Our Kids Future? Or Present?
Humans are killing the life support system of spaceship Earth that is needed for future generations to survive. This baby albatross is just one of billions of "canaries in the coal mine" that are dying and warning us of this disaster that is happening right now. This baby bird lived as far from human habitation as you can get yet it died from our plastic. By 2050 there will likely be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Insect populations are down drastically worldwide. Climate change and ocean acidification (caused by excess C02) are killing coral reefs as well as many ocean food stocks (like diatoms and crustaceans) that the rest of the ocean food chain depends on. While the situation is dire, if we take action now, we can save our world.
Humans are exceeding the resource budget of planet earth (see Earth Overshoot Day). Either humans reduce their collective resource use by half, or we reduce the human population by half, or mother nature will do it for us and forcibly kill more than half of the human population through disease, famine, war, and other disasters. There is no free lunch.
This emergency is well within our current capabilities and technologies to fix. We can save our kids from suffering the consequences before mother nature requires harsh payback.
ZeroW.org is dedicated to solving this challenge. Read on to find out how.
Many thanks to Anne Reburn for her recent release of "Where Do We Go From Here (Bike Version)" which captures in song much of the essence of bicycling and bicycle touring that I enjoy as well as noting that it is up to us which path we take.
My Dream of How Our World Can Be
There is a relatively easy and economical method to get to a beautiful future that does not require a lot of complex engineering -- it returns more land to nature and restores much of our natural world to the way it was -- we simply reduce. We need not always expand. Humans can show restraint, we can budget, we can methodically reduce our population, and we can continue to become more efficient and less polluting as we are already doing. Imagine that -- just let nature restore itself as humans consume less (zero waste) and allow much of nature to be naturally wild again. That is my dream. Humanity at peace and in harmony with nature rather than trying to dominate it.
Alas a dystopian future has shown up sooner than some expected.
COVID-19 is a direct natural consequence of human's over expansion and over exploitation of our earth. Humans as well as their food stocks have become huge monocultures that are vulnerable to disease. Scientists and others have been predicting for decades that something like COVID-19 was coming and that more pandemics are expected. To learn more about why and how please read the following:
COVID-19 is just one canary in the coal mine. While it killed millions it is small compared to what is still to come. If we do not change our ways, billions will die prematurely as nature forces a balance back on us. In nature, all equations must balance. Follow the science.
California & Canadian Fire Disasters
The disastrous 2020 California fires and the 2023 Canadian wild fires that both produced choking smoke and pollution over large parts of North America are also consequences of climate change (in addition to many years of blocking beneficial fires and building homes in dangerous areas).
All equations must balance. Follow the science.
Save Our Seas Ride Across America (2019)
From February 22 through May 29, 2019 Tim bicycled 5004 miles in 97 days from San Francisco to Boston via two dozen aquariums and many other speaking venues to meet people across the US and discuss Oceans, Plastic, Climate Change, and Kids. Tim surpassed his original mileage estimate of 4400 miles and blew past his speaking goal of 90 talks in 90 days as he did 254 talks!!!! He did all of this while minimizing solid waste as well as fossil fuel use. Finally he raised $13,000 for five 501(c)3 charities fighting climate change -- Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, League of American Bicyclists, Adventure Cycling, Climate Ride, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Fossil fuels are causing climate change and polluting our oceans with billions of tons of plastic that kill wildlife and end up in our own food. What goes around comes around, so what we throw away (even what goes into landfills) eventually will come back to haunt us. Tim did this ride to Save Our Seas, a critical part of our world's life support system, for all of our kids, grandkids, and future generations.
Let's work together to save our world. Please do one or more of the following:
Vote with your fingers - put trash and recyclables where they belong.
Vote with your feet - walk or bike instead of drive. It's healthier and will save you thousands if not millions of dollars. If you must drive, remember that it is legal for bicyclists to ride in the middle of a lane to stay safe and you should give bicyclists 3-6 feet of clearance when passing them.
Vote with your wallet - don't buy trash! Go Zero Waste! This economic signal will convince businesses to change their practices. Also support nonprofits like the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition.
Vote with your voice - talk with others about what needs to be done and why. We need to get everyone on board as we do have a climate emergency!
Vote at the ballot box - if you cannot vote you can still write a letter to your national elected representatives to get them to support the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act to reduce CO2 pollution. And get your California State representatives to support the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act. Letters from kids are particularly effective. Let's own our our government -- for and by the people -- rather than let a wealthy few game the system for their profit at our expense. Getting our government to take action is the only way to get everyone -- people and companies -- moving in the right direction.
People are powerful. We have changed the world in many ways and we have the power to improve our world rather than destroy it. Connecting with each other is key to working together, which is on reason Tim did this ride. Together we can keep our world a beautiful place for all to live.
Why did Tim visit so many aquariums? The Monterey Bay Aquarium was instrumental in educating Tim about plastic in our oceans and the New England Aquarium in Boston was the first international-class aquarium Tim visited as a kid. Bill Patterson, a friend of Tim's from Harvard, rejuvenated the California Academy of Sciences. Oceans are difficult for people to explore and understand but aquariums bring oceans to people so they can learn about their wonders and how critical they are for life on earth.
You can view Tim's route map with dates at https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28953999 (be patient the map may take a while to load). The bed icons mark the towns where Tim spent a night. You can also see Tim's schedule in list form. Remarkably, Tim completed the ride as planned despite many adverse weather events so Tim could make all his speaking engagements. Following a strict schedule when bicycle touring is hard.
Trails away from motor vehicles are one of the most fun places to bicycle (and breathe). Tim rode on about 50 rail trails including many within 5 of the 8 TrailNation projects - Bay Area Trails Collaborative, Industrial Heartland Trails Coalition, Capital Trails Coalition, Baltimore Greenway Trails Network, and The Circuit Trails (Philadelphia). Kudos to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy for fostering trail development across the US so we can get more people having fun bicycling or walking instead of driving. Trails are good for your health and good for the environment.
If you are interested in bicycle touring, here are some good resources to start: adventurecycling.org, crazyguyonabike.com, bicycletouringpro.com, warmshowers.org, ridewithgps.com, and maps.google.com (use their bike routing option). Packing correctly is critical. Tim's long distance touring packing list is a derivative of the one David Goodrich used as documented in his book A Hole in the Wind.
Warmshowers.org is highly recommended both for people who bike as well as those who do NOT bike as it is an excellent way for you to meet friendly eco tourist bicyclists from all over the world that come to your doorstep rather than you having to travel to theirs.
For day-by-day pictures and commentary from Tim's ride, see Tim's Save Our Seas ride blog at https://sosride.blogspot.com/
Media coverage: San Jose Mercury News (2/24/19), Paso Robles Daily News (2/25/19), San Diego CBS TV Interview (3/6/19), Roswell New Mexico Daily Record (3/26/19), St. Louis Missouri KDHX Radio Interview (4/9/19), North Country Public Radio (4/24/2019), Watertown Daily Times (5/6/2019), Malone Telegram (5/9/2019), Grand Center Arts Academy Today (5/13/19), The Silicon Valley Voice (5/15/19), Wicked Local Wareham (5/19/19)
Why Zero Waste?
Save money, improve health, reduce pollution, protect our environment. Waste is a waste.
For the sake of our children, species, and world, we should all pursue Zero Waste. It is the ethical thing to do. We have been given a beautiful world and it is up to us to take care of it. Otherwise mother nature will have her revenge eventually and our kids will suffer: Climate Change, Disease, Drought, Floods, Wild Fires, Mass Extinctions, Famine, and War. Fossil fuels cause climate change -- best to leave them in the ground. Plastics (also from fossil fuels) are killing our oceans. This site takes a very broad view of zero waste to include all resources -- time, money, space, energy, water, and air in addition to solid waste.
Zero Waste is both a goal and a journey. Just take it one step at a time.
How To Go Zero Waste?
Read and learn from any or all of the following.
Zero Waste books (please borrow from your library or get electronic editions):
101 Ways to Go Zero Waste by Kathryn Kellogg.
No Impact Man by Colin Beavan.
Plastic Free by Beth Terry.
Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson.
Big Chicken by Maryn McKenna. Antibiotic overuse is ending their effectiveness -- this is a catastrophe and a waste.
Beyond Debate by Dr. Shahir Masri. This is a must read for anyone skeptical about climate change. Climate change is a serious waste issue.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. While not a zero waste book, reducing waste means changing many habits which makes this a must read.
Eat to Beat Disease by Dr. William Li. This book documents the latest science of how our diet can prevent (or cause) disease. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Zero Waste websites and blogs:
http://www.goingzerowaste.com/ - Kathryn Kellogg - Maine (formerly SF Bay Area)
http://www.zerowastehome.com/ - Bea Johnson - SF Bay Area
https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/ - Peter Adeney, Mr Money Mustache - Longmont, Colorado. His focus is mostly on saving money but that is a good zero waste approach!
http://trashisfortossers.com/ - Lauren Singer - New York City & Los Angeles
http://myplasticfreelife.com/ - Beth Terry - SF Bay Area
https://zerowastechef.com/ - Anne Marie - SF Bay Area
https://treadingmyownpath.com/ - Lindsay Miles - Australia
http://zerogarbagechallenge.info/ - Rose - Charlottesville, Virginia
https://colinbeavan.com/ - "No Impact Man" Colin Beavan - New York, New York
http://robgreenfield.tv/ - Rob Greenfield - San Diego and all over
https://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/ - Love Food, Hate Waste, a UK site to help reduce food waste
City of Sunnyvale's "How to Get Rid of Anything" page
http://FreecycleForever.org - Learn how to freecycle worldwide turning trash into treasure
https://trashnothing.com/?gid=24 - Sunnyvale California's local freecycling group in Tim's home town
http://ecopractice.blogspot.com - You can read about Tim's own journey and discoveries on the way to Zero Waste. Tim does not post that often because most everything is so well covered by the above sources :-)
Tim's House - Tim is documenting all the ways his household is reducing waste. This is a work in progress.
- Waste Reduction Programs:
Oral Care Recycling Program - ZeroW.org runs Oral Care Recycling drop offs in Sunnyvale that serve all of Silicon Valley and generate donations for Climate Change reducing nonprofits like Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition and others.
City of Sunnyvale's Recycling Program - Sunnyvale has done an excellent job determining the most cost effective and efficient ways to reduce and recycle. Kudos to them especially for their food scraps recycling program.
- Zero Waste Non-profits:
Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition - Bicycling is a huge win-win-win-win. Supporting this nonprofit makes it easier and safer to bike -- reducing climate change, saving lives, improving health, reducing material waste (compare the resources that to into a car vs a bike and how much road & parking space a car takes vs a bike), and saving everyone lots of money. Donate to them whether you bike or not because encouraging bicycling does more to reduce climate change and waste than just about anything else.
CalBike - The California state wide bicycle advocacy group.
League of American Bicyclists - A US national bicycle advocacy group.
Bicycling is a great zero waste transportation option but there are many other reasons to bike too, see: Why Bike?
Learn how to ride a bike or how to bike better with private lessons in the San Francisco Bay Area at Bicycle Solutions. Tim teaches people of all ages for Bicycle Solutions in Cupertino, Sunnyvale, and Los Altos.
Tim teaches middle schoolers and their parents through Wheel Kids.
Tim and his colleagues also teach many classes for Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition,
Remember, Zero Waste is a goal and a journey. Don't worry about perfection, just do the best that you can and keep working at it.
Here are some pictures of what Tim hauls by bike. He often moves more by bike than can fit in most cars.
So What About Our Governments?
While each of us can individually make a difference, we can make a much, much bigger difference if our governments support Zero Waste so it is easier for everyone. Here are the biggest current opportunities. Please talk to your elected officials about these:
Get your California State representatives to support the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act. This is an example of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). Also known as Product Stewardship, it is a strategy to place a shared responsibility for end-of-life product management on the producers, and all entities involved in the product chain, instead of the general public; while encouraging product design changes that minimize a negative impact on human health and the environment at every stage of the product's lifecycle. Manufacturers are much better equipped than consumers to design products that reduce waste as well as take back what they make to make new things out of the reused resource -- they are in the business of making things after all. See also: https://www.asbcouncil.org/sites/main/files/file-attachments/sb_54_ab_1080_fact_sheet.pdf, https://www.asbcouncil.org/support-california-circular-economy-and-plastic-pollution-reduction-act, https://www.surfrider.org/campaigns/pass-the-california-circular-economy-and-plastic-pollution-reduction-act .
Laws and development that encourage and protect bicycling and walking - especially important at the local level. Support your local bicycle coalition like the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition -- they are at government meetings when you cannot attend and also educate cyclists and motorists. Biking is one of the easiest and biggest ways to reduce waste, save money, and improve health.
Reach Codes are updates to local building codes to ensure local construction is built for sustainability. This saves money improves durability and safety but in the short AND long term. These building codes encourage solar power, electric cars, heat pump space heating, heat pump water heating, efficient lighting, and more
Green New Deal - We need big systemic changes nationwide so we both improve our economy and save our planet at the same time.
Doughnut Economy - We need to balance human and environmental needs so we all have enough to thrive but do not over consume and destroy mother Earth.
Get to know all your elected officials starting with those in your own city/town. They can do their job better if they know their community better -- notably you!
Getting our governments to make these changes takes a lot of hard work but they also have the biggest impact because they get the general populace engaged and moving in the right direction. Good governments by and for the people are key to a sustainably peaceful and healthy world.
Tim's Speaking Schedule
Tim has given thousands of talks at companies, aquariums, museums, libraries, schools, churches, Boys and Girls Clubs, and other venues to audiences as large as 2000 as well as on TV and radio. If you are interested in having Tim talk please email him at Tim@ZeroW.org. Here are the places he spoke during his ride. He can give versions of the following talks to adults, kids, or both for ages from elementary school on up. The talks can be from 30-90 minutes depending on the audience. Tim is a certified Cycling Instructor with the League of American Bicyclists , former Coach Instructor with the American Youth Soccer Organization (taught thousands of coaches), former 4-H leader, and on the cutting edge of going Zero Waste for businesses, households, and individuals.
Riding Across the US to Save a World
Learn how to reduce climate change and waste while reliving an epic bicycle ride from San Francisco to Boston to save our world for our kids.
Save Money and Go Zero Waste
Learn how to save money and reduce waste at the same time to protect our planet and kids. All waste is money lost.
Specifications for talks:
In person: computer projection system with HDMI; bicycle rolled in as part of talk.
Online: Zoom (preferred), Google Meet, and other teleconference options.
None currently scheduled.
Selected Past Talks
Thursday, April 21, 2022, Stanford Research Park - Go Zero Waste!
Wednesday, Oct 14, 2021 10:30-11:30am PDT - Oceans, Plastic, Climate & Kids - Santa Clara University tUrn Climate Conference
Wednesday 4/14/2021 - Go Zero Waste! Save Money, Save the Planet, Save Our Kids, SAP (private, online)
Wednesday 4/14/2021 7-9pm - Go Zero Waste! Save Money, Save the Planet, Save Our Kids, Together We Will Los Gatos (public, online)
Wednesday 3/3/2021 - Save Money and Go Zero Waste, Hyde Middle School Environmental Club (online)
Wednesday 2/10/2021 - Reducing Climate Change, Hyde Middle School Environmental Club (online)
Tuesday 4/7/2020 7:00-8:30pm - Save Money and Go Zero Waste, Holistic Moms Network (online)
Wed 4/8/2020 - Zero Waste Breakfast Chat, Los Gatos Rotary Club (online)
Wed 2/5/2020 7:00-8:00pm - Riding Across the US to Save the World, Almaden Cycle Touring Club, General Meeting, First Congregational Church Of San Jose United Church Of Christ, 1980 Hamilton Ave, San Jose, CA 95125.
Sunday 1/12/2020 10:30am - 1:00pm - Balance @ Sunday Assembly - please RSVP, Masonic Lodge, 890 Church St, Mountain View, CA 94041. Please note that this is the super fast 15 minute version with no Q&A of what is usually covered in 1 hour.
Sunday 12/8/2019 11:15am - 12:15pm - Bicycle Touring and Zero Waste, Humanist Community in Silicon Valley Forum, Mountain View Community Center, 8201 S Rengstorff Ave, Mountain View, CA 94040.
Saturday 11/30/2019 5:30pm-7:30pm - Riding Across the US to Save the World, Sports Basement, 202 Walnut St, Redwood City, CA 94063. Please register for this event on Eventbrite. This event is being done for the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition.
Sunday 11/17/2019 - Riding Across the US to Save the World @ Western Wheelers (private event)Thursday 10/24/2019 - Zero Waste @ Atherton (private event).
Monday 10/21/2019 - Balance @ Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition
Sunday 10/6/2019 10:30am-12:00pm - A Passion For Zero Waste @ Congregation Beth Am, Beit Kehillah room, 26790 Arastradero Rd, Los Altos Hills, CA 94022
Tuesday 9/24/2019 1:00-2:30pm - Balance @ Sunnyvale Senior Center, 550 E Remington Dr, Sunnyvale, CA 94087
Wednesday 8/21/2019 - The Story of Stuff Project + California Circular Economy & Plastic Reduction Act, Sacramento CA
Sunday 8/18/2019 - Balance @ Sunnyvale Unitarian Universalist Assembly
Wednesday 6/12/2019 - Balance @ Monterey Veterans Memorial Park
A Passion for Zero Waste & Balance
Leading up to Tim's 2019 ride he gave a TEDx talk in April 2018 that showed a passion for Zero Waste and what individuals can do. After his 2019 bicycle ride across the US, Sunday Assembly had Tim speak about the balance we need to maintain for our species to survive on Earth.
About Tim Oey
Tim runs ZeroW.org to help people learn how to save spaceship Earth's life support system by pursuing Zero Waste -- saving our environment, oceans, climate, money, and lives. Zero Waste means working to eliminate trash and pollution and doing our best to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. All waste is money lost. His household of 3 humans and 2 dogs is down to about a quart of trash a month. His solar powered electric home generates more electricity than it consumes and his transportation is almost fossil fuel free as well -- mainly bicycles and an electric car. In 2019 he did a 5000 mile business trip by bicycle from San Francisco to Boston to deliver 254 talks across the US about Oceans, Plastic, Climate Change, and Kids.
Bicycling is one of the most impactful ways to go Zero Waste and it's fun! Riding a bike instead of driving a car in the US can save you $1,000,000 over a lifetime. That's a lot of money! Also along the "Zero" theme, Vision Zero is an international effort to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries. This involves re-engineering transportation facilities and better educating everyone. On the facilities side Tim serves on the Sunnyvale Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission and the VTA Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee. On the education side Tim is a certified League of American Bicyclists Cycling Instructor who loves to teach people how to bicycle safely. He teaches private and group lessons through Bicycle Solutions, middle school kids and parents through Wheel Kids, and everyone else through his full time work at Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition.
While Tim has a degree in Chemistry from Harvard and worked in the Harvard Bio Labs, the core of his career was 30+ years doing new product development at Harvard, Bank of Boston, Fidelity Investments, Apple, Sun, Adobe, and Silver Spring Networks. At the end of 2016 he left high tech to bring his systems analysis and program management expertise to public service and nonprofit environmental projects.
You can also check out periodic posts and videos at https://www.facebook.com/ZeroW.org
We must take immediate, extensive, and substantive action to solve the serious issues we face -- plastic pollution, resource over consumption, and climate change. Otherwise we will face the consequences -- pandemics, poverty, drought, famine, and war. It really is not that hard. Simple things like bicycling and choosing what we buy (or not) can make a big difference. We can do it!
Thanks for reading and taking care of each other, our kids, and our planet! Where we go from here is up to all of you!