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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Ei Welcomes New Strategic Allies

The Ei Strategic Ally program is integral to the Elemental Impact business model. Within the program, respected institutions, non-profits, trade associations and business organizations contribute industry expertise and connections to Ei initiatives.

Often Strategic Ally executives serve on the Ei Advisory Council and share their expertise during initiative development and implementation. If applicable, an in-kind membership is part of the Strategic Ally program parameters.

Over the past months, Ei welcomed two new Strategic Allies to the prominent program: Second Helpings, Atlanta and Recycle Across America.

Second Helpings, Atlanta (SHA)

Launched in 2004 as a Temple Sinai social action project by congregant Guenther Hecht, SHA evolved into a respected Atlanta-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization. SHA collects donated excess food from farmers markets, restaurants and event venues for delivery to metro Atlanta area agencies supporting food insecure citizens.

Since inception, SHA collected in excess of 5.4 million pounds of quality, nutritious food for donation - enough food to provide a meal for everyone attending 63 packed games at the Georgia Dome (over 4.5 million meals). SHA collects from 60 Food Donors and delivers to 31 Partner Agencies.

In May 2015 SHA committed to escalate impact and hired Joe Labriola as the first SHA Executive Director. A retired marketing executive with 30+ years experience at IBM, Joe is perfect to propel SHA into new realms of impact with his impressive business acumen and strategic focus. SHA is on track to rescue & distribute 1.3 million pounds of food in 2016, a 54% increase over 2015.

Myron & Elizabeth during
interview marathon
The Ei | SHA strong relationship began in 2009 when Ei Founder Holly Elmore served as the Green Foodservice Alliance Founder and Executive Director. SHA Food Donor Coordinator, Myron Smith contacted Holly after reading the Atlanta Journal & Constitution She's a green bean-counter; Sustainability for the food service industry article featuring Holly and the Zero Waste Zones. A close friendship developed as Holly introduced Myron to her in-depth foodservice connections.

When renowned author Elizabeth Royte visited Atlanta for a whirlwind two-day interview marathon hosted by Holly, Myron was top on the list for time with Elizabeth. In her November 2012 Martha Stewart Whole Living article Spoil Alert, Elizabeth features Myron: ... lurks along the edges of the Dunwoody farmers' market, the palest and gentlest vulture you've ever seen. Smith has his eye on bunches of collards and zucchini that might not sell by the market's closing.

The ZWA Blog article, Atlanta's Focus on Food Waste Reduction, chronicles the empowering interview marathon; the ZWA Blog article Atlanta Wasted Food Heroes in National Spotlight highlights the impressive Spoil Alert article.

When Ei joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Food Recovery Challenge (FRC) in 2014, Holly introduced Myron to Kim Charick, EPA Region 4 FRC co-lead. Over the past two years, SHA worked closely with the EPA on increasing food donations within the metro Atlanta area.

Once Joe settled into his new SHA role, Holly orchestrated an introductory luncheon with Kim and Boyd Leake, City of Atlanta, Office of Sustainability senior policy advisor. Shortly after the instrumental luncheon, SHA joined the Ei Strategic Ally program.

Boyd, Kim & Joe @ lunch
Under Joes' leadership, SHA is positioned for growth with the following five focus areas:
  1. Harden core business processes.
  2. Increase levels of awareness and support of SHA.
  3. Expand the SHA community.
  4. Build out a scalable technology platform.
  5. Develop & implement an expansion plan.
Ei is excited to expand important work with SHA as both organizations segue into evolved dimensions of impact.

Recycle Across America (RAA)

RAA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to expediting environmental progress by creating the world's first and only society-wide standardized labeling system for recycling bins. The intent is to make it easier for people to begin to recycle right, wherever they might be. 

With over 20 years of experience in marketing, communications and branding services for Fortune 500 companies as well as small to mid-sized companies, Michelle "Mitch" Hedlund founded RAA in 2010. RAA promotes standardized recycling labels as a major step in alleviating consumer confusion, a leading cause of contamination in public and corporate facilities.

Additionally, RAA helps people understand the importance of recycling right, with the introduction of the first celebrity-led solution-driven PSA campaign -- called "Let's recycle right!" a.k.a. "Let's".

Ei and RAA first connected at the 2015 National Zero Waste Business Conference (NZWBC) hosted by the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council and the City of Los Angeles Department of Sanitation. In her keynote plenary presentation, Mitch used a series of standard protocol, including "Stop Signs," created to alleviate confusion while promoting public safety. The "Stop Sign" was once a novelty that flowed into an accepted standard; RAA is committed to evolving consistent recycling bin signage into common practice. Per Mitch, 
"We all rely on standardizations everyday that make it easier for society to function safely and efficiently. It's time to apply the same logic to recycling if we want people to start doing it properly and for it to become economically viable. "
The ZWA Blog article, Business NOT as usual: fine-tuning the zero waste journey, showcases the 2015 NZWBC plenary sessions along with a feature on Mitch's empowering presentation.

Ei Environmental Advisor and Atlanta Recycles (AR) Co-Founder, Laura Turner Seydel invited Mitch to keynote at the August 2016 AR meeting. While in Atlanta, Mitch scheduled a series of instrumental meetings including the Atlanta Airport (the busiest airport in the world!), City of Atlanta Office of Sustainability, Coca-Cola and lunch with Holly. Building upon tremendous synergies, it was natural for RAA to join the Ei Strategic Ally Program.

With rampant contamination in single-stream recycling systems, especially curbside & in public domain where the consumer disposes of material, RAA's standard labeling system adoption is escalating at a promising fast pace. The following details recent RAA accomplishments:
Mitch speaking at the NZWBC
  • To date, RAA donated nearly 500,000 labels to K-12 public schools with a goal to donate 1,000,000 by 2017.
  • Orlando Public Schools reported an increase in recycling of 90% and saved a reported $369,000 net in landfill hauling fees in one year as a direct result of implementing standardized labels in their district.
  • Standardized labels are displayed at National Parks beginning in 2016, with Denali, Yosemite and Grand Teton in the first rollout. The labels are compliments of a new partnership with Subaru and the National Parks Zero Landfill Initiative.
  • Rhode Island recently became the first state to fully adopt the standardized label solution.
  • The Minnesota State Fair, the largest state fair in the country, implemented the standardized labels on their bins
Recent adopters of the standardized labels include:
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
  • Orlando International Airport
  • City of Winter Park
  • City of Atlanta
  • Whole Foods throughout the North Atlantic, Florida, Mid Atlantic and most recently the Midwest and NYC regions
The RAA standard recycling bin labeling system complements Ei Strategic Ally GreenBlue Institute's How2Recycle standard packaging label. How2Recycle labels clarify actual recyclability of packaging components and clearly communicate recycling instructions to the public.The RAA labels instruct consumers on which bin to place the packaging.

With Ei's strong commitment to contaminant-free recycling streams - the Source-Separated Materials Recycling Template tagline is Contamination is a Mistake, the Ei | RAA partnership is monumental from an educational, practical and effective standpoint.

Welcome Second Helpings - Atlanta and Recycle Across America to the Ei Strategic Ally! The Ei Team is enthusiastic to continue work-in-progress and embark on new adventures.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Memphis: an amazing city redefining itself

The Lambda Alpha International Memphis Chapter hosted the Spring 2016 Land Economics Weekend (LEW) April 21 - 23 attracting a global contingency eager to learn about Memphis' history, challenges and accomplishments. With limited time, the LEW tours and presentations focused on the music industry, major redevelopment and, of course, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Lambda Alpha International (LAI) is an honorary society for the advancement of land economics. LAI provides a forum for the study and advancement of land economics where the "winnowing and sifting" of ideas takes place in an atmosphere of mutual respect. LAI operates through a network of chapters. A LAI Chapter provides a variety of programs and forums for its members to share information critical to understanding important land-use issues. The IMPACT Blog article, Lambda Alpha International Atlanta Chapter: growing membership, influence and impact, introduces LAI along with its designated purposes.

Twice per year chapters sponsor "Weekend Experiences" giving members an opportunity to meet and learn about land economic issues in cities throughout the world. Open to LAI members and their guests, the LEWs address wider international, national and regional issues and include project tours within the host city.

Long known as the "South's Grand Hotel," The Peabody - home to the March of the Peabody Ducks - was the perfect choice for the Memphis LEW host hotel. Peabody history dates back to 1869 when the original Peabody Hotel opened on the corner of Main & Monroe. Immediately, the hotel became the social and business hub of Memphis. In 1925 a newer, grander Peabody was built at its present location on Union Street.

Consistent with the LEW's redevelopment theme of Memphis historical landmarks, The Peabody reinvented itself numerous times to reflect changing society dynamics. Another consistent LEW theme: wealthy Memphis citizens invest their personal funds, experience and resources to preserve | redevelop prominent city iconic structures, often with complex funding scenarios.

In 1977 The Peabody owner Jack Belz embarked on his journey to rebuild the decayed hotel back to grandeur status. The renovation took four years and $25 million to complete, more than twice the original estimate and four times the original cost. Jack's investment was beyond The Peabody - Jack envisioned the prominent hotel serving as a foundation to bring economic vitality back to downtown Memphis. On September 1, 1981 The Peabody grand reopening inaugurated a new era in Memphis history.

The Memphis LEW program began on Thursday, April 21 with Board & Executive Meetings throughout the day. An evening LEW Welcome Reception was hosted across the street from The Peabody at AutoZone Park. Memphis Redbirds General Manager Craig Unger educated the group on recent park renovations along with its impact on downtown redevelopment.

On Friday the first tour day began with a breakfast program at The Peabody. Deputy Director for the Memphis and Shelby County Division of Planning & Development John Zeanah presented on the Mid-South Regional Greenprint and Sustainability Plan, a 25 year plan to create 500 miles of greenway trails and 200 miles of bicycle paths across three states. It was empowering to witness local governments collaborate on public green space.

First on the tour agenda was the incredibly impressive St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Before entering the amazing facility, St. Jude staff educated the group on Danny Thomas' promise to St. Jude Thaddeus: Show me my way in life and I will build you a shrine. ... and the magnificent hospital is Danny's shrine to St. Jude!

Flags in St. Jude atrium
represent staff home countries
Danny Thomas envisioned a hospital that would treat children regardless of race, color, creed or their family's ability to pay. A facility where research would shine light into the darkness.

Funding for St. Jude comes mainly from the corporate community via their sponsorship program, individual donations, fundraisers and events. Minimal to no government funds are included in the financial equation. It was intriguing to see corporate sponsorship at work in the hospital system. Two examples are the Kay Jewelers' Kay Cafe, where healthy eating is top priority, and the Target House for long-term patient lodging.

Although located in Memphis, St. Jude has global impact from employee diversity to patients arriving from around the world. In the main atrium, a multitude of flags hang from upper floors to honor the home countries of their diverse staff.

the "blue phones" that serve as
interpreters between staff & parents
When an interpreter is not available, foreign parents may communicate with medical staff via the blue duel-handset phones. Equipped with a telephonic interpreting service, the phones serve as an interpreter within news feed time in a myriad of languages.

Since St. Jude's opening on February 4, 1962, the survival rate for childhood cancer increased from less than 20% in 1962 to more than 80% today.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is a jewel to Memphis. Beyond the tremendous medical and humanitarian impact, St. Jude has far reaching economic benefits, both tangible & intangible, to the Memphis metro area.

view of Crosstown w/ area earmarked
 for a community garden in foreground
Next on the tour agenda was the Crosstown Sears Tower, originally opened on August 8, 1927 as the Sears, Roebuck & Company catalog order plant and store. On opening day, the store welcomed nearly 30,000 shoppers and employed 1,000 local residents. The original 53,000 square feet facility expanded to a total of 1.5 million square feet by 1965 via five separate additions.

Due to shifting demographics and population depletion in the city's urban core, Sears closed the Crosstown retail store in 1983. The distribution center closed in 1993, leaving the iconic complex dormant nearly two decades. In 2010, Crosstown Arts, a 501(c)3 non-profit, was formed to facilitate the redevelopment of the Sears Crosstown building using arts and culture as a catalyst for change.

With an unwavering commitment to ground the Crosstown Arts' vision into a viable project, Crosstown Concourse emerged from a complex financial platform. Thirty different financial sources comprised the platform, including non-profit loans ($12.5 mil), government grants ($6.25 mil), investor capital ($31.7 mil), bank loans ($80.5 mil), and a city loan ($8.15 mil). It took tenacity, perseverance and in-depth expertise to orchestrate the financial package closing in December 2013.

Jordan Peters poses w/ the spiral
staircase leading the main atrium. 
Designed with intention as a vertical urban village, Crosstown Concourse's heartbeat centers on Arts, Education and Healthcare. The founding pioneer tenants mirror the heartbeat: A Step Ahead Foundation, Church Health Center, Christian Brothers University, City Leadership, Crosstown Arts, Crosstown Back Institute, The Excel Center, G4S, The Kitchen Next DoorMethodist Le Bonheur HealthcareMemphis Teacher ResidencyThe Poplar Foundation, The Pyramid Peak Foundation, Southern College of Optometry, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and Teacher Town.

Deconstruction began in 2014 with a 2017 opening anticipated. In 1927 it took six months to build the Sears center yet three years is slated for the deconstruction and renovation! 

During the deconstruction, great care is taken to reuse | recycle building material:
  • 10+ million pounds of metal was recycled to date, including iron from 2000 salvaged radiators.
  • 400,000 lbs of concrete and rebar was removed and repurposed back into the building.
Due to local tax incentives the Concourse project received, the Crosstown development team was obliged to award 20% of overall construction spending to minority and women-owned local businesses. The development team upped that figure to an internal goal of 25%. Ultimately a total of 29% of all construction dollars goes directly to minority and women-owned firms—nearly $38 million in total. 

loading dock area staged for a
cool farmers market
As a vertical urban village, Crosstown is comprised of a mixture of office space, dwellings (condominiums & apartments), entertainment, retail, dining and open space for community events. Within the grounds, an area is earmarked for a community garden. The Sears loading dock is staged for a cool farmers market operated by a prominent local grocer. Bound for success, the Crosstown apartments are nearly 50% leased by office tenants. 

After the exhilarating walking tour of the Crosstown Concourse, the LEW group enjoyed a lovely lunch at Layfayette's Music Room. For the lunch program, Bob Loeb with Loeb Properties educated the group on the Overton Square redevelopment.

A LEW group shot 
Following lunch, the LEW group was treated to a Stax Museum of American Soul Music visit, consisting of a Stax introduction, an 18-minute film on Stax Records, and a tour of the impressive museum.The musical odysseys of Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Sam & Dave, Rufus & Carla Thomas, Booker T & the MGs and numerous others were launched at Stax Studios.

The final Day One LEW tour was at the historic Tennessee Brewery. Though in a dilapidated state since its 1954 closing, the Brewery is prime for redevelopment as the anchor for a Brewery District. Billy Orgel purchased the property in 2014 with plans for redevelopment. It was intriguing to wander the Brewery main buildings and feel the energy from its once vibrant days.

Back at The Peabody, International LAI President Steve Gragg was Duckmaster at the 5:00 p.m. March of the Peabody Ducks. LEW participants were on their own for dinner at the multitude of vibrant downtown restaurants. Many enjoyed a nighttime visit to the famous Beale Street, voted America's Most Iconic Street by a 2013 USA Today poll and is the Official Home of the Blues.

Sunset on the Mississippi River
Elemental Impact Founder Holly Elmore joined new friends at the legendary Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous, famous for racks of smoked ribs & sausages dusted with dry rub. Convenient, Rendezvous is nestled down an alley across the street from The Peabody.

For the adventuresome, the LEW tour bus departed at 9:30 p.m. for the impressive FedEx Hub Tour, returning to hotel at 2:00 a.m. In the morning, the tour participants were unanimous the sleep deprivation was well worth the FedEX insider view. It is mind boggling how the overnight packages are handled for an on-time morning delivery at their varied national destinations.

The Day Two LEW began with a substantial "grab 'n go" breakfast before boarding the Musical Driving Tour buses. Many cities by the water have entertaining "duckie" tours that educate on interesting local history & high points. Memphis has a musical bus tour where the guide sings as part of the education. The tour guide was great, a Ph.D candidate in Music History and a Memphis native!

Musical Bus Tour Guide
Beyond entertaining, the guide educated on many little known, interesting facts. For instance, many of the Stax Studio popular recordings were written at The Lorraine Motel swimming pool. With no air conditioning at the studio, the musicians enjoyed plenty of cold beer by the pool while the creative lyric juices flowed for later recordings. The motel was one of the few Memphis destinations where whites and blacks were permitted to socialize together. 

The Lorraine Motel is where Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot on April 4, 1968 and now is the home of the National Civil Rights Museum.

Twice the bus stopped for an in-depth site experience: 

1> Graceland, The Home of Elvis Presley - with over 20 million visitors, Graceland was voted as USA Today's #1 Iconic American Attraction in 2013 and is a significant economic driver for Memphis. LAI Memphis Chapter member Greg Marcom of The Reaves Firm educated the group on Graceland development plans in-progress. The main new amenity is The Guest House at Graceland, a 450 room luxury hotel with a 464 seat theatre for screenings and live performances. The grand opening weekend is slated for October 27 - 30, 2016.

2> Sun Studio - opened on January 3, 1950 by Sam Phillips, Sun Studio is the "birthplace of rock 'n roll." Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison are a few of the legends who launched their careers at Sun Studio. Recording sessions remain available in the original studio.

Terrace @ The River Inn
The musical tour ended as the bus arrived at the Terrace at The River Inn where the group enjoyed an excellent lunch. Located on Mud Island in Harbor Town, the Terrace boasts panoramic views of the magnificent Mississippi River. Harbor Town is a charismatic planned neighborhood filled with nature trails, ponds, and walking trails that elegantly connect the town’s houses and businesses.

Mud Island River Park is a family destination on the southern portion of the island. Within the park, the Mississippi River Museum showcases 10,000 years of history in the Lower Mississippi River Valley via 18 galleries. Another educational attraction is The Riverwalk, an exact scale model of the Lower Mississippi River flowing from its confluence with the Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois 954 miles south to the Gulf of Mexico. Designed using Corps of Engineers survey and navigational charts, the model empties into an acre size Gulf of Mexico.

In the afternoon, the LEW offered three optional tours: 1> Graceland, 2> National Civil Rights Museum and 3> Bass Pro Shops at The Pyramid.

Originally owned jointly by the City of Memphis and Shelby County, The Pyramid opened as a 20,142-seat arena located in downtown Memphis at the banks of the Mississippi River. Former home court for the University of Memphis men's basketball program and the Memphis Grizzlies,The Pyramid proved inadequate for a National Basketball Association (NBA) arena. Upgrades to NBA standards made it more practical to build a new arena. As a result, the $250 million FedExForum was built and opened in 2004. ... and The Pyramid went dark.

On April 29, 2015 The Pyramid's lights were turned back on as Bass Pro Shops at The Pyramid. A long-term investment, the City and Bass ProShops negotiated for 5 years before executing the 55 year lease supported by a $30 million city investment. Sales tax from the surrounding area businesses funded the city investment. America's tallest free-standing elevator transports visitors 28 floors to The Lookout at The Pyramid for a spectacular dining experience.

SUCCESS: as of December 18, 2015, more than two million people visited the Bass Pro Shops at The Pyramid since the April 2015 opening!

Consistent with protocol, the Memphis LEW closed with a cocktail reception | dinner program complete with awards presentations. The sunset over the Mississippi River was magnificent from the rooftop terrace adjacent to The Peabody Skyway Lounge, host to the LEW dinner.

Among the local and global awards, the City of Memphis received the International Skyline Award for the Bass Pro Pyramid Redevelopment Project. The formal honor copy:
Kemp Conrad  accepts the prestigious
award on behalf of the City of Memphis 
Recognizing successful redevelopment of a landmark feature in the City of Memphis, the Bass Pro Pyramid Redevelopment Project is adaptive reuse at its best, using iconic structure in a new and unique manner through innovative teamwork between city leadership and officials, an imaginative tenant and its designer.
The final formal "business" was an appreciative farewell to the Memphis Spring LEW along with a hearty welcome to the Toronto Fall LEW, scheduled for September 22 - 24, 2016

During the tours a common theme emerged: a city rising from the rumbles of challenging economic times, especially in the downtown district. At the foundation of recent redevelopments, there was a strong Memphis revitalization commitment among prominent individuals. 

Since the visions did not always align with "traditional business sense," creative collaboration among local government, non-profits, financial institutions, the business community and, importantly, Memphis citizens was the magical recipe for ultimate success.

Another interesting anecdote is common ground with Atlanta, the 2014 Spring LEW host city. Memphis and Atlanta are "phoenix cities," who rose as vibrant metropolitan centers from ashes: Atlanta rose from literal ashes after General Sherman's March to the Sea in 1964; Memphis is rising from the ashes of urban blight and challenging economic times.

One of the Atlanta LEW features was Ponce City Market (PCM), a previous Sears, Roebuck & Company retail store, warehouse and regional offices, located a couple miles from the downtown business district. As with the Memphis Sears Crosstown, PCM was in the midst of renovation to a mixed-use development with residential units, commercial office space, a food hall and local | national retail anchors during the Atlanta LEW; PCM officially opened in August, 2014.

The King Center visit
during the Atlanta LEW
Martin Luther King, Jr. is another Atlanta | Memphis connection: King was born in Atlanta and called the city his home into adulthood; King was assassinated in Memphis. The King Center was integral to the Atlanta LEW tour agenda. In Memphis, the National Civil Rights Museum was included in the musical tour educational program and an optional Day Two afternoon tour.

... and more than once the Memphis LEW group was told "at one time Memphis was bigger than Atlanta!"

The IMPACT Blog article, Atlanta Welcomes Global Land Economics Group, chronicles the impressive Spring 2014 Atlanta LEW.

The Ei FB album, Memphis Land Economics Weekend, is a pictorial recap of the Memphis LEW including a section on Holly's self-guided Memphis walking tour.

In addition to well orchestrated tours of a city's economic drivers, complete with in-depth, on-site education, LEWs are excellent venues to meet new global friends and spend time with long-term colleagues.... and the Toronto Fall 2016 LEW is a mere six months away!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Ei: New Website, New Era!

With Elemental Impact strong into our 7th year living the tagline - Sustainability in ACTION - it was time to overhaul the website. Along with a fresh look, the navigation was reorganized to reflect completed projects and new endeavors.

The homepage simply communicates the Ei site's three main focus areas utilizing Ei Founder Holly Elmore's photographs as background images. For the first section, the Ei mantra takes center stage: 

In the second section, the three Ei Platforms - Product Stewardship, Recycling Refinement and Water Use | Toxicity - are featured with links to their respective sections. For the final focus area, the Ei Blogs - The IMPACT and The Zero Waste in ACTION (ZWA) - are featured with links along with designated space for three recent article previews.

New cool apps are incorporated throughout the site to give a creative edge and increase functionality. The Ei Leadership | Ei Team apps are the most dramatic evolution.

With the IMPACT Blog at almost 80,000 pageviews and the ZWA Blog near the coveted 250,000 pageviews milestone, the Blogs are prominent throughout the site. In addition to the homepage section, each supporting page sidebar includes "live" blog logos under the sub-navigation. As appropriate, a "related blog articles" image lists articles pertinent to the page topic.

The ZWA Blog article, Ei Blogs: respected media & valuable industry resources, chronicles the blogs' history along with detailing impressive stats supporting the strong global following.

Supplementing the Ei Partner & Ei Supporter Programs, the Ei Team is comprised of Ei Industry Experts and Ei Industry Pioneers on the new site. Experts educate, advise and provide support as the Pioneers craft new standard operating practices that make good business and environmental sense. Once tested and proven effective, the Pioneers share the evolved practices with their industry colleagues.

Beginning in 2011 Ei took a leadership role in commercial plastic film recycling with the Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) Shopping Mall Pilot announcement. It is likely the Concord Mills plastic film recycling pilot was the first shopping mall film recycling program in the nation. 

Ei Supporter FreshPoint, the nation's largest produce distributor, announced their plastic film recycling pilot in a video produced by Ei Chair Scott Seydel. When the SFCI Event Venue Pilot, the Georgia Dome, joined the plastic film recycling template, the pilot evolved into the Source-Separated Materials Recycling Template.

The important work was well-documented yet incorporated within numerous website sections. In the new Recycling Refinement Platform section, the Commercial Plastic Film Recycling page consolidates the documentation into an easy-to-follow format. In addition, the comprehensive Ei FB album, Ei Plastic Film Recycling, chronicles the plastic film recycling work in a pictorial format.


At the 2015 Annual Ei Partner Meeting, three new initiatives were announced. Within the Water Use | Toxicity Platform, the Ei Airborne Kitchen Grease (AKG) Initiative and Ei Cooling Tower Blow Down Initiative are documented in individual pages. Atlanta is slated to serve as the Ei AKG Initiative Pilot City; the pilot template four stages are included as Ei AKG Initiative sub-navigation.

The Ei PetroWax-Free Cardboard Box Initiative within the Product Stewardship Platform is the culmination of work begun in 2012.

Since 2010 the Ei Team served as a leader in pioneering frontiers with a myriad of completed projects | programs. The new Mission Accomplished section lists the following Ei endeavors considered complete via a sale, term expiration or simply mission accomplished:
  • EPA Scaling Up Composting in Charlotte, NC Grant – Ei was a lead sub-grantee under the EPA Grant to GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition; the grant term ended September 30, 2015.
  • Food & Beverage Packaging Value Chain Meetings - Each December 2011 through 2014, trade association and non-profit executives from the entire sustainable food & beverage packaging value chain met in Washington D.C. for a day of vibrant dialogue and sharing. Mission Accomplished: solid industry synergies grounded in joint programs.
  • GREASE – Grease Recycling & Energy Alternatives for the Environment – The Ei AKG Initiative evolved GREASE from a task force into the precursor of a prominent Ei initiative. Mission Accomplished!
  • POWER – Perishable Organics Waste to Energy Recycling – From 2009 through 2011 Ei-hosted POWER meetings served as a platform to catapult an emerging industry into an established industry. Mission Accomplished!
  • ZWZ - Zero Waste Zones -  In 2012 the National Restaurant Association purchased the esteemed program that pioneered the commercial collection of food waste for composting.
As a national sustainability forerunner, the media loves Ei! With the plethora of media over the years, the new Ei in the Media section is segregated into the following page format:
The Ei in the Media page lists Featured Media beginning with the CNN ZWZ story and front-page New York Times article.

A BIG THANK YOU to Ei Friend Jim Harrell of Renaissance Technology for his in-depth website copy and technical aspects proofing.

Though time-consuming, it was important to review Ei's important work with a fine-toothed comb and ensure documentation was complete as well as organized. With a solid foundation in-place, Ei is soaring into new dimensions of respect, influence and Sustainability in ACTION!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Sustainability of the Spirit

On Tuesday, March 1 Elemental Impact Founder Holly Elmore spoke to the Georgia Tech Engineers for a Sustainable World student group. In her pre-meeting chat with group organizer Nicole Kennard, Holly asked if the group preferred a technical talk on Ei successes | zero waste scenarios or one grounded in motivation | mentorship. Nicole was clear a motivational talk was the preference.

Thus, Holly spoke on a topic dear to her heart: Sustainability of the Spirit!

Holly speaking @ Ga Tech
photo courtesy of Scott Seydel
After inviting the students to participate in a dialogue, Holly used her eclectic professional life experience to substantiate points. First and foremost, Holly emphasized the importance of living from the heart, not the mind. 

How do you know you are living from the heart? If you "jump" out of bed in the morning filled with excitement for the day's activities, you are living in your heart. Life flows with seemingly miraculous synchronicity when living in the heart. Often you smile | glow for no particular reason, simply from love of your life.

Many individuals living in their hearts get goose bumps or strong energy surges when Truths are spoken. A valuable asset, the energy surges serve as an excellent barometer to assess the integrity of a scenario or person.

Learning to "flow" in life is another important asset. When circumstances flow within a project, it is time to focus attention until the flow wanes. Then place the project on a side burner until the flow returns. Awareness of flow, or lack thereof, is essential to maintaining productivity and avoiding "splats."

Photo courtesy of Holly
Holly shared her perspective that life is a river filled with rapids complemented by clear, smooth current areas. When in the rapids of life, "splats" often occur when a rock or other obstacle abruptly stops flow. 

After "splatting," a visit to the shore is essential to dissipate emotions, heal wounds and assess the best timing to re-enter the river. These respites vary from hours to days to sometimes years. Holly shared several examples of her life "splats." Handling the scenario with patience and awareness is key to ultimate success.

Stepping out of comfort zones and taking risks are integral to the social, government and corporate consciousness shifts necessary for a sustainable world to emerge from current chaos. Empowerment of the spirit and complete trust in Self is critical for those in leadership roles affecting substantial cultural change. 

Holly shared another visual: walk confidently to the edge of a steep cliff and keep walking, knowing the air currents will carry you or a soft, perfect landing awaits. It took Holly almost fours years working this visual to walk confidently off the cliff. 

On another note, Holly emphasized the significant role powerful mentors play in developing strong professional foundations. In the first five years out of school, most managers are happy to take an eager young person under their wings. As a person nears 30 years old, solid professional skills are expected and the ideal mentor time window is closed.

In her closing, Holly used the Zero Waste Zones launch in 2009 through their 2012 purchase by the National Restaurant Association as a solid example tying together the many parameters within her talk. It was empowering to witness the student enthusiasm from questions to note taking to sparkling eyes.

The Georgia Tech students are the generation who will take the helm for creating a sustainable world. From her perspective, Holly's role is to mentor, support and applaud the generation as they step into their personal power and live within their hearts.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Happy Sixth Birthday Ei!!!

On February 5, 2010 Elemental Impact (Ei) incorporated as a Georgia non-profit corporation and embarked on an incredible journey. Whew, the first six years were action-packed while the Ei Team lived the tagline: Sustainability in ACTION! 

Ei was formed as the home for the Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ) launched in 2009 by the Green Foodservice Alliance (GFA) within the Georgia Restaurant Association.

When the National Restaurant Association (NRA) purchased the ZWZ in late 2012, Ei was propelled into an amazing metamorphosis; it was essential to create an evolved identity along with new platforms for Ei Initiatives. The August 2013 IMPACT Blog article, Ei Emerges Strong from Metamorphosis, introduces the three new platforms: Product Stewardship, Recycling Refinement and Water Use | Toxicity.

The IMPACT Blog article, Ei 2014: A Year of Evolution, gives the history of each platform foundation and serves as the 2014 Annual Ei Partner Meeting overview. The IMPACT Blog article, Ei Celebrates Fifth Anniversary, gives an in-depth recap of Ei Milestones during the first five years of intensive work | accomplishments.

Written as a synopsis of the Annual Ei Partner Meeting, The IMPACT Blog article, Ei 2015: A Year of ACTION, gives an in-depth overview of recent successes and initiative announcements. Within her Annual Ei Year in Review presentation, Holly gave an overview of each platform, action within the platform, and future plans. The following is a recap of the opening slide:
Holly at Annual Ptr Mtg
Photo credit: Ridwan Bhuiyan
  • 2012: Year of Accomplishments | Completions - in late 2012 the ZWZ were sold to the NRA catapulting Ei into a major metamorphosis. The ZWA Blog article, The NRA Acquires ZWZ, announces the purchase. 
  • 2013: Year of Transitions | Introductions - until fall 2013 Ei flowed within the metamorphosis stage. As the year drew to a close, the three platforms approach for Ei initiatives emerged. 
  • 2014: Year of Foundations | Evolutions - in 2014 the platforms were grounded with project work and supporting taglines.
  • 2015: Year of ACTION - in 2015 Ei lived up to its tagline: Sustainability in ACTION!
Ei endeavors align within the following mantra:

Ei is a creator, an incubator. 
Ei determines what could be done that is not being done and gets it done. 
Ei brings the possible out of the impossible. 
Ei identifies pioneers and creates heroes.

The Ei Team is comprised of Industry Experts and Industry Pioneers. Experts educate, advise and provide support the Pioneers; the Pioneers craft new standard operating practices within their operations that make good business and environmental sense. Once tested and proven effective, the Pioneers share the evolved practices with their industry colleagues. Ei’s work is complete and the Team moves into a new industry frontier.

For the past six years the Ei Team served as a leader in pioneering frontiers with a myriad of completed projects | programs. As detailed on the Mission Accomplished page, below is a list of Ei endeavors that achieved their goals and are considered complete via a sale, term expiration or simply mission accomplished!

Ei Industry Expert Ken Fraser w/
Industry Pioneer Tim Trefzer (GWCC)
  • EPA Scaling Up Composting in Charlotte, NC – Ei was a lead sub-grantee under the EPA Grant to GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition; the grant term ended September 30, 2015.
  • Food & Beverage Packaging Value Chain Meetings - Each December 2011 through 2014, trade association and non-profit executives from the entire sustainable food & beverage packaging value chain met in Washington D.C. for a day of vibrant dialogue and sharing. Mission Accomplished: solid industry synergies grounded in joint programs were evident at the 2014 meeting.
  • GREASE – Grease Recycling & Energy Alternatives for the Environment – GREASE evolved from a task force into the precursor to the prominent Ei Airborne Kitchen Grease Initiative. Mission Accomplished!
  • POWER – Perishable Organics Waste to Energy Recycling – From 2009 through 2011 Ei-hosted POWER meetings served as a platform to catapult an emerging industry into an established industry. Mission Accomplished!
  • ZWZ - Zero Waste Zones -  In 2012 the NRA purchased the esteemed program that pioneered the commercial collection of food waste for composting.
With the multitude of endeavors accomplished, Ei announced three new initiatives at the 2015 Annual Ei Partner Meeting:

SMAT Team Members
In addition the SMAT - Sustainable Materials ACTION Team - was busy in 2015 educating, advising and sharing their industry expertise to pioneers forging new Recycling Refinement frontiers. When Industry Experts and Industry Pioneers team together, the possible emerges from the impossible!

In May Ei Partner | Industry Expert Rick Lombardo with NaturBag presented on SMAT work-in-progress at the 2015 National Zero Waste Business Conference (NZWBC). At the 2015 Annual Ei Partner Meeting Rick gave an impressive presentation on SMAT accomplishments. Rick’s SMAT PPT presentation is downloadable on the Annual Ei Partner Meeting page. 

Rick presenting @ NZWBC
with his clever props
The ZWA article, SMAT: the possible emerges from the impossible, gives an overview of SMAT's important work.

In January Ei hosted a well attended 90-minute panel presentation, Getting to Zero Waste: Composting at Special Events, at the 2016 U.S. Composting Council Conference. Moderated by Holly, the panel showcased the Zero Food Waste Journeys at two prominent Atlanta annual events, Afternoon in the Country (AITC) and RayDay. Hosted within the idyllic Serenbe Community, the events included on-site food waste composting.

Sustainable Food Court Initiative Co-Chair Doug Kunnemann of NatureWorks took the session leadership role with an Ei overview and an introduction to the Zero Food Waste Journeys supported by the SMAT members.

Ei Partner Ken Fraser with EcoProducts followed with event details, focusing on the extensive pre-planning necessary for success. Beyond site visits, strategy sessions and meetings, SMAT hosted a two-hour Compostable Food & Beverage Packaging Education Session emphasizing the critical role packaging plays in post-consumer food waste composting.

Finished AITC food waste
compost pile
Doug returned to the podium with an in-depth presentation of the event successes, challenges and lessons learned. Let Us Compost owner Kristen Baskin, who orchestrated the on-site event food waste composting, followed with an overview of the successful event composting practices. As the final panelist, City of Atlanta Zero Waste Manager Boyd Leake spoke on the city policy implications from the zero food waste success at the annual events. 

Before segueing into Q&A, Doug announced a formal NatureWorks Zero Food Waste Journeys Global Case Study is in process with an anticipated spring release - EXCITING!

The ZWA Blog article Zero Food Waste Journeys: Successes, Challenges & Lessons Learned, gives an in-depth overview of the AITC zero food waste journey; the ZWA Blog article, Simple, easy, proven steps culminate in zero food waste success, chronicles the RayDay zero food waste success. The Ei FB albums, Afternoon in the Country, a zero food waste journey and 2015 RayDay, are event pictorial recounts.

Holly photographing @
2015 NZWBC Conference
Photo credit: Scott Lutocka
The Ei | U.S. Zero Waste Business Council powerful relationship gained strength in Ei's 6th year. In addition to serving as the NZWBC Official Media Sponsor, Ei was named the USZWBC Media Partner in 2015. The ZWA Blog article, Zero Waste Makes Good Business Sense, is an overview of Ei's prominent role at the 2015 NZWBC hosted in downtown Los Angeles.

As the USZWBC Media Partner, Ei published 18 ZWA Blog articles to date. A true partner, the USZWBC actively promotes article readership within their network. With two exceptions, each article exceeds the blog average 680 pageviews; 7 articles exceed 1,000 pageviews!

The ZWA Blog article, 2016 Zero Waste Conference: "Tuning in" to Zero Waste, announces the June 1 -5, 2016 Fifth Annual NZWBC hosted in Austin, TX 

The stage is set, foundation built, and team in-place for Ei to soar within the magical 7th year of IMPACT!