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Nashville’s Crema Coffee business model is how we wish all businesses would operate.  In our interview with Rachel Lehman we find out that Crema was one of the first Zero Waste businesses in Nashville and how they keep innovating to reduce waste and make the coffee world a better place.  In addition to developing compostable coffee packaging, Crema implements costly innovations like electric delivery vehicles, reusable wholesale delivery crates and pays living wages for employees and growers. 

Would you sneak a plastic bag monster costume into your State’s Legislature and wear it to meet with lawmakers?  This is just one of the interesting things we found out in this inspirational interview with Sadie and Zach, the organizers behind Zero Waste Chattanooga.  We discuss their Zero Waste journey and how they educate their community about environmental issues.  Sadie has a great take on “Remedy Messaging” as it relates to recycling.  She sites studies that show people are more prone to waste when they think there is a remedy like recycling. Listen in to find out if we should think about changing how we talk about environmental issues to better influence behavioral change.

With world wide Covid-19 deaths in the millions, political upheaval, social unrest and a tumultuous economy, continuing the conversation about sustainability sometimes feels like some kind of privileged guilty pleasure. Michael and Maris discuss the struggles of the past year and the importance of talking about sustainability in order to engage listeners and unify our environmental efforts to slow down the impending climate catastrophe.

Do you feel like you’re the only one recycling, composting your food scraps and getting dirty looks from cashiers for bringing your own bags.  Finding and supporting your local environmental organizations can be a great way to stay connected and leverage your environmental actions. ZWTT is active with locally with Tennessee Environmental Council. Join us as we chat with CEO, Jeff Barrie about the 50 year history of TEC and what their plans are for the future.

Have you thought about sustainable gift giving?  How do you personalize a gift experience when sending an electronic gift card?  Why do we even give gifts? Maris and Michael have a conversation about how to approach gift giving as Zero Waste practitioners.

How do you “pull a Maris”?  Is there a waiter in East Nashville with a zero waste chopstick injury from Jess?  How does Michael offset air conditioning for furry Akitas?  Life is full of trade offs for what’s good for us, the environment and our pocketbooks.  Zero Waste isn’t just trying to fit all of your trash into a mason jar.  It’s about conserving and reusing resources. The Trash Talk hosts share some of the things they do on a daily basis to lower consumption and produce less waste.

Hey Ladies! Did you know that tampons and pads that we have been told to use our whole lives are actually toxic to our bodies? Maybe this isn’t news to you, but really these foreign objects we’re putting into our bodies are NOT good for us! and they are just going to be thrown AWAY – which we all know by now that there is no away. For this episode we invited fellow Zero Waste Nashville group member Larissa Maestro to explore the opportunities for healthier more sustainable feminine hygiene options. Join Maris, Jess and Larissa as they get personal with their sustainable feminine hygiene experiences.

Karen McIntyre from Nashville’s Westmead Elementary is much more than a librarian.  She’s helped start a compost program, a school garden, recycling drives and a way for students to donate uneaten food from the lunchroom (see the food audit with Urban Green Lab here).  She shares her successes and the lessons learned along the way to making her school an example for the entire Nashville school system.  Karen is proof that one persons dedication can affect systemic change.  Find out how you can support what she’s doing and/or get inspired to help your local school become more environmentally friendly. Connect with Karen via the MNPS Waste Warriors Facebook page. Karen also discusses the troubles she had trying to recycle plastic bags collected for a contest called “A Bags Life”. Read here about how the Plastics Industry Association used the school contest won by Westmeade Elementary as part of a massive effort to suppress meaningful efforts to reduce plastic waste while keeping the idea of recycling alive.

There are a lot of items that sit in our closets, attics or basements that only get used a couple of times a year.  Do you know how many resources it took to produce, ship and sell all that stuff so that it can just sit around unused? Ruckify is a new peer-to-peer rental marketplace that makes it super easy to put unused items back into circulation AND make money in the process! THEY ALSO PLANT A FRICKEN TREE FOR EVERY TRANSACTION!  In episode 12, founder Steve Cody tells us how he started the company and how you can rent products locally instead of buying more crap that you might only use one time! (Receive 30 Ruckbucks towards your first rental with our promo code revealed when you listen)

In this episode, Michael talks about his experience with his new bidet and about how the process works down to the nitty gritty detail.  We also hear from a couple of listeners who gave us audio testimonials about why they love their bidets. Save some fricken trees by using a bidet and/or toilet paper made from recycled or sustainable materials.  Bidet’s have been slow to catch on in the United States but companies like HelloTushy.com are changing that with cheeky advertising and a well designed affordable product.  Tune-in to find out why you should tune-up your bathroom routine. You can support Zero Waste Trash Talk by purchasing your HelloTushy Bidet using this affiliate link.

Does your city have a Zero Waste Plan?  If it does, is it being implemented and/or championed by your elected officials? The Chairman of the Nashville Solid Waste Board, John Sherman, gives us some background on how and why Nashville has a Zero Waste Master Plan and what we need to do to support it.

Gleaning is an ancient practice mentioned in the Old Testament and codified into law in some countries.  Normally, over 1/3 of the food produced in the world is wasted but during the pandemic shutdown this was exacerbated as crops were being plowed under and milk dumped down drains as distribution channels shifted from institutions and restaurants to grocery stores. Jeannie Hunter from The Society of St. Andrew tells us how their program uses gleaning as a tool to end world hunger and help get food to the people who need it.  Find out all about Gleaning and how you can help end hunger and waste.

Who wouldn’t want a grocery store where they are part owners and can vote on the items being sold, where they come from and how they are packaged. Learn what a grocery co-op is and how to start one in our conversation with Ellery Richardson from Nashville Food Co-op.  This is the first episode in a series about food waste and production.  The concept of Zero Waste is to be circular and regenerative instead of linear and destructive.  Food production, packaging, shipping, cooking and disposal all have large carbon footprints.  We need to be thinking different than a world where people go hungry as crops are plowed under because distribution methods are disrupted or where there are hundreds of branded sugar coated corn cereals in every grocery store contributing to malnutrition and obesity simultaneously. Click here for Episode 8 web page with transcript.

If plastic recycling is broken, why do we do it?  It makes no sense financially or by any measure of success when it’s a 90% failure rate.  Even if it worked better, plastic can’t be recycled more than 2-3 times before it falls apart so all we are doing is delaying the inevitable.  For this episode we invited Alex Truelove, Director of U.S. PIRG’s Zero Waste program, to discuss his recent article “The insanity of plastic recycling” where he points out that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is insane.  For show notes with full transcript and links to everything we talk about including a link to contact your Senator about the Break Free From Plastic Act click here

Interview with Clay Ezell from The Compost Company:

In this episode, Maris and Michael have a conversation with Clay Ezell from The Compost Company, an industrial composting facility, about how industrial composting differs from backyard composting and why Nashville is one of the few cities in the country who have a service like this that accepts food scraps and compostable plastics. We discuss why burying organic waste in a landfill is not composting and bounce around ideas for large scale composting including a look at Sevierville Solid Waste’s hybrid facility that diverts 70% of their waste stream. The question we keep coming back to is that if composting works and recycling is broken, why aren’t cities switching to curbside composting? Click here for Episode 6 Page with Transcript

How Recycling Works and Why It’s Not a Perfect System: Jenn Harrman, the Nashville Public Works Waste Reduction Program Manager, answers our questions about what’s recyclable in Nashville and where does it go?  Like many cities, Nashville has had to adapt to a changing markets for recyclables.  The rules for what plastics can be recycled have changed twice in the last year, causing some confusion.  Listen to this episode to get to the nitty gritty of how things work at our Materials Recovery Facility and how the private contractor, Waste Management, fits into the picture. We also discuss glass for home pickup and what the city is doing about the huge amounts beer bottles generated from Downtown Nashville Honky Tonks.  The legality of putting cardboard in your trash bin and how to bag your yard waste are also covered.  At the wrap up Michael asks the question: “Should we even be recycling plastics”. Click here for Episode 5 Page with Transcript

Be Mindful of What Happens to Your Donated Clothes and Goods: We touch base with Zero Waste Trash Talk family member Jess Johnson to discuss her experiences with donations as a home organizer.  In addition to asking what each organization is accepting before just dumping items on them, she finds out what they do with the items they can’t use.   Click here for Episode 4 Page with Transcript

Don’t Make Us Get All John Wick On You: In Episode 3 we talk about watching the new documentary The Story of Plastic on Amazon Prime and we interview our friend John Hawkins, a Nashville waste diversion specialist and musician, to get his take on the problems with recycling.  We discuss if we should stop recycling since it’s broken and I think Michael might’ve even encouraged armed insurrection “John Wick Style”. Click here for Episode 3 Page with Transcript

Nashville’s First Zero Waste Package Free Refill Store: Megan Gill, talks to us about her zero waste journey.  She moved back to the States from Costa Rica where she taught women who had been sex traffic victims how to become beauticians.  Seeing how different consumerism is here in America, it made her want to start an ethical and sustainable zero waste store in Tennessee.  We discuss how the recent tornado affected her business that was followed by the pandemic stay at home closure orders. Click here for Episode 2 Page with Transcript

Sustainability Tips From Nashville: In this first episode we talk about sustainability in Nashville and what we are doing to strengthen our community.  It’s a hyper local conversation with ideas that can be applied to communities all across the globe.  We cover city composting options; new plastic recycling regulations and the problems with the triangle numbering system; how to dine out sustainably, and what you can do as individuals to limit your environmental footprint.