Search This Blog

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Ei 2019: A Year of Empowerment

On February 5, 2010, Elemental Impact (Ei) incorporated as a Georgia non-profit corporation and embarked on an incredible journey. Since inception, Ei lived the tagline Sustainability in ACTION!

Whew, the first ten years were action-packed while the Ei Team initiated and completed the Ei Era of Recycling Refinement (RR) and segued into the Era of Regeneration.

Working with a powerful team of Ei Pioneers and Ei Industry Experts, Ei evolved into a respected national non-profit known for introducing sustainable best practices within a range of industries.

Beginning with the Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ), Ei initiatives epitomized 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 impossible. 
Ei identifies pioneers and creates heroes.

Ei was formed as the home for the ZWZ launched in 2009 by the Green Foodservice Alliance (GFA) within the Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA). Over the years, Ei's work evolved well beyond zero-waste initiatives.

The following is a recap of Ei's evolution:

2012: Year of Accomplishments | Completions - in late 2012 the ZWZ were sold to the National Restaurant Association (NRA) catapulting Ei into a major metamorphosis. The Zero Waste in ACTION Blog article, The NRA Acquires ZWZ, announces the monumental acquisition.

2013: Year of Transitions | Introductions - as Ei flowed within the metamorphosis stage, the three-platforms approach emerged. The IMPACT Blog, Ei Emerges Strong from Metamorphosis, introduced the three platforms: Product Stewardship, Recycling Refinement (RR) and Water Use | Toxicity. The IMPACT Magazine article, Another Year, Another Annual Ei Partner Meeting, recaps the formation of the new pilots and initiatives within the three platforms.

2014: Year of Foundations | Evolution - in 2014 the platforms were grounded with initiative launches and supporting taglines. The IMPACT Blog article, Ei 2014: A Year of Evolution, provides a summary of the platform foundations.

2015: Year of ACTION - in 2015 Ei lived up to its tagline: Sustainability in ACTION! The IMPACT Magazine article, Ei 2015: A Year of ACTION, summarizes the empowering year.

2016: Year of Recognition - in 2016 Ei's important work was recognized in published industry-case studies and Ei-hosted national conference panels. In addition, the Ei Magazines' following significantly increased and Ei was recognized as a respected journalist. The IMPACT Magazine article, Ei 2016: A Year of RECOGNITION, gives an in-depth overview of accomplishments, completions, and recognition.

Ei Team at the Ei Exploration
of Fungi, Soil Health & World Hunger
2017: Year of Shifting Gears - in 2017 Ei announced Soil Health, regenerating the foundation of life, was a prime focus, replacing the prominent RR work. In addition, Ei Leadership experienced a changing of the guard and Ei welcomed new Strategic Allies. The IMPACT Magazine article, Happy 8th Birthday, Ei!, recaps the exciting year as Ei segued from the Era of RR to the Era of Regeneration.

2018: Year of Regeneration - in 2018 Ei welcomed new partnerships, participated in global events, revitalized the Ei site, and embarked on Ei Explorations. It was an action-packed year as Ei lived the new tagline Regeneration in ACTION! The IMPACT Magazine article, Happy 9th Birthday, Ei!, chronicles the action-packed year.

The Ei Team is comprised of Industry Experts and Industry Pioneers. Experts educate, advise and 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.

Mission Accomplished - website relaunch
As a welcome to the Ei Era of Regeneration, the Ei site relaunched with a refreshed design featuring Ei Founder Holly Elmore's photography images. An updated navigation  reflects the current focus on the Soil Health | Regenerative Agriculture, Water Use | Toxicity, and Product Stewardship platforms.

Refreshed Ei site design featuring
Holly's photography
Ei endeavors considered complete via a sale, term expiration or simply mission accomplished are thoroughly documented in the Mission Accomplished section. Documentation of the important Ei Era of RR work is chronicled in the Mission Accomplished 46-page section within the following categories:
Ei Magazine articles related to each page's topic are listed on a sidebar. For meetings, tours, and conference presentations, the respective PPT presentations are available for download. Additionally, the Ei Milestones page is a monthly detail of prominent activities from the ZWZ launch to the current month, along with links to relevant website pages, magazine articles and other pertinent information.

The Mission Accomplished website section continues as a valuable industry resource. In many meetings throughout the year, Holly sent out Mission Accomplished web-page links as part of her follow-up action points.

ZWZ Ten-Year Anniversary
Ten years ago on February 10, 2009, the ZWZ launched at the acclaimed press conference hosted at the Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) and led by Stanley Meiburg, then Acting Regional Director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4. The ZWZ propelled Atlanta into the global spotlight as THE forerunner in the nation for the commercial collection of food waste for compost.

ZWZ Chair Laura Turner Seydel at the
Two-Yr Anniversary Press Conference
The national media loved the ZWZ! Within months of the launch-press conference the ZWZ were featured in a CNN Story, City Aims for Zero Waste. The story was featured on CNN's home page and aired during prime-time viewing in national and global markets. In the fall, the New York Times published the Nudging Recycling from Less Waste to None front-page article featuring the ZWZ.

At the 2009 GRACE - GRA Crystal of Excellence - Awards, Holly received the Innovator of the Year Award for the ZWZ formation and successes.

In February 2010, Ei was formed as the new home for the ZWZ. The Ei Speaking Engagement page details the plethora of conferences and other speaking engagements featuring the ZWZ along with accompanying PPT presentations.

At the ZWZ Two-Year Anniversary Press Conference, the NRA announced a national collaboration between the Ei | ZWZ and the NRA Conserve Program. In late September 2012, the NRA acquired the ZWZ program with intentions to expand the program nationally within the state-restaurant-association network. It was exciting news as the program could evolve and increase its impact within the depth of the NRA's educational, training and policy resources.

The RiA Magazine article, ZWZ Ten-Year Anniversary, chronicles the ZWZ launch, successes, and sale to the NRA.

Three-Step Straw Initiative
As plastic-straw-usage reduction gains high-profile media attention, Ei partnered with Ei Strategic Ally One More Generation (OMG) | One Less Straw (OLS) for the Three-Step Straw Initiative (TSSI) pre-launch. Beyond plastic-straw-usage reduction, TSSI addresses the straw content and end-of-life destination; the TSSI aligns with Ei Era of Regeneration Soil Health and Water Use | Toxicity platforms.

The TSSI includes the following steps:
• Step 1- REDUCE straw usage
• Step 2 – SHIFT to paper straws
• Step 3 – COMPOST used straws

OMG will encourage OLS participants to further decrease their straw-usage impact by joining the TSSI and shifting from plastic to paper straws. If there is food-waste collection for compost available, OLS participants are encouraged to engage in post-consumer food-waste collection. Thus, the paper straws contribute to local, quality compost versus another material filling up the landfills or worse the waterways.

GPS paper straw in
a margarita 
Ei-recruited participants are required to take the OLS pledge as their first TSSI step.

With perfect timing, Green Planet Straws joined the Ei Partner program to support the TSSI shift from plastic to paper straws. OLS participants proved that serving straws only upon request reduces overall straw consumption by 70 – 75%. Thus, the shift to paper straws is essentially cost-neutral as the usage reduction compensates for the higher paper-straw cost.

The TSSI is a perfect avenue for former ZWZ participants to take their sustainability commitment to the next level. For ZWZ participants, Step 3 – COMPOST is already in place. Thus, cost-neutral Steps 1 & 2 are an easy-to-implement endeavor.

The RiA Magazine article, Three Steps to Straw Integrity, substantiates the microplastic-pollution crisis and introduces the TSSI.

Founding TSSI Participants, Levy Restaurants - GWCCA and Levy Restaurants - State Farm Arena worked with Imperial Dade on carrying GPS paper straws and placed their first order in the late fall. With GPS straws available via Imperial Dade, Ei intends to embark on a TSSI campaign in early 2020 targeting ZWZ Participants and other foodservice-industry friends.

The TSSI is Ei's first steps in addressing micro and nanoplastics in our waterways, oceans, soils, and the human-food chain. TSSI Partner GPS is the financial catalyst for Ei’s important work.

Micro and nanoplastics in the soils
In less than seventy years, humans managed to infiltrate the Earth with microplastics and nanoplastics from discarded single-use and durable products in literally every nook and cranny. Recent research documented microplastics and nanoplastics in sites ranging from the arctic-snow caps to the depths of the oceans and everywhere in between.

Remnants from holiday decor
fragments into microplastics
With research validating microplastics in our waterways, oceans, drinking water, and atmosphere, it is reasonable to assume microplastics, and most likely nanoplastics, are prevalent in the Earth's soils. Yet to date there is minimal discussion let alone research on the impact of plastics on the soil ecosystem along with plant roots and fiber.

Over the summer Holly met with soil-research scientists at several prominent university departments of agriculture. At the meetings Holly garnered interest in exploring research projects on the impact of micro and nanoplastics in the soil ecosystem. Holly suggested two potential areas of research:
  1. Nanoplastic impact on the soil ecosystem including the various microbial communities, the plethora of soil life, and the potential segue into plant fiber.
  2. Potential use of fungus that feeds off of plastic to "clean-up" the plastic pollution in the soils. 
Concern: plastics often contain additives; when plastic is consumed (broken down into its elements) by the fungus, additives are in a "freed" state and may prove poisonous to soil life. Remember a fully synthetic polymer contains no molecules found in nature. Thus, there is concern plastics broken down to their elemental state may actually be more harmful due to additives.

Tradd & Ei Supporter Kathy
Kellogg Johnson @ the Exploration
Ei maintains a close relationship with renowned fungi scientist Tradd Cotter, Mushroom Mountain owner, and intends to bring Cotter into the research loop at the appropriate time. In October 2018, Ei hosted the empowering Ei Exploration of Fungi, Soil Health, and World Hunger, where Tradd welcomed the impressive group to Mushroom Mountain for a fascinating education session and facility tour.

Seeds for research related to plastic in the soils were planted during the Ei Exploration.

The October 2019 RiA article, Plastics: a double-edged sword, articulates plastics-history |development and includes prominent research documenting how every nook & cranny of the Earth is infiltrated with micro and nanoplastics.

Healthy-food school programs
During the final Ei Exploration of Fungi, Soil Health, and World Hunger session at the Clemson organic-student farm, Feed & Seed Chair Mary Hipp shared on the amazing healthy-food school programs at Spartanburg County Schools District 6 (SCSD6) as well as down the road 20+ miles at Greenville County Schools.

SCSD6 The Farm @ Cragmoor
Inspired, Holly traveled to Greenville | Spartanburg in May 2019 to meet the masterminds behind the healthy-food school programs and tour their respective operations. Mary was generous with her time, connections, and spirit as she hosted Holly for two-consecutive days of meetings and tours. Subsequently, Holly and Mary visited SCSD6's Farm @ Cragmoor to witness its transformation from the planning to operational stages.

In August, Mary introduced Holly to South Carolina Department of Education Director, Office of Health & Nutrition Ron Jones in Columbia. The two-hour meeting was inspiring and filled with synergies for future, important work.

The below RiA Magazine articles document the schools visits:
An absolutely delicious, healthy
lunch at Greenville County Schools
Ei intends to make appropriate introductions for potential grants to take the superior programs to next dimensions.

College-student mentoring
Throughout the year, several universities and organizations requested Holly to share her recycling-refinement and beyond expertise with student groups. 

Clemson clock tower
Via an introduction by Ei Environmental Advisor Laura Turner Seydel, Elise Kirby with Shepherd Center invited Holly to visit the facility to learn the current status of the recycling and sustainability practices. 

The second step was meeting with group of Georgia Institute of Technology (Ga Tech) students whose class project was formulating an action plan to improve Shepherd's environmental footprint. As the semester closed, the students prepared an impressive PPT presentation for Shepherd management detailing their research along with solid recommendations.

Professor Christophe Darnault, Ph, D. at Clemson University requested Holly'd support for two student Biosystems-Engineering Capstone-Design Projects. The project topics aligned with Holly's expertise and connections: 
  • Site and Operations Redesign of Composting Facility for the City of Columbia
  • Utilization of Biosludge: Soil Fertilization & Energy Production
HONOR: at Christophe's invitation, Holly traveled to Clemson in early December to judge the Biosystems-Engineering Capstone-Design Projects Final Presentations.

Spelman Director of Facilities Art Frazier orchestrated a meeting with his intern and an environmental student group to discuss and strategize on campus-zero-waste initiatives. One of the meeting-action points is a 2020 visit to Kennesaw State University (KSU) Dining Services. At KSU, Gold-LEED Certified The Commons dining hall adheres to impressive zero-food and reduced-plastics practices and welcomes tours of their stellar facilities.

Ei Connects
Throughout 2019, Holly orchestrated Ei Connects meetings and tours. On February 26, 2019, CompostNow Co-Founder David Paull hosted Ei Founding Chair Scott Seydel and Holly on a tour of their impressive windrow food-waste-composting operations at the King of Crops Farm. 

Holly & David @ King of Crops
Photo credit: Scott Seydel
Scott and Holly use CompostNow’s residential food-waste collections services at their respective homes. It was nice to see the food waste’s destination. 

On May 9, 2019 Ei orchestrated sustainability tours of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS) and Georgia World Congress Center Authority for Pattie Baker, alias “Sustainable Pattie.” The tours were research for Pattie’s recently announced Sustainability-in-Action bicycle tours in partnership with Bicycle Tours of Atlanta. The RiA Magazine article, Sustainability in ACTION garners a new life, at the speed of bike, gives an overview of the tours.

in June, Ei orchestrated introductions for long-time comrade in sustainability at Georgia Tech to KSU Hickory Grove Farm and KSU Dining Services. Synergies abounded during the tour and meeting between Georgia Tech and KSU. 

While Ga Tech excels in its waste & recycling program as well as grounds-maintenance practices, KSU is an industry hero in sustainable dining. The RiA Magazine article, Success is not static: evolution is required to create and sustain regeneration, gives an overview of the empowering tour and meeting.

A section of the Ei FB album, Ei Connects, includes pictorial recaps of each of the above tours and meeting.
A Recycling Icon Retires
On October 31, 2019 Zero-Waste Icon Cindy Jackson retired from Georgia Tech as the Director of Waste & Recycling. Under Cindy's 22-year leadership, Ga Tech never succumbed to single-stream and the award-wining recycling program operated as a profit center.

The AMAZING Cindy Jackson
Photo credit: Scott Lutocka
From inception, Ei worked closely with Cindy over the years on various projects related to zero-waste practices and beyond. When Ei requested a tour of Ga Tech's award-winning recycling program, Cindy always answered "YES, of course!"

Cindy attended Annual Ei Partner Meetings and participated in other Atlanta-based activities, such as the 2015 Atlanta Ei Partner Tours.

In industry circles, Cindy is known as "The AMAZING Cindy Jackson" after Holly coined the term when Cindy arrived late to her first Ei Partner Meeting. Accurate, the name became the way to address Cindy!

In addition to Ga Tech VP Facilities Maintenance Chuck Rhode, Holly presented at Cindy's Retirement Celebration on October 25, 2019. Holly's presentation showcased why Cindy is indeed "The AMAZING Cindy Jackson!" and is available for download on the Ei Speaking Engagements page.

The RiA Magazine article, The Legacy of the AMAZING Cindy Jackson, gives an overview of Cindy’s literally amazing professional accomplishments and ends with the October 25 retirement celebration. The Ei FB album, Cindy Jackson Retires, gives a pictorial recap of GA Tech | Ei interactions as well as images from the retirement celebration.

Lambda Alpha International
On May 1, 2019 Lambda Alpha International (LAI) hosted the Rio Piedras Professional Advisory Delegation (PAD) in partnership with the Fideicomiso para el Desarrollo de Río Piedras (FDRP).

Iglesia de La Milagrosa
within Rio Piedras
Around 50 LAI delegates attended the PAD to learn about Rio Piedras' history, challenges, impressive community assets and current revitalization plan. The PAD concluded with recommendations for revitalization-plan refinements and implementation-action points.

As a member of the LAI Global Executive Committee, Holly attended the educational and empowering day.

The RiA Magazine article, Rio Piedras: revitalizing beyond their wildest dreams, gives a synopsis of the PAD and Rio Piedras.; the Ei FB album, Rio Piedras Professional Advisory Delegation, is a pictorial recap of the walking tours and the formal PAD session.

In early November, the Austin LAI Chapter hosted the Fall 2019 Land Economics Weekend (LEW) with grand success. Over 100 attendees traveled from around the globe for the impressive two days of tours culminating with an Awards Banquet. Holly attended the pre-LEW business meetings and enjoyed the LEW festivities.

Each LEW day began with a presentation on Austin's economic landscape addressing historical contributions to current successes | challenges. Additionally, work-in-progress to harness the explosive growth with healthy outcomes was addressed and discussed.

During the day, the LEW Group visited prominent sites showcasing Austin's economic, social-conscious, and natural drivers. It was an invigorating visit to Austin. 

Downtown Austin view from
the Shoal Creek Trail
The IMPACT Magazine article, Austin: growth through redevelopment, gives an overview of the LEW activities; the Ei FB album, Austin Land Economics Weekend, is a pictorial recount of LEW activities through Holly's lens.

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.

Twice per year LAI 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.

Gifts from the Heart
Deluxe HJ Treat Bag contents
Photo credit: Howard Connell
As 2019 unfolded into the holiday season, Holly kept a decades-long tradition of gifting sweet and savory treats prepared from the heart. The Holly Jolly Sweet 'n Savory Treat Bag (HJ Treats) tradition dates back to 1985 when Holly still resided in the corporate world.

While cooking and baking, Holly infuses the HJ Treats with sacred-heart love. The energy infused within the 2019 HJ Treat Bags mirrored the below closing paragraphs in the previously mentioned Plastics: a double-edged sword article:
"Plastics gifted humanity with an evolution of manufacturing, farming and information technology. Life on planet Earth is much more comfortable and abundant from the benefit of these innovations.
Yet plastic pollution and its devastating ramifications threaten humanity's ability to continue as the Earth's dominant species. The seemingly magical gift of plastic came with a double-edged sword filled with the potential to destroy life as it is currently known on Earth. Negligent human action is responsible for a majority of the plastic pollution choking the Earth's life force.
It is time to shift perspectives from human-focused to life-focused and let the Earth show us how to heal the damage inflicted. Answers will come to those who live and take action from the heart."
Though the HJ Treat Bag gifting for 2019 is complete, the Divine inspiration to "live and take action from the heart" has eternal life.

The IMPACT Magazine article, Holly Jolly Sweet 'n Savory Treat Bags: Inspiration to live from the Heart, gives the HJ Treats history along with contents for the 2019 bags.

2020: Year of Impact
With the Ei Year of Empowerment complete, 2020 is staged for the Year of IMPACT!

No comments:

Post a Comment