Jan 312017

Lindsey Wohlman is our contributor this issueLarge scale environmental issues are a nightmare to communicate. They’re hard to describe let alone visualize. There are plenty of great infographics and CGI YouTube clips, but what about real life visualizations? Can they be accurate and even more – fun and engaging? That’s where serious creativity comes in to play.

For Angela Haseltine Pozzi this all came together while picking up beach trash in her community of Bandon, Oregon. Her regular walks on a beach turned into clean-up events as the ocean pushed more and more plastic pieces ashore.

Instead of disposing of them “properly” (in a landfill as most of the material wouldn’t be easily recycled) she opted to build monumental sculptures out of the colorful plastic. These brightly colored works were a perfect visual aid to discuss ocean pollution. Looking closely, you can easily identify a variety of household items that certainly do not belong in the ocean.

A shark made of found plastic
Pozzi’s team has built more than 75 larger-than-life sculptures of sea creatures ranging from seals to turtles to starfish. How much trash has Pozzi “processed” into her art? Current estimates are around 40,000 pounds of plastic. Much more has been collected but not incorporated (and hopefully it will remain in a landfill and not back in the ocean). Together with Bandon community they now have regular clean-up events as well as an arts center to provide education and outreach classes for the community and visitors.

Her works are heading on the road as well. They have been installed in museums and zoos across the country. Perhaps the biggest victory is bringing awareness to an issue that doesn’t resonate to land-locked states such as Colorado (they were installed in the Denver Zoo this last winter). Now they’re heading to the Smithsonian for another temporary exhibition. Here is a list of exhibition locations.

This artwork is an impactful reminder of the challenges our planet faces with the current plastics paradigm. In past blog posts here & here, we’ve referred to a report by the New Plastics Economy which predicts if we don’t change the way we produce and reprocess plastics, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Their recommended solutions include decoupling plastics from virgin petroleum feedstock, as well as using compostable products in foodservice settings. Through our GreenStripe and BlueStripe product lines and our commitment to advocacy, Eco-Products is working to make this new plastics vision a reality.

To see more of the works go to WashedAshore.org.
They are also looking for volunteers.

For more on the New Plastics Economy go here.

Jul 012015

Lindsey Wohlman is our contributor this issueSummer has arrived! With summer comes music festivals and other large scale events and plenty of big challenges in waste diversion and reduction. Be it baseball stadiums, concert venues, or outdoor festivals we’re seeing lots of examples of positive changes.

Here at Eco-Products® we love a good challenge and we love seeing the creative solutions used to help reduce waste. One such event that has successfully implemented a variety of measures is the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Their website sums it up perfectly – For more than two decades, Planet Bluegrass has worked to present the finest musical experiences in some of the country’s most magnificent natural environments while striving to reduce our environmental footprint at the same time (http://www.bluegrass.com/green/).

This festival’s reduction programs can be placed into two categories.

Telluride Bluegrass FestivalWaste Reduction
Telluride tackles waste reduction by partnering with several vendors to encourage reusables. They sell Clean Kanteen steel cups at the Bluegrass festival store that can be filled by beer vendors at a discount. Don’t want to buy one? Well the beer tents sell all of their beer in reusable Eco-Products® souvenir cups (which can be refilled at a discount at these same booths). They do not offer any single use cups and in doing so they cut out an entire waste generator. Telluride estimates they save upwards of 75,000 cups from being thrown out just by making this one change of habit.

When it comes time to hydrate, you can fill up your water bottles (or souvenir cups) at one of Telluride’s water stations. All stations provide free filtered water to help keep festivarians hydrated without bringing in bottled water. This has resulted in many food vendors opting to not sell bottled water since water is readily available for free.

Lastly, there’s a vendor wide ban on all plastic bags. This means all purchases must be bagged in cloth bags (or backpacks since everyone is wearing them).

Waste Diversion
Of course you can’t ban all waste. Food vendors still need a way to serve their customer, but Telluride works closely with vendors to ensure what they serve on can be diverted. Telluride is able to divert more than 60% of their festival waste (https://www.bluegrass.com/green/waste.html) by requiring all vendors to use compostable plates and cutlery.

In order for festivarians to divert their waste correctly, Telluride provides a 3 bin system each with their own trained volunteer “trash goalie”. They help concert-goers place their waste in the correct bin (compost, recycling, or trash). Volunteers ensure cleaner waste streams by directing trash disposal and occasionally sorting mis-placed waste (in years past our VP of Marketing Wendell has been known to help out) and in turn get to enjoy the festival when not at work! If you want to volunteer next year, check out this link.

Telluride Waste Solutions