Tag: circular economy

Is San Francisco First US Waste-Free City? | Only 6 Months Left in 2020

Washington (GGM) Analysis | June 24, 2020 by Noreen Wise

San Francisco has been aggressively steering towards becoming the first waste-free US city by 2020 since all the way back to 2002. Just imagine being a completely waste-free city. It sounds so blissful. A modern day Utopia of sorts.

With only six months remaining in 2020 though, I’m sure cities across the US are eagerly pulling for this eco-trailblazer as it closes in on the final stretch. It’s amazing to scroll through Twitter and view the steps San Francisco as taken to accomplish this remarkable feat.

We all must now follow the same road map in a fraction of the time, 18 months according to some scientists. It’s agonizing to see how long it takes to move a mountain. Although there are already millions of us across the country who have been attempting waste-free living for months, perhaps even years, and have gotten into the groove and are reaping the benefits, we have to help motivate others. Our own towns, cities and organizations. Everyone simply MUST follow San Francisco’s lead. Our children’s lives depend on it.

Let’s GO! ♻️

© Copyright 2018 – 2020. ALL Rights Reserved.

Finding Our New Groove | Weaving in Green While We’re at It

Washington (GGM) Analysis | April 5, 2020
NWHillReport-Pic by Noreen Wise

Every day is another step in this new, weird world we’re adapting to. And because we were blindsided, and thus had no preparation, we’re missing nearly every safety necessity, which forces us to be incredibly resourceful, and improvise, if we want to overcome these circumstances and stay alive. Sadly, despite all our efforts, many will still perish.

Improvise. Adapt. Overcome. …is a military motto. Makes sense. I can totally picture improvise-adapt-overcome being the daily practice when the military is out in the field. And the military’s story of reality on the front lines, is now our reality as we stand on the front lines. With so much adapting and improvising taking place 24/7, it’s an excellent opportunity for us to absorb the big picture and make all the changes we’ve been promising ourselves for days, months, and even… years.

Climate reality.

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I remember the incredible opportunity I had after the townhouse I lived in was flattened by a tornado. The first few weeks were traumatic, of course. The structure was deemed a total loss. My then-husband and I had to live in temporary quarters, while it was rebuilt. I was so grateful to have lived through the frightening experience (I survived by running into a closet when I heard the train coming, and when I opened the door after the huge KABOOOOM, everything was gone). I thus wasn’t going to complain about any of the inconveniences or hardships that followed.

I think what kept me so positive, was that I could suddenly make all the changes I’d been dreaming of. Be careful for what you wish  for. Be careful for what you wish for. Be careful for what you wish for. Seriously, I must have said that a million times. When life is suddenly helter skelter, I could finally fully grasp what Newtown’s first law of motion was all about: an object at rest stays at rest, or an object in motion stays in motion at the same velocity, unless acted upon by an external force.

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Carpe diem. Seize the day. I became the whirlwind of change, quickly implementing the home designs I’d been planning for years. I upgraded the floors in several rooms with upscale tile, and top of the line carpeting in others. A few months after moving back in, the upgrades enabled us to sell the townhouse in record time during a down market at asking price and relocate across the country to California. I also began a writing course at some point during all this craziness, which set me on a new path to become the writer I had dreamed of becoming ever since I was a child. Those eight months were an endless blur of activity, the equivalent of the shifting of a kaleidoscope where every single spec shifts.

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I feel the exact same right now. There’s safety with all of us suffering the same grim fate together. It reminds me of my father’s chain saw accident when he slipped and fell and accidentally sawed his leg down to the bone (it was amputated at the hospital). The doctor explained that what saved my father’s life was slicing all the way through the largest vein in his leg, causing it to clamp shut on its own. Apparently, if he had nicked it, he would have bled out.

So, too with us. We’re all in this together. Let’s make the most of this incredible opportunity and commit to implement the many changes we’ve been promising to make for climate… as well as removing corrupt, lawless politicians who’ve degraded our American principles and undermined our Constitution, which we all now hold so dear.🌱

 

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How Cool Is This? | Loop Shopping for Zero-Waste

Washington (GGM) Analysis | February 18, 2020
NWHillReport-Pic by Noreen Wise

The vast majority of plastic waste is product packaging. If our goal is to have a sustainable circular economy, and rid the environment of as much plastic waste as possible, we have to find a series of solutions to overhaul the way we package consumer products.

So why hasn’t Loop become a familiar buzzword and pathway for all of us to take  advantage of for waste free weekly shopping? It’s quite brilliant.

  • No membership is required
  • We just pay a small one-time fee at the start for the returnable durable Loop Tote
  • We’ll use the Loop Tote with each shipment delivery which will eliminate the cardboard waste
  • All the products are delivered in reusable containers that are returned when we’re through
  • Most containers are stainless steel, while others are glass
  • Loop will sanitize each container and reuse

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Loop has even managed to solve the toothpaste crisis, which has always seemed too tricky for a feasible alternative. Many of our favorite name brands are Loop partners. But most importantly, Loop is an excellent fix for personal care products that we use everyday and create the bulk of plastic waste.

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Innovative creativity is so exciting.I’m IN… can’t wait to check it out!

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Overhauling the Packaging of Consumer Brands | Circular Economy

Washington (GGM) Analysis | February 13, 2020
NWHillReport-Pic by Noreen Wise

With the advent of the global circular economy movement, it soon becomes clear just how many everyday items can’t be recycled. It’s quite alarming. We’ll never reach zero waste unless we find innovative solutions to meet this imperative.

Take plastic, for example. The following plastic packaging/ additional items cannot be recycled:

  • plastic single use shopping bags
  • straws
  • plastic film wrap
  • frozen food bags (nearly all vegetables are sold in non-recyclable bags)
  • cereal box liner
  • chip bags
  • granola bar, candy bar and nearly all snack items wrappers
  • six-pack rings
  • plastic hangers
  • any plastic containers that can’t be cleaned, ie toothpaste tubes

Back before I was aware that these particular pieces couldn’t be recycled, it was exciting to end the month with an empty kitchen garbage bin. But now that I’m in the know, and I see the waste stack up, I feel maximum frustration. We have to stop, focus and fix.

Screen Shot 2020-02-13 at 10.09.07 PM.png Thankfully, innovative sustainability companies have done just that. According to Healthy Human, the following are the top sustainable packaging innovations of 2019:

  • Loop, Returnity and Share Pack – companies that enable consumers to conveniently return packaging either by dropping off at targeted locations, or sending back in company provided totes
  • Plant based packaging – plastics made from plants
  • Edible packaging – typically this is seaweed, hopefully they’ll soon find additional alternatives
  • Plantable packaging – contains seeds so the packaging can be planted after use
  • Compostable plastic alternatives
  • Minimal packaging design
  • Upcycled or recycled packaging

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Sustainable packaging solutions are here. All we need now is to grow demand which will come from our consumer decision making. We simply must be motivated to seek these sustainably packaged products out and use our wallets to influence corporations to switch. If we all refuse to buy particular brands because of the packaging, corporations will soon wise up.

We can DO THIS!~

© Copyright 2018 – 2020. ALL Rights Reserved.
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Are You Ever Confused About What Can Be Recycled? | Check Out This Link

Washington (GGM) Analysis | February 10, 2020
NWHillReport-Pic by Noreen Wise

Recycling has the world’s undivided attention as we strive to reach our lofty goal of zero waste.  Proper recycling is of the utmost importance in the new circular economy era. As we attempt to deposit each item into the correct bin, it’s become more clear that the packaging industry has to be overhauled.

  • Paper labels stickered to a glass container is a very big problem. When glass is pure,  it’s 100% recyclable. When paper stickers are added to the mix, it changes everything.
  • How about the bubble wrap mailing envelopes? Paper on the outside, plastic inside. These can’y be recycled, which is unacceptable.
  • Toothpaste has to have a package redesign as well. It’s impossible to recycle toothpaste tubes because they can’t be cleaned.
  • Plastic bags can’t be recycled. This includes bread bags, frozen fruit and vegetables, Saran wrap, sandwich bags, etc.
  • If we can’t reuse or recycle, we must refuse.

On the subject of cleaning, any plastic container that’s dirty cannot be recycled. Plastic packaging with skinny necks, and there are many, are a very serious problem. The hair conditioner I use, is nearly impossible to clean. I have to work so hard at it, I become aggravated at the selfish business practices of the manufacturer. My time is very valuable. Being forced to be clever and resourceful after a long day of work, so that the manufacturer’s job is easier, isn’t right.

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Here’s an exceptional link that makes recycling super easy. Just enter the name of the item you want to recycle, and it will tell you how to take care of it.

By the way, plastic shopping bags cannot be recycled either. ZeroWaste.gov recommends that these be recycled by returning them to the store where they came from. Excellent idea! Better yet, invest in reusable bags to make your life easier, and the world a better place.~

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© Copyright 2018 – 2020. ALL Rights Reserved.
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What Can Be Composted? | Circular Economy

Washington (GGM) Analysis | February 8, 2020
NWHillReport-Pic by Noreen Wise

Composting is quickly becoming a very big deal. Knowing what can be composted, particularly at home, will net many positive rewards for you as an individual as well as your household, the environment, and for contributing in the lowering of global atmospheric carbon levels.

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Since there are so many benefits to composting, the sooner we start, the better. For the most part, it’s broken down to a solid mix  of “Greens” and “Browns,” the add a bit of water to the bin. Per the US EPA, the breakdown is as follows:

GREENS

  • all fruits & vegetables scraps
  • coffee grounds & tea bags
  • egg shells
  • grass clippings
  • yard trimmings
  • house plants
  • animal manures (except dog and cat)
  • seaweed

BROWNS

  • paper
  • cardboard
  • shredded newspaper
  • branches
  • dead leaves
  • pine needles
  • paper napkins
  • straw and hay
  • sawdust
  • corn stalks
  • dryer lint

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Check your city to see of they have compost drop off stations. Many towns and cities do. Washington DC for example, has compost drop-off at every farmers market, and during winter, there are three locations, one of which is opened on Sundays. Spring and summer months, the public can pick up compost for free to use in home gardens.

We’ve got this, LET’S GO!~

© Copyright 2018 – 2020. ALL Rights Reserved.
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Let’s Commit to Zero Waste in 2020 | It’s Very Simple

Washington (GGM) Analysis | February 6, 2020
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

Let’s nail the waste scene as soon as possible. It’s not complicated. It just takes focus.

I began 2020 super jazzed to be living a circular economy life. I jumped in running the last three months of 2019, and was pumped to have it nearly perfected by December, which is when I successfully managed a zero waste month. I felt like I’d won an olympic gold medal, not to mention the excitement of having extra money in my pocket the way Wall Street geniuses always do.

Waste is something we can all manage on our own without being forced by laws. We just wake up one morning (tomorrow morning hopefully) and say, “I’m in!” And voila, we’re three quarters of the way there.

A zero waste life is about setting up a defined circular economy zone in our households where we can easily breakdown everything we consume so that it can quickly be turned around for multiple uses. The goal is:

  • Refuse
  • Reduce
  • Reuse
  • Recycle & Upcycle

Refuse is a big deal. We have the power to motivate businesses to do the right thing very effectively by refusing to buy certain products that create waste. For example, back at the beginning of October 2019, I made the decision to never buy ketchup packaged in plastic again. This was very difficult, because Heinz has cornered the market and there were no glass alternatives. I called Heinz, but Heinz refuses to sell ketchup packaged in glass the way they used to. So I made the bold decision to switch to BBQ sauce which is 85% packaged in glass.

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A month later, Red Duck created a brand new product, ketchup in glass. It’s delicious, so much healthier. And it’s organic too. Thank you, Red Duck! A responsive American corporation meeting consumer demand.

Additionally, I now use the recyclable paper towels made from bamboo that can be washed a hundred times. They dry on the counter so quickly. This has dramatically reduced our household waste.

Household kitchens should have multiple bins:

  • Composting for food scraps, coffee grounds and tea bags
  • Paper recycling
  • Plastic recycling
  • Glass recycling or reuse for storage containers, drinking glasses, vases, etc
  • Aluminum recycling

Once this is all set up, you’ll soon find that you have no garbage. It’s startling. On New Years Eve 2019, I lifted the lid and my garbage bin was completely empty.~

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Climate Change & Education | US Botanic Garden in DC

Washington (GGM) Analysis | February 2, 2020
NWHillReport-Pic by Noreen Wise

With Italy’s official announcement at the beginning of the new year, that all schools will now teach sustainability & climate change, many American educators are looking for ways to incorporate climate change lesson plans into their curriculum.

This is a big deal. Education will curb the fears that many young students harbor when they hear repeated warnings about the future. News flashes on phones about apocalyptic wildfires that killed a billion animals, and destroyed thousands of homes, is massively anxiety provoking. Lack of information fuels their concern, and action oriented facts curb it.

With this in mind, it was very exciting to see the impactful event at the US Botanic Garden on Capitol Hill Thursday evening January 30, 2020 for teachers in the Washington DC and outlying suburbs. Interactive tables, featuring climate change lesson plans, were spread throughout the breathtaking flora. Sustainability, the environment and nature were also included. Very inspiring. Nature itself is therapeutic. Studying nature along with climate action will improve the mental health of our youth as we rush to adapt to the crushing reality of the climate crisis.

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Modeling the importance of composting was powerful, especially on Capitol Hill where Mitch McConnell is blocking compositing in the dining halls in the Senate and House office buildings.

The following are several of the innovative lesson plans featured at the event:

  • Renewables and Nonrenewables, Oh My!
  • Waste Less, Recycle More
  • Greenhouse Manual by the US Botanic Garden: “exploring ways to incorporate a greenhouse as a hands-on learning environment for students of all ages.”
  • School Tree Planting Program
  • Native Knowledge, Teaching America’s Whole Story – created by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian
  • Living Earth Teach-In: Sustaining our Future through Indigenous Knowledge
  • Air Quality Action Guide
  • What You Should Know About Ground Level Ozone and Particle Pollution
  • An Educators Guide to the Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE)
  • Oh, and creating seed pizzas that will make spring planting so much easier (this was amazing)

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Consumers Profit from Circular Economy

Washington (GGM) Analysis | December 16, 2019
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

Finally, the era of consumer profit has arrived. We’ve certainly earned this ST-Saga-CovFrnt-72dpi-300
unexpected windfall after nearly two centuries of corporate greed destroying our hopes & dreams by restraining our financial ability to achieve them.

Now that our golden opportunity is upon us, let’s try and maximize the amazing possibilities so we can quickly increase our disposable income and apply this boost to health, education and long term goals.

A circular economy is created through the principals of Reduce-Reuse-Recycle. This requires a bit of imagination and resourcefulness, key characteristics of the creative, the artists and those with right brain strengths.

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According to the Centre of Expertise on Resources, the tools for succeeding at a “no waste” circular economy are straight forward:

  • Refuse: try to eliminate using our natural resources when there are other alternatives
  • Reduce: lower the need for using natural resources, by reusing products already manufactured
  • Reuse: rayon paper towels can be washed and reused over and over
  • Repair: if the screen breaks on our phones, we simply repair rather than buy a new one
  • Refurbish: improving a product when it ages, ie repainting, polishing, etc
  • Remanufacture: improving an old product and using in a new way (broken outdoor shutters create beautiful indoor wall hangings… ART!)
  • Repurpose: reuse a product for a new purpose without having to change anything about it (glass jars are best example, buy pickles in a glass jar, when done we now have a storage container)
  • Recycle: reusing a products raw materials
  • Recover: use waste to make energy

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photography by AdobeStock

The most useful & effective reusable product that I’ve stumbled upon are rayon paper towels that can be washed, dried & reused indefinitely. They hold up well. I was spending $6 per week on paper towels, and now $0. That’s an easy $312 in my pocket.

We’ve got THIS!

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More States Banning Single-Use Plastic Bags | Reusables for Every Store

Washington (GGM) Analysis | November 30, 2019
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

The holiday shopping season has begun. Packed malls and stores from coast to coast. American consumers are expected to spend nearly a half trillion dollars  from Thanksgiving through December 25, 2019. But how many US shoppers will rely on their reusable bags at every store they visit?

ST-SAGA-CovFrnt-72-300Prior to 1977, stores offered paper bags to shoppers. But once the first plastic shopping bags appeared in 1977, the switch to plastic was swift and furious and by the end of the 1990’s, the vast majority of retail outlets across the globe relied on single-use plastic. According to The World Counts:

  • we consume 5 trillion single-use plastic bags per year
  • 160,000 single-use plastic bags per second
  • but sadly, less than 1% of these are recycled
  • single-use plastic bags are made from oil, gas & coal which produce a significant amount of carbon
  • one ton of recycled single-use plastic bags equals 11 barrels of oil
  • the public’s seeming indifference to the extensive damage single-use plastic causes the environment, as well as it’s impact on climate change, has resulted in several states stepping in to regulate the use of single-use plastic bags

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According to U.S. News & World Report:

  • Connecticut just passed a law that went into effect August 1 2019, banning single-use plastic bags in grocery stores and restaurants by July 2021. Some grocery store chains and restaurants have already begun transitioning patrons to the ban by ditching all plastic bags and charging shoppers .10 cents for paper bags, as well as passing along a discount to shoppers who bring their own reusables. Businesses that continue to provide singles-use plastic bags these next 19 months will charge shoppers a .10 cent tax for each plastic bag. This is an excellent model for other states to follow.

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  • California was the very first state to ban single-use plastic bags back in 2014, and San Francisco was the first US city in 2007
  • New York jumped in and banned single-use plastic bags on Earth Day 2019; the ban will go into effective March of 2020
  • Hawaii hasn’t officially banned these deadly bags, but beginning in 2015 every county in the state has barred them, so Hawaii too is included in the count of state bans

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The Center for Biological Diversity has provided a critical list of key facts about the harm of single-use plastic bags:

  • the average American household uses 1,500 sing-use plastic shopping bags per year
  • 80% of the oceans’ massive toxic plastic island, the size of France, floating in the Pacific, comes from the plastic’s use on land
  • once it begins swirling around in the ocean, plastic is broken down into micro plastic fragments the size of rice and ingested by the majority of marine mammals
  • 267 marine species are impacted by plastic
  • each year, 100,000 marine animals die from plastic consumption
  • once dumped in a landfill, it will take 500+ years for a plastic bag to degrade

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It’s time to ACT. SAVE a LIFE this Holiday Season. There’s no need to wait for a ban in our states. Shop with REUSABLE bags at EVERY store beginning immediately.

Let’s GO. We can do this!

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