Zero Waste Pre-Oscar Party II: The Return of Recycling

February 26th, 2015 by Lily Kelly No comments »

Global Green USA always strives to “walk the talk,” and make sure our events are as green as possible. This year we continued our zero waste tradition for the second year in a row, in partnership with our Coalition for Resource Recovery members Athens Services and EcoSafe Zero Waste.

 

©Andrew Stuart 2015

Athens Services provides the waste hauling and sorting for many businesses and residences in Los Angeles, including the Avalon Hollywood – the swanky night spot where the Pre-Oscar Party was held. Athens uses a wet-dry system, meaning that they take food scraps and wet paper (usually napkins) in the “Wet Material” bin to be composted, and then take everything else, such as bottles, cans, dry paper, and plastics, in the “Dry Material” bin to be sorted into each type of recyclable material.

 

Classy EcoSafe Kitchen Caddy on the bar.

Classy EcoSafe Kitchen Caddy on the bar.

To help recover the food scraps, our member EcoSafe Zero Waste donated large compostable bags for the “wet materials” bins, as well as small bins and bags for the bar areas. These little bins ended up getting plenty of leftover lemon twists and martini olives – goes to show we had a good time! Since we were using almost all reusables at the event (china plates, glassware, metal utensils, etc.), most of the waste generated would end up as either rich soil amendment or as bales of metal, glass, or plastics that will be sent to processors and factories be turned into new products. We even used all real plants and reusable decorations for the interior of the event space to minimize waste from our beautiful setup.

 

From Left to Right: Les McCabe, GGUSA CEO, Oscar Winning artist Common, Bill Bridge of Global Green, and Scott Seydel, one of the founders of CoRR.

From Left to Right: Les McCabe, GGUSA CEO, Oscar Winning artist Common, Bill Bridge of Global Green, and Scott Seydel, one of the founders of CoRR.

 

I was glad to get the chance to work with Athens and the great staff at the Avalon Hollywood to make sure that, by the end of the night, everything was set for the Athens Services trucks’ early morning visit, when they come by and whisk the organics and recyclables away to their new life as valuable products.

 

 

Yours Truly (left) and Jessica Aldridge from CoRR Member  Athens Services (right).

Yours Truly (left) and Jessica Aldridge from CoRR Member Athens Services (right).

Follow That Box From Georgia to St. Louis

February 3rd, 2015 by Lily Kelly No comments »

For those of you who have been keeping up with our adventures in recyclable boxes, you know that we have tested FBA-certified water-resistant shipping boxes across the country – from California to the Mid-Atlantic to the Gulf Coast. For this past trip, we dove right into the heart of America, with a trip from South Georgia to the Midwest.

This past December, Global Green worked with one of the nation’s largest grocers, and therefore an influential purchaser, to test recyclable boxes that could be used by their suppliers across the country. The grocer operates over 1,300 locations, so if they decide to switch to 100% recyclable packaging that would make a tremendous impact.

To get things started I took a trip to the farming community of Moultrie, Georgia to test out some recyclable boxes with one of their major cabbage suppliers. We had arranged for our CoRR members, Green Bay Packaging and Interstate Container, to send samples of recyclable cabbage boxes to the facility, and I was headed down there to make sure the packing and shipping went smoothly, and to document whether the boxes got the job done.

Cabbage-in-box1

Cabbage packed in a recyclable box, ready to be added to the pallet and shipped.

When I arrived at the packing shed on a warm, sunny, Southern winter day, the workers were packing box after unrecyclable, wax-coated box of cabbage to be shipped to grocery stores across the country. It’s one thing to hear that over 1.4 million tons of wax-coated cardboard boxes are used every year, but it still takes me by surprise to see the sheer volume of unrecyclable packaging being used at just one packing shed. Clearly, it was time to change things up a bit.

Once I had met up with the facility manager, we grabbed some of the recyclable cabbage boxes that had been shipped in a few days before and gave them to the cabbage packers, who filled them with up to 40 pounds of heavy cabbage heads and stacked them seven layers high on the pallets. Once the pallets were loaded onto the trucks, we watched them take off on their 750-mile trip to St. Louis, Missouri.

A lot of produce items, as well as meats and seafood, are typically packed in unrecyclable boxes coated with paraffin wax. In many cases the boxes are coated to prevent moisture from making the box soggy, but for cabbage the key lies in augmenting the strength of the box itself. An uncoated box would buckle from the pressure of the heavy cabbage heads stacked on top of it, as well as the inevitable moisture of the coolers and shipping containers. But a box with a coating would withstand the rough treatment, and a recyclable coating would mean that the grocer or restaurant receiving the cabbage could sell that box instead of losing money by paying to have it landfilled.

Lily-and-staff

Lily Kelly (yours truly) taking a look at the boxes after they had arrived in St. Louis. They had survived the 750-mile trip unscathed!

Once the boxes arrived in St. Louis, they were unloaded at a distribution center outside the city. I had flown up the day before and met up with one of the leadership team members at the grocery store chain. We headed out early to take a look at the freshly unloaded boxes, and found that the boxes had survived the shipping process with no failures or product damage. The distribution center staff confirmed that they thought the boxes looked good, and many said they performed better than their unrecyclable wax-coated counterparts.

Now that we have been able to demonstrate that the boxes can handle the challenge of being shipped long distances with a heavy load, the next step will be helping more of these packing facilities switch over to 100% recyclable packaging. With the help of our grocer friends, we are embarking on that journey in 2015. Stay tuned for updates from the field!

 

Celebrity Carpet Recovery – A Pilot in Portland

January 21st, 2015 by Lily Kelly No comments »

The Portland Airport is the home to a very unusual local celebrity – 14 acres of green carpet with a colorful and distinctive geometric pattern. This recognizable carpet has in recent years become part of Portlanders’ homecoming rituals, with many folks taking pictures of their feet on the carpet when they first arrive at the airport. There are even t-shirts and socks for sale that feature the design. However, like all things, carpet doesn’t last forever, and this year the Port of Portland began the process of finding a recycler for their carpet (they plan to recycle 13 acres of it, and give out the last acre in small pieces as souvenirs to locals).

portland carpetAs one of their steps to success, they reached out to Global Green USA to ask us for help finding local recyclers to accept their carpet. We connected them to a few nearby companies who can turn the carpet into new products, and as of now they are choosing a recycler through an RFP process. Given how beloved the carpet is to the citizens of Portland, they have confidence that they will make every effort to ensure that it is recovered into new, valuable products.

But this problem is much bigger than one airport. According to the USEPA, over 3.5 million tons of carpet are manufactured in the US each year, but only 7.5% of this amount is recovered. When these millions of tons of carpet are discarded, it results in the emission of 8.5 million tons of greenhouse gasses, or equivalent to emissions from two coal-fired power plants. This also means that, for every ton of carpet that is recycled, you save 2.4 tons of CO2 equivalent. That’s a pretty good deal! However, carpet recycling is no easy task. For starters, there are multiple types of carpet available, some of which are more easily recycled than others. Additionally, carpet is often discarded as part of a larger demolition or renovation project, which means that contamination of the carpet by construction debris is common, and can hinder recycling.

So what can you do? Well, if you are planning to renovate your house, office, or other property, take a look at these resources provided by CalRecycle – they can give you the full picture of where to get your current carpet recycled, and how to choose a new carpet that can be easily recycled once it has reached the end of its useful life.

And as for Portland, their carpet is fortunately nylon 6.6, so they have high hopes that it will be recoverable into a variety of possible end-products, from padding for a new carpet installation to lumber for decking or railroads. The Port of Portland will be keeping Global Green in the loop as they choose a recycler for their airport’s beloved carpet, and we look forward to documenting its recycling and re-emergence of this legendary floor covering in the coming months. Stay tuned!

Next Steps: Establishing and Expanding Food Hubs for Food Deserts

January 20th, 2015 by Global Green USA No comments »

by Walker Wells, Lily Kelly and Gina Goodhill Rosen

Graphic by Tim Bevins

The following is the final installment of a three-part blog series summarizing the results of our research into the role that food hubs can play in neighborhood sustainability and the urban food network. The previous blogs can be found at Food Hubs Part II and Food Hubs Part I.

In our last installment, we explored some of the different forms that food hubs can take and the various services that they can provide to increase access to fresh foods for residents of food deserts. However, as we have mentioned, food hubs are not typically considered a standard tool to address the presence of food deserts, despite their effectiveness at supporting local food economies. Traditionally, food hubs have been considered a tool for providing services and support for small farmers in rural areas, not urban residents of food deserts. We believe that food hubs could be seen instead as part of a complete rural/urban food system, which could open up new sources of funding and support for their establishment and expansion.

UrbanFoodHub graphics blog 3In this post, we will explore some of the circumstances required for a food hub to be viable and effective, and propose a few next steps for policymakers and funders that could increase the prevalence of food hubs that serve food deserts. When we explored the forces at play concerning where food hubs locate, we approached the question from
a food hub operator’s perspective. What conditions and funding opportunities could make it beneficial to them, and in particular to their bottom line, to locate in a food desert?

Funding and Financing

Food hubs are typically funded through one of more of the following methods: federal government grants, philanthropic foundations, social impact investors, corporate sponsors, small business loans, and private sources of debt or equity. While these funding and financing sources may support the efforts of those already planning to expand or focus their market to underserved areas, it is not typically that there are either requirements or incentives for establishing food hubs that serve food deserts. Furthermore, there are often mismatches between the relatively modest amounts of funding that are needed to launch a food hub and the amount that can be obtained through the formal government programs. For example, New Market Tax Credits (NMTCs) have been used in several locations to finance healthy food businesses in low-income communities. But the vast majority of NMTC transactions exceed $5 million an amount of funding is more in line with what is needed for a medium-sized supermarket[1]. The complicated and expensive process required to apply for and receive NMTC funds makes applying for a smaller amount of funding impractical, thus excluding this option for many food hubs.

The inflexibility in funding can also be a challenge when trying to establish a multi-function food hub. For example storage and sorting areas are seen as an essential component of a food hub and would not be questioned in a funding request to purchase and renovate a building. But the inclusion of retail storefront or a teaching kitchen may be questioned, as they represent a different type of use, operation, and organizational capacity. Funders often need to be educated to understand how the features work together to be able to fully address issues of food access or how various partner organizations will work together to create an effective and stable long-term operation strategy.

Regulatory Compliance

Another challenge that food hub owners and operators face is compliance with food safety regulations, local zoning, and building codes. The extent of regulation varies depending on the type of food hub. Aggregation centers, for example, have relatively few regulations with which they must comply[2]. Processing centers, however, face a longer list of regulations. Regulations increases further if the facility includes food preparation, has a shared kitchen, or if food products are labeled as organic[3].

Currently, the FDA regulates most food handling through a uniform food code enforced by local health departments. At the very least, processing staff must obtain a food-handling certificate, such as Servsafe, and the facility will need liability insurance. According to the food hub operators interviewed by Global Green, zoning compliance is not typically difficult, as food hubs can be located in either commercial- or industrial-zoned areas. Access for trucks and providing sufficient space for storage, sorting, and distribution may be easier in industrial areas. But food hub models located in commercial area are better suited to include the small retail storefronts that can better serve food deserts.

Recommendations

Food hubs are an emerging tool for promoting community sustainability. We have a unique opportunity to shape the role they will play in our food system. Based on the stakeholder interviews and research conducted by Global Green, the following recommendations are offered as ways to increase the potential for food hubs to be a positive force in ameliorating the issues associated with food deserts.

  • Establish funding incentives . For-profit food hubs have an incentive to serve in upper-income markets and neighborhoods where they can get higher prices for their products. Incentives are needed for food hubs to serve or be located in low-income communities. Some government grants for urban food production do require that a specific percentage go towards projects serving low-income communities, but food deserts are not specifically identified. State and federal government grants should provide additional “bonus” funding for food hubs that specifically serve food deserts, in addition to the percentage of funding that’s already set aside for low-income communities.
  • Offer right-sized and flexible funding. NMTC funds, Department of Agriculture grants, and other sources of funding used by food hubs should recognize the amount of funds that are typically needed, reduce the cost and complexity of application, offer increased flexibility, and enable several food hub projects to be bundled together to increase funding and implementation efficiency.
  • Streamline permitting and regulatory enforcement. Cities and counties that have neighborhoods categorized as food deserts by the USDA should remove barriers that would discourage a food hub from being established in commercial or mixed use zones. Local governments should offer an expedited approval process or permit fee waivers to encourage food hubs to choose a food desert location. Health and food handling regulations should be clarified to address the specific types of storage, sorting, and distribution processes that are typical of food hubs.
  • Create a certification for food hubs that serve food deserts. Organic and Fair Trade certifications help growers validate their claims and increase sales. A certificate for food hubs that verifies the service to food deserts could provide multiple benefits. First the certification would be valuable when securing funding or financing. Charitable funders would likely look more positively toward a food hub that is specifically addressing food access concerns. This type of certification could also be used by the US Department of Treasury for defining preferred uses of New Market Tax Credits.

[1] Capital for Healthy Families & Communities. “Healthy Food Markets”. The Low Income Investment Fund.      n.d.. <http://www.liifund.org/projects/healthy-food-markets/>

[2] Ribley, Warren, Tim Lindsey, Tom Jennings, Jim Slama, et. al.. Building Successful Food Hubs. January 2012. pg. 9, 11, 19-22, 35 <http://www.familyfarmed.org/wpcontent/uploads/2012/01/IllinoisFoodHubGuide-final.pdf>

[3] Ibid, page 35

The Future is Global Green: Reflection from CEO Les McCabe

October 29th, 2014 by Global Green USA No comments »

By Les McCabe, CEO

Recent attendance at three major “green” conferences, including SxSW-Eco, International Well Building Institute, and Greenbuild, served as a reminder that the future really is Green and that Global Green USA continues, after 20 years, to be a leader in demonstrating the best practices in Green Urbanism.   SxSW-Eco hosted an international audience of thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and friends of the environment, who came together from a number of disciplines to form a catalytic action group determined to find solutions to today’s most pressing environmental problems. Conference themes included advocacy & policy, behavior & design, data & technology, business & finance, energy, food systems, health & education, land & water, and smart cities. Two weeks later, the International Well Building Institute (IWBI) took place in New Orleans. The Institute was created by Delos founder Paulo Scailla in 2013, following a Clinton Global Initiative commitment to improve the way people live by developing spaces that enhance occupant health and quality of life.  This led to the creation of the WELL Building Standard for buildings globally. Immediately following the IWBI meeting, Greenbuild (also in New Orleans), took place with over 25,000 attendees. This conference was decidedly more narrow and directed towards the global green building movement and better, healthier, places to live, work, and engage in the community.

Greenbuild Collage

Thought leaders at all of these events, including Paul Scalia, Laura Turner Seydel, Rick Fredrizzi, Paul Hawken, and Tom Steyer, among others, inspired and motivated those in attendance through their passionate and experienced perspectives on ways in which all of us in the environmental and sustainability arena can work together towards solutions to some of our most pressing problems, created by global climate change and nature’s response to the by-products of human economic development. As a new professional to these gatherings, it was rewarding to hear leaders in the field advocate for greater cooperation and resulting synergies from non-profits, like Global Green, that are working with others; capitalizing on each other’s strengths and experience in order to tackle major issues, as a collective, as opposed to attempting to do so on a smaller scale independent of one another.   While it is our desire at Global Green USA to be seen as the leader in Green Urbanism, in a number of key areas that we have recently identified in our 2015-2019 strategic plan, in order for us to be successful we must engage and collaborate with colleagues in the non-profit, public-benefit corporations, and for-profit corporate sectors; joining those who both support and demonstrate positive environmental affairs practices.

Perhaps what is most rewarding about attending these conferences isn’t necessarily the educational sessions or the speakers, but the networking with likeminded professionals, many of whom are well aware of the good work done by Global Green USA over the last 20 years, representing those who are anxious to engage in discussions regarding prospective partnerships.   It is through such partnerships and collaborative efforts that I believe Global Green USA will be enabled to be the most effective and preeminent NGO in the field of green urbanism and related. Likewise, it is rewarding to see our own well-respected professional staff, such as Walker Wells, presenting at Greenbuild while representing Global Green USA. Through the continuation and expansion of these collaborative efforts, I believe Global Green will continue to be at the forefront of the environmental and sustainability movement.

Green Cross Study Tour to Fukushima: Dealing with Long-Term Radiation and Refugees

October 23rd, 2014 by Paul Walker No comments »

I was fortunate to participate earlier this month in a study tour to Fukushima, Japan and the surrounding evacuation zones, organized by Green Cross Switzerland.  There were 35 of us from the US, Europe, and Asia, including several Swiss and other parliamentarians, and we were joined by our colleagues from Green Cross Japan.  Green Cross continues to be very involved in helping the large refugee populations surrounding both the 1986 Chernobyl and 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant catastrophes in the Ukraine and Japan respectively.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster on Japan Coastal Cleanup2 (Duncan)March 11, 2011 was catalyzed by the Great East Japan Earthquake and the subsequent tsunami which hit the east coast of Japan.  Three of the six nuclear power reactors (Units 1, 2 & 3) at the Daiichi site experienced severe damage, what some would call a nuclear meltdown, and released hydrogen and radioactive materials in massive explosions and fires.  Reactor Unit 4, which was shut down and undergoing maintenance at the time, did not melt down but lost cooling water for its large spent nuclear fuel pool which ignited shortly thereafter, also spewing radiation from its 1,500 nuclear fuel rods.

Over three and a half years later, this nuclear catastrophe continues to threaten a large portion of Japan and its inhabitants.  Some 160,000 Japanese citizens remain evacuated from an area of over 47,000 square kilometers (18,000 square miles), about the size of Massachusetts and Vermont combined.  Radiation must still be carefully measured and monitored throughout this region, and we were all surprised to see solar-powered highway displays for real-time radiation readings, different from the typical speed readings along US highways.

Japan Family Meeting GC Club Koriyama (Duncan)The study group was able to visit with families who have been evacuated from this region, all wondering if they’ll ever be able to return to their homes.  When they evacuated over 43 months ago they had to leave everything behind – houses, clothes, furniture, and cars.  Because all of these things are suspected of being too radioactive, they may never be able to recover any of their personal belongings left behind.  Our dosimeters and Geiger counters continued to display higher-than-normal radiation readings well over twenty kilometers away from the reactors, and we had to leave a few “hot spots” when readings spiked.  We were told that the radiation readings were about 3 microsieverts/hour Japan Radiation Monitor (Duncan)shortly after the accident, but were now reduced by about 50%.  The readings we saw were in the 0.2-0.5 microsieverts/hour; very low but still a serious risk if one were to live full-time in the evacuated and irradiated area.

These evacuated families are continuing to live in tiny trailers set up by the Japanese government in cities such as Koriyama, over fifty kilometers from the Daiichi reactors in the Fukushima Prefecture, and about a 3-hour drive north of Tokyo.  A city of some 300,000 people, Koriyama still advertises itself as a city in “harmony between people and environment” and one “full of frontier spirit.”  However, since the March 2011 nuclear disaster, most evacuees refuse to allow their children to play outside, given the ongoing elevated radiation readings, so the city has now developed large indoor playgrounds to allow children to exercise.  While some of these concerns about the long-term impact of low-level radiation may be unfounded, many Japanese remain very distressed about the largely unknown health consequences of radiation and are reluctant to return home, should parts of the evacuation zones be re-opened in the future.  The 2011 earthquake and tsunami killed an estimated 15,900 people, and there are still 2,600 missing persons.  Thyroid cancer, especially among children, has also spiked, far above prior estimates, and a recent Japanese government report estimates that physical losses will total over $200 billion.  This will no doubt mean that almost one-eighth of Japan’s territory may take decades or centuries to recover from the 2011 catastrophe.

Japan Hot Zone Gates (Duncan)

A nuclear engineer who used to work with General Electric, Tepco, and Toshiba on boiling water reactors and lived a few kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi site warned that radiation remained very high in Daiichi reactors 1-3 which suffered meltdowns, and there still remain enormous challenges about how best to clean the site, dispose of radioactive water, and cool down the fuel bundles.  He also worried about the vulnerability of the Daiichi reactors and fuel pools to future typhoons, tsunamis, and other possible disasters that could still further exacerbate the current dangerous situation.  He added that fish remain contaminated at least within an 80 kilometer radius, and that it will take at least three decades just to remove the nuclear fuel from the site.  Everywhere we looked in the evacuated zone, we could see hundreds of large plastic bags of contaminated debris, including soil and vegetation, which no one yet knows how to handle or store for the longer term.

Our few days spent in Japan this month have been a sobering experience about the dangers and costs of nuclear power, the enormous and long-term socio-economic and humanitarian impacts of the nuclear fallout from the reactor meltdowns, and the unknown public health risks to millions of Japanese citizens.  As one citizen commented, “we never imagined that radiation would reach us, some 58 kilometers away from the Fukushima Daiichi reactors, falling like snow in Koriyama City.  But it did, and we never want to see another nuclear power plant operating in Japan.”

Images by Jeff Duncan

 

Global Green’s New Partnership to Promote Energy Efficiency in California

October 23rd, 2014 by Gina Goodhill Rosen No comments »

How much energy do you consume each year? Do you know how that may correlate to greenhouse gas emissions? How many tons of green house gas emissions do we emit by leaving our lights on? By taking long showers? By running our air conditioners during these record dry summers? In California, Global Green USA is working to more easily connect consumers to these questions and answers.

In 2009, California passed Assembly Bill (AB) 758, sponsored by Global Green USA and authored by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner. AB 758, or otherwise called the Comprehensive Energy Efficiency Program for Existing Buildings, requires the California EUC BannerEnergy Commission to create and execute a program that will help our state manage energy efficiency in existing buildings.  Energy Upgrade California™ is the state’s response to AB 758. The state initiative educates and incentivizes California residents and small businesses to engage in energy efficiency and manage their energy use. After helping pass AB 758, Global Green has recently become an Energy Upgrade California Ambassador, to further commit to helping reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions.        

Although many Californian’s are interested in using their energy more efficiently and saving money on their utility bills, the process can seem overwhelming and many don’t know where to start. Enter Energy Upgrade CA, a one-stop shop that allows California residents and small business owners to learn how to manage their energy usage with new technology and state incentives. Available rebates, financing options, qualified contractors, interactive learning materials and more are all in one place. Many energy efficient initiatives in the past have focused on infrastructure and LEED certifications for new buildings. However, Energy Upgrade CA is focused on retrofits for existing homes and commercial buildings, many of which were built before California’s energy code was created, and therefore waste a lot of energy.

The solutions under Energy Upgrade CA extend far beyond just California. For example, if every American home replaced one incandescent light bulb with a new ENERGY STAR energy saving bulb, the EPA estimates that we could save enough energy to power three million homes for a year, save about $680 million in annual energy costs, and eliminate nine billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year.

As Energy Upgrade CA ambassadors, we want to help save residents billions of dollars and avoid millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Educating residents and instilling energy efficient habits will make a great difference.

Energy efficiency is also one of the easiest and most effective tools we have to tackle climate change. AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, requires the state of California to reduce its emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The incentives and advice available through Energy Upgrade California will be a key part of achieving these goals. Climate change in California means a lot of different things. Changing rain patterns, rising sea levels and more forest fires are a few of the concerning issues we face. Some of these issues, like rolling blackouts, can be largely prevented by making our buildings more energy efficient and thereby reducing strain on the electrical grid.

California has long made clean energy a priority, and Energy Upgrade California is the next step in an extensive history of leadership. We’re looking forward to helping more Californians take advantage of this program in order to do their part towards a greener, more energy efficient future.

Learn more about Energy Upgrade California at EnergyUpgradeCA.org.

Support Global Green by Bidding on Volkswagen’s e-Golf Vehicle!

October 23rd, 2014 by Katie Morgan No comments »

At Global Green USA, we are proud to have been the first environmental non-profit organization to partner with green cars. In fact, we have had a long history of supporting hybrid and electric commuter vehicles. For many years, we employed a Red Carpet/Green Cars campaign at our Annual Pre-Oscar Party, which offered up electric or hybrid vehicles to our celebrity guests as a means of transportation to and from the exclusive event. This campaign featured various fuel-efficient vehicles over the years, both trendy and practical, and was considered a raving success by all who experienced this innovative VIP transportation method. We know that transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in California, which puts our health and environment at risk. This is why Global Green has long advocated for transitioning to fuel-efficient vehicles as the key to achieving a clean energy future.

As fuel-efficient vehicles become more innovative yet practical to drive, Global Green aims to expand partnerships with car companies that are giving drivers an eco-friendly method of personal transportation. As a result, we are pleased to partner with Volkswagen as they introduce their exciting new all-electric e-Golf vehicle to the U.S. Hailed as one of the most efficient electric vehicles in its class, the e-Golf features a 24.2 kWh lithium-ion battery and electric motor producing 115 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque. Fitted with LED headlights and a 7.2 kW onboard charger, the versatile vehicle will offer the most interior space of any compact EV in its class, and takes on a holistic approach to sustainability and efficiency that includes a carbon offset program. The e-Golf is estimated to have a 70-90 mile single-charge capacity, produces zero tailpipe emissions and requires no trips to the pump! Gorgeous Green Gala

Through this partnership with Volkswagen, Global Green USA is thrilled to be the beneficiary from the e-Golf CharityBuzz auction, featuring the first of its kind sold in the U.S., which is live from October 8 – October 29. At this month’s 10th Anniversary Gorgeous & Green Gala at the Bently Reserve in San Francisco, we proudly displayed the vehicle as one of our auction items, and for our VIP guests to have an exclusive first-look. The electric vehicle was a great addition to the event, which aims to advance smart solutions to climate change by showing that you can be green AND fabulous, as long as you make conscious decisions about what you eat, what you wear, and of course, what you drive.

So if you want to be the very first person in the U.S. to drive the all-electric 2015 e-Golf AND show your support for Global Green, head right over to the VW e-Golf auction, ending October 29. You can bid on this amazing new car while benefitting Global Green USA’s efforts to advance smart solutions to climate change.

A Closer Look: Food Hubs Helping to Alleviate Food Deserts

October 23rd, 2014 by Global Green USA No comments »

By Lily Kelly, Gina Goodhill-Rosen, and Walker Wells

Graphics by Tim Bevins

In our first blog in this series, we explored what food hubs are, and how food hubs like the Detroit Eastern Market can help bring fresh, heathy food into neighborhoods where it is not readily available.

In this post, we’ll explore in more depth some food hubs that serve the dual purposes of helping bring food to low-income neighborhoods while also supporting farmers with access to markets both inside and outside the food desert. This two-pronged approach to supporting local food systems is a big part of what makes food hubs stand out from other food distribution mechanisms, such as traditional grocery stores, or farmers’ markets. Because of the diversity of both the producers and sellers that they support, food hubs can create a stable platform that makes it possible to distribute healthy foods in a wider variety of ways, and to a wider variety of neighborhoods.

 

Food Hubs In a Food Desert

In many cases, food deserts form because the economics of a grocery store in the area are not favorable. Food hubs can generate revenue through both retail and wholesale produce sales, or even through philanthropy, as in the case of some non-profit food hubs.

Food hubs are generally most valuable when a retail area is included in order to sell directly to residents, along with additional space to provide various fresh-food-related services to local residents, such as cooking classes or urban gardening workshops. A leading exampleCaseStudy_2 of this model is Jack & Jake’s, a for-profit food hub located in Central City, New Orleans. They currently make nearly all of their revenue through selling to wholesale buyers, such as hospitals and schools, but they are in the process of renovating a 27,000 square foot school building into a retail space that will rest on a larger 65,000 square foot site, all located within a large food desert in central New Orleans.

In the retail area, customers will be able to buy both raw and prepared foods directly, while in the wholesale area, Jack & Jake’s will continue to consolidate deliveries for restaurants, hospitals, and other food buyers. The fact that they have several revenue streams helps to ensure their stability, and make it possible for them to provide additional services to residents, including workshops and cooking demonstrations.

In addition to providing a supply of fresh produce and meats, Jack & Jake’s is also building demand for healthy foods in two ways. First, they offer training for residents in their educational kitchen to help them understand how to cook potentially unfamiliar healthy foods, in particular traditional New Orleans cuisine. They also plan to partner with local non-profits, including the Tulane School of Public Health, to increase outreach and education concerning the benefits of a diet rich in healthy foods. Second, they partner with organizations that teach residents urban farming techniques, in order to build the necessary knowledge base within the neighborhood to empower residents to grow some of their own food.

 

Food Hubs Outside a Food Desert

A food hub doesn’t necessarily have to be in the food desert in order to benefit it. The Detroit Eastern Market, which we mentioned in our last blog post, is not located in a food desert, though many of its services, such as providing a wholesale night market that serves as a “one-stop shop” for small neighborhood grocers to purchase produce, are designed to assist residents who are.

CaseStudy_3Similarly, the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture,[1] located in Alexandria, Virginia, operates a mobile market that brings fresh produce directly to food deserts, supplied from both their own educational farm as well as other local farmers as a means to increase healthy food access in the Washington, DC metro area. Arcadia operates as a non-profit entity, earning 18% of their revenue from sales, with the other 82% coming from contributions, sponsorships and grants. Currently, they own and operate a 5-acre educational farm, and a mobile market, and are preparing to open an aggregation center for the 15 local farms they serve. For these producers, Arcadia coordinates deliveries of produce to area restaurants and grocers, and includes some of their produce in the stock for their mobile market.

Arcadia’s mobile market vehicle is a converted biodiesel-powered school bus that sells fresh produce on a weekly schedule. The stops include schools, senior and low-income living facilities, community centers, parks, and other accessible locations in food deserts in the DC metro area. The mobile market accepts multiple forms of public assistance, including Federal food subsidy programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. They supplement this with a “Bonus Bucks” program, which uses corporate donations to match every dollar of public subsidy with an additional dollar of purchasing power. They provide a wide variety of heathy fresh and prepared foods, from raw kale to whole chickens to pre-mixed salads.

To maximize impact, Arcadia also hosts cooking and nutrition classes at elementary and middle schools, and partners with other local non-profits to increase awareness of the mobile market and , farming classes.. They are partnering with another mobile market operator, which will add another 8 stops to their weekly route. The mobile market is self-supporting through both sales of produce and sponsorship from local businesses.

Food hubs provide a variety of services, some of which are not possible using more standard food sales models such as grocery stores and farmers’ markets.

Food hubs provide a variety of services, some of which are not possible using more standard food sales models such as grocery stores and farmers’ markets.

 

Whether they are located in or near a food desert, food hubs have a great opportunity to provide a variety of services that can help increase fresh, healthy food access for the nearby residents. For our next and final post, we will be exploring some of the policy and financial opportunities to increase the presence of food hubs in the places where they are needed most.

 

 

[1] Mulder, Matt. Director of Development and Communications, Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture. Personal Interview. 18 April 2014

Ramping Up: Expanding our Los Angeles Food Scrap Recovery Pilot to the Old Bank District

October 22nd, 2014 by Lily Kelly No comments »

For those of you who have been keeping up with Global Green’s Coalition for Resource Recovery (CoRR), you know that just a couple of months ago we helped launch a food scrap recovery system at a 16-unit apartment complex in Lincoln Heights – the first time food scrap recovery had been implemented in Los Angeles at a multi-family residence larger than 4 units. Now, we are expanding the pilot even further, to the 71-unit complex in LA’s beautiful Old Bank District.

On October 4, 2014, Global Greentabling and CoRR members Athens Services and EcoSafe Zero Waste set up a table in the building’s lobby to educate the tenants on the new program and provide them with a small kitchen bin and compostable bags. Tenants were directed to deposit their full bag of food scraps into a central green container located in each trash chute room of the building. There, they can pick up a replacement bag from the compost bag dispenser. 

american-organicsEach day the maintenance staff will empty the green containers into a 3-yard dumpster, where Athens Services will then collect the material for processing at their compost facility American Organics. Throughout the kickoff event, the implementation team found the tenants to be very receptive to the new program and excited that their food scraps would be turned into valuable soil amendment.

After the outreach event, Global Green sat down with Gilmore Associates’ Justin Schoenfelder, the property manager for the building, and got his take on why providing food scrap recovery to their tenants is good for their company as a multi-family building owner and operator. 

 

What has been your favorite part about launching food scrap recovery at your building?

The best thing is that Global Green has teamed up with Athens and EcoSafe to offer this pilot program. We can try it, see how it works, learn along the way, and make changes if we need to, without any risk. This is an amazing opportunity that you’re providing for us. It really is all about partnerships, and working together to find solutions.

It’s actually hard for me to imagine anyone saying no to this, because it’s all benefit. There’s just no downside.

How are your tenants responding?

It has been great seeingSFBldg our tenants coming up to the table today [to speak to the Athens Services, Ecosafe, and Global Green representatives] and responding so positively to the program, saying, “Oh, that’s really cool,” and walking back to their apartment with their new kitchen bin. That’s when we know we’re on the right track. We didn’t need to wait for the tenants to come to us, or even ask them if they wanted to do it. We went ahead and launched this with you and now we can see that there’s a real need for it, and a desire to do it.

Actually, one of the prospective tenants who came through today and saw you all giving out the bins made the comment of, “Oh, that’s so cool. They don’t have that where we live.” You can really see when it hits somebody, that feeling of, “Oh, that seems so obvious now.” It was definitely a very positive attribute to them.

Is this something you would like your other properties to get on board with as well?

We have three properties downtown, and a few other places where we’re expanding. Since this matches so well with our culture of constant improvement, this really is something that is part of our mission and we want to do it in as many of our properties as we can.

What advice do you have for other property management companies?

I think it starts with asking the right questions. Will this work? If not, what will work? Asking questions and really exploring your options, especially as part of a partnership like this project, is what will lead you to the best solutions for your specific situation. I believe if you see something being done better that what you already do, even if you can’t do the exact same thing, you can still learn from it and do it better in your own way.