Gordon Plaza EPA Failures | Environmental & Climate Injustice

Washington (GGM) Analysis | August 6, 2021 byNoreen Wise, author, climate journalist, Act Now community builder

“Responsibility is accepting that you are the cause and the solution of the matter.”  
—Anonymous

Following an article written on June 7, 2021 outlining the many decades of suffering that the families of the New Orleans subdivision, Gordon Plaza, have endured as a result of the galling indifference of federal, state and local leaders, and their refusal to take responsibility for the traumatic plight of the Gordon Plaza residents, I sent an email to EPA’s Environmental Justice Division, requesting answers to a few questions: 

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∙What new measures is the EPA implementing to protect residents of Gordon Plaza (who are already dealing with environment hazards) from the climate change impact on these environmental hazards?

∙What is the EPA doing to address the safety of Gordon Plaza residents from the threat of the wet bulb temperature (Gordon Plaza used to be called Danté’s Inferno because of the fires caused from spontaneous combustion), thus it seems possible that this particular land could potentially explode? I cited the recent explosion of Chemtool outside of Chicago that is currently being investigated. I even mentioned that potentially the entire subdivision could explode and everyone could potentially be killed. 

∙The residents are seeking a fully funded relocation which is very reasonable. Why is this being denied?

Tragically, two days ago on August 4, 2021, in Ellisville, Mississippi, 112 miles north of New Orleans, 35 year old James Keyes was tragically killed by explosion while at work at Jarrell Recycling scrapyard. Mississippi State Fire Marshal’s Office, Mississippi Office of DHS, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were on hand to investigate the explosion and determined it was caused by an ordinance. No mention of whether the extreme heat of 95ºF triggered the ordinance that had found its way into the scrap heap.

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The EPA Press Office replied as follows:

“Both the Gordon Plaza Apartments and the Gordon Plaza subdivison were included in the residential property clean up that EPA completed in 2001. Lead was the primary contaminant addressed by the cleanup. The cleanup of the Gordon Plaza residential properties included excavating the top 24 inches of lead-contaminated soil and transporting it off-site for disposal; placing a filter fabric on the subgrade;  then covering the residential properties with 24 inches of clean fill.  Following this cleanup, EPA determined that no additional cleanup actions were necessary to protect human health and the environment at the Agriculture Street Landfill Superfund site.

“EPA conducts a review of Superfund site cleanups at least every five years.  These Five Year Reviews (FYR) include a protectiveness statement to communicate EPA’s most recent evaluation of a cleanup’s protectiveness.  The fourth FYR of EPA’s cleanup (also called the remedy) at the Agriculture Street Landfill Superfund site was completed on September 7, 2018.  The FYR determined the remedy for the residential properties, including the Gordon Plaza apartments and subdivison, is protective of human health and the environment.”

First, the 2001 clean up mentioned in the EPA’s reply, was washed away during Hurricane Katrina. Residents repeatedly asked for the clean fill to be replaced. I could not uncover any documentation that stated that the clean fill had been replaced, nor does the above email reply indicate it was replaced. The most logical conclusion that can be drawn, is that the health and well-being of Gordon Plaza residents have been at grave risk since 2005. The 2019 Louisiana Tumor Registry listed Gordon Plaza as the second highest tumor rate in the entire state of Louisiana. If these alarming facts aren’t of concern to the EPA’s Environmental Justice Division, there doesn’t appear to be many issues that will enable the EPA to meet the public’s expectations of such an important and noble mission as environmental justice.

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Second, the FYR on September 7, 2018 was during the Trump Administration which was very vocal in their opposition to regulations. Under Trump, the EPA implemented an aggressive campaign to delete superfund sites from the National Priorities List (NPL). The EPA eliminated a staggering 82 sites. There does not appear to be any plans for the current EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan to review the 82 sites deleted from the NPL to make sure these Trump Administration FYRs were thorough.

Gallant Gold Media will continue to follow the Gordon Plaza environmental & climate injustice story. Gordon Plaza lives matter, too. It’s demeaning for the public to see fellow American families treated with such indifference. It must feel dehumanizing for Gordon Plaza residents to experience so many slammed doors, and the blatant contempt of moral integrity. 

No rose without thorns. —French Proverb.
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Concrete Kills: Burdens Outweigh the Benefits

Washington (GGM) Analysis | June 25, 2021 by Michael Wells

After water, concrete is the most widely used substance in the world. But this does not mean it is safe. Concrete is responsible for 8% of global CO2 emissions. It outweighs the combined mass of every tree, bush, and shrub on Earth, and it hardens and degrades slowly. Joni Mitchell once wrote a song about paving paradise to put up a parking lot, and that has already happened. 

Companies and governments have stripped mountains, ripped sand out of beaches, and taken lake and ocean water to feed the massive demand for concrete, the substance that produces buildings for the modern world. Concrete takes so much from the environment, and, in return, the manufacturing of concrete belches CO2 into the atmosphere and spreads harmful particles in the air that causes cancer and respiratory ailments. And it exacerbates the carnage of hurricanes like Katrina and Harvey. It did so by preventing water from being absorbed into the concrete covered ground. In short, concrete is a menace that we all live and work in, on, around, and near.

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Heart of the matter. No material has made the building of the modern world more possible from the construction of the Pantheon in ancient Rome to the Empire State Building. None of it would have been possible without concrete. But that has come at a huge price to the environment, animals, and people. 

“Unfortunately, a cement plant makes for a horrible neighbor,” writes Fred Siegel in his book, Environmental Hazards: Are you Exposed? It is one of the least regulated industries on the planet, and it is largely run by organized crime. What a scheme: perhaps the world’s greatest polluter run by the worst criminals, which makes dead bodies entombed in concrete foundations seem almost quaint by comparison. From thousands of concrete plants that are everywhere it produces mercury, cement kiln dust, burns toxic waste (while lying about it), produces cancer causing particulate matter, and uses toxic gases and metals. 

Time to face the music. In order to succeed at carbon drawdown, we have to return to the Garden of Eden. Very exciting! #ActNow Take a listen.

How this impacts you personally. Concrete is in your backyard, and under your feet as you read this article. You drive on it, play on it, and your house, office, and apartment sit on it. You cannot escape it. The problem is two-fold: the production of the concrete is extremely harmful, and the concrete itself is harmful. As the saying goes, they get you coming and going, they being the industry with a bottomless need for production that has the ear(s) of most politicians. 

Take Harris County where Houston, Texas sits: it has 188 concrete plants due to there being no zoning laws in Texas. In 2015, 5,200 premature deaths were caused by particulate matter from concrete according to a study done by Rice University. The study states concrete production is one of the deadliest forms of air pollution because it produces massive amounts of CO2 and other harmful chemicals, and the dust it produces causes cancer, bronchitis, COPD, and other breathing issues. 

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Unfortunately, concrete plants are located disproportionately in poor neighborhoods and communities of color. Another disturbing fact is ⅓ of concrete batch plants are a short walk from a school or a daycare.  

As if all of these facts were not disturbing enough, there is a company in Scotland that wants to sell you concrete made of toxic ash. No, this is not an Onion article. Given the prevalence of coal ash in the United States, this type of business could easily take off  because the EPA does very little to regulate the concrete industry. And why is that? Because it is everywhere, and it contributes to most people who are in Congress. Therefore, nothing is done about it.

No rose without thorns. —French Proverb.
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What you can do. Be loud. Be vocal in your opposition to using concrete. Tell everyone you can, we need to regulate this industry and do all that we can to find other viable building materials. Surely this dinosaur (no offense to dinosaurs) of a building material can be replaced by something more ecological. Besides, was that building in Miami that recently collapsed built of concrete in a city that is sinking?

Do you want more of that?

Next Steps

  • Call your government representatives at the local, state, and federal levels, and let them know you want something done about concrete;
  • Do research on the internet; and 
  • Boycott companies that pollute when they make concrete.

Concrete is everywhere, and it comprises most buildings in one way or another. It does not always have to be that way though. Concrete may dry quickly and take forever to diminish, but that does not mean the future is already set in stone or concrete, rather. Things can change if we want them to change. 


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Environmental Justice for Gordon Plaza | Systematic Failure to Protect Health

Washington (GGM) Analysis | June 7, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

Gordon Plaza is a subdivision in the New Orlean’s Desire neighborhood that was developed on the ASL hazardous waste site in the early 1980’s. The first residents, excited about securing their little piece of the pie, moved into their new homes in 1981, 40 years ago. Most of the houses are modest ranches with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, on 5,000 square ft lots. The properties were federally funded and intentionally marketed as affordable housing to low income wage earners seeking an opportunity to move on up. 

Black American public culture in 1981 was framed in part by the award winning sitcom, The Jeffersons, which aired each week on CBS from 1975 – 1985. Moving on Up was the upbeat theme song: “Movin’ on up, To the east side. We finally got a piece of the pie… Took a whole lot of tryin’, Just to get up that hill. Now we’re up in the big leagues, Gettin’ our turn at bat.” The song writers are Jeff Barry and Ja’net Dubois. It seems highly probable that there were many subdivision developers and realtors across the country who were selling to black communities and linking their sales pitches to this inspirational sentiment in the hopes of motivating potential black buyers to take the plunge. Interestingly, 1981 was the year that Isabel Sanford was the first black woman to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Louise “Weezy” in The Jeffersons.  

This tidy grid of streets in New Orlean’s 9th Ward, was federally funded through HUD as well as the Community Development Block Grant Program. Back in 1981, when potential buyers were shopping around, they were apparently kept in the dark about the former hazardous waste dump. They’ve pointed out often that they felt they were duped into buying homes in Gordon Plaza. 

hen the dangerous toxins would regularly mix beneath the surface. Drivers back then would have to slow to a crawl, inching along at 10 miles per hour, guided by the police, on days when the air became so thick with toxic smoke that visibility was impaired. New Orleans Historical website notes that back in the day, this location used to be referred to as Dante’s Inferno. 

Gordon Plaza was designated a Superfund cleanup site in 1994. 

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The Gordon Plaza residents’ hellacious plight drew international attention in December of 2019 when The Guardian featured the subdivision in its series Cancer Town. This was following the 2019 Louisiana Tumor Registry listing Gordon Plaza as having the second highest cancer rate in Louisiana.

Heart of the matter. After decades of fighting for fully funded relocation, and winning several class action lawsuits against city agencies and insurance companies, as described in The Guardian piece, residents have yet to be paid any money from the lawsuits, or to be relocated to safe grounds. Protesting regularly, Gordon Plaza residents showcase a remarkable amount of grit and determination in their quest to receive what they deserve, and are asking for.

Climate and environmental injustice is only going to get worse. It’s very important to amplify the life-threatening situations homeowners are facing in vulnerable locations as the heat and the water rises. City, state and federal agencies are failing to protect human life and adequately respond.

Time to face the music. Climate and environmental justice require sacrifices. If nature can do it, we can do it. Click here.

Shockingly, the mistreatment of the Gordon Plaza residents is pretty consistent across the United States for low income minority communities. At a recent Senate Subcommittee hearing on Public Works and Environmental Justice, Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) pointed out that “Seventy percent of the nation’s most environmentally contaminated sites are located within just one mile of federal assisted housing.” This stark reality shows a system of abuse and environmental injustice towards minority low income wage earners, and is very effective in explaining why the dire situation at Gordon Plaza has been ignored. No governmental agency, or city leader should be holding a blind eye to the shocking injustice.

In a request of New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell for comment, a City Hall spokesperson responded: “The City is exploring the feasibility of returning the Agriculture St. Landfill Superfund site to a productive use. As part of that process, the Cantrell Administration, unlike any previous administration, has reached out to Gordon Plaza residents to gauge their interest in redeveloping the site. The responses we’ve received have confirmed that while some residents adamantly favor a relocation and then redevelopment of the site, other residents want to stay in the neighborhood they call home. This is a complicated issue, and the City is working towards an amicable solution that will satisfy all of the interests of the residents.”

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A recent article written by staff writer Halle Parker for nola.com outlined that there are 54 families seeking fully funded relocation. The conflict revolves around what the city thinks is a fair market value and what residents feel is the fair market value. Halle Parker featured a comment by Gordon Plaza resident Leona Floyd in her March 15, 2021 article:

“We are rightfully due the full compensation for our house, not a devalued amount as a result of the city of New Orleans building our homes on toxic soil. We know that fair market value will not be fair to us, and we should not go into debt moving out of a situation that was presented to us as part of the American Dream.”

A quick online search, which doesn’t necessarily mean anything, shows what appears to be a gap of approximately $70,000. It looks like a home in the area that is not on toxic land is valued at approximately $85,000, but a comp home is only worth $15,00 if the property is on the extremely dangerous superfund site. If this is the heart of the matter, then it’s clear why the issue hasn’t been resolved. Is there anyone who would settle for this microscopic amount after being misled from the start four decades earlier, which resulted in a cascade of endless heartache and suffering? No weekly television series is ever produced about this “piece of the pie.” But if we all collectively amplify the Gordon Plaza SOS message each week, it will hopefully net a positive outcome for these traumatized residents who are on the front lines of environmental and climate inequities in the United States. 

The Gordon Plaza residents certainly deserve the Outstanding Fighters award.

Next Step

New Orleans is on the front lines of the climate crisis, with regular flooding, high heat, and endless hurricanes. In fact, the sate of Louisiana loses 25-35 miles of coastline per year from rising water levels. Additionally, there is the increased hazard of the wet bulb temperature that will potentially increase toxicity levels on the chemicals stuffed beneath the surface of Gordon Plaza. Ten years ago, back in June of 2011, the EPA became worried about it’s inability to protect human health and the environment in the age of climate change. The EPA asked states to draft Climate Change Adaptation PlansLouisiana was one of only 14 states that did not comply and thus Louisiana has no Climate Change Adaptation Plan. Yet Louisiana is on the front lines of climate change with a large number of citizens living in environmental justice communities with climate taking a direct toll their health. 

Be sure to check back for updates.

No rose without thorns. Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

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Top 5 Vegan Beauty Brands | Vegan Scene

Washington (GGM) Analysis | July 26, 2021 by Sarah J. Kings

Consumer ethics has never been such a hot topic!  Compassionate and eco-friendly shoppers are searching for resources and products everyday. With many making changes in their diet and fashion choices, there has never been a better time to switch out your old cosmetics and trade them in for vegan alternatives. Vegan beauty brands do not rely on animal cruelty and animal products or biproducts to create makeup. Here is a list of five major vegan and cruelty free beauty brands that are focused on both ethics and sustainability. 

KVD Beauty – Kat Von D’s makeup line has been cruelly-free since its launch in 2008. The brand came out with its first vegan product, tattoo liner, in 2010. The Tattoo Liner sold like hotcakes, and is still one the most popular items today. KVD announced the switch to a vegan line in 2015, and went completely vegan in 2016. Today they boast the slogan “made with love, not animals.” They are also committed to not using bee’s wax, which is a big help to the environment.

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Twitter- @guadalahari

NYXhttps://www.nyxcosmetics.com/featured/vegan/ – NYX Professional Makeup is a PETA approved cruelty-free brand. They are well known for creating pigmented palettes and bold makeup trends. NYX is owned by L’Oreal, who recently released a statement about their commitment to meeting consumer demands for ethics and sustainable products. “To meet the changing expectations of our consumers, we are continuously innovating… [in] maintaining consistency in the quality of the product while also improving their environmental impact.”

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MILK – The brand has always been cruelty- free, and in 2018 co-founder Dianna Ruth announced that MILK would convert to 100% vegan formulas as well. MILK’s commitment to sustainability comes in the form of water reduction. The brand has shed  light on excess water usage in cosmetics, and they are responding  by designing concentrated formulas that do not waste water. Their products are also formaldehyde free. This is significant, as formaldehyde is known to be detrimental to marine life.

It’s time to face the music. #ActNow on climate by restoring our habitat. Let’s return to the Garden of Eden.

Rare Beauty – Rare Beauty is something completely brand new! Singer, actress, and producer Selena Gomez launched a beauty brand on September 3, 2020, and it is 100% vegan and cruelty-free. In an Instagram post Selena said this, “for the past few months, you’ve all been asking… and we’re proud to share that our products will be 100% vegan and cruelty-free. Like you, we love and care for our animals too.”

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Instagram@rarebeauty 

Bare Minerals Bare Minerals brand is 100% cruelty free and the high majority of their makeup is vegan. They make the list because of their strong commitment to mother earth. Bare Minerals runs an eco-friendly blog that regularly offers tips and advice to consumers on how to live a more sustainable life. Their products are all palm oil free, which makes them a viable option in selecting sustainable vegan makeup.

Each of these companies is working hard to provide the world with ethical and sustainable vegan beauty products. If makeup is part of your routine, consider shopping with one of these brands the next time you are in need of a new lipstick or brow pencil! 

No rose without thorns. —French Proverb.
Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

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Climate Change and the Explosive Book: Environmental Hazards, Are You Exposed?

Washington (GGM) Analysis | May 28, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise; Special Guest author Fred Siegel Environmental Hazards, Are You Exposed?

Today’s atmospheric carbon level is 419.53 ppm, up two points from just a week ago. Additionally, scientists announced today that within the next five years we are 90 percent likely to break yet another record for the hottest year in recorded history, which despite 197 countries joining the Paris Agreement, and working so hard to reduce global warming, shows that we’re tracking in the wrong direction.

How is this possible?

The United States is at the very bottom of the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), tier 6, “Critically Insufficient.” The CAT monitors how countries are progressing toward “the globally agreed aim” of 1.5ºC. / 2.7ºF. A major factor in the rise in temperature, despite all the effort, has a lot to do with our insufficient progress in carbon drawdown as a result of soil degradation and deforestation. This most difficult challenge has been further complicated by the rising temperature fueling massive wildfires on three continents which resulted in the scorching of billions of trees in 2020 alone, as well as the continued degradation of soil through the long dry months of drought, which has undermined our aggressive effort to drawdown excess carbon and store it in the soil.

It’s time to face the music. #ActNow on climate by restoring our habitat. Let’s return to the Garden of Eden.

All of our eyes should be on the soil. The life-changing documentary Kiss the Ground was released in October 2020 and gave many of us hope that we could still win this war against global warming, despite the huge obstacles. Once soil health became the core objective, we quickly learned that agricultural chemicals have resulted in much of the world’s soil degradation. The word “chemicals” naturally results in some of us casting our gaze on a few other types of chemicals, hazardous waste chemicals, the types that seep into the soil in our communities and undermine soil health everywhere, as well as personal health, preventing the much needed carbon drawdown. The total impact is 22 million acres affected.

In short, there are:

  • 1,344 federal superfund sites 
  • 1,571 nonfederal National Priorities List (NPL) sites
  • 450,000 brownfield sites

These staggering numbers don’t include the lesser known hazards such as golf courses and dry cleaners that are hidden in plain sight in many of our towns. If we lump all this land together, it’s much easier to see why carbon drawdown has been so slow, and what we need to be more aware of in the age of the climate crisis.

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Heart of the matter. Against this dire backdrop comes the alarming warning from Hazardous Waste expert Fred Siegel, who outlined in his recently published book, Environmental Hazards, Are You Exposed?, the likely risk we face with the 49 top toxic hazards, outlined in his essential reference guide, impacting our well-being, several of which are in the majority of U.S. communities.

Absorbing the magnitude of these threats, and factoring in the influence of weather events such as rain bombs, hurricanes and chronic flooding, and the increase these will have on our likely exposure to the toxins, I feel compelled to shine a spotlight on Fred’s work. Many of these chemicals are carcinogens and spread far and wide during storms as we saw back in February 2021, when an Indonesian dye factory flooded and red dye was soon swirling for miles along the newly formed rivers that filled city streets. According to the Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, 60 percent of the NPL sites may be impacted by flooding.

Fred Siegel and Tony Quagletta have been conducting environmental site assessments for over 30 years (toxictom.com). Fred’s passion and motivation were initially ignited by learning that he and his wife Vicki had purchased their first home atop a toxic landfill in Woodbridge, New Jersey and never knowing it until after they relocated. The flames of activism have been burning strong ever since. In fact, Fred’s eager to explain why he has twice been arrested.

Environmental Activist Fred Siegel being arrested for protesting environmental hazards.

Environmental Hazards, Are You Exposed? is rich with concise summations of compelling facts, data and first hand insights, that quickly turn readers into “woke” believers. An example that highlights how shocking these facts are, is the beautiful golf course that dots thousands of communities across the country. A study conducted in New York, entitled Toxic Fairways, found that the golf fairways are maintained with extremely high volumes of pesticides, 7 to 8 times higher than the volume used on farms if compared pounds per acre. Many golf courses use pesticides that contain chlorpyrifos which in 2015 the EPA deemed so toxic that there is no safe exposure to it. The soil beneath these fairways is not healthy soil with high water infiltration rates, so during heavy downpours, most of the toxins wash away into our streets and down our public drains. Golf course toxins are just the tip of the iceberg.

I asked Fred to comment on hazardous chemicals, fire and heat. He remarked, “Depending on the temperature of the fire the materials at the waste site would burn and send chemicals into the air. It would be similar to a chemical factory fire only worse. Wide areas would need to be evacuated and the residue from the fire could potentially create a superfund site 10 times the size or worse.” This is particularly worrisome considering that the higher temperatures associated with global warming have the potential to impact hazardous waste and cause combustion that results in an explosion.

Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

Fred Siegel’s book Environment Hazards, Are You Exposed? is an absolute necessity for every household in America. It’s the ideal reference guide as we all face the climate crisis together. Many of the health threats related to toxic chemicals are preventable if we know what to look out for and what to avoid.  As well-intended as our elected representatives might be, we’ve all seen that there are many barriers to keeping us safe from all the potential threats.

When I asked Fred what his focus was in writing such a complete guide to hazardous waste in America, he said, “I hope people realize the government will not protect them. They need to protect themselves with knowledge.” 

Gallant Gold Media’s Hill Report will help facilitate Fred’s plan by passing along a small bit of Fred Siegel’s knowledge and insights each week. Our goal is to feature an environmental hazard piece every Friday, touching on each one of Fred’s 49 chapters.

Next Steps

  • Fred’s book is available in paperback or ebook and is free if you have Kindle Unlimited
  • Refer to the chart at the back of the book that provides an important Distance from Hazard Chart
  • Check out Fred’s website toxictom.com 
  • Join Gallant Gold Media’s newly opened online Act Now for the Earth Cafe community that Fred often frequents and posts insightful comments
  • Follow Fred on Twitter and stay updated on his insights on current events
No rose without thorns. —French Proverb.
Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

Subscribe to Force of Nature to stay connected to the insights we provide in our effort to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon neutral global community. Click here to subscribe.

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Overhauling Packaging of Consumer Brands | Circular Economy

Washington (GGM) Analysis | March 19 , 2021 by author and journalist Noreen Wise

With the circular economy now in full swing outside the United States, it becomes that much more clear just how many everyday items cannot be recycled. The reality is alarming. We’ll never reach zero waste unless we find innovative solutions to meet this imperative.

Further, even the plastics that can be recycled, often aren’t. Many items become litter or are tossed in a landfill. It takes 450 years for plastic bottles to decompose and 50 years for tin cans. Plastics breakdown into microplastics, which, unbelievably, land in our food supply as a result of their microscopic size slipping through water filters. On average, we humans eat 100 bits of microplastic with every meal. Microplastics cause toxicity that negatively impacts our life history.

Recycling existing plastic is highly beneficial. But, the following is a list of common plastic packaging/ additional items that cannot be recycled:

  • plastic single use shopping bags
  • straws
  • plastic film wrap
  • frozen food bags (nearly all vegetables are sold in non-recyclable bags)
  • cereal box liner
  • chip bags
  • granola bar, candy bar and nearly all snack items wrappers
  • six-pack rings
  • plastic hangers
  • any plastic containers that can’t be cleaned, ie toothpaste tubes
Gallant Gold Media is preparing to plant a forest in North Dakota to remember those we lost to covid, thanks to the generosity of ranch owner Byron Richard. Join us in GreeningUp to help US hit our Paris Agreement targets. CLICK to see details.

The heart of the matter. After a year of Covid and staying home, who’s pumped to go out and live? Surely, the vast majority of us are. So, let’s factor the health impact of plastic into our decision making, for surely it will have health consequences. We must be more cognizant of all the plastic we consume.

Thankfully, innovative sustainability companies have gone plastic free for our safety. According to Healthy Human, the following are the top sustainable packaging innovations of 2019:

  • Loop, Returnity and Share Pack – companies that enable consumers to conveniently return packaging either by dropping off at targeted locations, or sending back in company provided totes
  • Plant based packaging – plastics made from plants
  • Edible packaging – typically this is seaweed, hopefully they’ll soon find additional alternatives
  • Plantable packaging – contains seeds so the packaging can be planted after use
  • Compostable plastic alternatives
  • Minimal packaging design
  • Upcycled or recycled packaging

What you can do about this.

Consumers have the power to change the world by how we shop. Sustainable packaging solutions are here. All we need to do is grow the demand by purchasing the products and posting about it through social media. We must be motivated to seek out the brands packaged in recyclable material such as paper and thin cardboard, and use our wallets to influence corporations like Heinz and Coke to invest in overhauling their plastic packaging or lose their customers. If we all refuseto buy particular brands because of the packaging, corporations will make the change.

Nest steps:

  • Laundry detergent sheets wrapped in paper instead of the big plastic jugs
  • Toothpaste tablets replace plastic toothpaste tubes
  • Shampoo & conditioner bars, and ditch the plastic bottles
  • Glass packaged condiments and soft drinks instead of plastic may cut the cancer rate dramatically
  • New loop companies that package food in reusable containers that they pick up each week when they drop off the next week’s grocery order

Let’s go! We can do this.

Order now so you’ll receive in time for spring! Takes about 3-4 weeks to arrive.

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Chopping Down Trees Creates Legal Liability

Washington (GGM) Analysis | December 16, 2020 by Attorney Michael Wells, PodcastLegal Fact and Fiction

Trees provide everything from oxygen to habitats for animals, yet they are chopped down with impunity. The damage to the environment is incalculable. To put it into perspective, however, half the number of trees exist now than those in existence when humans first evolved; fifteen billion trees are cut down annually; and ten percent of climate change is attributable to chopping down trees. Environmental carnage aside, legal liability and criminal liability exist for cutting down trees that do not belong to the harvester.

The legal terms most closely associated with cutting down and removing trees that do not belong to the harvester are “timber trespass” (mistakenly harvesting trees from another’s property) and “timber theft” (stealing trees from someone’s property). Timber trespass deals more with the civil end whereas timber theft can involve civil and criminal penalties. It varies from state to state. Nevertheless, lawsuits are filed for large sums of money over taking timber that does not belong to the harvester. 

In South Carolina, as of 2016 one-hundred cases per year are investigated and pursued with a value of between $500,000 and $600,000. A man in North Carolina illegally cut timber near Asheville, the value of the trees owned by a conservancy assessed at $1,000, but the mill rights to the timber of $25,000-$30,000. 

Illegal tree harvesting tends to be less of a problem in North Carolina, which has a larger population, than it is in Maine, which has a smaller population and vast swaths of uninhabited forests. Maine has over one-thousand complaints of timber theft each year.

The damage to the environment cannot be separated from the legal issues that arise from stealing trees, which are property, but they are far more than that to every living thing. In the most basic sense, illegal harvest of trees contributes to the problem of deforestation:

Over half the world’s land-based plants and animals live in forests, and three quarters of the world’s birds live in and around forests. It does not take a science PhD or intricate knowledge of environmental science or ecology to understand that the more trees that are cut, the more environmental problems that will follow.  

And it is a problem all over the world from the rainforests in South America to the United States to even Ireland:

All of it is interconnected, and every time a tree is cut down (regardless if it is replaced), the owner of the tree is impacted as is the rest of the planet. While planting new trees can certainly mitigate the problem, it cannot recapture what is lost every time a tree is cut down. Sadly, the only way to stop harvesting of trees may be filing lawsuits because people and corporations tend to respond the most when their money is on the line. 

© Copyright 2018 – 2020. ALL Rights Reserved.

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Intense Workload at Election Offices | Human Error?

Washington (GGM) Analysis | October 21, 2020 by Noreen Wise

According to one recent report, there are roughly 6.5 million registered voters living outside the United States, which means there are many stakeholders who believe in our most basic democratic principle, the right to vote. And it seems that the majority of these living abroad — many whom happen to be employed by the US military and the US State Department — will indeed be following through and voting by mail.

Americans living abroad, have always relied upon the US Postal service to efficiently deliver their ballots. Their reliance on the dedication of US Postal Service employees, who heroically persevere through all types of intense weather situations and perilous global events, have always brought tremendous peace of mind. But this year, the most important presidential election ever, our confidence in the postal service is shaken to the core, as a result of the newly installed Postmaster General, Louis Dejoy.

Over the summer, Dejoy launchd what appears to have been an intentional post office dismantling campaign in an effort to undermine voters who planned on voting by mail, which had the potential of severely impacting the many millions across the continental United States who planned to vote-by-mail during the covid pandemic, but also the potential election-changing 6.5 million who vote from abroad.

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With this as the backdrop in the lead-up to November 3, 2020, it’s completely understandable why so many towns and counties across the country decided to offer early voting in their communities, as well as the mail-in-ballot option for all who submitted a vote-by-mail application, and had it approved.

Because this is a first time crisis — voting during a global pandemic which is being managed by a president who spends every waking moment trying to convince the public it’s no big deal — no town or county, especially those with a majority of registered Democrats, could have predicted, and thus planned for, the volume of citizens who would respond to the opportunity of both main-in-ballots and voting early.

The fact that so many election offices were overwhelmed on such a grand scale should inspire an instant response. However, in order to solve this problem, communities have to first acknowledge the problem exists. Election offices across the country ned more help. If I experienced a one-off malfunction, I can’t help but believe there are many others with similar stories. We have to be our own best advocate.

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I’m covering climate action up in Canada during the pandemic, and learned the hard way that human error can potentially impact election results, unless we are willing to step up and act quickly. Thankfully, there are angels off in the wings, with sharp critical thinking skills, who know how to act swiftly and find a way through, when everything falls apart.

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•I submitted my vote-by-mail application online a few days after Labor Day, following the recommended guidelines of 45 days before election.

•I had the option of selecting between having the ballot emailed to me, or mailed. I obviously selected “email.” What could go wrong with that?

•I expected to receive it the next day, but nothing arrived. The following day, when again there was no email in my inbox, I phoned my local election office. “You must be patient. We’ve received so MANY mail-in-ballot applications.”

•I patiently waited a week, nothing. So I called again. “Please be patient, we’re overwhelmed. Please don’t worry, you’ll definitely receive it.”

•I then waited an entire month. Still nothing. I began to panic, and last week called again. After waiting on hold for an hour, I was informed that my application for mail-in-ballot was denied. “DENIED? Why?” … “We don’t send ballots to PO boxes.” … “But you were supposed to email, not send.” … “Oh, right. I see that now. The employee who was checking the application must have missed that. She made a mistake.” … “What? Can you email it right now?” … “Early voting just started and we’re mobbed. We’ve been working 16 hours per day.” … “But I want to vote too, please email my ballot.”

•To make a log story short, I called back a few hours later. An angel election office employee gave me her personal work number and email, told me to call back if I didn’t receive the ballot by the end of the day. She worked the phones, but would make sure the woman who was emailing ballots, emailed mine. She then followed up through email, as well as called back later that night, after I left a message. She wouldn’t let this go until I confirmed that I’d received my emailed ballot.”

American heroes like this election worker, are ultimately the glue and the backbone of our democracy. Her determined, resourceful ingenuity, enabled one more vote to be cast during this election to save our democracy. M. L. renewed my hope that we’ll succeed with this vital mission. Thank you so much! ✅

© Copyright 2018 – 2020. ALL Rights Reserved.

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So-called “Fake” Leather is Real Deal

Washington (GGM) Analysis | August 27, 2020 by Sarah J. Kings

The freezer section of your local grocery store isn’t the only thing going vegan. The vegan leather industry- often misbranded as ‘fake leather’- is booming right now, and the world of fashion is getting a much-needed makeover! Sustainability and ethics have moved to the forefront of consumer consciousness, and brands are racing to be first in line to meet the high demand.

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Twitter- @watsonandwolfe

Hill Report spoke with Helen Farr-Leander, CEO of the Peta approved brand Watson & Wolfe, about vegan leather and the future of eco-friendly fashion. Watson & Wolfe is a luxury vegan leather & accessories brand that offers ethical fashion alternatives. When asked about the future of ‘fake,’ Farr-Leander had this to say. “Leather alternatives are already attracting more attention, and with each new innovation, they are reducing impact and increasing sustainability. Within five years, we will see existing leather goods brands looking at these materials, not only to reduce their own impact but to attract new customers.” And she’s not wrong.

According to a recent study conducted by Infinium Global Research, the vegan leather industry will be worth  $89.6 billion by 2025. With the rise of veganism and consumer ethics, many are looking to vegan leather to resolve animal cruelty and carbon emissions problems. This is why it is no surprise that people are looking to change assumptions about what ‘fake’ leather is and isn’t. Jonathan Ohayon, Founder and CEO of the F.A.K.E. Movement, is rebranding the word to stand for Fashion for the Animal Kingdom and Environment. When interviewed he told Hill Report, “I created the F.A.K.E. movement, so we can proudly wear a  real vegan alternative.” 

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Instagram- @fakemovement 

Farr-Leander echoed this sentiment by saying, “I would encourage those people to look at these materials objectively. The newer leather alternatives are materials in their own right, just like cotton or animal leather, with their own unique qualities and textures.” Vegan leather is the future and is the boost and innovation that the textile industry needs to combat the climate crisis. To quote Farr-Leander, “there is nothing ‘fake’ about [vegan leathers], they are future materials.” ‘Fake’ leather is the real deal!

Tl:dr

  •  Sustainability and ethics have moved to the forefront of consumer consciousness
  • Vegan leather industry- often misbranded as ‘fake leather’- is booming
  • According to Infinium Global Research, the vegan leather industry will be worth  $89.6 billion by 2025
  • Vegan leather is the future of the textile industry 

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