Tag: plastic

Russian Roulette | Great Pacific Garbage Patch 2X Size of Texas Keeps Expanding

Washington (GGM) Analysis | May 17, 2021 by Attorney Michael Wells, PodcastLegal Fact and Fiction

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) floats, swirls, and grows in the North Pacific between Hawaii and the coast of North America. It is 1.6 million kilometers around (about 1 million miles), which is three times the size of France and two times the size of Texas. It weighs roughly 80,000 tons, and the only way to view the massive expanse is through photos from space. Discarded fishing lines, nets, and other fishing equipment comprise about half of the mass of the GPGP. Used plastics coming from land make up the vast bulk of the rest of the GPGP. According to the acclaimed documentary, Midway: Message from the Gyre, 136,000 seals, sea lions, and whales are killed each year from the GPGP. Beaches of islands in the vicinity of the GPGP are littered with dead bird carcasses, which are filled with plastics from the patch. If you think you are not affected by this, you are wrong because eventually these plastics will end up on your plate through a process known as bioaccumulation where the plastics pass to organisms and then to humans. And 84% of the plastics contain at least one toxic, cancer causing agent, which makes eating seafood like a game of Russain roulette.

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Heart of the matter. The GPGP is a giant succubus due to its two gyres that constantly move and suck plastic into it, most of which comes from land (Note: when this article was written 6 years ago, it was believed 80% of plastics came from land. That number is probably somewhere in the 55% range because the amount of nets, fishing line, and other debris dumped by fishermen was, perhaps, underestimated.). And it has formed since the 1970s. Think of it as a blackhole on Earth that sucks in millions of tons of plastic and then spits it out killing animals, destroying the ecosystem, and killing humans.

By 2050, production of plastics is expected to quadruple. By the way, it takes plastic 100,000 years to decompose. In other words, this thing is a long term monster, which is why since 2013 an effort known as The Ocean Cleanup has been underway.

How this impacts you personally. You are already ingesting this stuff if you eat seafood, or at least you will be, so it is affecting you. And this is based solely on what you eat. This does not even begin to examine the problem of the toxins in these plastics, damage to the oceans, and greenhouse gasses released. This beast hits from all directions. 

Sadly, it is only one part of a problem that keeps compounding and joining with other environmental disasters such as nuclear spills, toxic water, forest fires, and any other myriad problems we hear about and likely dismiss daily. A great discussion of all these problems can be found in the book Environmental Hazards: Are you Exposed? by Fred Siegel.

What you can do. The easiest thing people can do is reduce the amount of plastics they use. This includes plastic bottles, straws, bags, toothbrushes, and other inorganic materials. It is about consumption, the less people consume the better off everything will be. It is that simple and that difficult.

Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

The easiest thing people can do is reduce the amount of plastics they use. This includes plastic bottles, straws, bags, toothbrushes, and other inorganic materials. It is about consumption, the less people consume the better off everything will be. It is that simple and that difficult.

Next Steps

  • Stop using plastic bottles, straw, bags, and toothbrushes;
  • Start your own local environmental group; 
  • Research the GPGP and consider donating to the cleanup. You can follow the Ocean Cleanup on Twitter; and
  • Contact your local, state, and federal officials and let them know you care about this topic. 

All of these stories are bleak, but that does not mean people should fail to act. The problems persist because people do not modify their behavior. A few small, deliberate acts can make all the difference and begin the process of lessening the environmental blight human beings inflict upon the Earth.

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Say Yes to French Press | Ditch Your Keurig

Washington (GGM) Analysis | April 20, 2021 by Sarah J. Kings

For years now, we have known that Keurig K-Cups are an environmental hazard.  Made from plastic, these little cups are too small to be properly sorted by recycling centers and machines.  Billions of K-Cups are piling up in landfills around the world, and many have been incinerated in Keurig’s program, Grounds to Grow On.  

John Hocevar, of GreenPeace USA, said “coffee pods are one of the best examples of unnecessary single-use plastics that are polluting our planet”. 

Twitter- @grtamericanovel

Heart of the matter. This past year was supposed to be Keurig’s year. After many cities banned commercial use of K-Cups, the brand promised that their products would be recyclable by the start of 2020.  However, that promise has not been fulfilled, only replaced by an ambiguous delayed timeline of the “end of 2020.”  They also promise to convert to a combination of 100% recyclable and compostable materials by 2025.

Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

What you can do about this. Until then, consumers can get their at home caffeine fix a more sustainable way: using a french press.  According to eco-friendly resource and magazine, TenTree, the french press is the most environmentally friendly way to fuel your caffeine habit. Using a french press is less wasteful than traditional coffee pots, in that they do not use filters.  The design is simple, and the process is easy: boil water, grind the beans, pour the water over the growns, and press.

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Next Step: The result is a classic, fresh, and eco-friendly way to start your day! Now, make sure your coffee grounds are ethically and sustainably sourced– and pour your delicious elixir into a reusable mug– and you have just become an eco-pro!

Tl;dr

  • Keurig K-Cups are an environmental hazard
  • Billions of K-Cups end up in landfills
  • Keurig’s program, Grounds to Grow On, is responsible for incinerating the plastic cups
  •  “Coffee pods are one of the best examples of unnecessary single-use plastics that are polluting our planet.” – John Hocevar of GreenPeace USA
  • A french press is the most environmentally friendly way to fuel your caffeine habit
  • No coffee filters are needed & little every is used in the process
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Overhauling Packaging of Consumer Brands | Circular Economy

Washington (GGM) Analysis | March 19, 2021 by Noreen Wise

With the circular economy now in full swing outside the United Statesit becomes that much more clear just how many everyday items cannot be recycled. The reality is alarming. We’ll never reach zero waste unless we find innovative solutions to meet this imperative.

Further, even the plastics that can be recycled, often aren’t. Many items become litter or are tossed in a landfill. It takes 450 years for plastic bottles to decompose and 50 years for tin cans. Plastics breakdown into microplastics, which, unbelievably, land in our food supply as a result of their microscopic size slipping through water filters. On average, we humans eat 100 bits of microplastic with every meal. Microplastics cause toxicity that negatively impacts our life history.

Recycling existing plastic is highly beneficial. But, the following is a list of common plastic packaging/ additional items that 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
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The heart of the matter. After a year of Covid and staying home, who’s pumped to go out and live? Surely, the vast majority of us are. So, let’s factor the health impact of plastic into our decision making, for surely it will have health consequences. We must be more cognizant of all the plastic we consume.

Thankfully, innovative sustainability companies have gone plastic free for our safety. 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

What you can do about this. Consumers have the power to change the world by how we shop. Sustainable packaging solutions are here. All we need to do is grow the demand by purchasing the products and posting about it through social media. We must be motivated to seek out the brands packaged in recyclable material such as paper and thin cardboard, and use our wallets to influence corporations like Heinz and Coke to invest in overhauling their plastic packaging or lose their customers. If we all refuseto buy particular brands because of the packaging, corporations will make the change.

Nest steps:

  • Laundry detergent sheets wrapped in paper instead of the big plastic jugs
  • Toothpaste tablets replace plastic toothpaste tubes
  • Shampoo & conditioner bars, and ditch the plastic bottles
  • Glass packaged condiments and soft drinks instead of plastic may cut the cancer rate dramatically
  • New loop companies that package food in reusable containers; they pick up the empty containers each week when they drop off the next week’s grocery order

Let’s go! We can do this.

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Single-Use Plastic Bags MUST Go

Washington (GGM) Analysis | November 19, 2020 by Attorney Michael Wells, PodcastLegal Fact and Fiction


With the world in the grip of a pandemic, everyone wants something to make life less troublesome. Plastic bags make carrying things much easier. More items can be carried, which means you can avoid going back to your car in the rain or marching through the snow to retrieve that one last item. If only it were so simple. If only we did not have to worry about the environment.

On March 1, 2020, New York state’s ban on plastic bags became law. This means any entity authorized to collect sales taxes cannot distribute plastic bags. Failure to follow this law subjects the entity to up to a fine of up to five-hundred dollars per incident. The State of New York created the ban for good reason. Prior to the ban, New York State produced on average twenty-three billion bags per year, which filled already overflowing landfills, snagged recycling sorters, and wreaked havoc with birds to name just a few problems.

New York is not the only state that passed such a ban. Eight other states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Oregon and Vermont) have passed similar laws.

Of course, not all states have such rules, and these states still produce millions of plastic bags. It does raise the question: can lawsuits force other states to ban plastic bags?

Maybe. It is probably a state by state process unless Congress passes a statute under, for example, the Interstate Commerce Clause, that says plastic bags somehow affect interstate commerce. That may sound far fetched, but it is not. The Interstate Commerce Clause allowed Congress to pass much of the civil rights legislation, and it is quite a big stick to bludgeon states into submission. Whether Congress wants to take this up remains doubtful. 

In states that have the plastic bans, the bans are not absolute. New York has some restrictions. Most notably restaurants that offer takeout food, which in the age of COVID-19, can create many plastic bags, are exempt. Although it is likely not “an exception that swallows the rule,” this limitation still creates a problem when so many more people are getting takeout and likely will for the foreseeable future as virus numbers explode. 

But what about other plastic or rubber? 

Rubber glove use during the pandemic harms the environment, and there is no end in sight. While banning plastic bags everywhere will help, it will not solve all issues. It should still be done, however. 

More needs to be done because bags are not the only problem:

While plastic bags certainly make things easier to carry, their burdens to the environment certainly outweigh their benefits. The extent to which lawsuits or Congressional action will limit their use remains unknown. People should count on neither. It really is about personal choices, which must also be made with respect to other items people use. Over time it can all add up to pollution, death, and, as we have seen with COVID-19, a pandemic.

© Copyright 2018 – 2020. ALL Rights Reserved.

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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

Screen Shot 2020-02-13 at 10.09.27 PM.png

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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FINALLY! Ketchup Packaged In Glass | New Brands

Washington (GGM) Analysis | December 24, 2019 by Noreen Wise Exciting update on the “Ketchup in a glass bottle sold locally” saga, a tale that has reached a positive outcome in just five weeks. Five weeks is a very short period of time to go from 0 to 60. This proves that social media is a very powerful solutions driver.
  • In mid November while grocery shopping, after making a commitment not to buy anymore products packaged in plastic, even if that meant paying more, I was shocked to discover that there literally weren’t any Ketchup brands sold in glass. It was the ONLY condiment that didn’t have a single glass packaged option. Barbecue sauce had the largest selection of brands sold in glass, row upon row upon row. BBQ Sauce and Ketchup are very similar, so I was perplexed. How could one of the two similar condiments have the most glass packaged possibilities, and the other have the least, actually none? This made no sense (although now I realize it’s because Heinz cornered the Ketchup market and refuses to revert back to glass).
  • I ended up purchasing “Apple Brown Sugar BBQ Sauce” as my Ketchup alternative
  • I snapped a photo and posted on Facebook about my shocking surprise that Ketchup isn’t sold in glass.
  • Someone commented that I could purchase Heinz in glass bottles through Amazon, although the glass bottles were super tiny, but the price was reasonable so I went for it. I imagines that I could give some away to various friends and family to promote the circular economy and the importance of glass packaging.
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  • And the best part was that I could reuse the bottles in other ways once finished. Tiny storage containers for small things like buttons, etc, and much more.
  • The small 2.25 oz ended up not being practical. So, my next big decision was to be adventurous and order Heinz Ketchup in the 14 oz glass bottles sold as a pack of 24 for $76.60 though Amazon. I realize this seems crazy, but buying in bulk is something we should be used to thanks to Costco.
  • Meanwhile, I posted each of these steps on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
  • I was supposed to receive the 14 oz bottles on Thursday of last week, but was dismayed to instead receive an email stating the delivery was cancelled. The glass bottles had been shipped, but the delivery ran into sone type of snafu and the package was being returned to sender and I’d be given a credit. No explanation provided. Yes, I can’t help but wonder if the bottles broke and everything was a mess. I guess I’ll never know.
  • Disappointed, I resumed my quest in local grocery stores this past weekend for Ketchup in glass bottles. I nearly jumped for joy when I found Unsweetened Organic Ketchup in Whole Foods. I bought it, tested it and determined that I could indeed grow a taste for unsweetened Ketchup. It was wonderfully fresh and healthy, and very tomatoey I might add.
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  • But later Sunday night, I had to dash to Safeway, and wasn’t I shocked to see a “NEW” Ketchup brand along the top row of the Ketchup shelves. The Red Duck label made my mouth water. It looked delicious, and indeed it is very yummy! YAY, a solution!
Climate Action works. Sharing ideas through social media catches the attention of many and nets positive results. I must admit that it’s disappointing Heinz hasn’t begun testing glass packaging for their Ketchup. The majority of the major soda producers certainly have. After 50 years of sustained success at having more than 60% of the Ketchup market share, has Heinz grown complacent? We’ll soon find out. In the meantime, GOOD LUCK, Red Duck! Thanks for responding to consumer demand. ~

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Ketchup & Climate Action

Washington (GGM) Analysis | November 17, 2019
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

I was really proud of myself this weekend when I was grocery shopping. I promised myself on the way to the store that I would follow through with my commitment to cut plastic from my grocery list, and would no longer buy my beloved ketchup in a plastic container. I was even willing to pay more for the glass.

ST-Saga-CovFrnt-72dpi-300But when I arrived in front of the condiment section, wasn’t I shocked to discover that there wasn’t a single brand of ketchup in bottles. This was mind boggling, especially after making my way up and down the various aisles, and seeing so many products packaged in glass: BBQ sauces, pickles, jams and jellies, mustards, vinegar, salad dressing. I was cheering the success of the world’s sustained call to action to rid the planet of plastic. But, arriving at ketchup took the wind out of my sails.

In fact, I was in disbelief that ketchup leader Heinz had not responded to consumer demand and felt extremely frustrated. I’d even called Heinz a few weeks ago, and then tweeted about it. So this did not sit will with me. I had to make a change. There was no way I’d be able to drive home feeling ashamed that I wasn’t strong enough to follow through with my promise. I simply had to find an alternative. But, how is it possible to replace ketchup with something similar? What were my choices, salad dressing? BBQ sauce?

HillReport11-17-19aI backed up a few feet to reassess the BBQ sauce possibilities. Surely there was a flavor that would do the trick. I quickly scanned one row, then the next… then onto the third. Voila! Pioneer Woman BBQ Sauce – Apple Brown Sugar. Not only did this flavor look divine, but the shape of the bottle meant I’d be able to use a spoon. (Do you remember the Heniz commercials with Carol King’s Anticipation?) Twenty-four hours later, I can assure you this BBQ sauce is amazing. I’m so grateful to have discovered it. And now I feel wonderful knowing that by stepping out of my comfort zone in the grocery store aisle, I’ve had the pleasure of falling in love with a new product that I never would have ever had the good pleasure of being introduced to. But the ultimate satisfaction was realizing that this type of little everyday change can save someone’s life. It’s the easiest feel good ever.

I mentioned my exciting BBQ sauce find to a friend, and she surprised me by letting me know I could buy glass bottled Heinz ketchup on Amazon. Whoa, awesome! Yet, this new BBQ sauce is so tasty, I think I’ll do both.

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Fire Drill Friday | Jane Fonda Keeps Us Focused On #1 Priority

Washington (GGM) Analysis | November 15, 2019
 by Noreen Wise

It was an emotional day on Capitol Hill with defamed ex-Ambassador for Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, testifying in the second impeachment hearing for Donald J. Trump. The details outlined by Ms. Yovanovitch were critical and seem to have sealed Trump’s fate. I speculate he’ll be impeached by New Years Eve 2019.

Meanwhile, a few hundred yards away, in the warming sunlight, Jane Fonda rallied Americans with her sixth Friday Fire Drill. Her mission is to draw awareness to the Green New Deal and the important role fossil fuels have played on our climate’s demise.

Fonda was not arrested today, but she prides herself on the positive impact her protesting and subsequent arrests have had on the climate emergency cause. Today’s climate focus was on our oceans and rising sea levels as well as the urgent need to break free from plastic.

Although Fonda wasn’t arrested, two of her tag-along friends were: Marg Helgenberger and Robert Kennedy Jr. It seems these wonderful climate activists consider their arrests their red badge of courage.

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The holiday shopping season has arrived. It’s imperative that we keep our resolve to act now on lowering atmospheric carbon levels by the choices we make during the holiday season. Every tiny decision will save a life. For example, it’s advised that no red meat for any festivities. Avoid plastic packaging. Buy grocery products in glass bottles. Let’s promise to keep our eyes wide open as we claw through the packed aisles, and make the right selections when we reach toward a store shelf.

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Another positive choice is to buy local. It’s mind boggling how dramatic this simple decision can make. Again, it’s all about being aware, and making a commitment in advance to save our oceans and brighten our children’s futures. We can do this!

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Plastic Update | Marriott Bonvoy Hotels

Washington (GGM) Analysis | September 24, 2019
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

With the EU voting to ban single use plastics by 2021, a bold and decisive move, highlighting their focus and commitment to climate action and saving lives, let’s get excited about shifting into high gear and doing the same.

ST-Saga-CovFrnt-72dpi-300The statistics behind single use plastic are alarming:

  • 99% of plastic is made from fossil fuels
  • 40% of plastic production is for single use plastics
  • Global plastic production is the equivalent of “189 500MW coal-fired power stations”

Tiny, impoverished countries around the globe are displaying impressive resourcefulness in replacing single use plastics with a climate crisis alternative. It’s inspiring.

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Marriott Bonvoy Hotels has just announced that by December 2020 it will no longer be offering small individual toiletries to guests, reducing single use plastic by “500 million little plastic bottles per year across the company’s 7,000 hotels in 132 countries.” The bottles are so tiny that they can’t be cleaned, and thus can’t be recycled. Smart. Marriott Bonvoy will instead be using large plastic pumps in the showers. Perfect. I recently stayed at a Marriott and found these to be an excellent Plan B.

Every American company has similar decisions to make. Grocery stores for example will most likely have to go cold turkey on their single use bags. Many consumers are just plain oblivious. After a fifteen year warning, shoppers should not be shocked when they arrive at their favorite store one day and the single use plastic bags have disappeared.

Saying “NO” to single use plastic is very easy. It doesn’t require effort or money, just awareness. Not being mindful of the life or death consequences these types of decisions have on others is irresponsible, some might even say willfully irresponsible. The worst aspect of the climate crisis is climate injustice, where those with the largest carbon footprints (Americans), aren’t necessarily the ones who suffer the most destructive climate consequences. For example, Bahamians have a tiny individual carbon footprint, and yet an entire island was destroyed during Hurricane Dorian, and 1,300 people are still missing and presumed dead. This reality should haunt us, and compel us to act… quickly!

Pivoting away from single use plastic is as simple as the diagram below. It’s just a matter of making different everyday choices. We can do this!

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