Why Compost? (start time: 7:01) Many of us may feel a little less guilty letting fruits and vegetables go bad, because we figure that this waste, thanks to curbside compost pickup, will be turned into nutritious food for crops, lawns or grasslands down the road. And landfills will spew less methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide. The story of food waste and reuse is a complicated one. Our two guests are working on getting composting right — and ultimately on how to make our food-production and consumption systems more sustainable, starting here on the Front Range. Dan Matsch directs the compost department for Eco-Cycle, the nonprofit recycler that works with cities along the Front Range. He also directs Eco-Cycle’s Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials (CHaRM). Mark Easter is an ecologist at Colorado State University’s Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory. Matsch and Easter discuss with host Susan Moran the journey of a rotten zucchini, how composting is tied to the emerging practice of carbon farming, and how we all do our part.
Calendar advisory: Join KGNU and Eco-Cycle on Thursday, January 31, at the Longmont Museum (6:30 to 8:00 P.M) for a special community conversation on plastic waste–challenges and solutions. The event will include representatives from Eco-Cycle, the Inland Ocean Coalition, and local business and sustainability leaders. For more info, go to this website.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Chip Grandits Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Chip Grandits Executive Producer: Beth Bennett Additional contributions: Beth Bennett
This week’s How On Earth offers two features: Work-Email Anxiety (start time: 7:58) If you’re wondering why you often feel anxious on Monday mornings, despite having spent time with your family and friends over the weekend, you might recall the amount of time you spent glued to your smart phone or laptop, checking email because you worried that your boss would be expecting you to be virtually on hand. You’re hardly alone. Samantha Conroy, an assistant professor of business management at Colorado State University, discusses with How On Earth host Susan Moran a new survey-based study (under review) that she co-authored. It found that not only employees but their partners at home suffer from high anxiety when the employee feels pressured to be virtually available via email after hours.
Fixing Food Waste (start time: 17:59) We’re all guilty of it: waste. Tossing out peaches, broccoli and other food that has gone bad in the fridge. Or leaving pasta on our plate untouched at an Italian bistro. More than one-third of all food that is produced in the United States is wasted – in the field, at restaurants, in our own kitchens. The conservation organization World Wildlife Fund recently published a report on the huge environmental and health impacts of food waste, and on what can be done to reduce waste, and ultimately preserve grasslands and other natural habitat. Monica McBride, manager of Food Loss & Waste at World Wildlife Fund, co-wrote the report, called “No Food Left Behind.” She shares the findings and recommendations with Susan Moran. Check out these resources at WWF on what you can do: A Food Waste Quiz and tips on reducing waste.
Hosts: Chip Grandits, Susan Moran Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Chip Grandits Headline Contributions: Beth Bennett, Joel Parker, Shelley Schlender Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
Biofuels Tradeoffs (start time: 8:27): In this week’s show David DeGennaro, an agriculture policy specialist with the National Wildlife Federation and author of a report called “Fueling Destruction,” talks with host Susan Moran about the environmental consequences of biofuels, and about possible solutions. The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed maintaining record support for biofuels, namely corn. Last week the EPA ended an open public comment period leading up to a decision to maintain, increase or scale back its current support of biofuels as part of the Renewable Fuels Standard, a federal mandate to blend corn-based ethanol and other renewable fuels into conventional gasoline. NWF and some other environmental organizations, along with former California Congressman Henry Waxman, have been urging the EPA and Congress to reduce biofuels mandates. Increased demand for corn has led to the conversion of millions of acres of habitat-rich grasslands and into croplands — all without significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Joel Parker Executive Producer: Alejandro Soto Additional contributions: Alejandro Soto
Sustainable Agriculture (starts 3:06): We couldn’t feed the planet without nitrogen, a vital nutrient for crops. But most soils don’t produce enough of it to feed anywhere near our 7 billion-plus humans on the planet. So, for nearly a century we’ve been applying synthetic fertilizer—mainly nitrogen and phosphorus — to grow crops for animals and people. But we have overindulged, creating vast amounts of waste, in the form of nitrogen pollution of waterways and the atmosphere. State and federal regulations have pressured growers to dramatically reduce fertilizer runoff from their fields. But it’s not been enough. Another approach – call it the carrot versus the stick – is also taking hold. Major food retailers, wholesalers, and producers, such as Walmart, United Suppliers and Unilever are transforming their whole supply chains, making food production less carbon- and nitrogen-intensive. Suzy Friedman, a sustainable agriculture expert with the Environmental Defense Fund, discusses with host Susan Moran how programs such as SUSTAIN help large food companies shrink their environmental footprint.
Hosts: Natalia Bayona, Susan Moran Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Tim Russo Executive Producer: Susan Moran
When it comes to reducing greenhouses gases, every little bit helps, and that includes managing the greenhouse gases produced by how we grow our food. Raising livestock and growing crops both generate greenhouse gases, and to gauge their impact, a new study takes the long range view. The results were published in a paper: “Measuring and mitigating agricultural greenhouse gas production in the U.S. Great Plains, 1870-2000” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It analyzes 100 years of agricultural production, and it takes this look at farming close to home – it focuses on the bread basket of the United States – the Great Plains, which includes eastern Colorado. Here to tell us more are scientists Myron Guttman (University of Colorado) and Bill Parton (Colorado State University)
Hosts: Shelley Schlender, Kendra Krueger Producer and Engineer: Joel Parker Executive Producer: Susan Moran Headline contributions: Beth Bennett, Kendra Krueger, Joel Parker