Our Kids Future?
Our kids are in jeopardy. 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. It lived as far from human habitation as you can get yet it died from our plastic. In a few more years there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. The western Monarch butterfly population is down by 99%. Insect populations are down drastically worldwide. Global warming 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.
And the situation is dire. Humans are exceeding the resource budget of planet earth (see Earth Overshoot Day). Either everyone across the board reduces their resource use by half, or we reduce the human population by half, or our ecological debt will punish our kids. There is no free lunch.
This emergency is well within our capabilities to fix. We can save our kids from suffering the consequences when mother nature requires payback. Read on to find out how. Thanks!
2019 Save Our Seas Ride Across America
From February 22 through May 29, 2019 I 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. I surpassed my original mileage estimate of 4400 miles and blew past my speaking goal of 90 talks in 90 days as I did 254 talks!!!! I did all of this while minimizing solid waste as well as fossil fuel use. Finally I 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. I'm doing 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 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 why I did this ride. Together we can keep our world a beautiful place for all to live.
Why did I visit so many aquariums? The Monterey Bay Aquarium was instrumental in educating me about plastic in our oceans and the New England Aquarium in Boston was the first international-class aquarium I visited as a kid. Bill Patterson, a friend of mine 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 my 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 I spent a night. You can also see my schedule in list form. Remarkably I completed the ride as planned despite many adverse weather events so I could make all my speaking engagements.
Trails away from motor vehicles are one of the most fun places to bicycle (and breathe). I 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. My 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 also recommended for people who do NOT bike as it is an excellent way for you to meet friendly eco tourist bicyclists from all over the world when they visit your community.
For day-by-day pictures and commentary from my ride, see my 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...
Zero Waste is both a goal and a journey. Just take it one step at a time.
A Passion for Zero Waste
Please watch my TEDx talk from April 2018. It shows why I am passionate about Zero Waste and a few simple things I do that you can do too.
How To Go Zero Waste?
Read and learn from any or all of the following.
The best Zero Waste books I've read (please borrow from your library or get electronic editions):
- No Impact Man by Colin Beavan
- Plastic Free by Beth Terry
- Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson
- The Zero-Waste Lifestyle: Live Well by Throwing Away Less by Amy Korst
- Detrash Your Life in 90 Days: Your Complete Guide to the Art of Zero Waste Living by Katie Patrick
- 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).
My favorite Zero Waste websites and blogs:
- http://www.goingzerowaste.com/ - Kathryn Kellogg - SF Bay Area
- http://www.zerowastehome.com/ - Bea Johnson - SF Bay Area
- https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/ - Peter Adeney, Mr Money Mustache - Longmont, Colorado
- 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://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/FreecycleSunnyvale/info - Sunnyvale California's local freecycling group in my home town
You can read about my own journey and discoveries on the way to Zero Waste at http://ecopractice.blogspot.com. I don't post that often because most everything is so well covered by the above sources :-)
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.
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:
- Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act - a bipartisan, market-based, revenue neutral bill in the US Congress to reduce CO2 pollution AND reward citizens financially (about $400/month for a family of 4) AND improve our economy without expanding government. It is a win-win-win and currently is our best option to control CO2. Write a letter to your elected representatives as soon as you can to tell them you support this legislation! Please also check out the Citizens' Climate Lobby (a grassroots citizens' group) and the Climate Leadership Council (an industry group).
- 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.
- 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.
- Laws that encourage solar power, electric cars, heat pump space heating, and heat pump water heating.
- Laws that reduce single use plastic and build the full life cycle costs of products into their purchase price.
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
I've given hundreds of talks at aquariums, museums, schools, churches, Boys and Girls Clubs as well as on TV and radio. If you are interested in having me talk please email me at Tim@ZeroW.org. Here are the places I spoke during my ride. I 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.
- Balance / 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.
- A Passion for Zero Waste
Learn how to reduce waste and save money to protect our planet and kids.
For my talks I prefer a computer projection system that can handle HDMI. Also I ride my bicycle to all presentations and use my bike during the presentation so please have your security/administration prepared for this. I am an experienced speaker and have given thousands of presentations to audiences as large as 2000 people. I am a certified Cycling Instructor with the League of American Bicyclists , Coach Instructor with the American Youth Soccer Organization, former 4-H leader, and on the cutting edge of going Zero Waste for businesses, households, and individuals.
- Tuesday 2/4/2020 6:00-7:00pm - Save Money and Go Zero Waste, Santa Clara Central Park Library, 2635 Homestead Road, Santa Clara. Please register for this event on Eventbrite.
- Thursday 6/18/2020 12:00-1:00pm - Zero Waste Lunch and Learn, Stanford Research Park
Selected Recently Completed Talks
- 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 I otherwise do in 1 hour. I will hang around after their formal program to talk with people.
- 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
My name is Tim. I run ZeroW.org to help people learn how to tread more lightly on our earth and pursue Zero Waste -- saving our kids, environment, oceans, climate, money, and lives. Zero Waste means stretching to eliminate trash and pollution and doing our best to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. My household of 3 humans and 3 dogs is down to about a quart of trash a month. Our house is all electric (no fossil fuels) and net zero energy with solar on our roof, heat pump HVAC and water heater, all electric appliances, all electric or manual yard equipment. Our transportation is almost zero fossil fuels using mainly bicycles and an electric car.
Bicycling is one of the most impactful ways to go Zero Waste and it's fun! It can save you about $6000/year or more vs. owning a car. 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 I serve on the Sunnyvale Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission. On the education side I am a certified League Cycling Instructor who loves to teach people how to bicycle and do so safely. If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, Bicycle Solutions, one of the companies I work with, has private and group lessons for those who want to learn to ride or ride better.
While I have a degree in Chemistry from Harvard and worked in the Harvard Bio Labs, the core of my career was 30+ years building new products and information systems at Harvard, Bank of Boston, Fidelity Investments, Apple, Sun, Adobe, and Silver Spring Networks. At the end of 2016 I left high tech to bring my systems analysis and program management expertise to public service and nonprofit environmental projects. I now work full time at the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition.
Thanks for reading and taking care of each other, our kids, and our planet!