SUSTAINABRO Interview

Recently, Eco-Youth had the amazing opportunity to have an email interview with Will Sheppard, founder of Sustainabro. We are so honored to work with a new and growing brand. It’s down to Earth podcast gives the latest news in sustainability and follows the stories of experts and people willing to make a positive change in the field.

Briefly introduce yourself to the audience and tell us about your journey – where do you live, study, work, and what are you doing at the moment? 

My name is Will Sheppard. I am originally from Manchester, NH where I grew up hiking and skiing in the White Mountains as well as building forts in the woods behind my house. These experiences really helped me to grow a strong affinity to nature and a curiosity for how things worked. With that, I eventually set my sights on engineering schools when I ultimately chose to apply for colleges. Currently I am a grad student at the Rochester Institute of Technology studying mechanical engineering and run the Sustainabro Life podcast.

In your own words, define sustainability. What got you interested in sustainability and what is your relation to the topic? How do you believe climate change and sustainability go hand in hand?

I would say that I probably would define sustainability as the ability for the human race to continue raising standards of living for everyone on the planet while also maintaining the world for generations to come. What really drove my interest in sustainability was my connection with nature combined with coursework and reading in college. Most specifically, my sophomore year of college I read a book called Cradle to Cradle which highlighted aspects of sustainable design and systems thinking. From that point I haven’t been able to look back.

What is Sustainabro? How was it founded? What issues does it address and what do you want to achieve with it?

Sustainabro is a podcast that brings on researchers, entrepreneurs, and policymakers to have conversations about sustainability in a down to Earth setting. It was founded as a passion project while I had the time to work on something during quarantine and COVID. Basically, the whole concept behind Sustainabro Life is to attract people like me to sustainability. Typically the stereotype of people operating in the sustainability sector are that they are tree-huggers and unrelatable, but I am setting out to set the precedence that sustainability is an issue we should all care about and work to achieve.

What action do you believe everyone could/should be involved in to create a positive change and impact towards climate change and the environment? What do you think are the problems we need to address on a global scale? 

I think there are definitely a lot of different ways to have an impact from a sustainability perspective, but I would say two of the biggest pieces to remember are that every purchase you make is a vote and we are all born with different skillsets and abilities to make a positive impact. To break that down a little more, any time you choose to purchase gas instead of riding a bike or choose to buy groceries in plastic instead of the farmers market, that is a vote for those companies to continue producing those products. On the second point, I think it is important to know yourself, your passions and what you are good at to choose where you can make the largest impact on sustainability. Someone who has good business acumen who is looking to do good in the world isn’t going to have the same path as someone who is an amazing coder, but they can have an equally amazing impact on the world.

What kind of technological advancements and innovations do you believe can drive a change and bring the world towards a sustainable future? What is your vision of a sustainable future and are you most excited about?

There are quite a few technologies that I am excited about in the future, but I do think proper environmental policy is going to be needed to get them to the point of economic feasibility. Either way, I think some of my personal favorite technologies that are up and coming will be direct air carbon capture, electric/hydrogen powered vehicles, and the continual development of renewable energy sources like photovoltaics. I like to imagine a future where we as humans can help prop up industrializing nations with renewable power sources and have high standards of living for everyone on the planet without diminishing the quality of life for those in the future.

Do you have any advice to people who want to help the environment, particularly fight climate change, but don’t know where to start? What advice can you give for newer organizations, like Eco-Youth, that will help grow their platform and gain a bigger audience?

There a lot of ways people can start working towards a more sustainable life without even putting in a lot of effort. Some of the actionable steps I can think of the top of my head might be:

  1. Be conscious about the purchases you make (don’t buy stupid stuff).
  2. Purchase necessities from socially and environmentally responsible companies (think Allbirds, Patagonia, etc).
  3. Look to buy local foods with minimal packaging.
  4. Covert your home over to operating on renewable energy (Depending on the state you live in this may be cheaper).
  5. Air dry clothes (dryers probably use more electricity than any other appliance in your home).
  6. Start composting.
  7. Bike when you can instead of driving.
  8. Divest from fossil fuels.

In terms of advice for growing platforms, I think the most important thing for growth is consistency. 1 new follower a day is 365 followers a year and I think it is always good to put that into perspective. Additionally, I would say continue partnering with other organizations with goals that align with yours and don’t be afraid to reach out to them!

What great things does Sustainabro plan to do next? What is its future beyond the blogs and podcasts?

Beyond the blogs and the podcast, we eventually have our eyes set on educational Youtube videos on green technology and entrepreneurship.

Where can people learn more about you and Sustainabro?

You can check us out at our Instagram as @Sustainabro.life, on any of the typical podcast apps at Sustainabro Life, or on our website www.sustainabropod.com.

Check out Sustainabro’s other socials at linktr.ee/sustainabro.
Listen to the latest episode of the Sustainabro Life podcast on Spotify.

Project O.C.E.A.N. Hawaiʻi Interview

Recently, Eco-Youth had the amazing opportunity to have a social media interview on Instagram  with Dyason Chee, founder of Project O.C.E.A.N. Hawai’i. We are so honored to work with such a special, hard-working, and determined individual. At only such a young age, Chee has done so many outstanding things in tackling plastic pollution and helping improve the environment.

Briefly introduce yourself to the audience and tell us about your journey – where do you live and study, what got you interested in the environment and plastic pollution, and what are you doing at the moment?

Aloha mai kākou! My name is Dyson Chee, and I am a college freshman living in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. My story starts with the ocean. Living in Hawaiʻi youʻre completely surrounded by the ocean, so I grew up with it and it became my second home. I loved going to the beach and exploring the deep blue waters. Eventually, my exploration of the ocean led me to something called plastic pollution. As I went to the beach, I gradually began to notice the rubbish that was strewn about it, and it only got worse as time went by. I eventually decided that I had to do something to protect my second home, and that is when I started taking on plastic pollution through Project O.C.E.A.N.

What is Project O.C.E.A.N. Hawai’i? How was it founded? What issues does it address and what is its main goal(s)?

Project O.C.E.A.N. Hawaii takes on single-use plastic pollution through two means: education and activism. Education involves letting people know that plastic pollution is a problem, and more importantly what we can do about it. And one of the ways we can take on plastic pollution is through activism. Activism involves passing legislation and getting the community civically engaged with this legislation.

What action do you believe everyone could/should be involved in to create a positive change and impact towards climate change and the environment? What are you most excited about for the future?

I believe that everyone should be civically involved. I know a lot of the solutions are focused on individual consumption, which does matter. Unfortunately, individual consumption alone will never solve the climate crisis. We are already seeing this in the COVID-19 pandemic–air travel has gone down drastically, yet the amount of emissions going into the air are still extraordinarily high. Why? Well part of it is the fact that we are still largely dependent on fossil fuels, and as we are all at home we are having to use more energy than usual. But for those of use who are dependent on the electricity grid, itʻs not like we can just say, “well Iʻm not going to use electricity since itʻs all fossil fuels.” And you can only reduce your consumption by so much. As an individual you still do have power, and that power is strongest when we get together and advocate. Advocate for energy companies to transition to clean energy. Advocate for the government to take meaningful climate action. This is what makes me excited: when the community gets together and successfully advocates for something.

Do you have any advice to people who want to help the environment, particularly fight climate change, but don’t know where to start? What advice can you give for newer organizations, like Eco-Youth, that will help grow their platform and gain a bigger audience?

This advice is very specifically geared towards those who are interested in using activism and advocacy as a means of fighting climate change (or any issue, really). Donʻt be afraid to start small. When we think of government, we usually think of national or international bodies. Like the President, or the United Nations. While it is true that both are a part of governments, they are not necessarily the most impactful ones in your community. The state, county, and city governments have a lot of power, and their decisions are usually the ones that impact everyday life for you and your community. So start there. They are easier to access, are more likely to listen to you, and can be more open to change.

What great things does Project O.C.E.A.N. Hawai’i plan to do next? What is its future and do you plan to expand this initiative beyond just Hawai’i?

For growing your platform and building a larger audience, Iʻll be honest, you just have to put in the work and energy. But what does help is to partner with other organizations. You can both help each other grow your platforms, collaborate on projects, and create coalitions to support each other. That coalition building has been very helpful in Hawaiʻi, especially when there is a specific goal (for example, passing a bill). I have actually since moved on to Hawaiʻi Youth Climate Coalition, another organization focused on achieving climate justice. However, I still do presentations under the umbrella of Project O.C.E.A.N.

Besides being a guest on the Lonely Whale podcast, 52 Hertz, where can people learn more about you and Project O.C.E.A.N. Hawai’i?

So if anyone would like to contact me, please feel free to reach out to either projectoceanhawaii@gmail.com or my Instagram @project_ocean_hawaii.

Listen to Dyson Chee on Episode 4 of 52 Hertz: The Lonely Whale Podcast. Check out Eco-Youth’s article, Lonely Whale Interiew, to learn more about Lonely Whale.

Ice Loss in Greenland and Antarctica

An aerial view of the icebergs near Kulusuk Island, off the southeastern coastline of Greenland. Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

In almost 30 years, Earth has lost a total of 28 trillion tonnes of ice from its surface. By examining satellite surveys of the planet’s poles, glaciers, and mountains, scientists were and can measure how much ice coverage is lost due to global heating triggered by rising greenhouse gas emissions. These carbon emissions continue to rise as global temperatures continue to soar; however, they question if these gases are to blame. As the Arctic continues to warm faster than any other part of the planet, the current rate of ice-melt in Greenland and Antarctica tracks the “worst-case scenario,” menacing our lives, especially the ones living in the coastal areas around the world.

“Stories like these need to dominate the news if we are to have a chance of avoiding the worse case scenarios of the climate crisis.” – Greta Thunberg

Greenland

Changes in the Greenland ice sheet’s contribution to global sea level, 1992 to 2017. Credit: ESA/NASA/Planetary Visions

Compressed over time, accumulated snowfall eventually results in glaciers. On account of the combination of both sea and atmospheric temperatures accelerating in Greenland, the discharge and runoff surpasses accumulation and results in ice loss. When an area of high air-pressure lingers over Greenland, the shift to north-streaming air happens. These zones of fixed air, referred to as a “block,” have gotten more continuous in the Arctic and highly contributes to the changes in temperatures.

With an ice sheet of nearly two miles thick in certain areas, if all ice were to melt, sea levels in Greenland would rise about 24 feet (7.5 meters). At the current rate of loss, Greenland’s ice represents around a one-quarter inch every time of the worldwide total rise of around one and a quarter inches for each decade.

In 2019, Greenland’s amount of ice loss reached and shattered the previous record by 15% with a reported 586 billion tons (532 billion metric tons) of ice melting. To put it in perspective, that is more than 140 trillion gallons (532 trillion liters) of water, which is enough to cover California in more than four feet (1.25 meters) of water. About 50% of Greenland’s ice was lost in July due to the effect of an irregular and unusual heatwave.

“Not only is the Greenland ice sheet melting, but it’s melting at a faster and faster pace,” expressed Ingo Sasgen, a geoscientist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany.

Antarctica

Changes in the Antarctic ice sheet’s contribution to global sea level, 1992 to 2017. Credit: IMBIE/Planetary Visions

Ledges of ice that jut out from the edge of the continent and into the ocean are called ice shelves. Its function is to keep glaciers stable and in place, but as ice shelves melt, they become thinner, weaker, and bound to break. At the point when this occurs, such as in Antarctica, they can release streams of ice from the glaciers behind them, raising worldwide sea levels. 

Furthermore, many researchers believe that climate change is contributing to the melting ice shelves influencing certain wind patterns around Antarctica. This can cause the amount of warm water in the Southern Ocean to increase and studies are suggesting that as the Earth keeps on warming, the process may become more serious and intense.

Since the mid-1990s, Antarctic ice shelves have lost a reported nearly 4.4 trillion tons (4 trillion metric tons of ice). It appeared that the melting accelerated in the late 2000s, before inevitably easing back down again during the 2010s. “If the ice shelves were in a stable, steady-state, then they might oscillate back and forth between gaining mass and losing mass.” Though, for the last 25 years, “there’s always mass loss.” “It goes from a small amount of mass loss to a large amount of mass loss to a small amount of mass loss again. It never goes from mass gain to mass loss,” noted Adusumilli noted Susheel Adusumilli, a doctoral student at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.

Worst-Case Scenario

According to researchers and the flaws seen in the ongoing climate change models, the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets are currently melting at a pace steady with the United Nation’s (UN) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) worst-case-scenario predictions for sea-level rise. Both ice sheets hold a sufficient amount of frozen water to be able to lift seas 65 meters and at the current melting rate, could add 17 centimeters* to the present-day sea levels by the end of the century.

The effects found in the different studies were very alarming and concluded that if sea levels rise following the direst outcome imaginable, the real most dire outcome imaginable could be significantly more critical. For example, our humanity, especially coastal cities and towns around the world, are already threatened of being not prepared for the impacts, and this worst-case-scenario is currently predicted to expose 44 to 66 million people to yearly coastal flooding. To be completed next year, a new generation of climate models that are more reliable and better reflect how ice sheets, the seas, and the atmosphere interact will support the IPCC’s next significant report.

*Each centimeter of ocean level ascent indicated that around a million people will be dislodged from their low-lying homelands and countries.

Sources:

Fountain, Henry. “Loss of Greenland Ice Sheet Reached a Record Last Year.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 20 Aug. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/08/20/climate/greenland-ice-loss-climate-change.html

Harvey, Chelsea. “Antarctica’s Ice Shelves Have Lost Millions of Metric Tons of Ice.” Scientific American, Scientific American, 12 Aug. 2020, www.scientificamerican.com/article/antarcticas-ice-shelves-have-lost-millions-of-metric-tons-of-ice/.

McKie, Robin. “Earth Has Lost 28 Trillion Tonnes of Ice in Less than 30 Years.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 23 Aug. 2020, www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/23/earth-lost-28-trillion-tonnes-ice-30-years-global-warming

Press, Associated. “Record Melt: Greenland Lost 586 Billion Tons of Ice in 2019.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 21 Aug. 2020, www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/record-melt-greenland-lost-586-billion-tons-ice-2019-rcna91

Marlowe Hood, AFP. “Ice Sheet Melting Is Perfectly in Line With Our Worst-Case Scenario, Scientists Warn.” ScienceAlert, ScienceAlert, 2 Sept. 2020, www.sciencealert.com/ice-sheet-melting-is-perfectly-in-line-with-our-worst-case-scenario-scientists-warn/amp

Julia Conley, staff writer. “’Worst-Case Scenario’ of Melting Ice and Sea Level Rise Coming to Pass, Warn Researchers.” Common Dreams, Common Dreams, 3 Sept. 2020, www.commondreams.org/news/2020/09/03/worst-case-scenario-melting-ice-and-sea-level-rise-coming-pass-warn-researchers?amp

Rosane, Olivia. “Greenland and Antarctica Already Melting at ‘Worst-Case-Scenario’ Rates.” EcoWatchRoar, EcoWatch, 3 Sept. 2020, www.ecowatch.com/amp/greenland-antarctica-ice-melting-rate-2647425507.

Recycling 101

Is Recycling a Waste of Time? | UNH Tales

“Reuse, Reduce, Recycle.” An easy and effective way to express your commitment to helping protect the environment and your community is to recycle. Recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products. 

Some Positive Benefits of Recycling

  • Reduces the amount of waste and materials sent to landfills, incinerators, and other disposal facilities.
  • Reduces the need to extract, refine, and process new and raw materials, which prevents substantial water and air pollution.
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide and methane, which helps to tackle climate change.
  • Conserves valuable resources and natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals.
  • Saves energy.
  • Taps a domestic source of materials, which increases economic security.
  • Create jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries in the United States.

How to Properly Recycle According to the EPA

  1. Collection and Processing
    • Curbside collection, drop-off centers, deposit, or refund programs are several ways of collecting recyclables. Recyclables are then sent to a recovery facility, which is sorted and cleaned to be processed into materials that can be used in manufacturing.
  2. Manufacturing
    • Recyclable materials are being in new ways and today’s products are evolving and more of them are being manufactured with recycled content.
  3. Purchasing New Products Made from Recycled Materials
    • Buying new products made from recycled materials closes the recycling loop. Some of the thousands of products that contain recycled content are very common but try to look for products that can easily be recycled and/or contain recycled content when you go shopping. 

What to Recycle

  • Plastics #1 & #2*
  • Glass (bottles and jars)
  • Aluminum, tin, and steel cans
  • Cardboard
  • Glass
  • Paper (newspapers)

*Plastic #1 & #2: refers to a plastic container’s resin identification code. These plastics are mainly accepted into every drop-off and curbside recycling program. Some examples include soda, water bottles, shampoo and soap bottles, etc.

What Not to Recycle

  • Styrofoam
  • Bubble Wrap
  • Cords
  • Plastic/Grocery bags
  • Batteries
  • Mirrors
  • Pizza boxes
  • Clothing 
  • Toys 
  • Food products

How to Properly Recycle in New Jersey

“New Jersey remains a national leader in recycling more than 30 years after becoming the first state in the nation to mandate recycling on a state-wide basis”, said Mark Pedersen, Assistant Commissioner for Site Remediation and Waste Management.

According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, in 2016, about 22.6 million tons of municipal waste was recycled, amounting to 13.9 million tons recycled and 8.7 million tons were disposed of, which was documented for a recycling rate of 61% in the same year. 

Recycling is an important plan for the state of New Jersey’s solid waste management, which positively benefits economically and environmentally. Enacted in 1987, the New Jersey Statewide Mandatory Source Separation and Recycling Act requires residential, commercial*, and institutional* sectors to recycle and each of its twenty-one counties to develop recycling plans that mandated the recycling of at least three designated recyclable materials, as well as leaves. 

As a plan employed for the collection, marketing, and disposition of designated recyclable materials, though there are many similarities, throughout the years, further materials have been mandated for recycling and different approaches were taken county by county. The different ways of collecting include: county-wide collection programs, municipally-run collection programs, dual-stream collection systems*, single-stream collection systems*, and “Pay-as-you-Throw” systems*.

*Residential, Commercial (businesses, corporations, etc.)

*Institutional (schools, hospitals, prisons, etc.)

*Dual-stream recycling: recyclable materials collection system in which bottles, cans, and other containers are collected separately in one recycling bucket, while paper grades are collected separately in another recycling bucket

*Single-stream recycling: recyclable materials collection systems bottles, cans, and other containers, as well as paper grades, are all collected together in one recycling bucket.

*“Pay-as-you-Throw” system: residents are charged more or less for trash collection, depending on the amount they throw away, which encourages them to reduce the amount of waste they produce and separate recyclables carefully and properly. 

Sources:

“Recycling Basics.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 13 Nov. 2019, www.epa.gov/recycle/recycling-basics.

“♻️ How To Recycle Items In New Jersey: Hometown Waste & Recycling♻️.” Hometown Waste & Recycling Services Inc., 29 May 2019, https://hometownwastenj.com/how-to-recycle-items-in-new-jersey/ 

NJDEP – News Release 19/P001 – DEP Awards $14 Million in Grants to Local Governments to Promote, Enhance Recycling Efforts, 2 Jan. 2019, www.nj.gov/dep/newsrel/2019/19_0001.htm

Rinaldi, Steven. “Frequently Asked Questions.” NJDEP-Recycling Information, 9 Apr. 2020, www.nj.gov/dep/dshw/recycling/faq.html.

User, Super. “Recycling 101.” Home, www.hcia.org/index.php/recycling/recycling-101.