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Sustainable Solutions: Local Resource Impact Investing - August 2015 - by Sam Euston


Sustainable Solutions August 2015 

Local Resource Impact Investing


by Sam Euston

The subject for this month’s column was originally “Local Waste Solutions Create Sustainable Value” but Nick Papadopolaus already writes, speaks, Nicky Bobby’s, selfies, and continues to provide us many inspiring local examples. And Nick’s ongoing successful creation of CropMobster, further demonstrates the importance of “Waste to Value” concentrated efforts.

Seeing the work that Nick and colleagues are doing to creatively find sustainable ways to re-use waste, along with recently having had the opportunity to spend a morning with Will Bakx from Sonoma Compost; (and his sharing of some of the science behind the Waste to Value they’ve been providing), gives me a level of confidence, that we have the local resources to innovate solutions to our present and future waste challenges. 

When the Import/Export transportation externalities are calculated into the equation regarding the closing of the Sonoma Compost facility, there is a reduction of local resource utilization, and an increase in our transportation emissions. Transportation is already the major contributor to Sonoma County greenhouse gas emissions. 

There is also a reduction in terms of local jobs, services and products. And, beginning in October those services and products will need to be imported (and exported). This choice appears to increase costs and/or reduce the number of products and services that were once locally “generated” and available. 

Encouraging our local creative minds to collaborate with researchers like mycologist, Paul Stamets, can have strong possibilities. Together they can provide innovative, affordable, and solutions; to these types of challenges. Paul’s work has a proven track record in mitigating, as well as restoring toxic waste sites. The town or Arcata has also demonstrated success in its approach, to similar waste challenges.

So, the decision regarding Sonoma County Compost, is an example that I truly hope we can learn from. We have the community resources and innovators to take more proactive “local” approaches that encourage our confidence and abilities. We can also exercise sustainable collaborative advances toward solving our problems, versus exporting them. Exporting our waste away, doesn’t make it (or its effects) disappear. 

What further comes to mind, is a broader consideration regarding Local Resource Impact Investing. The importance of our finding solutions, to the waste problems we generate, is critical not only to Sonoma County, but also our future generations, and the effects “we generate” and leave behind. We have the capability once again, to be a responsible inspirational model for future generations, and others around the world. 

At EDB’s recent Spring Economic Forecast, Diego Tamburini (Autodesk’s Manufacturing Industry Strategist) presented a slide that’s startling (if its estimates are even 75% accurate):

9.6 Billion (planet population by 2050)

+ 1.8 Billion (consumer class by 2025)

70% (demand from developing economies)

$12 to $30 Trillion (consumption by developing countries from 2012 to 2015) 

These numbers I find staggering. With the impact of the changes in the climate exponentially increasing, can our Sonoma County, the U.S., let alone our planet, support this type of economic demand? We are already experiencing firsthand the effects of the California drought, and this is just the beginning. 

Can we innovate our survival through creating even more product demand that generates even more exported waste? (and export the waste to where?) Or, do we support local innovation for our survival through sustainable multi-purposed (reuse) products and their re-purposed waste?

My vote: Local Resource Impact Investing: “Let’s GetRDone”