Each week, you get to be a fly on the wall as I chat with interesting people, doing interesting things in the world of sustainability. "Sustainacast" is a platform to allow entrepreneurs, managers, creators, leaders, students and other folks tap into ideas and approaches to sustainability from local, regional and international thought leaders. Tune in to expand, reinforce or challenge your ideas on many facets of sustainability.
The show seeks to explore and expand on the topic of sustainability, covering areas such as energy, food, social enterprise, entrepreneurship, climate change, lifestyle, wellness, transportation, local food, recycling, waste & much more. Sustainacast aims to help you simply and conveniently explore what it means to make sustainable decisions, and how to make it the foundation of what we do.
Learn more at www.sustainacast.com
Our Pre-Conceived Ideas Around Sustainability, with Clay Mitchell, Ph.D
What better day to release a brand spanking new episode of Sustainacast, than on EARTH DAY 2017!
After an epic gap between episodes, I'm really pleased to bring you this discussion with my good friend Clay Mitchell. I can't thank Clay enough for helping me get this project kick started again, and for such an interesting discussion. You can learn more about him and find him HERE.
It's been a very big gap between recordings, so thanks for sticking with me!
Clay Mitchell, Ph.D is a lecturer at University of New Hampshire and has a depth of experience in business, community & public service which paved the way to his role in education at UNH currently.
In this wide-ranging discussion, we touch on issues related to why words like "green" and "sustainability" have come to carry so much baggage. And how he goes about introducing the topic of sustainability to a room full of passionate university students who may have pre-conceived ideas about what it means.
I first met Clay at a school facility management meeting in 2010 when I was invited to brainstorm with him and some facility and finance management folks on how to creatively finance some innovative energy projects.
Those first discussions turned into numerous executed projects with local towns and government organizations, working through ways to provide power purchase agreements, leasing and energy finance solutions to small scale projects.
Clay has worked with local governments in New Hampshire in the land use planning and energy fields for the last 20 years. He has served as a land use planner and attorney throughout the state of New Hampshire and his work includes the development of innovative zoning approaches to energy efficient design, community re-development of brownfields, and a wide range of innovative zoning techniques to protect open space and natural resources.
When I met him in 2010, he had just co-founded a NH-based company called Revolution Energy LLC, who developed the first 3rd party-financed (through a power purchase agreement) solar array in NH, the first similarly financed combined heat and power (CHP) project and the only 3rd party financed solar hot air project in the country (which he and I worked on together!)
#17 The Power to Save The World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy
In follow up to my previous episode with Robert Bryce (@pwrhungry), I'm really excited to bring you this deep dive into Nuclear Energy with author Gwyneth Cravens.
It was clear to me from feedback on the previous episode, that there was a need for me to look into Nuclear Energy to help explore answers to some really troubling questions that came my way. Questions like
What do you do with radioactive waste that could last 10,000 years or more?
Health issues of nuclear energy, and living near plants
Nuclear fallout/catastrophic accidents. Isn't it obvious this is a really bad idea?
What you are about to listen to, is my own journey being what I would call "half-way" into the nuclear exploration. Meaning, that just a couple weeks ago I was grossly un-educated on this energy source. I really had no idea about it, and had no opinions about it, and had no reasons to have any opinions about it.
But recently my company did a project on a Naval Shipyard base with nuclear submarines, and it got me thinking - what's the difference between those and a nuclear power plant in terms of public risks?
It turns out that my guest today Gwyneth Cravens was asking the same questions and hundreds more in her journey talking with people all around the globe about the truth behind nuclear energy. As a result of that journey and extensive body of work, she authored "The Power to Save the Word - The Truth About Nuclear Energy".
You can check out Gwyneth's book here, and audio book here.
Consider these facts which I've borrowed from Robert Stone, Director of Pandora's Promise which Gwyneth was heavily featured in.
France now produces 80% of its electricity from nuclear energy. It has the cheapest electrical rates in Europe, the cleanest air in the industrialized world, and per-capita CO2 emissions that are half that of neighboring Germany despite that country’s long-standing commitment to develop a robust green energy sector
If you took all of the nuclear waste created by all the commercial nuclear power plants in the United States and gathered it together in one spot, it would fill one football field from end to end to a height of about 8 feet. The long-lived waste, the stuff that remains radioactive for many thousands of years and that everyone fears and deplores, would only fill the one-yard line.
More importantly, all of the waste from today’s Light Water Reactors can be used as fuel for the next generation of reactors that will hopefully be coming on line in a few decades. In fact, that football field’s worth of waste described above, if used in next generation fast reactors, could power everything in the United States (including the entire transportation sector) for a thousand years!
I hope you grab as much from this conversation as I did talking with Gwyneth, getting much needed clarification on what can only be described as a touchy subject.
#16 The Myths of Green Energy with Robert Bryce
My introduction in this episode of Sustainacast is longer than normal, because I want to do my best to set the stage for some very thought provoking discussion on the topic of energy.
Robert Bryce (www.robertbryce.com, @pwrhungry) is the author of many books on energy & the energy industry. Of these publications, his book "Power Hungry: The Myths of Green Energy & The Real Fuels of the Future" is the reason I contacted Robert to have him on the show. It's an intriguing example of showing the reader how to do the calculations, run the numbers, apply the physics and figure it out for themselves...
He's an outspoken critic of wind energy and biofuels. And his book Power Hungry goes into extensive detail discussing why technologies such as wind and biofuels have some flaws that make them not only a potentially unreliable energy source, but may well be having negative effects in some instances.
Perhaps the greatest challenge that clean energy faces, (particularly wind energy) is the issue of land mass per unit of energy.
Check out this graph from Robert's book (Power Hungry) which shows the comparison of footprint required for various energy types in order to yield the same 2,700 MW volume of energy... staggering.
In addition to the issue of land use of various energy sources, the even greater issue lies with energy reliability of various sources. It's the reason why Robert keeps driving home the fact that America/World has a POWER problem (always on), not an ENERGY problem.
Also consider this graph from his book, which compares energy reliability of various energy sources during summer time.
Since his book is jam packed with data, I've laid out a few helpful pieces of information to help frame the conversation, and hopefully to inspire you to check it out for yourself. It's kind of my "three take-aways" laid out at the start of the show instead of the end.
I hope you find this discussion thought-provoking at the least, and I hope it gets you fired up enough to either read Robert's book or start doing some research and math to run the numbers for yourself.
You can find Robert at
#15 Authenticating Sustainability with John Rooks
John Rooks is the founder of SOAP Group and a recent software startup called Rapport.io
In a TEDex talk a couple years ago, he did a wonderful presentation on "authenticating sustainability" in which he introduces the concept of the "Simulacrum" - Check out the TED Talk here -
The Simulocrum is essentially the copy of an original that doesn't really exist. And John says that this concept can be found routinely in the world of sustainability.
In this episode of Sustainacast, John talks with me about how society gets it's education about sustainability from advertising, and this has therefore become the focus of sustainability for companies (how do we look??). The good news is that it's helped elevate awareness, but the bad news is that people's (and perhaps companies) ideas of what sustainability really looks like is probably not that far removed from going to Olive Garden for authentic Italian food.
John uses tons of examples, speaks from tons of experience and we even get into his newest venture which has begun gaining traction and some nice awards & recognition.
If you have an opinion, or would like to share a comment - please do so at www.sustainacast.com
You can find John on twitter @johnrooks OR @soapgroup
#14 Creating Products for 100% Impact with Daniel Flynn of ThankYou Group
At the age of 19 with some Co-Founders, Daniel Flynn launched a Bottled Water company called ThankYou Water. Not only is this one of the most capital intensive business to start, but it's incredibly competitive and one of the most contentious industries in the world...
But ThankYou Water had a different idea. They took their brand and put 100% of the profits into funding water projects in un-developed countries without access to clean drinking water.
The result is that they've helped over 50,000 people get access to clean water, and now grown their product line to over 30 different products that include water, food and personal care.
In this episode, Daniel Flynn talks with me about the journey of building the brand, and going head to head with some of the biggest consumer brands. And most of all, we go deep into the amazing outcomes and challenges that have come from committing their brand to 100% Impact.
LINKS FROM THE SHOW:
Check out their website at www.thankyou.co
And Check out this fantastic video of ThankYou's campaign to get on the shelves of Coles & Woolworths, Australia's biggest grocery chains.
#13 Who Gives A Crap? with Simon Griffiths
How do you take a mundane product like toilet paper, and use it as a tool to change the world?
Simon Griffiths is the co-founder and social entrepreneur behind legendary Australian toilet paper company "Who Gives A Crap". I sat down with him in his office in Fitzroy, Melbourne Australia to talk about social enterprise and the nuts and bolts behind getting a business off the ground that makes an impact.
In this episode we talked about all kinds of considerations that come into play when connecting your business with a social mission including;
- Balancing Profits vs Benefits
- Deciding what % to commit to
- Corporate structure
- Taking on investment
- What should your mission be?
- Selecting partners to achieve that mission
- Un-expected benefits
and so much more!!
Oh - and make sure you also check out a podcast episode on Small Business Big Marketing where I first heard about Simon Griffiths at http://smallbusinessbigmarketing.com/who-gives-a-crap/
We can;t afford not to pay attention to the subjecto fo sustainability. Mick's podcast helps give real world understanding and tactics to pursue the goal.
A resource for colleges
I love learning about how to really make an ecological difference. I've listened to 3 now and while one didn't apply to me and the sustainability projects I am working on they were fascinating to just learn about and see where the industry is going. This is for anyone who wants to understand how to build a better world. Thanks for taking the time to put this together Mick.
An interesting subject that I'm sure will be getting more and more attention in the future.