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June 22, 2015

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Collecting food scraps and workin' at the car wash

It was either two or three years ago that I had an "Aha!" moment regarding food scrap composting. I was attending the GreenTown Highland Park event back in 2012, when someone on the panel introduced the attendees in the room to Erlene Howard and her company, Collective Resource, Inc. In a nutshell (which is compostable), the organization

is a woman-owned food scrap pickup service based in Evanston. We collect all food waste and compostable products from homes, businesses, and institutions and take them to a commercial composting site. The food scraps then become ?a nutrient-rich soil amendment instead of sitting in a landfill. Commercial composting is different from backyard composting, because anything that was once alive (including meat and dairy products) can be composted. In addition to hauling compost, we educate the public about the importance of reducing landfill use.

Actually, it was less of an "Aha!" moment than an "I need to meet this person!" moment. Which I did. Since that time, I have been following the work of Collective Resource. Erlene appeared on my radio program and we continued to bump into each other at one sustainable event or another, including this year's Good Food Festival & Conference. That's where we agreed that we needed to do another interview for my program.

Then, a few weeks later, I received a note from Erlene that CRI was competing for a People & Planet Green Business Award, sponsored by Green America. Then I saw that they were a finalist.

Then I saw that they had WON! Along with two other businesses, CRI received a $5,000 cash prize. Well, now Erlene and I definitely had to get together to chat.

And what better place than the local car wash! Uhhh...if you're confused, you needn't be. Because CRI collects tons of food scraps in plastic totes and buckets, they need to clean those containers. Until now, they have been forced to rent out a space in a local car wash to get that work done. But they

will now be able to invest? in automated container washing which will, not only enable us to increase our service capacity, but also use less water in the process. This will help us continue to grow our customer base, in turn providing even more people the opportunity to reduce their landfill use.

All of that will take a little time, which is why this interview takes place at the car wash. I hope you enjoy it.

Rick "Don't Call It a 'Super' El Nino" DiMaio and the Spring of Rain

If you're concerned about global climate change, this is something that you probably don't want to hear:

Global temperatures January-May 2015 exceeded 2010's as the warmest first five months of any year, according to NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies .

NOAA's National Climatic Data Center noted that the first five months of 2015 nudged ahead of January-May 2010 by 0.09 degrees Celsius.  

Record warm sea-surface temperatures in the northeast and equatorial Pacific Ocean, as well as areas of the western North Atlantic Ocean and Barents Sea north of Scandinavia contributed to the anomalous January-May 2015, according to NOAA.

If you live in the Great Lakes region, you might be wondering what the fuss is all about. However, as NOAA points out,

eastern Canada and parts of the Great Lakes and New England were the only locations much colder than average so far in 2015. Parts of the north Atlantic Ocean, eastern Atlantic Ocean off west Africa, and Southern Ocean off the tip of South America were also somewhat cooler than average in the year's first five months.

That follows on the heels of NOAA's determination

that the rate of global warming during the last 15 years has been as fast as or faster than that seen during the latter half of the 20 th Century. The study refutes the notion that there has been a slowdown or "hiatus" in the rate of global warming in recent years.

Even the Pope has gotten into the act, with his encyclical "Laudato Si." In it, he states, "The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth." Uh, you'll get no argument from me on that.

Seriously, though, there are a lot of anomalous events happening all over the planet, as this map, sent to me by meteorologist Rick DiMaio, shows. In our part of the country, a lot of it has been rain. In California, not so much. Either one can be devasting, as this story on the effects of floods on corn production details.

But that's why I have Rick on the show from time to time, to help put all of this into perspective...even what some people are calling a "super El Nino" in the Pacific Ocean. Just don't use that phrase around Mr. DiMaio, as you'll hear if you listen to our conversation on the podcast. He also takes issue with what Thomas R. Karl, L.H.D., Director of NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information says:

Our new analysis suggests that the apparent hiatus may have been largely the result of limitations in past datasets, and that the rate of warming over the first 15 years of this century has, in fact, been as fast or faster than that seen over the last half of the 20th century.

Wow. Rick DiMaio v. the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration! Get me a box of popcorn!



 Past Shows



Erlene Howard at the car wash, baby

Erlene and tote-cleaning crew

That yellow, pink and purple stuff is rain...lots of it