Are you curious on ways you can lower your household waste or get more involved at your place of business when it comes to decreasing its carbon footprint? We can all learn something from our guest this week, Stacy Savage, founder and president of Zero Waste Strategies. An active community leader working to affect positive environmental policy and change, Stacy started her company to help businesses reduce their carbon footprint.
For more information on Zero Waste Strategies – https://0waste.org/
To learn more about Texas Campaign for the Environment – https://www.texasenvironment.org/
To recycle your computers or electronics – https://www.tceq.texas.gov/p2/recycle/electronics/manufacturer-list.html
Cute little recycling bin for the bathroom – buy here
Pretty ok transcript:
[00:00:00] Jess: All right. Well, welcome to mostly green today. We’re chatting with Stacy Savage, founder and president of zero waste strategies, a sustainability consultancy based here in Austin, Texas, or I suppose it’s based in central
[00:00:12] Stacy: Texas, central Texas out in the best job, the best job in Austin for quite
[00:00:16] Jess: a while before that.
And so her company, it helps businesses reduce their carbon footprint through more efficient operations, such as recycling, upcycling, composting, and other things. Over the past 20 years, Stacy has been an active community member, leader, and activist working to affect positive environmental policy and change as well.
[00:00:35] Mason: Now I noticed you started your career at the Texas campaign for the environment. I think, you know, they play a pretty important role in grassroots organization, but man, that is a. Tough job where you canvasing.
[00:00:48] Stacy: Oh yeah. It, you know, some people just have a knack for it. And before that I was, you know, spent nine years in the restaurant and bar industry.
And so I multitasking. Talking to people from all walks of life was just so natural for me that it just translated easily over into the door to door canvassing world. So I just had to look people in the eye and say, these are issues that I know you care about. It affects your family. It affects your children, affects our tax base, and I need you to go get your checkbook right now.
Sign a check so that we have the lobby power that we need to go represent your family in the halls of the Capitol.
[00:01:25] Mason: Yeah, well that is admirable. I lasted all I wanted to do it. Just, I had a job, but I just wanted to also do that for the environment. And I lasted all of one day because I just wasn’t good.
I was horrible at that. One-on-one we need your help now kind of thing. And so I admire people who can do that.
[00:01:46] Stacy: Thank you. Yeah, it was a lot to. And there was a steep learning curve at the very beginning of how to communicate these issues effectively and jump over the objections that people give, you know, they don’t want to help right now or, you know, but the whole thing is, is that as that nonprofit could operate, it was about the people power.
It was about the, how many people backed us at the time for a particular piece of legislation or a particular piece of. You know, legislation at the city level level or the county level or, and so it was the constituency that put the public pressure on the elected officials. And that’s what really changed the tide on a lot of the policies that we got put in place at that city county
[00:02:27] Mason: and state level.
So it’s very effective. Do you keep in touch with them? Are they. Still rocking
[00:02:31] Stacy: and rolling. Absolutely. And you know, they made a major shift as all door to door organizations really had to do during COVID. And they did a whole, you know, pivot to a phone banking operation as well. But now they’re getting back out there knocking on those doors and they go to every single legislative district in Texas.
So all 181 districts, they knock on doors. And so they do a whole tour around Texas. They gathered that community in. That feedback, um, the financial support, the handwritten letters to their lawmakers and those districts, and then they, they culminates at the legislative session. And that’s the public pressure you put on those, those public officials, because they understand that translates back into.
If they’re going to get reelected the next year. And that’s what politicians, a lot of times are very concerned about. It might be one of their top concerns is real elections. So, um, it helps put the people power behind the policies, um, that worked for Texans.
[00:03:30] Mason: Cool. Well, we’ll put information on how to get involved with Texas campaign for environment.
[00:03:35] Jess: Yeah. Which policy that you helped with, um, was most meaningful to you?
[00:03:40] Stacy: Um, at the city level, I helped pass the universal recycling ordinance, which is the business recycling standard. So it requires all commercial properties in the city limits of Austin to allow convenient access to recycling for. Uh, business properties, apartment complexes, uh, office parks, medical facilities, that type of thing.
And then it also in phase two of the ordinance, which has already been implemented, um, it requires food, permanent businesses, not only to recycle, but to. They’re organic food waste as well from landfills. So the business recycling policy allows businesses and their employees to do right by their materials at the state level.
Um, in 2007, we passed the Texas computer. Bill, which requires computer manufacturers like Dell on an apple, the original equipment manufacturers to take back and responsibly recycled their equipment for free for Texans. Wow. And so there, yeah, so it’s a statewide thing. It’s, it’s regulated by the Texas commission on environmental quality, which is kind of our state’s EPA, if you will.
And in 2011, we repeated the process and got televisions included. Uh, so there’s now a. Take back law and it television take back law. And so is
[00:05:02] Jess: that at any retail location for apple or Google?
[00:05:06] Stacy: Um, you can go on their websites or you can go to the, uh, the TCEQ, Texas commission on environmental quality website, or I think the best website to go to is Texas recycles computers, or Texas recycled TVs.
Is it guff? I can’t remember. I think it’s dot gov, but, uh, that, that allows you to find out by equipment name or manufacturer name, what their program actually looks like. And so if you click on the letter, a it’ll drop down all the manufacturers that start with a, and you can click the one that you think.
Um, open that up and it takes you to either that manufacturer’s website to give you the instructions on how to get rid of those, that equipment responsibly and for free through that, that state legislation.
[00:05:52] Mason: Well, we’re going to use that right away. Cause we have a little pile of computers and one of our cabinets.
[00:05:56] Jess: I mean, if we don’t know what to do with. They don’t work anymore.
[00:06:01] Stacy: Right? Well, they’re full of lead and mercury arsenic. Uh, they’ve got these toxic chemicals that just don’t belong in landfills because landfills are typically taxpayer owned, um, unless it’s a private company. So that puts the onus on the taxpayer and usually the city or county.
Uh, entity that runs that, that landfill. And so there’s also, they’re also extremely bulky. And so when you get them on mass, it takes up a lot of space in the landfill, um, that could be reserved for other things. So that also puts the onus back on the manufacturer for risk, for designing their products for recycling rather than disposal.
And so when we go further up. And we get to the innovation phase, the engineering phase, the materials, selection phase of creating that product. Then they have a lot more to think about around what does it look like when it hits the show? When I take it home, the customer takes it home for Christmas or whatever.
Uh, and then it gets into the hands of maybe a family member and then that family member uses it for five years. Uh, and then it crashes. And then what do you do with it? So it really takes in the full life cycle of the entire piece of equipment instead of, uh, you know, cradle to grave. We’ve got a cradle to cradle situation.
So it’s kind of putting everything in a loop rather than a linear production model.
[00:07:22] Mason: And we explain those two terms real quick for our listeners.
[00:07:28] Stacy: Yeah. So cradle to cradle to grave would be, uh, the company is going to make the product. It gets transported in a linear fashion to the big box retailer store.
Uh, and then me as a customer, I go in, I see what I want to buy. I buy that. And then once it’s obsolete or it breaks like you guys have the issue right now, it goes to landfill. Um, if people don’t know about these recycling programs, right. Um, they’ll put it out on the curb and they’re like, I don’t know what to do with it.
It’s big and bulky. I don’t want to deal with it. So, and then, uh, cradle to cradle just takes the two ends of that linear model and connects. And it creates more of a circular economy, uh, which is the newly emerging economy where zero waste is a part of that. And so it’s, it’s the entire life cycle of a product rather than out of sight, out of mind in a landfill.
[00:08:21] Jess: So with zero waste strategies, you guys work with massive companies here in Texas. Like the city of city of Boston isn’t necessarily a company, but along with Dell and. How did you guys go about working with them and acquiring those companies? Did they reach out to you guys or did you reach out to
[00:08:36] Stacy: them?
Yeah, I think we have pretty good SEO because when somebody types in zero waste methods or zero waste techniques or zero waste strategies, we pop up. And so I did that on purpose because a lot of people don’t know. The term zero waste or it frightens them because zero is so absolute. Um, and you know, the terms zero waste, uh, is a global business efficiency term, but it really comes down to 90% waste reduction and diversion from landfill and incinerator by the year 20, 40 or sooner.
So that’s the global definition. I, if we can get more than 90%. Great. So lots of companies are doing this yes. At and T and Dell and, uh, several others like Nestle Purina. They reached out to us. Um, I think a lot of times these larger companies have a mandate from their CEO. It’s a nice, shiny term and they want to capitalize on it and they want to say, Hey, we need to implement this in our business structure, go forth and produce.
Right. And then the middle management is like, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Or, you know? Yeah. Where do I, where do I begin? So that’s, that’s, what’s really great about our program is that we help this. Reduce waste to increase revenue. It engage their employees because that’s, what’s going to make or break your program is if your employees aren’t bought in, you got a big problem.
And then, you know, the green marketing tool that we use for that to edge out the competition, which I think is really important. And some companies just don’t know where. And so we helped them begin the, the process of learning what these terms are, learning, what the protocols are, how does the certification process start if you want to certify your, your facility.
So there’s a lot that goes into it and we’ll just go. Right. We’ll sit there and we’ll talk to the middle, to the middle management, the key employees, the higher ups, the folks that are on maybe the green team that kind of initiate some of these programs from an employee perspective. And we’ll just say, what is your perception of.
These concepts, how does this relate to you in your work life? Um, what is inconvenient? What could be more presentable or, or, uh, relatable and we get people’s feedback and we start to understand what the corporate culture is around the concepts and if people understand them or not. And if there’s a marketing strategy.
Absolutely. Absolutely. And so if internally, People don’t really understand what’s going on because maybe the right hand is not talking to the left hand, you know, that kind of thing. Then we can help kind of connect the dots because a lot of it is where there’s a major lack of training and that’s really just what it comes down to right there.
And to get people excited. I mean, look, we’re talking about trash. It ain’t fun. It ain’t sexy. It goes away somewhere, but where is. Right. It’s it’s over there. It’s in our oceans, it’s in somebody else’s backyard at frontline community or a fence line community that has to deal with odors from a landfill that’s improperly managed.
So a way is not a place anywhere on a circular planet with finite. Yeah, period. And so we really must do better with our purchasing power as a collective of customers to put the pressure on the businesses to do do better. And there’s a statistic that states that there’s about a hundred companies globally, that contribute to about 70, 80% of the world’s emissions and the people who own those companies or run those.
They have names. They have email addresses, right? They’ve got phone numbers. I mean, we, we’ve got to step up the pressure. They’ve got social media accounts. Like how can we tell them this is what we want from their company and get them to listen. It’s really about the purchasing power. And it’s not only that it’s the purchasing power of the millennials and the gen Zs or the zoomers as they like to be called.
Uh, we’re looking at $46 billion in collective buying power for gen. Period. So that’s not including any of the older generations. And so they are presenting this scenario to these companies that status quo does not work for us anymore. We are living in a society and in a time right now where it’s kind of apocalypse.
And then they are forcing the change. And so these old status quo business practices, just don’t jive with this, this new, um, generation, uh, at all. And so these companies are like, oh my gosh, we’re stopped. What do we do? And so they reach out to somebody like me. You know, we need you to come through well with COVID, we’ve been able to do a new program with online video trainings that we’ll be packaging and selling to folks so that they can do kind of learn at your own pace.
Um, we take it from step one all the way to like a deep, dirty dive into a dumpster where, you know, we’re doing a waste audit up to our elbows in, in, uh, in trash and recycling and organic materials. There’s a lot that, uh, that needs to be learned, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t change. It’s gotta be, is the financial incentive there for larger corporations to do that.
And I think. And so
[00:13:57] Jess: with that online training program, is that for any business
[00:13:59] Stacy: size? Yeah, our niche is probably mid-size businesses. That probably, that may have like a four or 500 employees, maybe even a little larger, like, like you said, we worked with at and T in downtown Dallas. They’ve got. Buildings, uh, that, that we TRAPed through.
Um, Nestle Purina up in St. Louis. They’ve got a 3 million square foot campus and 3000 employees and the office parks. So it can go if basically if your business generates waste, we can help you, which is almost all business. And even if you don’t have a recycling program in your local community, we can teach you a waste reduction reduction strategies, uh, around.
Um, so you’re not throwing out as much because you have to think about the materials that come in, you pay for that, the materials that go out, you also pay for that. So it’s a double whammy. If you’re not utilizing those materials throughout top to bottom side to side diagonally anywhere in your business operation that you can and prioritizing.
Repair equipment repair is huge. I remember, um, Nestle Purina had an entire facility just for reuse and repair kind of maintenance. And so if there was like an office chair that had two missing cats, They would replace them and get it back into, into the, the function of office life. But many companies would just Chuck it and buy a brand new one for quadruple the price or, or whatever.
So there’s a lot to be said for waste reduction, reuse repair, because recycling is the third. Final step before landfill. So we have to get all these Rees reduce recoiling repair remanufacturing refabrication before we get to recycling, there’s so much more we can do, uh, in between before the blue bin is even considered.
[00:15:55] Mason: Yeah. And we’ve been learning as we’ve been digging into, um, household wastes and our deep dive that we’re doing that the majority of plastic, even when it’s recycled it, doesn’t actually get recycled and reuse in any way. And so really the key is about reducing the amount of waste that is produced in any given environment, business, home, or, you know,
[00:16:18] Stacy: municipals.
Well about 9% of plastics do get recycled, but it’s lower, low, typically lower quality. Whenever it gets reformed into a different kind of, of, uh, plastic. Uh, but you look at companies like Dell and Adidas, they’re actually scooping up open ocean plan. And reformulating it into a new polymer or whatnot, and they’re making them.
Uh, laptops and PCs out of that. Adidas has a brand new shoe out that uses, uh, ocean plastics from around the world that is collected on coastlines and an island communities. So there’s a lot to be said for these larger. Companies heating the call of their customers and their investors and their stakeholders who are opening their ears.
And they’re starting to get really creative about solutions. That’s what we need. We need the business innovation to drive this because the business innovation drives policy as much as you don’t want to think that businesses. Policymakers they do. And so people think they own them. Yeah. Well, I wasn’t going to go that far, but if you want to say it, but, uh, there’s, there’s a lot to be said about the, the companies taking the initiative and showing how it can work on an economic scale and then showing the lawmakers, Hey, we need this for.
The entire us, we can do this, this, this, and this, and that would help us market better and, uh, edge out our competition. So there’s a lot to be said for businesses finding the economic benefit of reduction or reuse. And it just happens to come with a side of environmental responsibility and sustainability, right.
That you can mark it. Uh, so that’s really how we, how we hit that is, is, um, we attack it with the economic. And then it filters out, uh, through the organization of filters out through the marketing as a feel good, do good for the planet. Join us. We’d love to have you as a customer
[00:18:21] Mason: and as consumers, one of the, so the best way that we can support these efforts is kind of buying the finished goods.
Do you think these remodeled remit.
[00:18:31] Stacy: Yeah. And yeah, that’s the thing though that a lot of times you’ll have the, uh, you’ll buy the plastic container right. Of dish detergent or whatever you use it up and put it in the blue band. You’re like, my job is done, but it’s not. So we need to look at the recycled content.
Um, things like paper bags and kids’ toys and those, those kinds of things where we’re bringing back things into our home that has supported the reuse and the recycling market. So if you look at the city of Austin, uh, city hall, Uh, when it was reconstructed, um, a little over a decade ago, I think it about 70% of that materials reclaimed.
And so it’s really important to help municipalities and counties also understand that they have purchasing power, huge purchasing power, and if they’re not helping. Sealed the loop or bring the two ends of the linear economy together to create that loop for the circular economy. Then they’re not really pushing the issue at the local or county level.
And so I think that’s, that’s when it comes back to grassroots, right? We, we push at the community level. We push at the city level. Uh, we influence decision makers, department leads, uh, that gets to the county. It becomes a county policy. It goes, it works. There the, the levels of government. So it’s kind of an all hands on.
Because we’re in a complete plastic crisis right now, even companies like Coca-Cola and Disney are warding off these compostable plastics as well. So those fracture so much, uh, whenever they get into the sun that it, it, they never really biodegrade. So it’s kind of. Compostable plastic as a product has been revealed by these or discovered by these large, very large international global companies to be kind of an oxymoron.
Yeah. So it just, it just,
[00:20:25] Mason: uh, they don’t actually compose, but then you can’t recycle
[00:20:28] Jess: them. Yeah, exactly. And then a lot of cities. Areas don’t have composting facilities, even. So people are either just throwing them in the trash or throwing them in the recycling and making the problem
[00:20:39] Stacy: worse. And that’s the, the cross-contamination issue.
You know, if you do everything right, you have to also bank on every single person on your street doing it just as well as you did. So that’s where the education comes down. That’s where the employee education comes down. Right. So if I’m walking up to. Toubin or three bin system at my office park. And I’ve got this material in my hand and I don’t know what to do with it.
If there’s not signage up, that shows me what to do with it. If it’s, if it’s not in like English and Spanish, if it’s. Doesn’t have the graphics on it with the pictures of, uh, and if it’s not color coded, it gets really confusing. So having a properly colored coded bins, the signage that matches is really something that can help people make the decision on the spot, because if it, if it takes longer than two or three weeks, People get embarrassed that they don’t know what to do with it, or they get frustrated and they’re just like, all right.
Everything into the trash. And so if you don’t capture that competent decision-making right then and there, when they walk up, you’re probably going to get either a lot of contamination or. You’re going to get items that should have been captured into the landfill trash. And so the cross-contamination, I believe when it’s about 25 to 30% contaminated, then the entire load that gets to the recycling plant.
If they discovered that high percentage rate of contamination, it’s going to landfill because it’s just not cost effective to pick through everything and pick up the contaminants. Um, you gotta think about the workers on the line that are dealing with the conveyor belts and you know, there’s a lot of technology around it, but still the human.
As one of the best detectors of things that are misplaced, uh, or things that are, that shouldn’t belong or there’s, you know, contamination this stream or that stream. So we have to think about those workers and their health and safety. So one example is broken glass, broken spaghetti jar, broken window paint.
Don’t put that in your recycle bin because people have to deal with that. And so if you put it in as a whole intact job, And it gets broken along the way. No fault on you. Right. But you wouldn’t want to put a wall, a broken window pane in there knowing that it’s broken so
[00:22:53] Mason: dangerous. That’s a good tip. And you talked about training being crucial for employees.
If I’m walking into my company, that’s a small to mid-sized business. What are your suggestions that people on how they get their company awareness up and can influence their own company?
[00:23:10] Stacy: Well, I think first we have to get people excited. There needs to be tracking. So if you’re not tracking or measuring what you want to convey, then people aren’t going to get it.
Um, and if it’s not done in a way that’s like very easily digestible, you know, uh, last year at this time we were at this recycling. Six months later, we’re here a year later we’re here. So it really helps people visualize, oh, we’re increasing our recycling rate. I was a part of that. That’s awesome. And then you relate it to, what does that look like in our community though?
How is it affecting families when you don’t recycle properly? There’s a statistic that says, you know, one aluminum can, can power a TV for four hours. You know, it’s the equivalency of the, um, of the energy. Uh, so if people can, if people get understand, and you’ll see that a whole foods or, you know, yoga mats or whatever, you know, you’ve got the little tag that drops down and says, oh, you know, we use this, this, and this material.
It saved this much in carbon. And this. Uh, so when people can visualize that and it’s specific to your company and it’s specific to the job that that person is doing, or the company, you know, the company that they work with, it is empowering. It’s motivating, it’s a morale booster and people can rally around it and they can understand that, you know, Hey, I’m, I’m not telling you what to do, but if you don’t recycle that over there, instead of putting it over there, then you know, this, this, this, and this is what.
And you can help people guide people, your peers in a way that is helpful. And, uh, that way they can. Feel part of the program. So it’s not just a top down thing from the CEO. It has to be a bottom up thing too. So creating those and I have a training program on this or part of my training program is how do you create green teams?
What do they need to look like? Who should be leading. How can you identify the cheerleaders in, on your floor or in your department that can really hold together and have a little additional time to do you give them a little additional time to focus on the green team stuff? Because it’s so important to the CEO.
What ideas are you bringing in? Do you make it welcoming for people to bring new initiatives in whether they’re profitable or not? Do you prioritize waste reduction, repair and reuse over recycling. If you’re holding company events, are you bringing zero waste protocols to your vendors and your suppliers?
What does it look like up your supply chain, uh, down in your, in your down chain? There’s a lot to be said to implement these protocols all the way around. To make a container for your business that is based on, on zero waste protocols and that your business, uh, employees can get behind and they can rally.
They can tweet out there. I worked for this company and we did this, this and this, and it is awesome. If you’re looking for a job we’re ready to have. It really bolsters the quality of people that are coming in to apply for, for jobs. So maybe you can, you can pull in people who are really passionate, not just about their job that they’ll be doing, but how they will help advance your company in the sustainability realm so that you can market.
[00:26:24] Jess: Yeah, that’s incredible. One of my questions was about how, or what recommendations you would have for somebody who is passionate about changing the protocols in their company, but it is a small company and they don’t have a green team or anything like that. So there’s online resources where people can go find training materials on your website.
[00:26:41] Stacy: We, we sell a training package. Uh, so that’s usually for your managers or your sustainability engineers, or, you know, people who are needing. Or the business owner, property owner, whoever, uh, restaurant tour, anybody that has the ability to, uh, make decisions around the waste and recycling and composting decision-making, you know, with the contracts and the haulers and that type of thing, or the people who are in the financial department who cut the checks to the companies, do they do the hauling and the recycle pickup and all of that.
So, uh, it’s usually not necessarily for the specific employee. But a lot of my training does give tips on how to engage employees in how to find those people in your, your network or in your organization to get them jazzed up about it and to, to get some strategies laid out for your specific company, but, uh,
[00:27:33] Mason: uh, introduce the leadership to your firm.
[00:27:37] Stacy: absolutely. Absolutely. Send them our way. Yeah. We’re ready to help at the drop of a hat and, um, but. Uh, we’ll go anywhere. Yeah. We’re, we’re mobile. It’s, you know, it’s a small team. It’s me and my husband. Uh, and, and, uh, we bring in contractors and subcontractors that specify in the particular industry that may be contracting us.
And so there was a, a team that I built up. Uh, and to support us. And once the contract is done, we dissolve, it’s all very fluid. So these are the best of the best people from around the country that we pull in on our contracts, because we have. We’re tapped into the largest zero waste network and the country.
And, um, my mentors are in zero waste. Are the people that helped create the global definitions. And so they’re the ones that are, that we’re contracting with. They’re like, we’re like, Hey, we’ve got a major company that wants to do this, this and this. Would you like to come? Absolutely. We’ve already bedded them.
We know where they stand, you know, they’re going to be bringing the best practices from around the globe. So they’re, they’re globally connected. So they, they know, uh, even more innovative countries, uh, that, that have leadership there that will implement those actions around zero waste and sustainability.
And they’ll bring them back to the U S and into the contracts and the best practices, um, that they built out for the national nonprofits that lead zero.
[00:29:07] Mason: Wonderful. I like that. The definition is 90% reduction because we’ve, you know, there’s a going zero waste. I felt like we needed to do a new tagline, just going to less waste because zero waste is so intimidating.
[00:29:22] Stacy: It’s like I said, it’s an absolute, that kind of puts people on guard like, oh, how could you ever get to zero? Well, the final 10% is the really hard to recycle stuff that goes back to your design. Innovation engineering and materials, selection, phase of product development. That’s
[00:29:41] Jess: where it almost makes it impossible for companies to go 100% zero waste because the products are not designed the product well.
Right. But companies who are purchasing those types of products, that’s what doesn’t allow them to go. 100%. Zero waste. Yep. There
[00:29:55] Stacy: you go. Supply
[00:29:56] Mason: chain. Yeah. Yeah.
[00:29:58] Stacy: But, you know, 90 is a great goal. And if you can, you know, think about that, you have to think about what we like to call in the industry, a waste Berg, kind of like an iceberg.
You’ll see the tip, but the vast majority of the waste is created, uh, getting that product to the, uh, the store shelf. If you think about every pound. Of waste material that you put out at the curb, there were 71 pounds upstream to make that one pound it’s massive when we can reduce by 90% or more, which is very attainable.
It just takes a lot of innovation and willpower and political will. I’m going to say that very distinctly, it takes a lot of political. Will you have so much more that can be
[00:30:46] Mason: done. It’s not often at a bottom line. Right. Actually, when you get down to that last percentage points,
[00:30:53] Stacy: right? And you look at the state of Texas, we have almost 200 active landfills.
We take in waste from other states, uh, as well. Um, a lot of our recyclables go to Mexico or, uh, overseas, um, to, uh, some Asian countries, not China or Taiwan at this point because they don’t want our contaminated stuff. They’re just sending it all back, which I kind of think it’s a silver line. Because maybe you had sealed with a lapped infrastructure for 30 years and we’ve been putting money on the table.
We’ve been losing money. We’ve been losing resources. We’ve been losing jobs. We’ve been losing massive economic impact. And so the state of Texas actually, um, past, uh, Was it Senate bill 6 59, I believe by Zephyr Rini. This bill requires the Texas, um, visitor, or like the tourism bureau to work with materials markets to understand.
Um, what the recycling rate is across the state and where there are economic viability or viable economic opportunities to use waste reduction, reuse and recycling across the state. So these are major commodities that we’re just letting go. And so there was a story several years back where a Nancy. Has the, a landfill and they are reversed mining their landfill to get all the recyclables out like that.
To me, that I’m like, yes, absolutely. Because that’s basically free money.
[00:32:21] Mason: Yeah. I was waiting for that story because when we send it over to other countries, they go through the whole waste streams and pick out everything that has any kind of value and to think about the amount of valuable material. And the landfills in America, it’s just mind
[00:32:36] Stacy: boggling.
Yeah. And not only that, the food waste as well. I mean, it’s 40% of our waste stream is food waste. When, when, whenever, you know, one in six kids are going hungry, uh, across the country. And that to me is a travesty it’s because, and you’re saying
[00:32:53] Mason: 40% of our waste is organic matter.
[00:32:58] Stacy: It’s a it’s between 30 and 40% city of Austin did a study of their own organic or their own recycling and waste stream, uh, back in 2015, uh, and showed 37% of the waste stream is organic.
Uh, so we’re right in there. And I, this is kind of right. Whenever the organics diversion or. Came into effect to affect all business food permitted businesses across Austin. So they’re doing another benchmark study and hopefully those stats can go up and we can show greater diversion, um, of food waste from, from
[00:33:31] Mason: landfill.
The last company CCS we’ve been in produce for awhile in a interesting stat that was always in the industry. Is that for produce now, you know, restaurants and, and kidded goods or, or different. But the produce supply chain is actually extremely efficient and you occasionally see stories of these mounds of beats that have to get plowed under.
But I think the status and we’ll do a fact check on this is that 70% of produce waste is after it hits a grocery store shelf. And so that’s really on, you know, the retailers and the consumers. But having been in the produce industry, I mean, it turns so fast star raw product would go from looking great to moldy and nobody should be eating it.
And a couple of days, sometimes as what we always said was the lowest common denominator was microbes. Smallest mouth that I wanted our food to go into. And then, you know, above that there were pig farms and cow farms that would pick up our waste stream. And then the holy grail was getting our, uh, byproduct and waste into other food products.
And so we’d worked with companies like re blend that made smoothies out of, uh, byproduct. We’re just finalizing a baby food partnership when COVID hit, so that didn’t ever come through. But
[00:34:52] Jess: in dog food as well, dog food.
[00:34:54] Mason: Yeah. Dog food was between the pigs and the babies. Some people be the highest and best use of that.
[00:35:05] Stacy: I’d be one of those that’s me. Yeah. I was going to say working with local farmers and ranchers. Um, you know, if they want to create their own compost from community donated, uh, food waste to, to nurse the soil on their own crops, that will in turn be at the farmer’s market that you get to buy for your family’s plate.
So that’s the cycle right there. And, um, you know, they do work with a lot of the grocery stores out there. Um, there’s a lot to be said for community involvement, uh, around that because people. I feel bad whenever they throw away food. And I think that there needs to be more of a standard in the household.
We already know that this happens usually in the back of house at a restaurant. And no first in, first out, you’re going to date, uh, everything that comes in, you’re going to use the stuff that is about to spoil first. Maybe you’re going to have a soup of the day that uses something that could be bad in the next day or two.
Um, maybe you’re using Dale two day old bread and you’re chopping it up and making it into croutons. Uh, so there’s a lot of reuse and repurposing in the back of the house. But I think at the, the home level, there’s a lot that we can do as well as empowered consumers and educated consumers. Uh, also, so not by.
Uh, as big of a purchase and buying smaller more times per week, and now that’s even easier with the, you know, the curbside pickup services at HEB or, you know, other grocery stores or even delivery. And so there’s, you can do a lot more frequent purchases for, for smaller quantity and that helps you regulate what’s going in and out of your refrigerator.
I know that. When I got back from my vacation a couple of weeks ago, I looked in my refrigerator and it was like, oh no, that package of strawberries dead. It was completely wiped. And I was like, dang it. But luckily I’ve got a side yard composter. Pop those puppies in there. And I was, I turned it and turned it and I was like, go make dirt.
So, but a lot of people don’t have that or, you know, they don’t have the, the composting service, but there’s so much more that we can do before that food becomes waste as well. So that’s something that we need to, to really tackle, um, especially knowing that one in six kids go hungry.
[00:37:24] Mason: Right. And so, you know, reducing.
Ways, I think a big take away here is just to even, I liked that waste Berg, um, analogy, thinking, realizing how much waste goes into products. And so supporting companies that are, uh, aware of that and reducing that one of our favorite kind of household goods drops. You don’t have any, you don’t have a container of detergent because.
Come in the little water-soluble, um, packets, and then it comes in a cardboard box that then, you know, while cardboard, I think the quote was that cardboard can be recycled five or six times, you know, not as, as great as aluminum or, or glass, but, uh, can still, at least is not contributing to the plastic apocalypse that we’re in the middle.
Can you think of any other kind of in-home strategies or places in the house where we can be more conscious of the waste as being.
[00:38:27] Stacy: Yeah, I would say in the bathroom is a big one. You know, your shampoo bottles, your, your toilet paper rolls is our cardboard. Uh, there’s even companies now that are producing toilet paper rolls without the cardboard in the middle.
Right. So they’re like, oh, there’s another way that we can reduce great if you want to support them, go for it. Um, but I think in the bathroom, a lot of people, uh, overlook those plastic recyclables that, um, get my husband and I would just, we just do a, um, an extra. Right by next to the trash, can you can, you can do that or you can, uh, just make sure to put it to the side and bring it to your, your blue bin when you’re done.
But I think that’s one part of the home that gets overlooked, um,
[00:39:07] Jess: is to recycle the plastic within their bathrooms. So the bathroom, right?
[00:39:11] Stacy: So shampoo and conditioner containers. Bodywash. Uh, you know, those, those kinds of things. Um, a story
[00:39:18] Mason: I found kind of funny, Jessica brought home these, um, it looked like compostable shampoo and conditioner bottles.
And I was like, I wonder how this is going to work out after about four showers, they were just falling apart, but then there was a plastic bladder inside there as well. I’m just not understanding this.
[00:39:38] Jess: I mean, the plastic bladder was much, much thinner than traditional shampoo bottles. And so that even broke in some areas, like there was a little crack in it that the shampoo or conditioner would come out of.
But yeah, having that paper in the bathroom or in the shower, But now that it wasn’t a good idea, but it just
[00:39:56] Mason: deteriorated. Everyone knows a zero waste shampoo and conditioner solution. Put it in the comments. That’s I
[00:40:05] Jess: mean, there’s low waste companies for sure. Like humankind where there’s no plastic and no waste for it, or bars of soap
[00:40:11] Mason: versus containers.
And it didn’t quite work
[00:40:15] Jess: out. I mean, I haven’t, there are a ton of shampoo bars out there. I have not tried them all by any means, but the few. I haven’t enjoyed them. Um, but there’s tens of solutions and I just haven’t tried them all to find a great one
[00:40:29] Stacy: or just joined the No-Poo movement. Whenever people are just not washing their hair.
And they’re like,
[00:40:38] Jess: the best way to be zero
[00:40:40] Mason: waste, different direction. I’m like, that’s not possible.
[00:40:46] Stacy: You haven’t been reading the beauty magazine,
[00:40:49] Mason: apparently not.
[00:40:51] Stacy: It’s a whole movement,
[00:40:54] Mason: so that’s a great tip in the bathroom. Just kind of take stock of where the items are going from there. And then. And I
[00:41:03] Stacy: would say also the city of Austin, I believe still has a $75 rebate program for composters for single family homes.
Oh, cool. Yeah. And, uh, I believe even then maybe schools might be able to apply for that like elementary, middle school, high school, but yeah, it allows you to go and purchase a compost. And then you keep the receipt and you submit that for reimbursement and the city, uh, helps you pay for that. Very cool.
That’s very cool. So definitely check that first. Uh, my information might be a little bit old, but I know, you know, two or three years ago, that’s exactly what was happening and people were really taking advantage.
[00:41:39] Mason: Well, I’m sure we could talk with you forever.
[00:41:42] Jess: We may
[00:41:45] Mason: have you back on soon. Um, but it has been wonderful to get these tips from you on reducing waste both in the house and in your business and how to affect change in a company.
And so, thanks so much for being on the show. And this has been another, mostly green life podcast.