Who's Saving the Planet?
By Planet Savers Org.
Discover how the minds, methods and money that fueled the explosion of innovation and disruption in silicon valley are working to build the technology, products and companies that will save the planet. Hosts: Lex Kiefhaber and Tony Noto. Music: Bill Gagliardi.
Recycling Isn't Cutting It, and the GoodGoods is Here to Solve That
Zach Lawless is one of the few people I've met who's gets just as worked up about all the ways recycling isn't all it's made out to be as Jess Miles does. And that's saying something. Zach founded the GoodGoods to step in where recycling falls short, creating a closed loop process of reusing products instead of the energy intensive, largely wasteful, and often downright duplicitous promise of recycling. They work with local wine shops to collect empty bottles from customers, wash them, then reuse them. Simple, but also wildly complicated... tune in to get in the weeds. Before it was the GoodGoods, Zach started another company focused on delivering fresh meals to people in reusable containers. That model was largely focused on office spaces, and when the pandemic hit they had to pivot the business pretty much over night. Zach pull back the curtain on what that it's like being a CEO in times of stress and transition, why he believes sustainability is a good business and what it takes to take the leap of entrepreneurship.
September 10, 2021
How Madeline Fraser Created The Warby Parker of Jewelry Companies
Madeline Fraser came up with the idea for Gemist when she tried to design herself a custom ring. The ordeal proved successful but a headache. How is it that the custom jewelry process is so antiquated? The serial entrepreneur had an idea: let the consumer be in charge. After all, one size does not fit all when it comes to jewelry design. And so she brought the industry into the modern age with a unique home try-on experience (akin to Warby Parker eyeglasses). Not only that, the company's jewelry is handmade in Downtown Los Angeles using sustainable materials and ethical practices. That's enough to bring a twinkle to our eyes!
September 2, 2021
Public Habit is Breaking the Fashion Supply Chain to Rebuild A Better One
After six years working at Amazon, Sydney Badger had bigger dreams than maximizing efficiency. But, she also had a black-belt in maximizing efficiency. Public Habit is the marriage of expert supply chain optimization and, that most human of things, soul. Public Habit is a made-to-order clothing company specializing in high end wool and cashmere products. Fashion, as we know it, is built on a model of planned obsolescence: items either go out of style or break down, forcing the customer to continuously refresh their wardrobe and further perpetuating the wasteful machine of commerce. Sydney seeks to flip that model on its head by only making clothes after the consumer has ordered them, reducing returns, virtually eliminating overstocked inventory, and allowing for optimization of material use and supply chain dynamics by shipping directly from factory to consumer. Sustainability is a many faceted concept, and as of yet, perfection is still an ambition rather than a crossable rubicon. Sydney sources her materials from high-quality farms in Mongolia and other Asian sources, and manufactures the garments in China. The shipping is by far the most costly (in environmental terms) aspect of the business. But she believes that if we can slightly change consumer preferences, scale up the business model, and reach a threshold of demand, than the processes of manufacturing which are currently only available in China can be re-created in domestically, cutting down on the travel time while keeping all the efficiency. We're all in the process of progress together, and as someone famous once said (my money's still on Voltaire but the debate continuous), we can't let better the be enemy of good. Public Habit is showing the fashion industry how to create supply chains that reduce waste to the benefit of the collective good while itself always striving to do better, and in our book, that's damn fine work.
August 25, 2021
What If Chemicals Were Made Out of Corn Instead of Carbon?
The answer, at its most maximalist expression, a significant reduction in the 30% of greenhouse gasses released through the production of heavy industry. The people making that hypothesis a reality? Meet Sean and G, founders of Solugen. The chemical industry is a multi-billion dollar dynamo that most consumers rarely, if ever, confront in their day to day lives. We don't spend much time digging into how our treatment plants work, what goes into the manufacturing of plastic, or any of the other countless industrial processes which use chemicals. However, the chemicals used to facilitate the production of the stuff we buy, use, and experience every day, are a massive contributor to our global greenhouse gas emissions and use of petro-chemicals in manufacturing. Solugen has developed a means of using an enzymatic reaction to create cost-competitive chemical substitutes from corn syrup instead of synthetics. They've built something less expensive, safer, and better for the planet. No surprise they're hurtling their way to unicorn status- by the time you're reading this they'll likely have announced the close of their series C round vaulting them to past the billion-dollar valuation into the unicorn stratosphere. In this episode we talk about the business, how it is and will continue to infuse sustainable practices into a notoriously intransigent business segment, and also the journey they went on from sleeping on warehouse floors to maximizing the time value of their terrestrial existence. For those brands out there considering a better, more sustainable alternative, reach out at info @ solugentech dot com. And for those wondering, that picture on the show cover, that's their original sketch of how this good work. If you were wondering what a billion dollar cocktail looked like, now you know.
August 19, 2021
Picturing a Better World with KT Merry
Yes, that's a photography pun. I'm a dad, the jokes come with the gig. KT Merry is an internationally recognized high-end destination photographer who moonlights as a conservationist, traveling the world capturing images of endangered and at risk animals to generate revenue for the organizations seeking to keep those animals this side of extinct. Render Loyalty is her side-hustle and soul-salve, using the talents she's acquired professionally to explore and develop the passion she has for the environment. She's proving every day that when we do whatever we can, big or small, it matters, and our lives are made richer for it.
August 11, 2021
Making Sustainable Jewelry from (below) the Ground Up
Extracting metals from the earth is, by nature, not a sustainable practice. We have a finite amount of resources, after all. However, that doesn't mean that all methods of mining are created equal. Anna Bario, one half of the Bario Neal team, joins us this week to discuss how her company created a whole new vocabulary to define sustainability in the jewelry industry. From working with Artisanal Small-Scale Minors (ASM), developing a standardized code of conduct with her suppliers, using re-furbished or reclaimed metals and gems when possible, and educating her customer base about what sustainable practices they should be aware of and seek out, Bario Neal is establishing a new paradigm for wholistic, conscious and sustainable jewelry. And, because Jess Miles is invovled, you know there has to be a book list. Some of the titles discussed here: The Ends of the World, by Peter Brannen The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert This Changes Everything by Naomi Kline
August 3, 2021
How Humanscale Turned Sustainability Into A Competitive Advantage
A net positive product is a new concept: a thing which by virtue of it having been made, has improved the outlook for earth and the humans who live on her. Simple in conception, but wildly difficult in execution. Humanscale, a company which makes office furniture, dedicated itself to becoming more than a company which makes office furniture a long time ago. Today, they have lapped the industry a dozen times over, with an unprecedented 26 products certified as Net Positive. Jane Abernethy, the Chief Sustainability Officer, joins us to pull back the curtain on how they achieved this laudable milestone, and why when sustainability is part of your company's root DNA it can elicit a cascade of positive effects for the team morale, creativity, and the bottom line.
July 27, 2021
Food For Thought: CEA Exec Marni Karlin Teaches Us About *Indoor Farm-to-Table
Agriculture and farming can play a tremendous role in reducing America's carbon footprint and farmers can lead the way in offsetting greenhouse gas emissions. One way of doing this is through Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) — a method designed from the ground up with sustainability in mind. CEA growers include greenhouses, vertical farms, and other indoor farms that combine traditional farming know-how with engineering, plant science, and technology to optimize the life of the plant. They don't have to worry about seasonal constraints; they use less water; use zero pesticides; they reduce virgin land use for crop production; they have shorter supply chains to reduce food waste; and much more. Special guest Marni Karlin is the perfect source to walk us through how all this works. She's the executive director of the CEA Food Safety Coalition. Tune in to learn all about how agriculture can reduce carbon emissions and improve overall impact to the environment.
July 20, 2021
Looking Behind the Curtain of Carbon Offsets
Microsoft says it's going carbon negative. You just bought an offset for a flight you're taking (congrats, welcome back). Credit cards have carbon-neutral lifestyle plans in the works. All sounds great, but what does it really mean? And will these offsets actually reduce the amount of carbon they promise? This week we speak with Margaret Kim, CEO of GoldStandard.org. Goldstardard is one of the organizations that certifies the carbon offset you just bought is actually going to go to work sequestering, avoiding or otherwise reducing the carbon you paid for. We go down the rabbit hole in to the murky realm of what a carbon credit can entail, how it's changed over the past two decades, and why you shouldn't always be so sure your money is going where you think it is.
July 13, 2021
From the Kitchen Table to the Shark Tank in One Swift Bite
Generally when Mark Cuban makes you an offer, it's a good idea to take the deal and run. Lindsey McCormick had a different idea. Lindsey is the CEO and co-founder of Bite, the tablet toothpaste company which charged into the oral hygiene scene in 2018 and hasn't looked back since. Only a few months into what was then a project, Bite struck internet gold, going viral with a youtube video that collected over 2 million views with in a few hours of launching. Within weeks Bite had orders worth hundreds of thousands, which, as Lindsey puts it, felt like the baby bird she had been nurturing just grew into a pterodactyl, that was trying to rip her face off. But in a good way. We're featuring Lindsey not just for her incredible story and absolutely winning personality, both which are fascinating, but because of the innovations she's popularized in plastic reduction and more thoughtful chemical use. Through this journey Lindsey has been able to retain 100% ownership over the company with her partner and co-founder, allowing them the freedom to make choices according to their ethics and morals. That creative latitude allowed them to focus on making the most sustainable, environmentally conscious and human friendly product possible. Often young companies with immediate and immense success are pressured into chasing growth or padding the bottom line by outside investors looking to recoup their investments. Much to Mark Cuban's chagrin, we assume, though it's been a while since he's had us over to the owners box for cocktails so, hard to say, Linsdey and Bite took a different route. We're thrilled to have her on the podcast and excited to see what this young company evolves into next. Uber-pterodactyl? Who knows, but we're on board for the ride.
July 6, 2021
Building the Anti-Zara: How Traceability In Fashion is the Future
What if we knew everything about everything we bought? Nuts to bolts, cradle to grave, all of it. Would we make better choices? Would we treat our stuff better? Jakob and August, founders of ASKET, are betting the farm on YES. ASKET was founded on the principles that we should buy better stuff, less often, treat it with care, and wear it until, well, as long as possible. This is the antithetical business model to some of the world's most successful fashion companies that rely on our need to chase the next and newest trend through continuous consumption and irreverent waste. We can't continue to live like that (quite literally), but convincing people to abandon their addiction to the cheap, pretty, disposable lifestyle is a heavy ask. In order to prove their quality ASKET took an unusual step: they make public all of the thinks the know about their clothes, form how the fibers are sourced, the mills where the clothes are assembled, all the way through to how often you should wash it (hint: not as often as you think). They have a stated goal of 100% traceability and transparency, a lofty, but noble pursuit. In this episode we talk about how far along they've come, but also what it takes to create a business that is the polar opposite from what success has looked like in the fashion industry.
June 29, 2021
Sustainabae Speaks! Her 'Perfect' Solution To The Hideous Side of Fashion
Third-generation sustainability superstar Alex Shadrow is our guest. She's an entrepreneur who says it's in her DNA to solve the fashion waste crisis! Better known by her moniker "Sustainabae" — a name she certainly lives up to — Alex tells us the story of her eco-warrior family, how she became a member of Al Gore's Climate Reality Leadership Corps, her passion for fashion and why being the COO of resale website List Perfectly is a dream come true. Also, she's an Instagram star with some 65K followers! But before heading over to her IG, hear what she has to say. There's a strong case to be made that resale and secondary sales can significantly reduce carbon footprints, not just with clothes, but all types of items — and that's where ListPerfectly comes in: an e-commerce solution for sellers to crosspost products on a bunch of major channels (i.e. Poshmark, Mercari, Instagram, Shopify, eBay etc.). We also discuss Alex's past startup ventures, the challenges women entrepreneurs face, her year of not buying anything new, why Adidas beats Nike and the next step in her professional journey.
June 22, 2021
How to Power the Electric Vehicle Revolution
If we intend to meet our climate goals, we need to decarbonize the transportation sector. That means moving away from fossil fuels to clean energy. But cars are just a tool. Whether a car is filled with gasoline or powered by electricity, without easy access to fuel, a car loses its usefulness. The electric vehicle market has definitely left it’s awkward teen year and is in the midst of its glow-up. (Bye-bye hybrid Prius, hello Tesla, Volvo, and Porsche). The problem is while states like California are on track to meet their target for electric vehicles on the road, they’re lagging behind on installing the infrastructure (namely charging stations) to power that many vehicles. Thankfully, that’s how Elective Vehicle Charging Station (EVCS) comes in. This week, WSTP chats with Gustavo Occhiuzzo about his journey to founding EVCS and its sister company Green Commuter, the transformative power of new parenthood, and the gap between deploying EV infrastructure and EV vehicles. Want to dive deeper? Check out The Weekly Deep Dive: Electric Cars by WSTP’s Claudia Hill!
June 15, 2021
Shari Makes Make Up for the Super Hero in All of Us
Before Shari Siadat was a children's book author, before she was a corporate executive, or a mother of three, she was a child struggling with the distance between the way she thought she should look and person she saw in the mirror. We all have our own issues with body image, self-esteem, representation, all reflected through an internal kaleidoscope of how we imagine the world sees us. Shari ran the gauntlet of self discovery, from conforming to an imposed ideal to realizing her natural beauty, and she's built a suit of glitter and gloss armor for the rest of us as we wage that war of self acceptance. TooD is a beauty brand founded in the idea that we're all different, that make up should be about celebrating those differences rather than covering them up, and in doing so we should accept nothing less than the best ingredients of ourselves, the planet, and the people who make the products. Founded in 2019, TooD has since become a viral sensation among people of all ages and proclivities for its bold, bright aesthetic, stereotype defying mantra and honest composition. We discuss in this episode the very personal journey Shari took to become a founder of a cosmetics company- something she'd never imagined for herself- how the birth of her third daughter taught her to recognize something within her own identity and the process of rejecting the status quo when it comes to sourcing ingredients for beauty products.
June 8, 2021
Let There be Light: Faith and Science in the Tennessee Valley
While Jason Carney is not one to shy away from the responsibility he's shouldered as a pioneer in his field and a leader in his community, he does so quietly, with a measured and learned restraint. Such is the calm you'd expect from a man used to listening to other peoples problems, which he is. But Jason is also someone unafraid of introducing change into a system too often rooted in the old, closed ways of doing business. Jason is the founder of Energy Electives, a firm he founded to provide solar power to his community in Tennessee. He's also the president of the Tennessee Solar Energy Association, a non-profit dedicated to bringing renewable energy- and education about renewable energy- to underserved communities. Along the way, Jason earned a rather auspicious accolade, as an energy man but also something perhaps bigger. He is the first African-American man licensed as a solar technician in his home state of Tennessee. In this episode we talk about his road to realizing his passion for solar energy, how that informed his faith and how his faith informed his ability to communicate his passion. We talk about what it's like being the first person who looks like he does to do what he does, and what that means for the next generation of aspiring renewable energy pioneers. And we talk about solar technology, why it's magical, and how beautiful a thing it is.
May 25, 2021
What's Your Hy-IQ? Cleaning Up With Kodak Vet David Weaver
Inventor and engineer David Weaver started out at Kodak some 40 years ago cleaning optical equipment by hand. Today, he's at the helm of his own eco-friendly cleaning product company — Aphex BioCleanse Systems. Its water-based active ingredient, Hy-IQ Water, contains no phosphates, surfactants, toxins or pesticides... it's just water. And it kills bacteria quicker without polluting our waters or hurting aquatic plants and animals. How? Hydrogen ions traveling at the speed of light; they breach the cell walls of exoskeleton germs, and — so far — have proven more effective in killing pathogens than alcohol-based solutions. Aphex's method can be used in various products: hand sanitizers, produce cleansers and hard-surface disinfectants. You can also use it in swimming pools instead of chlorine tablets. It's even safe for human consumption! (David proves it). Tune in as Tony Noto and Jonas Donnenfield get a physics lesson they'll never forget.
May 18, 2021
Bill Weihl, ex-Facebook Head of Sustainability, on How to Affect Change from the Outside-In
Getting companies to do things is hard. Getting companies to take climate seriously has been a slow, long, march, with many a setback and all too few victories. It's a fight Bill Weihl knows well, and recently he decided it was time to change the strategy. For six years Bill served as the Green Energy Czar at Google, followed by another six years as Facebook's Director of Sustainability. He was in the room when these titans of tech were evolving their consideration of what role industry has in our collective effort to combat the climate crisis, pushing for a move toward renewable energy and corporate responsibility. After that decade on the inside, he came to the realization that he could do more to impact the actual impact these companies have on the climate from the outside. Bill founded Climate Voice as a means of influencing corporate action through mobilizing their employees through petitions, pledges and old-fashioned grass roots organizing. Their goal is to get the big five corporations- Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft, to commit 1 in 5 lobbying dollars to keeping the degree rise in global temperature below 1.5 Celsius. In this episode we talk about the mechanisms available to individuals within giant organizations, the importance of community, the frustrations that come with the terrain of pushing for climate activism, and what it means to grow as a person, colleague and corporate citizen. Big thanks to Bill for coming on and bravo for the work he's doing with Climate Voice.
May 11, 2021
'The Future of Food' with Protera's Leo Alvarez
Leo Alvarez and his team over at Protera had a busy 2020. Not only did the startup snag $5.5 million in venture capital, it traded its San Francisco digs for a new HQ in the 'City of Lights' — Paris. But what's next on the company's agenda really grabbed our attention here at WSTP: wielding deep learning tech to predict the 3D structure of proteins. The goal is to transform food ingredients to not only rid them of unhealthy additives but also improve their shelf life. Not only that, their method allows our favorite edible treats (Nutella, for example) to maintain their texture and taste but without using ingredients like palm oil, the production of which is devastating for the environment. Leo also schools co-hosts Jonas Donnenfield and Tony Noto on Protera's impressive AI engine (MADI) which wields an expansive knowledge of protein data to design these new functional proteins that can transform foods for the sake of the planet! It's high-tech — but easy to digest. Tune in!
May 4, 2021
US Air Force + Moth & Flame: Using Virtual Reality to Train for What Comes After the Battle
Suicide and mental health are discussed at length in this episode, which could be triggering. If you, or anyone you know is struggling with mental health, the suicide prevention lifeline number is 800-273-8255. When we first heard that the Air Force was working with the virtual reality company Moth and Flame, we were expecting something along the lines of jumping out of planes at low orbit or piloting a next-generation drone, in space. What we didn't anticipate was a conversation, intimate and at times wrenching, crafted in virtual reality and designed to evoke the emotional reaction you'd get from sitting across the kitchen table from an old friend or family member. The US Air Force has been working with Moth and Flame to design a scenario to prepare service members for the emotional stress of helping a brother or sister in arms who's struggling with mental health, to the point of considering suicide. Unfortunately, this is a more common experience for members of the military, and just as important to their health and safety as training for what happens down range. In this episode we speak with Master Sargent Shawn Dougherty, 18 year veteran, husband and father, about his experience piloting this initial roll out of the virtual reality campaign. From the VR side, Moth and Flame CEO Kevin Cornish joins us to talk about the process of building the scenarios, working with the military on something distinctly different than he had first envisioned, and the potential for VR to help us prepare for distinctly human interactions.
April 27, 2021
Cambium Carbon Finds New Life for Urban Wood Waste
If a tree falls in a city, but no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Cities across the U.S. are losing their urban canopy. In fact, more trees fall in cities than in our national forests. (Roughly 46 million tons of wood and biomass waste!) Most of the wood that comes down is either abandoned in people’s yards, sent to a landfill or ends up in a burn pile. Ben Christensen is the CEO and founder of Cambium Carbon; a company focused on addressing urban wood waste. Cambium Carbon imagines a future that creates green jobs, supports local economies, and fights climate change. This week Ben sits down with WSTP to chat about the importance of greenery in urban areas, the threat of the Emerald Ash Borer, carbon smart wood, and local community investment. With that, we’ll leave you with one final thought: Earth Day is this week. In honor of Cambium Carbon (or maybe just in honor of WSTP . . .), go hug a tree!
April 20, 2021
Massive.Earth: 10,000 Solutions to Solve the Climate Crisis
The magnitude and complexity of the threat posed by climate change can't be solved with one silver bullet. Rather than looking for one solution, Dr. Michael Boesen decided to raise an army of scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and developers with the skills required to build the solutions we need. Since it's going to take all of us to save the planet, we might as well start getting all of us in the fight. Massive.Earth, self described as "the first massive mobilization of talent to solve the climate crisis," is one part launch pad for aspiring companies and one part matchmaker for talented people looking to get involved, without necessarily changing their careers or leaving their jobs. The idea being: entrepreneurs have the hutzpah (takes a bit of crazy to start a company, I can attest) but sometimes lack the expertise, and the experts have the knowledge but perhaps aren't too keen to abandon their career. Massive.earth is a means of bringing them together on the terms that work for both: mentorship, guidance, advice and support. Dr. Boesen went down this road himself, leaving behind a very successful career as a software and hardware engineer to apply his skills on a climate positive initiative. As any scientist would, he did research, which culminated in a white paper on the state of climate change initiatives. From this, they distilled a catalogue of 7 missions core to the pursuit of a sustainable planet: Decarbonize Electricity Reduce Impact of Rural and Urban Areas Clean Non-Electrifiable Activities Protect and Grow Nature Back Optimize Food Climate Justice Adapt and Geo-Engineer What's left, is of course, to begin. Follow on as we discuss the mission and vision of Massive.Earth, and if you too have talent (and who doesn't, certainly you do, faithful WSTP listener) consider joining in the fight. Even a few hours a week, from smart people, applied judiciously, could have a massive impact.
April 13, 2021
Upward Farms: How the Plant-Gut-Brain Is Going To Heal the Earth
Soil erosion, the degradation of the health of soil through over-tilling and rampant use of chemicals, is an existential threat to our ability to grow food, sequester carbon and live in harmony with nature. In many ways, it's the whole ball game- if we're unable to arrest the dependance on techniques and chemicals that deteriorate soil health, then worse agricultural conditions will result in smaller harvests leading to more intensive and invasive agricultural processes which in turn accelerate soil erosion. We need to get off that train before it takes us over the agricultural cliff. Jason Green, CEO of Upward Farms, is here to do just that. Upward Farms is an indoor agricultural ecosystem which uses aquaponics to create controlled environments for growing plants. Essentially, it's a living laboratory dedicated to understanding the interplay between plants, microbes, and the environment in which they grow. The relationship of between the plants and the soil is much more complicated than a simple dichotomy. Billions of tiny microbial organisms interweave a lattice work of communication and support to bolster the health and wellbeing of a complex ecosystem in which plants grow. We're just beginning to grasp the complexity and chart the various pathways that these organisms use to communicate, defend against decease, support ailing members of their chlorophoric tribe, and perpetuate the growth of a healthy, harmonious ecosystem. Jason's team at Upward have committed to understanding the agricultural ecosystem with same reverence and curiosity we general reserve for ourselves, specifically that most complex of human organisms, the brain. Through their work, they aim to do much more than just grow vegetables efficiently indoors (although, that is certainly part of the business model). Theirs is an ambition to help us better understand the entire nature of a healthy agricultural ecosystem, so we can tackle that most dire and pressing threat- global soil erosion.
April 6, 2021
The Gift that Keeps on Givz-ing: The Story of Andrew's Win-Win-Win Strategy.
Here's an age old question: how do you make marketing a force for good in the world? Welcome to the world of Andrew Forman's win-win-win business strategy. Win 1: Generate piles of money for philanthropic causes. Win 2: Provide people an avenue to do some good while also getting the stuff they want. Win 3: Use companies' intrinsic motivation to improve their bottom line through a marketing strategy that will maximize Win 1 and Win 2. Givz wasn't the company Andrew intended to start, but as is the case with most entrepreneurs, he listened to the needs of his clients and the reception of the customers to pivot into a business model that had real traction and could grow into a substantial company. The premise is simple: what if those discounts that companies offer you (Buy NOW and get 20% Off!) changed slightly, so that instead of getting to keep a few dollars for yourself, you were able to donate that money to a cause you cared about. And, well, that's basically it. But the story gets a whole lot more intricate from there. What Andrew and his team needed to prove was that people would actually prefer the charity option over keeping the money for themselves. And that companies could get as good a return on the charity model as they could on the discount model. And that the money would actually go to causes which would do right by the people they set out to help. A tall order, but one he was up to the task for. Givz has donated over $1,000,000 to charities of their members choosing while proving to businesses that people are at least just as, if not more likely to be compelled by an altruistic message (give to charity) than a self serving one (get a discount). Perhaps, humanity, we've got a shot. In addition to the planet saving and the business modeling, stick around for the wholesome father talk, because who doesn't love that.
March 30, 2021
Landon's Wren-derful Carbon Offset Plan
Imagine a world where offsetting your carbon footprint was as simple as ordering more butt paste for your newborn infant (relevant, I promise). If we're going create a better world for the generations to come, my baby son Rye included, featured co-host on the intro with myself and Jess Miles, we better start cleaning up our act today. Wren is a carbon offsetting platform created by a band of industrious and optimistic sustainability pioneers who believe we can tap into our better nature to unlock a wave of altruism that will kick-start our internal eco-conscience. By doing one thing, thinking about our overall carbon footprint, maybe that will provoke more thought around the other, daily choices we make? Maybe it will encourage us to advertise our altruism, making doing right not only the right thing to do, but the popular one too. Join us as we sit down with Landon Brand, co-founder and CEO of Wren. We dig into the various means of addressing carbon offsets, the mechanisms involved, how we can unlock our inner altruistic self and spread it like a carbon sequestering wildfire. www.wren.co
March 23, 2021
Who do billionaires call when they want to save the world? Meet Michele, CEO of Boundless Impact
Let's say you're on the beach one day with your metal detector (as we do) and happen upon a chest of buried treasure, as it were. Your first call is your mom, clearly, but then after that, ring up CEO of Boundless Impact, Michele Demers, and she'll tell you where you can put your money to get a healthy return and save the planet along the way. Michele has been in the impact investing world since she worked for Pierre and Pam Omidyar, founder of Ebay, directing them toward initiatives that could meaningfully improve the world through a combination of philanthropy, political influence and capital investment. From there she recognized that the ecosystem of impact investing was far too opaque, with the fakers raking in money that should instead go to the genuine makers. Boundless Impact is a quantitative and qualitative research firm that assigns a specific score to individual companies using a variety of methodologies, including life cycle analysis. Through their work they're able to direct investments toward the companies which have the best shot of succeeding, both in terms of their bottom line and mission. Stick around to the end, where Michele gives us her professional insight into where we should be looking to find the next Tesla, Impossible Foods, or another company you've never heard of that will one day be an everyday staple.
March 16, 2021
Fikile's Eco-Friendly PPE Brand Fits 'Like A Glubb'
At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, personal protective equipment (PPE) like medical grade gloves flew off the shelves in an effort to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. But PPE supplies aren't exactly eco-friendly. In fact, 100 billion pairs of single use gloves end up in landfills every year, and they take over 100 years to break down. Fikile Mthwalo came up with a solution — Glubbs. This biodegradable alternative breaks down 10x faster than conventional rubber gloves. Tune in to learn how Fikile, a Brooklyn based creative/star of stage and screen, tapped into her passion for the environment, entrepreneurship and her artistic savvy to not only protect us from harmful germs, bacteria and viruses — but also reduce our carbon footprint (and look stylish while doing it!).
March 9, 2021
Yaniv Builds the Uber of Solar Installation
For a long minute in venture capital world (and on Shark Tank, for those of us playing at home) if you were pitching your new start up, it was useful to say you were the "Uber of X". Whatever X may be, cupcakes, thoroughbred racehorses, custom fitted clogs, you wanted to be the business in the middle that aggregated the sellers and made it simple, easy and efficient to connect to the buyers. Yaniv Kalish, CEO and founder of SolarKal, set out to be the Uber of commercial solar installation, and by golly, he got there! Unlike taxis, the process of spec'ing out a solar project, from understanding the electrical needs, the physical capacity of the space, the budget, and so forth, was extraordinarily complex, so much so that the time it took to figure out which solar panels to get and who to trust to install them wasn't worth the energy savings to mid-sized businesses. Yaniv recognized this inefficiency and set out to solve it, unlocking the potential of solar while providing a much needed service to both the buyers and the sellers. Today, SolarKal is the industry leading marketplace for solar installation, facilitating over $100,000,000 in transactions in 2020. However, unlike Uber, Yaniv didn't part with huge stakes in his company to get there. We talk about what it takes to bootstrap a business, how to weigh the benefit of outside capital with the sacrifice it could mean for the business, and the importance of building the right team from the start.
March 2, 2021
BackMarket: Serge Breaks Big-Smartphone's Business Model
Big tech companies like Microsoft and Apple are guilty of planned obsolescence. They purposely make stuff glitchy so you have to buy whatever new gizmo they roll out. Not only is it annoying because it forces us to spend more money, but it's bad for the environment as devices needlessly end up in trash heaps. Serge Verdoux and his team at Back Market have had enough. They're shaking up the electronics sector by taking old smartphones, making them good-as-new and reselling them to customers at a discount with a guarantee that they work. Good for your wallet... even better for the planet! BackMarket also provides fixer-up services for other thingamajigs like computers, PS4s, tablets, televisions — you name it. Prior to Back Market, Serge held leadership roles at Amazon and Expedia. Today, he's wielding a circular solution to reduce e-waste. And because of that, we were thrilled to feature him on this episode of WSTP, which was recorded on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2021. Everyone was in fine spirits (especially Tony who imbibed fine spirits prior to recording).
February 16, 2021
ForDays: Kristy Makes Clothes That Last Forever (without ever hitting the landfill)
With degrees in Industrial Engineering, Business, and Fashion Design, Kristy Caylor was well prepared for the world of fashion by the time she joined GAP Inc. in 2004. She led the Project (RED) initiative within GAP, which engaged the private sector in raising awareness and funds to help eliminate HIV/AIDS in Africa. This initiative revealed the enormous people and planet-saving power when consumers vote with their dollar on mission-driven, sustainability-focused outcomes. After GAP, Caylor created Maiyet, a brand that moved the needle for mission-driven businesses by proving that positive social impact can coexist with world-class aesthetics. Caylor’s ventures also revealed how devastatingly inefficient and wasteful fashion can be. She knew clothing companies would need to take responsibility for business practices that encourage 80 pounds of landfill waste per consumer, per year. The entrepreneur felt that she could spark a revolution in the fashion industry if she could change the company’s relationship to the consumer and consequentially, the consumer’s relationship to their clothing. Kristy Caylor’s vision to transform commerce came to fruition with For Days, a circular clothing company she launched in 2018. For Days is a zero-waste, closed-loop company with a SWAP program that allows shoppers to send back used— ripped, stretched, and even stained— clothing to be upcycled into new products. The shopper is rewarded upon returning items with credits towards their next purchase. When For Days sends customers new clothing, customers can return used clothing in the same bag, empowering shoppers to swap clothes easily and with minimal shipping waste. For Days makes sustainability accessible with price points, styles, and sizes that welcome participation from anyone and everyone. Their SWAP model builds loyalty and trust with consumers while emphasizing the long-term value of what’s in all of our closets. Intrigued shoppers can earn credits with For Days by sending them a Take Back Bag, which can be filled with old clothes from any brand, in any condition— the goal is to divert all clothing from landfills.
February 9, 2021
Feather: How Jay Reno Built the Anti-IKEA
9.8 million tons of furniture end up in landfills every year, and most of it was pretty crappy to begin with. Jay is here to change that, and along the way, our conception of how we use, enjoy and own our stuff. To be clear, the CEO and founder of Feather, Jay Reno, would never claim to be the anti-anything, he's focused on creating forward looking solutions rather than dragging the Swedes (neither are we, great people). That said, the business model of furniture built out of particle boards relies on the assumption that many of us would rather trash it then schlep it when it's time to move. In today's increasingly transient and urban lifestyle where people are moving more frequently and buying homes later in life deciding whether a couch is worth the haul happens every 2 or three years rather than decades, and if that couch wan't that great to begin with, hello curb. Feather has built a rental model that offers high-quality furniture at a monthly rate that doesn't crush your wallet, and when it's time to go, they'll gladly come collect the couch and you can start fresh in the new pad. The furniture is built so that component parts can be exchanged or repaired instead of trashed and replaced. This makes it easier for the customer to keep their stuff in good condition and incentivizes the company to build things to last, all while lightening the burden on the planet. Win win win, our favorite. On a more personal note, Jay didn't saunter into this multi-million dollar VC backed hyper-success over night. Feather is his third start up, and he's learned many a lesson. We talk about the tumultuous path every entrepreneur walks, what it takes to stick it out, and advice that gets you through along the way.
February 2, 2021
Evan Is One Egg-Ceptional Chef!
Our guest this week is Evan Hanczor, a chef at the sustainable breakfast restaurant Egg and the founder of Tables of Contents. TOC brings people together to enjoy a book passage paired with a meal that really brings imagination to life. The new Tables of Contents book, coming out the first week of February, collects recipes from incredible authors and pairs them with beautiful illustrations. And if that wasn't enough, proceeds from the book will support FIG, a grassroots collective of food and hospitality workers in New York and beyond.
January 26, 2021
Ansea: Abigail Makes Surfwear for Women, by Women
By the age of 25 Abigail Lorick had clocked a successful career as a Ford Model and was on her way to launching her own brand. From there her career would continue to unfold in the fashion world, as the ghost design behind the WALDORF brand on TV's Gossip Girl and the design director for Stance. When she was approached by a female run private equity firm (more on that later) to create a women's surf brand by women for women, it was "a dream come true opportunity." Ansea was designed intentionally to bring a women's perspective to the world of surfwear, owned and operated and supported by the people who not only design the clothes but also are the target market. Large companies largely run by men had long dominated the board-shorts and bikinis featured in surf mags which ubiquitously featured very fit, generally young, and mostly white models. Abigail and her patrons at Solera Capital saw an opportunity to create a brand that would champion women of all shapes, ages and shades, translating the openness of the ocean into a clothing line that celebrated the broad diversity of ocean lovers. Much of this story is about the why which drove the creation of Ansea, as well as the what that defines their product. Their principles of course also stretch into the sustainability of the clothes they make, choosing to forgo Neoprene for the Yulex, a plant based material which is more expensive and harder to source, but also won't spend the next millennium degrading in a landfill.
January 19, 2021
Natel Chief Gia Gives Hydropower a Boost
Hydropower already provides nearly 7% of the nation’s electricity. It also holds tremendous potential for expansion! But there are challenges: How can we harness water as a renewable energy resource without disrupting sensitive ecosystems, communities and wildlife? Gia Schneider has an answer. Her company is Natel Energy, which she co-founded with her brother back in 2005. The goal: change the way hydropower operates. The California-based shop is known for its Restoration Hydro, which generates several benefits: habitat creation, improved water quality, and sustained increases in groundwater. Natel also enhances river, wetland, and watershed connectivity, which can help mitigate the impacts of droughts and floods. With changing water patterns and more extreme precipitation events — i.e. snowpocalypses! — there is a critical need to meet sustainability needs of the future. Gia and her team are leading the way as we transition to a zero-carbon grid, wielding hydropower to improve watershed habitats, generate electricity, and upgrade critical water infrastructure, while also supporting reduced carbon goals.
January 12, 2021
66°North: Finding Your North Star in the Arctic
66°North began not so much as a clothing company as it was a means of not dying. In 1926 the company was founded to provide a layer of protection from the elements to their local community of fisherman. Considering it was Iceland, that was no small task. This week we invite the CEO of 66°North, Helgi Oskarsson, in from the cold, to talk about how he's shepherding a company with values that stretch back a century into the modern era. As Heigl puts it, every company needs a North Star, a set of principles against which decisions are weighed and assessed. He inherited a company with a rich history, but consistent commitment to quality products built to last, using the best materials (again, had to keep those fishermen alive) with the minimal amount of impact, and, at it's core, being in holistic harmony with nature. 95% of apparel made by 66°North is repairable, a fact they track because they offer free repairs on all clothing. And if they can't repair it to your satisfaction (or you'd rather move on) they will donate that item directly to the red cross, creating a circular path wherever possible. They've been carbon neutral since 2019, in the process planting over 2,700 trees in the process, many by hand. As they themselves say, they make clothes "that make life and activity possible where there would otherwise be none, and business practices that conserve and protect the North at a time when our glaciers, and natural landscape are under dramatic threat from climate change."
January 5, 2021
Redux: Beetle Mania; How Scarab Tech is Teaching us the Potential of Reclaimed Plastic
This week we're revisiting one of our favorite stories from 2020, the crazy duo in South Africa building engines that look like beetles powered by plastic from oceans. We're working on a whole slate of new, wonderful, inspiring stories for you in 2021, thanks fall the laughs (and fish) and see you next year! ----------------------------------------- A mechanical bug just might be the answer to solving the world's plastic problem — a 6 billion-ton problem. That's how much plastic is in the environment. It piles up onto our land into trash heaps, and clogs our oceans, forming islands. It's beyond gross. "The question still remains," Scarab Tech co-founder Simon Davis tells us. "What on Earth do we do with this ever growing mountain of plastic?" Simon and his fellow co-founder, Jeffrey Barbee, have an answer. These beetle bros educate Lex and Tony on the technological advancements they made by "feeding" their mechanical creation excess trash, which is then transformed into fuel that can power electrical grids. So not only is this "Dung Beetle" gobbling up our garbage, it also has the ability to solve an extremely important issue: energy poverty. Impoverished communities either rely on archaic solutions like coal, or have zero energy resources at all. Meanwhile, plastic continues to pollute local water resources. Can a fire-belching beetle come to the rescue? Sounds like science fiction, but it's not — this "scarab" solution can solve a very real, and devastating, crisis.
December 29, 2020
The Snoo: How a Good Night's Sleep Can Save the Day
In 2009 Dr. Harvey Karp was in the twilight of his career as a renowned pediatric physician, beloved professor of medicine, and renowned author of the "Happiest Baby" book series. While he was working the speaking circuit, lecturing on his Five S's infant calming technique, it occurred to him that the methods he espoused to calm babies (and restore a sense of confidence to parents) could be applied to a machine, a bassinet perhaps. A handful of cocktail napkins worth of sketches later, he found he'd just embarked on his second career as an entrepreneur. In this episode of WSTP we dig into Dr. Karp's experience transitioning from what he describes as a risk-averse lifestyle into the world of venture-backed start-ups, the progress from the moment of inspiration to the grind of building a physical product, and what inspires him to continue working to improve the lives of parents and health of babies the world over.
December 22, 2020
From Peace Corps To Peace Pipes: Steve Sakala Talks Sustainable Cannabis
Steve Sakala says there's zero excuse for consumer packaged goods companies to not be plastic negative. Take his work in the cannabis industry, for example. Like most industries, the world of weed has a major sustainability problem. It creates (at least) 150 million tons of waste annually, mainly due to single-use plastic packaging. Steve was with the Peace Corp, traveled the world, learned a lot, settled down in Hawaii and launched Mana Artisan Botanics — which he claims is the first plastic-negative CBD company in the U.S. How did he do it? Well, it's simple. He partnered with rePurpose Global, a one-stop shop that collects and recycles one pound of ocean-bound plastic waste for every product Steve sells. They also ditch plastic packaging, use sustainable alternatives, support regenerative and local farming practices and source ingredients locally to reduce the carbon footprint. Join us in saying "Aloha" to Steve!
December 15, 2020
Li-Cycle: Ajay Creates a Second Life for Batteries
Do you have a drawer or box filled with old laptops and smartphones? Or perhaps your electric vehicle is reaching the end of its life and you're shopping for a new one? What happens to the lithium batteries powering each of these machines? Ajay Kochhar has an answer. He and fellow battery expert Tim Johnston launched Li-Cyle — a startup devoted to recover critical materials from lithium-ion batteries and reintroducing them back into the supply chain. That way, they're not just sitting around in landfills — or worse — seeping materials into the earth. Also, they're reducing the need for mining, which takes a devastating toll on human lives. Tune in to learn how University of Toronto alum Ajay wields his clean tech company to not only solve the global battery problem, but recycle those important battery ingredients back to the manufacturers that need them. And discover what you can do to help!
December 8, 2020
Carbon0: Everyday Heroes
At the top of this episode, special guest Penelope Barr reminds us: Getting up and living your life well makes you the hero of your story. She's certainly done that. With 20-plus years of tech expertise, Penelope is leading the way to a more eco-friendly world on a local and global level in a very unique way — a video game. Carbon0 is an interactive augmented reality game that takes a positive approach to literally helping save the planet. Let's face it: Doing the wrong thing is easy, she tells us. And figuring out the best way to approach a problem can be really confusing. But once you figure it out, like any puzzle, it's rewarding. So Carbon0 offers a carbon-footprint calculator that allows you and your avatar to undertake daily missions centering around recycling, transit, utilities, diet, etc. — all to earn points on the "Everyday Hero Leaderboard." Players can also plant trees and use AR to visualize what could be possible. The game launched at the San Francisco Science Hackathon where Penelope and her team won the Design prize. It went on to win the Climathon Hackathon; a cash prize from Square; was selected into the Global Climate Hack; secured a $10k in-kind prize from Google; and was selected as one of the top 10 ideas from all of the global Climathons to attend the ChangeNow bootcamp in Paris earlier this year. Jess Miles joins Tony and Lex for all the video-game geeky goodness. Tune in!
December 1, 2020
Cheekbone Beauty: This Thanksgiving, We're Grateful For Jenn Harper
On Black Friday, ditch the guilt and secure your stocking stuffers with an episode that honors the environment and Indigenous peoples. As anyone knows, makeup is a deeply personal endeavor. How we see ourselves, matters. The story of where our makeup comes from should matter too. Big makeup companies try to engineer representation and empowerment, using glitzy television ads with trendy pop songs and social media campaigns with catchy slogans. But consumers know authenticity when they see it. Cheekbone Beauty is an Indigenous-owned and founded, digitally native, Canadian cosmetics company established in 2016 by Jennifer Harper. Cheekbone Beauty creates high quality, cruelty-free beauty products such as liquid lipsticks and complexion products including contour and highlight palettes. More importantly, Cheekbone Beauty helps Indigenous youth feel represented and seen in the beauty community. Jenn’s story, however, is about so much more than makeup. I connected with Jenn’s story on a personal level. I can relate to Jenn’s struggle with her Native roots as well as coming to terms with the generational trauma caused by having a relative go through the Indian residential school system. How we see ourselves reflected in society matters. Growing up, all I wanted was someone like Jenn, who could relate to what I was feeling, could show me that it was OK to be myself, and could be a role model for success as a professional. Jenn’s connection to her Native identity is the driving force behind her commitment to making a sustainable product in an industry that is notoriously unsustainable. — Jessica Miles
November 24, 2020
Two Days Off: Gina Goes Slow to Get Fashion Right
Gina Stovell has been called many things: climate scientists, onetime geological consultant, sustainability evangelists (that's me who called her that, not a title she'd give herself), entrepreneur, and, most recently, pioneer of the resurgence of flow fashion. Delivery times for her clothing company Two Days Off vary depending on how long it takes to make the garment you order, a concept directly opposed to today's culture of instant gratification and promises of same day delivery. Each article is made to order from deadstock fabric that has already been constructed but left unused. According to their site, "this means the lead time for made-to-order garments is at least 4 weeks.During that time we cut, sew, and finish each garment with a close eye for detail and quality. For our small-batch runs, pieces are often limited edition, meaning just you and a few others will own it." Gina embraces the philosophy that doing things the right way is worth the wait, and sometimes efficiency can be more harmful than it is useful.
November 17, 2020
DroneSeed: Grant Takes Reforestation to the Skies
Here's a question I get often. How many trees can a tree planter plant, if a tree planter could plant trees all day? The answer: Many fewer than if the tree planter was a squadron of drones flying in formation precision dropping seed pellets to micro-sites. SATs were my favorite. We have an issue here on earth: we're burning forests faster than they can naturally regenerate. Grant Canary is here to do something about that, and he's brought reinforcements. DroneSeed was founded to solve the inefficiencies wrought in traditional re-forestation techniques, chief among them, it takes way too long. He's leading the effort to, as he put it, become the "opening pitcher" for carbon sequestration efforts through the marriage of cutting edge technology with generations old forestry knowledge. Come for the drones, stay for the planetary salvation.
November 10, 2020
Columbia University's Director of the Center for Global Energy Policy Jason Bordoff Shapes the Future of Climate Politics
Happy Democracy Day in the United States! There's no one we'd rather have on the pod today to help us make sense of the marriage between climate and policy than our guest, Jason Bordoff. Jason founded the Center for Global Energy Policy at Columbia University after a tenure as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Energy and Climate Change on the Staff of the National Security Council, and, prior to that, holding senior policy positions on the White House's National Economic Council and Council on Environmental Quality. So yeah, he's the guy who can help us make sense of the kaleidoscope that is contemporary climate politics. How will government support innovation in the start up community. What policy has the best chance of fostering the change in energy policy we need in order to stay below the 1.5 degrees threshold? How will a new administration allocate the political capital it needs to get that ambitious policy agenda through congress, and if it does, what will happen when it's tested by a staunchly conservative judicial Supreme Court? After we cover those light topics, we turn to a vision for the future. What does a sustainable world look like, and how will government help us get there? Immensely grateful to Jason for joining us on this most consequential of days. And if you haven't gotten enough, check out his Podcast, Columbia Energy Exchange!
November 3, 2020
Carbios: Martin Builds the Infinity Recycler
Have you ever fed a plastic bottle into the machine outside the grocery store, watched in amazement as it disappeared into that mysterious maw and returned to you a nickel, and left thinking you did your part to reduce, reuse and recycle? Ever wondered what happened to that bottle? Today, we explore the dirty and woefully inefficient side of plastic recycling. Martin Stephan, Deputy CEO of Carbios, leads us on a journey of understanding the current state of plastic recycling, how little progression in technology has taken place in the proceeding three decades, and what Carbios is doing to revolutionize the industry. Without giving away the (disposable) bag, the team at Carbios have devised a means of utilizing enzymes to chemically break down plastic into its prime molecular components so it can be re-assembled with near perfect efficiency. What that means effectively? In a future coming toward you, we may never need to make a new bottle out of virgin plastic again.
October 27, 2020
Our Sustainable Scorecard to Save the Planet... 50th Episode Extravaganza!
For our 50th episode (more than a few grey hairs in the beard to prove it) we turn the mic on ourselves to pull back the curtain on the planet saving work we're doing doing here at Who's Saving the Planet. True to form, this episode is presented in our traditional three act structure, the problem, the solution, and the viability. For us, the problem we've come to realize after 49 enlightening, inspiring, and sometimes downright bizarre interviews with entrepreneurs the world over is twofold: there's so much stuff out there that's saving the planet but people don't know where to find it, and secondly, when the do find something that they think is better than the status quo, it's hard to know just how sustainable that product is compared to others like it. It's like a scavenger hunt for sustainable stuff with no map, and no scale to measure any of the stuff you find along the way. That's exactly what we're going to solve! In short: A website that catalogues all the sustainable stuff you'll want (starting with fashion, expanding to everything sooner than later), with an independent and scientifically verified scoring system that rates each product according to how sustainable it is. This episode is broken into 5 segments where we introduce members of our team who are building the tools we'll need to navigate a world of sustainability. First is the science team, who digs into the scorecard we've developed to rank and measure how sustainable different products are in comparison to each other. Then we meet two members of our content team who overview the content which we're bringing to the website to highlight these sustainable brands and provide consumers helpful, fun, and hopeful tips on how to live better. After that, we sit down with our business development team to learn just how a dollar gets made in the world. And then finally, I (Lex here!) paint a picture of a sustainable future, what we need to get there and how it will look when we do. We hope you enjoy this, it's been a labor of love these past six months and we can't wait to see what the next six have in store. In the meantime, please come visit us at www.whossavingtheplanet.com, and to all our listeners, from the bottom of our hearts, we love you dearly. Let's save this planet and help each other out along the way.
October 20, 2020
Tyre Collective: Siobhan and Deepak Design a Seatbelt For Airborne Plastic
Here's a horrifying fact: humans ingest one credit card worth of plastic every week. Plastic is ubiquitous in everyday life, more so than we realize. The large plastic composite, for instance, the tires on our cars and busses, shed tiny micro-plastic compounds which find their way into our soil, food, and even the air we breathe. We don't yet know what the long term effects of consuming an approximate 5 grams of plastic per week will be, but my money is on not great. The team at Tyre Collective have a solution to a significant driver of micro-plastic pollution. Their award winning and exceedingly elegant prototype recently won the UK National James Dyson Award and the London Mayor's Entrepreneur Competition, highlighting both it's beautiful design and functional application. So what is it exactly? Well.... Imagine if a giant slice of pizza made of metal was affixed to the back of your tire, which using physics attracted all of the tiny plastic particles shed from that tire into a small receptacle instead of releasing them into the air for people to breathe. It's sleek, crafted to look like a 22nd century seatbelt for airborne pollutants. The journey Deepak and Siobhan have embarked on is just beginning, but already they're carving out a name for themselves in the sustainable technology space. While many challenges will arise, we're thrilled to have had the opportunity for them to share their story and will be eagerly following along as they build the Tyre Collective into the new standard for clean-driving.
October 13, 2020
Pachama: Diego Uses Artificial Intelligence to Make Carbon Offsets Count
It's easy to say you can see the forest from the trees, easier still if you deploy a fleet of satellites using bleeding edge artificial intelligence and machine learning to count the leaves on the trees in the forests. Well, not actually, but almost. Diego Saez-Gil, CEO and founder of Pachama, joins us this week to reveal the methodology - and purpose- behind his revolutionary start up. Here's the basic problem: companies want to claim (and in some instances truly be) carbon neutrality, and the most expedient means of getting there is to account for their carbon footprint then offset it through purchasing carbon credits on the exchange. Many well intentioned companies have also committed to reducing the total amount of their carbon since inception, notably, Google. In order to do that, even if Google went 100% renewable energy w/zero carbon outlays from tomorrow on, they'd still need to remove carbon you put into the atmosphere from the past, which would require taking carbon out of the atmosphere. The most efficient means of doing so is, and will likely continue to be for a long time, planting. a tree. But, how do we know that tree really got planted? Or, how can we be sure it wasn't cut down, if the offset was used to purchase a woodland that would have otherwise been felled for timber? This is where Pachama comes in. They certify that the carbon offsets companies buy- largely trees or other plants either already existing or seeded presently- are truly extracting the carbon that they were intended to. You can imagine how easy it would be to promise not to clear cut a remote part of the Amazon, get paid for that promise, then turn around and clear cut it anyway selling the timber. Who's going to venture that far into the jungle to check, and by the time they get there you'd be long gone. Pachama leverages satellites and sophisticated computer engineering to remotely monitor these remote sectors of the world, ensure the carbon offsets are legitimate, and reward good actors for the work they do. Their creating markets, bringing together the sellers of the future with the buyers of past sins. It's truly good work they do, and we're honored to have them in our WSTP family.
October 6, 2020
Post Carbon Lab: DJ Turns Your Clothes Into Wearable Trees
A rose by any other name... could be called denim overalls once DJ's had her way with them. Do you want to take your Poison Ivy cosplay to a new level? Are you interested in offsetting the carbon you exhale through the carbon your jumper inhales? Well, finally, we can turn your closet into a plant you can wear. Really. Post Carbon Lab is the brainchild of Dian-Jen Lin (DJ) and Hannes Hulstaert, born of the recognition that the fashion industry is rotten from the roots on up. The inherent motivations in contemporary fashion houses- to make clothes cheaply, so we care for them poorly, and they break down easily, which incentivize us to get new products quickly- are literally destroying the planet through enormous carbon outlays (among other things) and teaching us all the wrong lessons about how we value with our things. DJ sought to upend that process, which led her to rethink the idea of our relationship with clothes along with the clothes themselves. Post Carbon Lab affixes organic algae to textiles, in this case clothes, resurrecting them into organic, living things. The algae processes sunlight into glucose through photosynthesis, and in doing so removes carbon from the atmosphere and creates oxygen as a bi-product. What was dead lives again. But, there are strings attached (sorry, couldn't help it). Once the clothes go through the regenerative process they need to be cared for as you would any other plant, allowing them proper sunlight and a bit of moisture now and again- DJ says simply putting them in the bathroom when you shower occasional does the trick.
September 29, 2020
SmartAssUndies: Brendan Saves the Planet by the Seat of Your Pants
If you were anywhere close to crunchy in high-school you had a pin on your backpack that proclaimed, "Be The Change You Want To See In The World." The world is a big place to change, but the point (if I may, Mr. Gandhi) was that you don't need to change the world, you need to change yourself, and effect part of the world in so doing. Brendan Lo is the intersection of one man becoming a force for good in his own life and strategically placed motivational quotes, embodied (and on bodied...) in his company, SmartAssUndies. SmartAssUndies is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: an underwear company that's affixed joy inducing quips to the posterior of your posterior so that every morning your day begins with a chuckle and an affirmation. Take for instance, "I See Magic Everywhere," or, a personal favorite, "Stay focused on the important shit & leave the rest behind," consider the billboard for the message, and I dare you not to grin. But you don't get on the pod just by being clever. Brendan sought out a leading sustainable supplier for his fabric, all of which is manufactured from recycled PET bottles. He donates 5% of his profits to forest restoration efforts. He takes great care to ensure the factories where his underwear is minted are equitably run and the labor fairly paid. As it says on his website, Brendan is the head of customer service, CFO, CEO, Marketing Manager.... A one man shop. Changing the world, saving the planet, doesn't mean you need to re-invent the wheel (or food, or fire...), as Brendan teaches us, it can be as simple as living up to a button on a bookbag, or an affirmation on your ass. "Everybody’s ass benefits," Brendan says. "Including the animals." That's something we can get behind. Also featured is non-fiction writer and sustainability expert Jessica Miles, who "butts" in from time to time. We don't mind and neither will you! Tune in. *One quick note, Brendan at one point says that 1 million plastic bottles are discarded every second, when he meant to say every minute. Who's likes flawless people anyway??
September 22, 2020
Neutral.io: Marissa Brings Carbon Clarity to Amazon
Imagine you knew how much carbon went into everything that you bought on Amazon through handy browser plug in. Then imagine you could offset that carbon with one click. Now stop imagining and go check out what the team at Neutral are building! (But first, listen to this episode!) We sit down with CEO, co-founder, and proud hacker Marissa Liu and dig into how she and a team of scrappy collegiate coders built Neutral over a weekend a hack-a-thon (which they won!), then turned pro with an investment from Mozilla's Fix The Internet incubator. They're bringing awareness to how we shop online, with an opportunity to offset our impact. Tracking Carbon a wildly complicated process, one we at WSTP have covered before when we spoke with Columbia's Peter Vail Marsters in our Death, or Taxes episode. The team at Neutral are navigating with the assumptions that go into applying a specific carbon price to a wide variety of products by drawing from the CleanMetric's CarbonScopeData. While this this has it's limitations, which they cover in their description of their methodology, they're breaking new ground in applying a consumer mentality to the issue of sustainability science. Come for the Carbon science, stay for the browser plug in.
September 15, 2020
Emellie Turns Hollywood Green
Those who make movie magic are often doing so at the expense of the environment. The logistics of producing a big-budget show or blockbuster require a tremendous amount of energy that pollutes the planet. That's not the case when Emellie O'Brien is on set. She has the strategy, staff, stuff and stats to make movies without making a mess. Her firm, Earth Angel, has worked on major productions such as Darren Aronofsky's Noah, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The goal: make sets more sustainable. Tune in to learn how Emellie and her team are making the impossible seem incredibly easy. By affordably reducing the environmental impact of entertainment production, this NYU Tisch alum is the production coordinator every Hollywood honcho needs to know. In addition, Emellie also lifts the curtain on some of the statistics Earth Angel tracks, how filmmakers can offset carbon footprints, tells us who the most sustainably minded star is, and whether streamers like Apple, Amazon and Netlix practice what they preach.
September 8, 2020
Climate Neutral: Austin Builds a Carbon Crunching Calculator
Two main issues plague consumers looking to shop sustainably: finding the startups (who generally don't have massive marketing budgets to find you) that are making sustainable products, and secondly, trusting that those products are actually doing good for the planet, not just pretending to. That's where Climate Neutral comes in. They have created software tool (affectionately dubbed the "Triple C" by us, and the inspiration for the show's title) that allows companies to quickly and rigorously calculate the climate the carbon footprint of the products they produce. Once the company has that number locked down, they then commit to offsetting their carbon impact and take further steps to reduce their impact on the planet in the future. For these efforts, they get the certified "Climate Neutral" badge of approval. The trick will be, and what CEO Austin Whitman and I get into, how do we get consumers to care? Once the carbon is counted, we still need to build the bridge from companies doing good to earning trust with the consumer base and convincing them to focus their wallets on supporting sustainable products. Listen in as we talk about the how behind the calculator, the why that got them here, and the where- as in where are the consumers and how can we get them to change their behavior.
September 1, 2020
Activism Abroad: Lily, Luna and Michael Fight for Climate Justice in Israel
This week we cap off our activism abroad series with three inspiring activists who aren't waiting for anyone to change the world for them, they don't have that kind of time. Michael, Luna and Lily are all still in high school but that doesn't stop them from organizing, pressuring the government, and teaching their parents a thing or three.
August 28, 2020
NuLeaf Technologies: Rachel Builds the Hot Tub Infinity Shower
This one takes a bit of explaining. Rachel Major, co-founder and CEO of NuLeaf Technologies, began her journey into entrepreneurship as most do, with a grant from NASA. Her particular area of expertise was in biology, and she has a particular affinity for the development of technology through biomimicry: "the design and production of materials, structures, and systems that are modeled on biological entities and processes." Nature, in her vast wonder, has crafted a means of purifying water through the ecosystems found in marshland. The naturally occurring confluence of microbes, plants and other organisms serves to "transform waste water into nutrient rich reusable water." Rachel and her co-founder Ari Ochoa took inspiration from these natural purification systems in creating modular water treatment centers, the NuTree System. As they put it: "Whether you are living off-the-grid and tired of ineffective septic tanks, or living in a city and hoping to grow your own sustainable garden: The nutrient recycling technology in our NuTree systems can help! We bring the quest for resource independence into the future and into your home or business" If you're wondering where the "hot tub" part comes in, well, it's because it looks striking like a hot tub. Occam's Razor'd that one. So while these may not be a "shower" water ready yet , they have created a means of recycling old grey water into a productive source of irrigation. But, that's just the beginning... their original charter with NASA was to envision a means of creating a natural circular system of water purification which could, in fact, repurpose shower water for, you guessed it, showers! Listen in as we discuss the evolution of the technology, her journey from researcher to entrepreneur, and how to improve the culture of silicon valley.
August 25, 2020
Activism Abroad: Elizabeth Fights for Climate Justice in Zimbabwe
Elizabeth Gulugulu lives in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, but her ambitions reach far beyond the city limits. She has traveled to the United Nations as a representative for her community, lobbied her elected officials to enforce better governance, and given voice to the anxiety and hope of her generation. Join us this week in our second edition of our Activism Abroad series.
August 21, 2020
Pasi Makes Food Out of Air. Yup, Really.
What do you get when you mix energetic electrolysis, micro-biotic fermentation, and a couple of mad scientists? I'll take "Creates Dinner Out of Sunlight and Air" for 800, Alex. Welcome to Solar Foods, the Finnish brainchild of Pasi Vainikka and his co-founder Dr Juha-Pekka Pitkänen. They've been developing a process of synthesizing a protein the've developed and feeding it using hydrogen harvested from water through electrolysis and carbon dioxide captured from air. If you're saying... what?? Have we got a journey of exploration and discovery for you! Pasi built this company because our current system of cultivating agriculture and livestock is unsustainable, and rather than improve a broken system we should consider truly out of the box alternatives. He and Dr. Pitkänen have created a technology that has the potential to revolutionize our food supply chain here on earth, and, beyond...
August 18, 2020
Activism Abroad: Anmol Fights for Climate Justice in India
The Jammu Kashmir region of India is a remote patch of land that has- for decades- been home to ongoing geo-political turmoil, border scuffles and two all out shooting wars. And recently, things got worse. But that doesn't keep Anmol Ohri from fighting to save the planet. He is using his activism, ingenuity and grit to unite people from different countries, religions, ages, socio-economic standings, all around the central idea that if we're going to protect the future we need to do it together. This week begins a 3 part series where we speak to youth climate activists from around the world about how they're raising awareness of the climate catastrophe and driving change in their home countries. At the top of the show we Lex does his best to describe what's happening in this part of the world, but here are other resources to that provide a more complete context. Check out this Vox article, and these two from the New York Times here and here.
August 14, 2020
Dr. Enric Sala, NatGeo's Explorer in Residence, Defends the High Seas
Dr. Enric Sala was a lauded professor until he quit his job because, in his words, "I was doing was writing the obituary of ocean life." Thus began his journey in ocean conservation which would lead him to found the Pristine Seas project and become National Geographic's Explorer-in-Residence. In this episode of Who's Saving the Planet we discuss Dr. Sala's transition from the halls of academia to the (maritime) trenches of activism, his ongoing fight to preserve the aquatic wilderness, and how humans have disrupted the interconnected harmony of nature. The Pristine Seas project began in 2008 as an idea: what if we could protect 1/3 of the ocean from exploitation, commercial fishing, pollution and, really humans? Unsullied, wild parts of the ocean are fast becoming extinct, but all the more important to protect because "these unique ecosystems are a window into the past, revealing what the ocean looked like before overfishing and pollution took their toll. It is essential that we let the world know that these places exist, that they are threatened, and that help is needed to protect them." In what he describes as his "loveletter to the planet," Dr. Sala has encapsulated the lessons he's learned (and taught) about human's relationship with the natural world in his forthcoming book, The Nature of Nature. The hardcover comes out August 25, and we'd encourage you to look for it at your local bookstore!
August 11, 2020
Predicting the Future From the Fringe
Sustainable marketing guru Suzanne Shelton pulls back the curtain on what preppers, extremists and anarchists reveal about what’s in store for a post-Covid world. With 29 years of experience, Mrs. Shelton's consulting firm is the industry leader in providing actionable advice to industries concerning sustainable marketing, consumer insights and strategic guidance. The Shelton Group recently released a report entitled "Seeing Into the Future: Leveraging fringe consumer insights to build a sustainable brand in a post-Covid world", which forms the backbone of what we dig into in this episode of Who's Saving the Planet. Come for the sustainable insights, stay for the advice on starting a company, navigating the choppy waters of entrepreneurship, and a prescription for how we can all do our part to save the planet.
August 7, 2020
Symbrosia's Alexia Makes Meat Future Proof: How To Reduce the Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Livestock by 90%
Every so often we find innovators creating fantastically elegant solutions to equally fantastically huge problems. In this episode we take a journey into the ocean to discover a remedy for what is a distinctly terrestrial problem: the greenhouse gasses produced by dairy and beef cows. Scientist and entrepreneur Alexia has isolated a strain of seaweed which reduces the methane output from cows (burps, not farts, FYI) by over 90% by adding just 0.2% of their seaweed extract to the cow's feed. Turns out, what we needed all along was a surf and turf mindset. She and her team are building the operational skillset needed to harvest this seaweed, which as you'll hear is tricky in its own right (warning: many strained metaphors ahead) because it's lifecycle is akin to a kaleidoscope and you need to catch it at just the right moment in order to unlock it's de-gasifying properties. Tune in as we venture to Hawaii to learn from Alexia the secrets of seaweed cultivation, developing a supply chain in the states, getting farmers to embrace the future, and turning cows from systemic threat to sustainable food source.
August 4, 2020
Carrots and Sticks: How to Win Green Fights and Influence Business People
How do you align the interests of business, government, and communities with the rigor and rigidity of environmental science? Well, with carrots and sticks, and a good measure of grit. Dr. Brosnan shares with us her journey from the world of science and academia, where there can be a right answer because math, into the world of consulting where the answers are never entirely right or wrong, but can be framed as a win or a loss depending on where you stand. Dr. Brosnan works to bring all stake holders to the table and arrive at a solution that satisfies each concerned interest, but as you'll hear, it's a tough fight- though one worth having.
July 31, 2020
Rebundle: Ciara Solves a Big, Hairy Problem
Ciara May is walking the path of an entrepreneur: she recognized a problem, looked for a solution on the market, and when she found none existed, she rolled up her sleeves and built one. Rebundle is a synthetic hair brand focused on the black female market, who right now have only cheap, mass produced, and harmful options made primarily from low-grade plastic. Ciara's created a biodegradable alternative made from plants that eliminates the itching, burning, and scalp damage that women have endured for years. She's also connecting her brand directly with the stylists who braid the hair and have built a relationship with their customers. Through that network of stylists she's building awareness, and also creating a pathway to safely recycle Rebundle hair, closing the circle. If that wasn't enough, she's also empowering people in her community to take agency over the products that are marketed to them. In her words, "Black Americans account for over 85% of spending in the ethnic beauty market. It's time we become aware of what is being used on our hair. With responsible awareness, we can take charge in implementing positive change in this industry."
July 28, 2020
Death, or Taxes?
Can we save our future by putting a price on carbon? A carbon tax has been in the conversation since the 70's, but we've had very little in the way of progress despite decades of scientist and economists arguing that it could be the most efficient and effective method of combating climate change. So, what gives? This week we bring Peter Vail Marsters, researcher and carbon tax expert from Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy, on to the pod to dig into the weeds about all things carbon tax. Why has the political process been so lacking? What should a ton of carbon actually cost, and how do we come up with that number? And a question that's the root of all politics: if we did enact a tax, who gets the money?
July 24, 2020
Mimi Turns The Tide: How To Transform Clicks Into Climate Dollars with Freetheocean.com
Mimi Ausland began her career as a climate activist at the age of 14 with a click-to-give website that landed her on Oprah, Ellen, and the Today Show- and that was just the beginning. Mimi built and runs the website Freetheocean.com which she's developed into a platform that turns eyeballs into dollars through leveraging sponsorships and advertising. She uses the revenue through advertising to fund charitable organizations removing plastic from our oceans, building a virtual bridge from a 30 second no-cost investment from people who care to real-life dollars for activists on the ground fighting for a sustainable planet. We dig into how she's using her marketing chops to build an e-commerce portal for plastic free products, what it means to be a gen-z activist, and where she sees Freetheocean.com going in the future.
July 21, 2020
Mission Possible: 1.5
Sameera delves into her work at the UNDP, which supports countries to transition toward low-emission and climate-resilient sustainable development. She discusses the critical work that the UNDP does globally, like Mission 1.5 and how her work supports the most vulnerable of communities, whose problems are exacerbated by the effect of climate.
July 17, 2020
In Vino Veritas: Good for Your Palate and the Planet
WSTP travels (via Zoom) to the historic Vino Nobile district in the southeastern Siena province of Tuscany. There, we speak to Michele Manelli — the man behind Salcheto Wine. The word ‘salcheto’ comes from the stream that runs through the town of Montepulciano and is the boundary of their organic winery. The willow trees are still planted at the winery and form a part of their logo to show their commitment towards environmental sustainability. The winery is a proud member of Alliance Vinum and also won the Sustainable Winery of the Year 2014 by Gambero Rosso. Their mission is to do quality work in both the vineyards and the cellar to make the best possible wines. Tune in to learn all about Michele's mission, and how he transformed a classic farm into a modern winery famous for its technology and making the most eco-friendly vino available on the market. Not satisfied to keep his sustainability goals contained in Salcheto, Michele is a co-creator of the Equalitas certification. Through their 8 step process they evaluate every aspect of a wineries impact on the earth, from practices in the vineyard, winery, through to the packaging and distribution. A true champion the palate and the planet, we raise a glass to you Michele!
July 15, 2020
SoLight Design: The Light Warrior
Alice Min Soo Chun is an architect who is used to overseeing large-scale projects, but her greatest design is an item that weighs just over two ounces. After the catastrophic 2010 earthquake that hit Haiti, the Columbia University professor set out to invent something that could be used to help the victims who were left in the dark. The effort eventually culminated with the launch of Solight Design, a New York-based startup known for its origami-inspired "SolarPuff" lantern. Made out of a sturdy, waterproof cloth that folds flat and pops open to emit light from its solar-powered LEDs, SolarPuffs have be sent around the globe to aid impoverished areas. Solight officially took off in 2015 with a KickStarter program that yielded unprecedented results. Alice also went on to win numerous awards including the US Patent Award for Humanity and her products have been exhibited at MOMA, the Modern Museum of Art in New York City. She is also featured in "The Book of Gutsy Women" by Hillary Clinton. And she's still inventing! With the current pandemic still disrupting everyday life, Alice is hard at work devising a new type of mask that can help prevent the spread of Covid-19.
July 7, 2020
Paging Dr. Khullar: What Covid Can Teach Us About Climate Change
Throughout the pandemic, including the cresting of the first wave in New York City, Dr. Khullar has been on the front lines caring for patients at Weill Cornell Medicine. All the while, he chronicled his experiences in a series of dispatches for the New Yorker, offering a rare glimpse into the emotional, mental and physical toll the Coronavirus has taken on patients, families, and the healthcare workers providing life-saving medicine, or at times, the life's final moment of compassion. In this episode of Who's Saving the Planet Dhruv takes us into the hospital to provide a firsthand account of how the practice of medicine has evolved and in response to Covid and he provides advice to doctors in other cities who are in the throws of what New York overcame in April. We also take a step back and look at the larger picture of how society has responded to this health crisis- rooted in science- and what it can teach us about how society can and will respond to the other science based crisis of our time, climate change. Covid and Climate Change share many similarities: a time delay between knowledge of the threat and the effects on our day to day lives, the solutions have more to do with changing our behavior than any single technological or biological silver bullet, and in order to overcome the worst we'll have to sacrifice individually for the collective good.
July 3, 2020
DAYWEARLAB: Naz Shams is Saving the Planet... In Style!
This week, Lex and Tony head into "the lab" with the brilliant Naz Shams as their guide. Hear how this fellow New Yorker took a chance, changed careers and embarked on a mission to ethically — and sustainably — create beautifully crafted clothes. DAYWEARLAB is the place to go for "elevated classics with a twist." Not only that, the company is dedicated to making sure your closet is climate friendly. According to Naz, more than half of the environmental impact of her company’s clothing happens at the raw material stage. All of the mills DAYWEARLAB works with have taken “significant steps to reduce their water, energy and chemical footprint.” So alleviate your daywear distress! Tune in to Naz and hear her story.
June 30, 2020
There Is No Spoon: How Subtle Shifts Can Be Profound
How do we alter our perception of the world in ways so subtle we don't realize it's happening? To quote Morpheus from the Matrix, "what you know you can't explain, but you feel it...." (yes, we're nerds here on this podcast) Angela Spangler, Director from the WELL Building Institute, joins us to explain how subtle, but intentional, shifts in our environment can have profound effects on our emotional, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. In what she describes as "Second Wave Sustainability," our understanding of how the environments we spend time in, like schools, offices, and our homes, is undergoing of renaissance. She walks us through the science of the relationship between humans and our spaces can impact our productivity, engender a more sociable atmosphere, effect or mental health, and more, all through subtle manipulations of the seemingly mundane. Sound like dark arts? I thought so too. But these forces when used for good can make for a healthier, happier world.
June 26, 2020
Mi Terro: Spilled Milk, We're Not Crying, We're Innovating
Would you wear a t-shirt made from milk? You might soon enough. Two years ago, Robert Luo visited his uncle's dairy farm and was shocked to see buckets and buckets of sour and spoiled milk just sitting there. Food and money gone to waste — a common problem among farmers! (see past episodes FoodMaven and Milk Marketing King) After returning home, Robert started researching ways to solve this problem. His solution is Mi Terro. The startup is devoted to making sure our dairy waste never goes to landfills again. Instead, they become our pajamas... our underwear... all for a better tomorrow!
June 23, 2020
Decoding the Alphabet Soup
You may have seen the letters ESG in the news recently, we certainly have. Literally, that translates to "Environmental, Social and Governance", but it actually means in practice, that's a whole separate matter. This week we dig into the meaning behind the acronym with ESG expert and good friend Harry Etra, founder and CEO of HXE partners. Also, special guest and longtime friend of the Pod, Lizzie Horvitz, joins us! The conflict between doing good and making money will always be a balancing act in one way or another. If you're a company and not profitable, you're not long for the world (or market). However, these days, companies are finding that if they don't consider more than fattening up that dividend they could engender real backlash from consumers. We dig into how the scales are tipping, what's driving the shift in focus, and what the heck is up with this "greenwashing" we're hearing about.
June 19, 2020
Solar Impulse Foundation: Captain Piccard and the World of Tomorrow
In episode 22, Tony and Lex meet Bertrand Piccard — the legendary pilot who circumnavigated the globe with a solar-powered aircraft. Before that, he completed the trip in a hot-air balloon! He's also a psychiatrist. A hypnotist. And a hang-gliding champion. And Captain Piccard is still traveling the world. Only this time, he's on a quest to find 1000 solutions that can protect the environment in a profitable way. As founder/chairman of the Solar Impulse Foundation, he's globetrotting to all corners of the planet, presenting these solutions to world leaders and key decision-makers, urging them to fast-track their implementation. The future looks a bit brighter with Captain Piccard guiding us at the helm.
June 16, 2020
Five Acre Farms: Milk (Marketing) King of the North East
Farms, and specifically dairy farms, were traditionally a centerpiece of economic livelihood and cultural heritage in the rural North East. In the last 70 years they've come under tremendous economic pressure, forcing closures across the north east and migration of dairy production to Midwest and Southwest. This week we speak with Dan Horan, CEO of Five Acre Farms, about the marketing and supply chain solution he's developed to give those farms, and farmers, a fighting chance. And, a special guest on the intro! Dear friend, environmentalist, and Yale School of Forestry grad, Andy Beck, lends his expertise on the importance of small scale farms to provide context. Back to Dan... Five Acre's strategy is to consolidate the farms behind a single brand, which sells at a premium. This signals to the customer the quality is better and that their purchase supports local farms, while providing enough of a profit margin to keep those farms in businesses. Considering the alternative, it better work. Mid/small scale farms were once the lifeblood of the US, providing generational job security, purpose, high quality food and farming practices that are sustainable. The challenges these days are immense: government regulation including a price control on milk (unique across commodities), large scale farms that sacrifice quality for profit while destroying the health of the land and creating torturous conditions for animals, pressure to move to monoculture (single crops) that reduces the vitality of the soil (really bad for lots of reasons) and more. Dan digs into (sorry, unavoidable pun) how branding and marketing may provide the tools the little guys need to fight back.
June 12, 2020
What's Your Ikigai (Reason For Being)?
When you're unemployed, sites like LinkedIn or Indeed feel more like a rabbit hole than job-search platforms. That's especially the case if you're on the hunt for something more niche... specialized... or challenging. For Evan Hynes, climate change is the "mother of all challenges." And there were no websites that made finding a job in this space conducive. That is, until, Evan launched one. This week, WSTP hosts Tony and Lex sit with the founder of Climate.Careers. Discover what corners of the industry are hiring, what trends bode well for remote workers and why it's crucial to find that intersection where your passions and talents converge.
June 9, 2020
Pine Street School Takeover!
The 5/6th grade class of NYC's Pine Street School host this episode of Who's Saving the Planet, and they're bringing the heat! Since March they've been schooling from home, and they want to know what will need to change before they can get back to the classroom. Who better to answer those questions than WSTP longtime friend and guest, CEO of the Center for Active Design Joanna Frank. Join them as they dig into the important questions, like: will the subway be safe? Do we have to wear masks? What about the air in the buildings, how do we know it's clean?
June 5, 2020
Welcome to Earth School: TED-ED's Logan Smalley
Most of our episodes are dedicated to people who are saving the planet today, but in this edition of CONTEXT we dig into how we're preparing the next generation to save the planet tomorrow. The team at TED-ED, led by founding director Logan Smalley, and has long been in the business of making complex issues accessible, entertaining and actionable for students of all ages. The TED-ED team transforms the expert videos on the TED platform into animated versions geared toward a younger audience- and then they dub those videos in a variety of language so students from all over the world can participate in the panacea of learning. They've recently expanded their offerings to include a curated series of videos specifically designed for teaching about our home, called Earth School. Before digging into the episode we suggest you take a spin through the classroom, check it out here: https://ed.ted.com/earth-school The program is composed of 6 weeks, each of which has a particular theme, like the Nature of Society, or the Nature of Change. Each week they've selected five videos on that particular topic, and provided supporting material like follow up lessons, discussion board, and teaching tools. As Logan says in the episode, the idea is to not just provide the teachers with a dimensional tool (video), but a three dimensional platform that goes deeper into subject allowing for further research, segmenting the students into appropriate teaching groups, and much, much more. But wait, there's more! The team at TED has created a somewhat cryptic (stay tuned, it's evolving!) project called COUNTDOWN. Here's the website: https://countdown.ted.com/. The overarching message is that we have a limited time to take our global carbon emissions down to zero, and it's going to take all of us to get there. The project is still undergoing some tweaks (responding to the Corona world), so it's not exactly what the specific outcome will be, but given their previous work it's absolutely worth getting involved and paying attention. As the husband of a teacher this one hit home for me. Thanks for listening in, and thanks to Logan and the TED team for the work they're doing- bravo!
May 29, 2020
Beetle Mania: How Scarab is Solving the Plastic Problem
A mechanical bug just might be the answer to solving the world's plastic problem — a 6 billion-ton problem. That's how much plastic is in the environment. It piles up onto our land into trash heaps, and clogs our oceans, forming islands. It's beyond gross. "The question still remains," Scarab Tech co-founder Simon Davis tells us. "What on Earth do we do with this ever growing mountain of plastic?" Simon and his fellow co-founder, Jeffrey Barbee, have an answer. These beetle bros educate Lex and Tony on the technological advancements they made by "feeding" their mechanical creation excess trash, which is then transformed into fuel that can power electrical grids. So not only is this "Dung Beetle" gobbling up our garbage, it also has the ability to solve an extremely important issue: energy poverty. Impoverished communities either rely on archaic solutions like coal, or have zero energy resources at all. Meanwhile, plastic continues to pollute local water resources. Can a fire-belching beetle come to the rescue? Sounds like science fiction, but it's not — this "scarab" solution can solve a very real, and devastating, crisis.
May 26, 2020
Mighty Earth's "Perfect Storm" Approach to Influencing Corporate Environmentalism
Consumer facing companies are in the news constantly touting "green" initiatives, socially responsible campaigns, and feel good stories that make you wonder whether the marketing budget is bigger than the actual investment in changing their business practices for the better. And those are the one's who are defending a consumer facing brand- what we don't hear about are the companies farther up the supply chain that don't have a consumer presence and aren't as sensitive to negative impacts on their brand, but none the less have a tremendous impact on the environment. Getting these companies to care about, let alone change, their effect on the environment is a huge challenge, and vitally important. That's where Mighty Earth comes in. CEO Glenn Hurowitz explains how they've developed a "perfect storm" tactical approach to achieving the strategic outcomes that will influence upstream businesses like Cargill- one of the world's largest producers of meat. He explains how in order to get these massive companies, generally happier to work in the shadows than expose themselves to consumer facing pressure, Mighty Earth employs a multi-layered influence campaign involving consumer awareness, grassroots activation, financial pressure, political influence, and competitive deterrence. And because it's an election year (and we just couldn't resist), we dig into the political moment we're in now, and the one we need to be in come November 4th. How will we rally the political capital needed to push through an ambitious climate agenda? What lessons from previous administrations are salient, and how can we use them to not make the same mistakes in the future?
May 22, 2020
Optimal Solar: The Adventures of Dr. Green Power
With their powers combined, planeteers Lex and Tony bring you this super-sized episode featuring one of the most brilliant scientists working in the renewable energy industry today. He's Dr. Reginald Parker — aka Dr. Green Power! His base of operations is in "Hot-Lanta" — but the solar panel technology he innovated can be found all over the world. His mantra: "Use energy better and then use better energy!” Listen in as Dr. Parker reveals the genesis of his startup, Optimal Power Solutions, and the positive impact it has on the environment — starting with hospitality! So as the country begins to open up again and you find yourself itching to travel, you just might end up booking a room at a "smart" hotel that's monitored by Dr. Green Power himself through his Artificially Intelligent bots. The upside for business owners? Lower energy costs and higher profits. The upside for us? A cleaner and healthier planet. Last but not least, Dr. Parker unveils how he and his MIT classmates influenced the creation of one of Lex and Tony's favorite superheroes — Captain Planet! Fitting, since this episode was recorded on National Superhero Day. Tune in now for a nerd celebration unlike any other.
May 19, 2020
EVA Green: Tackling a Problem as Hard as Concrete
“Sometimes you need to understand that a small change in a big problem is a big change.” Words of subtle wisdom from the founder of Eva, Tamara Mumcuoglu. In this week’s episode we discuss the technology Tamara and her team developed- specifically, a means of recycling old concrete in order to reduce the need for a harmful byproduct of coal power plants in creating new concrete- but also how much humanity is required to attempt something ambitious. Tamara is a gifted scientist, having invented a new adaptation of a wind turbine in graduate school. She had her first moment of inspiration as an entrepreneur shortly thereafter, that no matter how good the solution, if it isn’t solving a problem there’s not a market for it. So when she started her second company, Eva, she went looking for the problem first. We discuss the solution she crafted, the path that led her there, and the lessons she learned along the way. In a personal note, it’s was inspiring to see someone technically brilliant express such humanity.
May 12, 2020
Breathe Deep: Air Quality Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
During this shutdown we've seen the LA skyline emerge from a haze as if on cue from a cinematographer, the Himalayas visible from India for the first time in memory, and images from space revealing a planet unburdened by pollution not seen in generations. It's as though humans took a moment to rest so the planet could breath. But at what cost, and what of this temporary pause will become permanent? This week we speak with the American Lung Association's Director for Clean Air Activism for California, Will Barrett, to understand how the impact of this dramatic reduction in pollution is affecting our respiratory health today, and what it could mean for our perception of the impact we have on our air quality will have when we return to an unrestricted lifestyle.
May 8, 2020
The ocean is in jeopardy! Scientists say if we continue to pollute and plunder the seven seas, they'll be fully depleted by 2050. In other words, there will be no fish left for us to eat. What can be done to solve this crisis? Amy Novogratz has an answer. She's the founder and managing director of Aquaspark — a fund that invests in aquaculture... namely fish farms. That's right. Seafood, a go-to source of protein for most Americans, can be grown and cultivated in a sustainable way... just like the heirloom tomatoes you pick up at the local market. Unlike tomatoes, however, seafood is growing scarce, and the marine life we depend on is in dire straits. "The amount of fish that we're catching now is really at its limit," Amy tells us. Thankfully, there are more sustainable supply chains -- all made possible by Aquaspark, a firm that invests in companies that are mutually supportive of each other. Whether they're building farms or creating feed, each "Aquaspark" portfolio company is synergistic. They depend on each other to grow, thrive and -- as a result -- benefit the overall ecosystem. Just like THE OCEAN. No more water metaphors; we promise. Take the plunge (we lied) with co-hosts Lex and Tony. This is one deep dive (we lied again) you'll not want to miss (no lie)!
May 5, 2020
Creating a Healthier, Happier Space
What will the world look like when we can return to it? What will we need to change in order to restore the trust on only in the safety and hygiene of our shared spaces, but in each other? In this week’s edition of CONTEXT Lex speaks with CEO and Founder of the Center for Active Design, Joanna Frank, foremost expert in understanding the relationship between our shared spaces and the humans who use them. We dive into how access to outdoor space effects our mental and physical health, what will need to change in the post-covid world, and the small things we can do in our own lives and homes to create a healthier, happier space.
May 1, 2020
Soapply: You Do You, Goldilocks
More than 294 million Americans used liquid hand soap in 2019. That soap typically comes in plastic packaging... and it ultimately pollutes our planet in landfills and oceans. But while everyone talks about the environmental damage caused by plastic straws and plastic bags, no one seems to be talking about the soap next to our sinks. "For Soapply, that's where we land," says CEO and founder Mera McGrew. In this episode of "Who's Saving The Planet?" get to know Mera — who she is and how she came to be the SOAPerhero we need, but not necessarily the one we deserve. Through an ingenious "modern milk man system," her startup delivers and replenishes your Soapply stock of all-natural lather in glass recycled bottles, reducing the number of plastic dispensers that would otherwise get piled onto trash islands. Lex and Tony also get drenched with some eye-burning facts: 1.4 million children still die from diseases that could be prevented through the simple act of hand washing. That's because many of us don't realize that access to soap is still a luxury that is out of reach for people in many corners of the world. The Soapply community is changing that. With every 8 ounces of Soapply sold, $1 is donated to help fund water, sanitation, and hygiene that makes hand washing with soap possible. It doesn't end there: Mera schools us on the dangers of using synthetic detergents, andhow they differ from actual soap. We also learn where the word 'soap' comes from, and how soap gets made (Tyler Durden was right). Lastly, Mera confirms whether scalding hot water is necessary for a thorough hand cleaning (hint: "You do you, Goldilocks!").
April 28, 2020
Sierra Club: Outdoors for All
This is our first in a series of episodes that reflect how the events we are living through today will impact the struggle to save the planet for tomorrow. We’ll interview a host of professionals form academia, economics, venture capital, institutional investment, advocacy and activism to give context to where we stand in our efforts to combat climate change. We’re thrilled to kick off the series on Earth Day with Jackie Ostfeld, Director of the Sierra Club’s Outdoors for All. In this episode Jackie and Lex talk about the advocacy work currently underway at the Sierra Club, particularly what they are doing to protect communities at risk and expand equal access to the outdoors. Right now we’re all living in a new, smaller world, but that won’t last forever. We talk about how our collective efforts to combat corona through social distancing has impact the work Sierra Club’s activism and what they’ve done to adapt. Briefly, we talk a walk back into a historical context, touching on the legacy left by Sierra Club founder John Muir, both positive and checkered. And finally, Jackie leaves us with a message of optimism for the future.
April 22, 2020
BioLite: Jonathan Re-Invents Fire
CEO and Founder Jonathan Cedar had his eureka moment a decade ago which led him to create a revolutionary way to cook meals and generate electricity. BioLite's signature product, the CampStove, uses thermoelectric technology to improve the efficiency of campfires by over 90% while providing electricity to power lights and charge phones. That would have been enough of an invention itself, but he's also tackling the challenge of how to create a sustainable and profitable business selling into some the poorest communities on the planet. Join us as we talk with Jonathan about the moment he decided to dedicate his life to improving the wellbeing of others, the challenges of running a company with two distinct markets, how to make the most of an uncertain future, and what it means to live a purposeful life.
April 21, 2020
Muuse: The Dark Side of Coffee
The dark side of coffee isn’t the roast. It’s the trash. Enter Muuse, the reusable coffee cup company that’s using technology to create a system of sustainable caffeination. Every year in the United States over 58 Billion single use coffee cups are thrown into landfills- that’s the entire footprint of of New York’s central park covered in coffee cups, stacked 100 feet high. To tackle the single use catastrophe Muuse has crafted an elegant reusable thermos and partnered with local coffee shops to afford the user the sophistication of a superior coffee cup with the convenience of not needing to worry about washing it in between uses. The aficionado brings their cup back to the store and swaps it out for a fresh one each time, getting a little discount in the process. In this episode we dig into the problem at hand, their intricate business model that leverages network effects to grow on a viral loop, and dig into how their COO Lizzie Horvitz got into the coffee game in the first place. Bottoms up!
April 14, 2020
Did you know that 40% (!!!) of all the food grown in the USA goes to waste? This week we interview Ben Deda, CEO of FoodMaven, a Colorado based start-up committed to cutting down on that waste while giving back to their community. Also we dig into how a start-up pivots on a dime when a quarter of their revenue dries up over night.
April 7, 2020
Liz Turrigiano and her co-founders are solving a problem every new parent is all too familiar with, what to do with the poop? They’ve created a sustainable diapering company that tackles the problem of how to reduce the over 30 BILLION diapers that end up in landfills every year. We dig into how Esembly Baby grew out of their first start up, what it’s like to raise money in this environment, how to balance life, family, and growing a business in the corona-verse, and more.
March 31, 2020
Veles: Cleaning House
Meet Amanda Weeks. She's the genius behind Veles, a revolutionary all-purpose household cleaner composed of two things — water and organic food waste. Join Lex and Tony as they discover the science behind Amanda's remarkable method of taking organic chemical compounds derived from food scraps and transforming them into a product that actually disinfects and cleans. Let's face it: It's the perfect way to take preemptive action against coronavirus AND practice sustainability. In a quarantined world, Amanda is the entrepreneur you need to know.
March 28, 2020
Lex is in Brooklyn. Tony is in Manhattan. Boroughs apart... but the show must go on! This week, the Planeteers wield Zoom to bring you a special edition of Who's Saving The Planet? to discuss two important topics. First — the brilliant guests they have on deck for upcoming episodes: Amanda Weeks, CEO of Ambrosia and creator of Veles; and Liz Turrigiano, co-founder and CEO at Esembly. Second — how the heck they're staying sane in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. Join them as they discuss social distancing, Simon's canine heritage, virtual happy hours with "quarantinis," Bill Murray's mid-90s elephant adventure, and the definitive action film that is most definitely a Christmas classic. Stream it now.
March 24, 2020
The Clear Cut
In the most epic meet cute, Olivia met Kyle when he was running a diamond mine and she was polishing her diamond skills as a gemologist. What came later was the company they co-founded — The Clear Cut. The custom online jeweler was born and lives entirely in the digital arena. In this episode, Lex and Tony dig into how these two found each other and launched the start-up, along with the unique customer acquisition strategy that led them to build a consumer focused company with zero marketing budget. Olivia and Kyle also discuss why lab grown diamonds aren’t the planet saving alternative they claim to be, and how they’re ensuring that all the diamonds in their products are sourced from reputable sources with the minimum impact on the environment.
March 17, 2020
Laws of Motion
The indomitable Carly Bigi pulls back the curtain on the incredible waste — including literally setting clothes on fire — that is rampant in the fashion industry. The company she founded, Laws of Motion, is upending that status quo. Laws of Motion uses cutting edge (get it?) technology to right-size every dress, custom crafting them one at a time using next generation AI, reducing waste in the factory and creating a product consumers love. We go back to the first days of deciding to launch a company rather than return to a safe career in consulting, to the trials of growing a start-up in the hyper-competitive fashion industry, and that amazing feeling the first time a woman actually tried on one of their prototype dresses, and it was a perfect fit!
March 10, 2020