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.
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.
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.
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.
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??
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.
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.
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Exactly what Environmentalists Need Right Now
Listening to the podcast and hearing the ways companies are tackling the sustainability issue gives me hope for the future. Definitely worth a listen!
Chicken Soup for the Soul
Lex and Tony are exactly what the Doctor ordered. With a healthy combination of wit and insight, they navigate their interviews with the precision of two tandem trapeze artists. The content is impactful and inspiring, building upon themes from some of the greatest minds with the largest goals: How will WE save the Planet? This isn't just a podcast you want to listen to - it is the podcast you need to listen to.