a part-time schedule, which they really like, because they have families. So, they like the flexibility of being able to work from home. Also, the advantage of that is, if one of them goes on vacation, the other can take on a few more hours. Iâ€™ll work on projects. Right now, we're promoting our book, which will come out on Dec. 12, 2017. We need to start talking about it and finding venues to give public readings. So, I'm working on that, and I'm also working on this subscription service 139
"As hard as we work to try to reduce the amount of plastic we consume every day, there are businesses and manufacturing companies that continue to use plastic in their packaging. They will even replace better packaging with cheaper plastics."
that we're going to launch in the spring of 2018. That's going to be a plastic-free box that we will send every season. I like the cycle of the season as a good way to kind of switch gears. We're going to be sending subscribers a box full of plasticfree items—essentials and some soaps and things like that, that are not packaged in plastics. That's a big project we're going to be launching in the next few weeks. That's pretty much what my days look like. We have a very busy team. Here's a bit of a tricky question. If you had a magic wand to solve any problem, what would you use it for? I'm going to respond from the perspective of the business of plastics. I really do think that the problem lies in that business are more concerned with short-term profits than the long-term health of the planet. I would change that mentality if I had a magic wand. As hard as we work to try to reduce the amount of plastic we consume every day, there are businesses and manufacturing companies that continue to use plastic in their packaging. They will even replace better packaging with cheaper plastics. For example, they’ll replace cardboard or glass packaging with plastics. It's like they only look at the cost-benefit analysis. You know, how much it costs for them to ship the products from one place to another. Too often they don't take into consideration the huge problem that their manufacturing activities bring to the world. I just wish that companies were more aware and were making more of an effort in how they design their packaging. For one thing, I've noticed that the plastic
packaging problem is getting worse, despite the growing awareness and the news articles about how much of a problem it is. But when you go down the grocery aisles, there’s more plastic packaging than ever. Glass packaging is being completely replaced by plastics. Just three or four years ago, mayonnaise was still in glass. Ketchup was still in glass. A lot of condiments were still in glass, and now it's all being replaced with plastic packaging. So, we're kind of going backward in that area, and I find that really discouraging. It's also discouraging when you go to trade shows for organic product companies— companies that care enough about human health and the health of the planet to produce products made of organic ingredients—but they package it in plastic. They kind of don't get the full cycle of life of their product. The product gets consumed, and the packaging stays. So, yeah. If I had a magic wand, that's what I'd do. I'd try to change that mentality. That's a good answer. You'd want more than just a wand, I think. You'd want the whole spell book. You’re not gonna settle. What are some trends you're seeing in the world of sustainability? Yes exactly, I'm seeing a lot of small businesses that are able to find a very specific niche. They're able to survive on very few sales, because of the interconnectedness of the internet and the fact that manufacturing tools have become so much more available. It's much easier to create a product and bring it to market now than it was 30 years ago. Like, way back, how did you contact a Chinese manufacturer or a 141
European manufacturer? It was super complicated. Where did you find their contact information? You had to use your phone and make a lot of calls and people didn't understand your language. Now, with the internet and all the tools we have, it's easy to find a manufacturer that will create small batches of a product for you. Or it's easy for a small farmer, for example, to create a really cool vegan product that appeals to a specific market that's looking for that specific product. With social media, it's easy to sell to a very specific group. They might live all over the country, but you can still access them. And they can make your business live, even if it's very small. Know what I mean? It's easy to have access to people scattered around the world, and these people are enough to make these small businesses exist. So, what I'm seeing is a lot of small businesses that cater to very specific needs, and people being able to live within their values, as varied as they are, because they don't have to conform to what is available in the mainstream anymore. There are so many options and products that cater to different groups. I'm really pleased with that. I love seeing moms at home contact our company and say, "Can we send you our product?" This mom contacted us just a few months ago. She lives on a farm and designs these cotton bowl covers. They’re beautiful. They're made of organic cotton, and there's a little elastic around them. You can put them on a bowl when you have leftovers, put them in the fridge and it preserves it nicely overnight. She got ahold of us and said, "You know, I'm very small, but would you be interested in 142
our product?" Since then, I've seen her account on Instagram. She's selling to a store in Scandinavia that buys all kinds of her designs. It's wonderful to see these small businesses sell their products around the world to a very specific market that appreciates what they do. So, yeah, that's the trend. You can make a living being small. You don't have to be big. You can just be happy being a small business and making a difference. Who are some of your biggest influences? There are a few books from Paul Hawken that I read way back. He's a big proponent of the ideas in “Small is Beautiful” (he's not the one who wrote that book), but creating businesses that have multiple bottom lines and make a real contribution to society. A couple of his books that I read were really influential—"Ecology of Commerce" and "Growing a Business." He was talking about what was involved in a business at the time, and it's really interesting how he talks about it. I also read “The Magic of Findhorn.” It's completely out there. It's really interesting. Besides Life Without Plastic, is there anything personally you do to reduce your own impact every day? I think the big one is trying to make food from scratch. I really try to do that as much as possible. As a result, we don't use as much food packaging, because we use fresh vegetables. There's still packaging involved when you buy some ingredients. And I understand that it's very difficult for a family with two working parents to live the zero waste lifestyle, because you really have to plan everything you do all of the time.
Photo Jena Schlosser
You have to plan all of your meals, and you have to make sure that you go to the store that's located like 25 kilometers away to get all of your products without too much packaging. Maybe we can’t do that all the time, but we try. And just a life of being grateful and teaching that to our son. We have this little ritual of saying, every night when we have dinner, how we're grateful for what we have and for the planet. I think, also, my contribution is through the way I raise my son. He's really aware, and I hope that he can also have an influence on his friends. Maybe that will have a chain reaction.
"It's wonderful to see these small businesses sell their products around the world to a very specific market that appreciates what they do." What's your favorite thing to bring with you everywhere you go? The spork. I love the spork. It's also a little bit like a business card for me. You know? I show my spork, and so often people ask me, "What a cool thing. Where did you get it?" So, yeah I really have a lot of sporks, and I bring them everywhere. I have a few extra that I give away once in awhile. That's definitely my favorite product. Their book, Life Without Plastic: The Practical Step-by-Step Guide to Avoiding Plastic to Keep your Family and the Planet Healthy, launches on December 12, 2017. Chantal Plamondon is the co-founder of Life Without Plastic, an online store that helps people reduce their impact by providing beautiful alternatives to disposable and single-use items. To learn more about their mission and products, check out lifewithoutplastic.com and follow them on social media @lifewithoutplastic. 143
The Last Rainforest in Borneo
Words & Photos Chelsea Greene 144
After two days of air travel, I arrived in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan. I was smack dab in the middle of Indonesian Borneo, the province with the highest rate of deforestation and the epicenter of 2015's sweeping wildfires and resultant haze that wreaked havoc on the region. This was no beautiful island of my dreams. The humidity would not last, I was told by CIMTROP field manager, Kitso Kusin. “We are frantically trying to build dams to keep water in the canals,” Kusin said, as I filmed him with my Sony DSLR in the backyard of his University of Palangkaraya office. CIMTROP, the Center for International Cooperation in Sustainable Management of Tropical Peatland, was planning for the dry season, doing their best to stop the inevitable wildfires from spreading. They build dams throughout the 45,000 kilometers of canals that have been dug to drain the peat swamp and cut the forest. Draining the peat is the first step in cultivating land for palm oil plantations (and for the nearby Mega Rice Project, a failed government initiative that has since been abandoned). In 2016, Greenpeace reported that the 2015 fires cost the Indonesian economy approximately 16 billion dollars and resulted in an estimated 100,000 premature deaths in the region and in nearby Malaysia and Singapore. “In addition to releasing vast amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, [peatland fires] also release particulates that are terrible for human respiratory health. So, it’s really quite tragic,” said Frances Seymour, co-author of the book “Why Forests, Why Now.”
In terms of climate protection, the peat swamp forests of Indonesia are some of the most valuable forests in the world. This bed of peat that the forest sits upon is a “carbon sink,” with the ability to absorb 10 times more carbon than any other forest on earth. “If we were to halt deforestation tomorrow and allow all the damaged forests to grow back, we estimate that it could constitute between 24 to 30 percent of global net emissions,” Seymour explained. “So, we’re looking at between a quarter and a third of the solution to climate change. And yet tropical forests get nowhere near the share of political attention and finance in debates on global climate change.” How did Borneo, until recently the largest consecutive rainforest on Earth, get reduced to basically one big flammable palm oil plantation? It is the classic story of globalization and indigenous oppression. You probably know about palm oil, but it is likely you do not know the severity of the problem. A report by WWF Malaysia and WWF Indonesia, titled “The Environmental Status of Borneo 2017,” estimates that if the current patterns continue, 75 percent of Borneo's forests could be gone by the year 2020. Although the negative impact this land conversion process has on endangered species, such as the Bornean orangutan, has received some attention, little media coverage has focused on the plight of the indigenous Dayak people. I set off with my team—Arie Rompas and Meta Septalisa, both Dayak environmental and indigenous rights activists—to begin capturing footage that could shed light on this ongoing struggle. As the streets of Palangkaraya faded 146
into the distance, I thought, “This must be where I see forest.” However, before me appeared the skeletons of burnt trees and low bushes stretching into the horizon, soon to be replaced by rows of oil palm trees. As the hours passed, we sang along to the radio, trying not to think about the death of this once beautiful land. For the next four days of driving, oil palms were all we would see. “These are Wilmar plantation,” said Arie, as the sun was setting. “All of this Wilmar.” I asked how Wilmar, the largest plantation owner in Central Kalimantan, got all of this land. “Concessions from the government,” he replied. “Either land grabbing from local communities, or they were able to convince the villages to give up their land.” As I came to find out, these companies have an arsenal of weapons against the Dayak, the rightful land owners. The primary tribe of Borneo, Dayak have the most beautiful religion—the forest. Traditionally animists, they held the belief that everything in nature has a spirit, a higher power. “The forest give their livelihood, their house, their life. To Dayak, the forest is their identity,” Arie related. But in some places, media and modern desires to have cell phones and mopeds have infiltrated this way of life. It was sad witnessing this process causing division within villages—the division between those attracted by the allure of modernity and those wanting to maintain the traditional ways. “There’s no benefit for the people,” said Mina Setra, a Dayak from West Kalimantan and an indigenous rights leader and activist. “Sometime in the first 10 years,
15 years, it give benefit to the people. But after that, the production goes down, and they get very poor. And then they have to rely on the market.” Recently, Setra led a successful congressional court battle to change the Indonesian forestry law from stating that “customary forest is state forest” to “customary forest is forest with indigenous territory.” While this is a step in the right direction, much damage has already been done. According to the Indonesian Forum for Environment (WALHI), in Central Kalimantan, the government has already given permits to companies for 78 percent of the land. That does not include national parks, where deforestation is eroding the last remaining habitats for Bornean flora and fauna. This is the case for the village of Biru Maju, where we stopped for a night. Pak Purnomo, the Chief of Village, had a particularly nasty landgrabbing story to tell. A tall, broad-shouldered man, Purnomo carries himself like a leader. In 1997, the government gave Wilmar a license to open the land of his village. “Instead of using their authority to resolve the conflict, the government just acted like a catalyst actor,” said Purnomo. Unaided, the village had no choice but to protest the company themselves. In retaliation, Purnomo explains, “The company chose to say that I had stolen the company palm fruit, and they went to the police. And the police put me in jail!” Purnomo was criminalized for defending the land of his village. While he was in jail, the land was entirely converted to
plantation. All of the forest was gone. To this day, Purnomo is working to attain some form of compensation through the court system. He misses the forest very much. “My family love the sound of gibbon in the morning. But now, we don’t hear the sound of gibbon. Because they are gone,” he said. Purnomo said he is worried about the next generation, “Because the next generation cannot look at the gibbon or orangutan.” The hot, dry, nightmarish palm oil maze that is all that is left of Biru Maju is a juicy juxtaposition to the lush rainforested village of Kubung. A 14-hour drive from Palangkaraya, Kubung is a shining example of happy, healthy Dayak in a sustainably managed forest. They welcomed me with a ceremony that involved drinking traditional rice wine, beram, and dancing the hornbill dance. Every day, the whole community gathers to enjoy each other’s company. Here, the traditional ways are adhered to, and the allure of modernity is ignored. The air was pleasant. There was a glow to the people’s hair and skin. The overwhelming feeling was health and vitality. You could feel it radiating from all those who lived in Kubung, and it brought home a deeper understanding of what had been lost in Biru Maju. “If you take care of the people in the forest, you will take care of the forest,” said Setra. Indeed, the attention to detail was astounding. Every leaf was accounted for. “We can take everything from the forest, so that's why I love the forest,” says Marta, the wife of Kubung’s Chief of Village. I asked her what is 149
climate change, and she didn’t know. I asked her why she stays in the forest. “Because this is my place,” she said with pride. I interviewed a few villagers, and the answers were all the same. But there was some concern for the future, and most people remarked that they felt a difference in the weather. In the past “it was so very cold and very comfortable. But right now, I feel so very hot, so very, very hot,” said Mama Agu. I had the privilege of visiting Batu Batungkat, the Kubung’s sacred rock. It overlooks a broad vista of mountains, wisps of cloud clinging to them, the highest of which is considered the final resting place of the souls of Kubung. I wish my soul could join them on the mountains of Kalimantan, but I know that a piece of me will always stay there. The resounding feeling that remained at the end of this whirlwind—of sleeping on the floors of shacks, waking up at dawn to lug heavy equipment around and being inspired by beauty countless times—is that I was there to learn. And that being there, learning and documenting, was far more powerful than any lasting memories of my presence. I hope that the words and images of this trip stay with you, an insight into how human beings have evolved on this planet Earth. And how the consequences of our actions,ripple, to the remote corners of our planet, to the headwaters of the great rivers of Borneo. You must ask yourself, “Do I want my children to see orangutans thriving in the wild? To know that my generation was not responsible for wiping the last tribe of 150
forest-dwelling people out of existence?” I know the Regeneration does. The first step is knowing. We believe this film we are creating will contribute to the protection of the last remaining forests of Borneo and those who reside therein. While production for this film was funded by the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, the generosity of a private donor and the Center for Environmental Filmmaking, we cannot finish it without your help. Please consider a donation to our Indiegogo campaign launching November 2017 with the goal of $25,000 for postproduction. The money raised will fund editing, graphics and animation, as well as sound mixing and music composition by Michael Travis, drummer for the String Cheese Incident and Eoto. Follow @Vanishingtribesfilm on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for updates.
â€œIt is not only responsibility for Indonesia, for us to save the forest. It is the responsibility of everybody. Everyone can save their forest in their own country, but you are also responsible for saving the forest in other countries too. Because we are citizens of the world!â€? -Mina Setra
Partners A huge thank you to the following incredible businesses for backing The Regeneration with confidence and for making this entire project possible.
EMPIRE GLOBAL VENTURES LLC
Patrons A heartfelt thank you to the following awesome people and businesses whose generosity empowered us to print our second issue.
AnestasiA Vodka Eric Calian anestasiavodka.com
EcoPod Henry Pino ecopod.us
Sam Quackenbush thegreenshoestring.com
Green Chimneys Children's Services Edward Placke greenchimneys.org Life Without Plastic Chantal Plamondon lifewithoutplastic.com Smile Design Dental Spa Stacie Fraistat mountkiscodentist.com Vial and Ivy Lawrence Kotovets vialandivy.com Love Me Love U Kelli Shaughnessy lovemeloveu.com Mrs. American Made Ana Bogusky mrsamericanmade.com Meg Bassett
Joshua Gilbert gilbertjoshuam.com Kimberly Lindegren Waste Free Earth Marina McCoy wastefree.earth Matthew Monahan Nick and Jim Stanton Galit Lev-Harir Be Zero Darby Bundy bezero.org Jane Korman Bloomia Federico Fusco bloomia.com Lucy de Kooning Villeneuve
This holiday season, get on Mother Earthâ€™s nice list at the Lightfoot Market Holiday Pop-Up. December 9-10 123 W 18 Street, 2nd Fl Chelsea, New York City
A sustainable marketplace where you can shop by your values. Being a conscious consumer can be hard. Reading every label and tag, staying on top of the latest research, memorizing lists of harmful ingredients…it can be paralyzing. Lightfoot Market makes it easy. We bring sustainable businesses together under one roof, where all the products are conflict free, cruelty free, non-toxic, and sweatshop free. We do the vetting so you can effortlessly discover the brands that fit your values. This December, gift with a purpose and spread holiday love to the planet and its communities. Sustainability starts with everyday decisions about what we make, buy, and sell. That’s why we curate ethical products that are more accessible and appealing than the status quo.
Join us! Learn more at: lightfootmarket.com Let’s be friends! @lightfootmarket 155
Finally, some good news. The Regeneration is about the creatives, thinkers, artists, entrepreneurs and writers who are making waves in the environmental movement and changing the conversation about climate change.
With every print copy of this issue sold we will plant a tree with TreeEra.
9 781979 298704
Interviews, articles, art, products, and photography from ecologically conscious creatives around the world. This issue includes interviews...
Published on Nov 1, 2017
Interviews, articles, art, products, and photography from ecologically conscious creatives around the world. This issue includes interviews...