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Sunday, August 26, 2018

Ei Digital Books: an integration of art and impact

In 2016 Elemental Impact (Ei) segued from a valuable media and industry resource into respected environmental journalism. A few years earlier press interview inquiries validated Ei as recognized industry media. ... and then the prominent invitation arrived in early November:
The U.S. State Department invited Ei to join the invitation-only COP22 preview press conference call. Journalists from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times were among the respected, mainstream media on the call.
Environmental Journalism to Photojournalism
Ei Founder Holly Elmore, author of the Ei blogs, launched in June 2016 as home to the Fingertip Press, Holly Emore Images (HEI), and @ Your Service. When she publishes a blog article, Holly writes a Facebook post beginning with “PREVIEW: Hot off the Fingertip Press an article …” Thus, the Fingertip Press evolved into Holly’s nomenclature for her published articles, documents, and other written communication.

Over the years, the Ei Blogs - The IMPACT and Regeneration in ACTION (RiA), garnered strong national and global readership. On August 15, 2018 The IMPACT Blog surpassed 150,000 views and, as of this article publishing, the RiA Blog is mere hours away from the impressive 395,000 views milestone.

In late 2017 Holly expanded her communication repertoire beyond publishing articles in the Ei Blogs, trade journals, and industry papers to photojournalism in nationally distributed Southern Farm & Garden (SF&G). Rather than document Ei's important work, the SF&G articles complement and intertwine Ei PioneersStrategic Allies, and initiatives within the copy.

The recently launched Ei Digital Books are in partnership with Holly Elmore Enterprises and comprised of Fingertip Press publications supported by HEI photos. Created and published by Ei Partner Nancy Suttles, the digital books augment Ei’s profound work within the Soil Health and Water Use | Toxicity platforms.

Ei Digital Books
Regenerative Agriculture Revives Soils & Local Ecosystems
As a former Georgia Department of Transportation cement-mixing site for the construction of nearby Interstate-75, Hickory Grove Farm is an iconic case study in soil rebuilding.

In the SF&G fall 2017 issue, a seven-page, multiple-article feature, An Icon in Sustainability and Hickory Grove Farm: Regenerative Agriculture Revives Soils & Local Ecosystems, gives an overview of Kennesaw State University’s (KSU) stellar sustainability commitment at the Michael A. Leven School of Culinary Sustainability & Hospitality, The Commons (KSU’s Gold LEED-certified dining hall), and Hickory Grove Farm.

The RiA article, The Power of Tours, includes the Ei-hosted Hickory Grove Farm tour for Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer, GWCCA Grounds Operations Manager Steve Ware, and GWCCA-Levy Restaurants Executive Chef Matt Roach. The tour is featured along with a photo of Tim in the SF&G article.

Regenerative agriculture is introduced as a solution to the Earth's carbon crisis in the RiA Blog article, Beyond Sustainability: regenerative solutions. The blog article ends with a feature on the Hickory Grove Farm SF&G article.

Restoring Pollinator Populations
Over the past decades, pollinator populations declined significantly for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to, habitat loss, use of the "cides" (herbicides, insecticides, pesticides), and common garden & landscape practices.

In the SF&G spring 2018 issue, a six-page feature article, Restoring Pollinator Populations, gives an overview of challenges facing pollinator populations along with tips for pollinator-friendly gardens. An HEI neighborhood flower-garden image was the spring issue wrap cover.

The RiA Blog article, Redefining WASTE: impact of common landscape & grounds maintenance practices on urban wildlife, introduces the paradox of how neat, clean yards and landscapes are wasteful to the local ecosystem. Ei Strategic Ally Park Pride's Pollinators in Parks program is featured in the blog and the SF&G articles. Park Pride Visioning Coordinator Teri Nye educated Holly on the empowering role of pollinator gardens and proofed the articles for accuracy.

Bee Swarms: Nature's Way to Grow Strong Bee Populations
Honeybee swarming is integral to colony propagation and overall bee population stabilization and growth.

In the SF&G summer 2018 issue, a two-page photo essay, Bee Swarms: Nature’s Way to Grow Strong Bee Populations, educates on the important role bee swarms play in propagating bee populations, both from the size of and the number of colonies. The images were captured in Boulder, Colorado when Holly stumbled upon a beekeeper retrieving a bee swarm from one of his hives.

With publisher and creative director Nancy Suttles on the Ei Team, opportunities abound in the publishing arena. Nancy Suttles is an independent creative consultant with over three decades of in-depth industry experience. Highly-skilled at developing original concepts, design, photography, and production, Nancy has worked with an array of publishers, corporations, and agencies over the years. Nancy creates results-driven special interest publications, magazines, books and other marketing material for traditional print and digital media.

Nancy validates the powerful Ei partnership, “I am proud to work with such an accomplished and talented professional as Holly. Her words and beautiful photos take the reader behind-the-scenes to learn more about the process of living a more regenerative life. The introduction of the new interactive Ei digital library of books will further enhance Ei's mission on an international scale.

In anticipation of a strong photojournalism focus, Holly published a series of HEI FB albums organized by various topics including urban adventures, earthly matters, feathered friends, shoreline scenes, farm fresh produce, and many more. For example, the Farm Scenes album consists of 110 images categorized by fields, buildings & structures, crops, livestock, compost, and general scenes.

Ei is integrating powerful impact and art within the Ei Digital Books and discovering new horizons for communicating initiatives under development.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Profitability of Waste: the business case for food waste reduction

At the 2018 WorldChefs Congress & Expo hosted in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the educational plenary program on day three was dedicated to Feed the Planet. A World Chefs' initiative, Feed the Planet is designed to inspire sustainable food consumption among communities and professionals.

Presentations focused on the current global food waste scenario along with empowering programs committed to evolving the seemingly broken food system. After the "big picture" presentations, the focus narrowed down to local, effective initiatives and case studies on food waste reduction in culinary operations.

Holly presenting on
The Profitability of Waste
Photo courtesy of WorldChefs
The RiA Blog article, Feed the Planet: an empowering WorldChefs' initiative, gives an overview of the session presentations and introduces the WorldChefs Food Waste Challenge.

During the Feed the Planet session, Elemental Impact (Ei) Founder & CEO Holly Elmore presented on The Profitability of Waste: the business case for food waste reduction. After a quick overview of the successful Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ) 2009 launch in Atlanta, GA, Holly shared a recipe for food waste reduction success. In addition, Holly outlined the basics of where and why back-of-the-house food waste is generated.

Through four powerful case studies, Holly emphasized key ingredients for success with the bottom line message:
A well-run kitchen generates minimal waste!

Key Ingredients for Success
Within the UN World Food Programme presentation, Frances Simpson-Allen shared the following astonishing facts related to global food waste:
We produce enough food to feed approximately 9 billion people each year.
Of the 4 billion metric tons of food we produce each year, one third is wasted, costing the global economy nearly $750 billion annually.
1 in 9 people goes to bed hungry every night.
Beyond the environmental and humanitarian concerns, food waste is costly to the bottom line. Chefs are incentivized for pure business reasons to minimize food waste, which benefits the organization's bottom line.

Rotten strawberries
photo courtesy of
With a proven track record first with the ZWZ and later the Sustainable Food Court Initiative, Holly shared the following key ingredients for success in food waste reduction programs:
  • Collaboration – zero waste is a team sport!
  • Top management buy-in.
  • Culture – it is “what we do!”
  • Keep it simple.
  • Keen awareness.
  • Track metrics, including cost-savings.
  • Reward | recognize successes.
... and most importantly:
Take baby steps 
Lots and lots of baby steps!!!

Throughout the case studies, the above ingredients were integrated into the successful food waste reduction programs. 

In general food waste breaks down into three main categories:
  • Back-of-the-House (BOH) - food waste generated in the kitchen.
  • Front-of-the-House (FOH) - the customer is a major influence on food waste generated.
  • Excess or Wasted Food Destination - landfill, composting or animal feed are common destinations.
In alignment with the "keep it simple" and "take baby steps" ingredients, the presentation focus was on BOH food waste reduction.

BOH Food Waste Reduction
In general, BOH food waste is generated via spoiled or excess food and/or prep waste. Kitchen operations produce byproduct waste that is difficult or impossible to eliminate. An example is protein bones from cooking meats, poultry, and fish for center-of-the-plate menu items. After flavors are extracted in stocks, the bones are completely spent and destined for compost or landfill.

Chef & purveyor working together
photo courtesy of Restaurant Owner
Below are the four main BOH operating sectors, along with a key phrase for waste reduction:
  1. PurchasingClose relationships with purveyors help prevent food waste.
  2. Food Prep - Strong training & mentorship programs prevent food waste.
  3. Food Storage & Equipment - Strong training & equipment maintenance programs prevent food waste.
  4. Menu Planning - Conscious menu planning helps prevent food waste.
Specific examples of potential food waste within each of the above operating sectors are included in Holly's PPT presentation, which is available for download on the Ei Speaking Engagement page.

The following are proven steps for getting started with a BOH food waste reduction program:
  • Create a baseline of the quantity of food waste generated.
  • Determine why | how food waste was generated – is the waste preventable?
  • Identify “easy-win” first steps. 
  • Develop a staged-in game plan filled with lots & lots of baby steps.
  • Set-up a metrics tracking system to quantify waste reduction and cost-savings.
  • Importantly, remember to Keep It Simple!
Case Study: Ted's Montana Grill
Stopping food waste starts with prevention.

George McKerrow & Ted Turner
photo courtesy of Ted's
Ted's Montana Grill (Ted's) Co-Founders Ted Turner and George McKerrow lead the national restaurant group's culture with a profound commitment to sustainability. As industry pioneers, Ted's launched the Green Restaurant Revolution in 2008 and joined the ZWZ as a Founding Participant in 2009.

With 45 restaurants across 16 states, Ted's food waste reduction success makes a significant dollar impact to the bottom line. At Ted's, the philosophy is to prevent food waste by purchasing top quality ingredients and cooking in small batches. The added value is amazing food, freshly prepared for happy customers!

The following are a few of Ted's small-batch cooking protocols:
  • Beef & bison are ground in-house twice per day.
  • Burgers are weighed & hand-crafted to order.
  • Fresh guacamole is made throughout the day (3 avocados per batch).
  • Cookies are baked in batches of nine cookies at a time. 
  • Roasted chickens are cooked every 30 minutes.
  • French fries are cut and fried to order.
When only three avocados are used per recipe, nine cookies are baked at a time, and French fries are cut and fried to order, potential food waste is minimized.

SUCCESS: Nationally, the average restaurant food waste is 3 - 4%; Ted's food waste is 1.89%. The absolute dollar impact of more than 1% less food waste over 45 restaurants is significant!

Case Study: Affairs to Remember Caterers
Sustainability is integral to the business model.

Known as Atlanta's greenest caterer, Affairs to Remember Caterers (Affairs) is 40 years strong with deep community and customer relationships. Affairs is one of the nation's largest privately held luxury caterers and shares their successes at many local, regional and national events.

Chef Ahmad recovering heavy cream
photo courtesy of Affairs
When they joined the ZWZ as a Founding Participant in 2009, Affairs immediately integrated sustainability into their core business model. Affairs issued an August 2009 "The Thrill is Gone" press that included the phrase "... a delicious divorce from the landfill."

At Affairs, a simple practice recovers approximately 4% of the heavy cream used annually, saving an estimated $1,000. In Affairs Executive Chef Ahmad Nourzad own words:
After emptying a carton(s) of cream, I let the carton(s) sit for about 1-2 minutes on a warm surface and then pour the remaining contents out. This yields about a pint of cream, per case. Here at Affairs, we purchase an average of 500 cases of cream per year. This practice yields a savings of approximately 20 cases per year.  
By repurposing unserved, leftover food from events, Chef Ahmad reduces waste and enhances their food. Per Ahmad, "Being a luxury catering company, we have lots of vegetables ordered for large events that are returned to us unused. We then turn these leftover vegetables into pickles, jams, and jellies and utilize those on our buffets to enhance our food."

Affairs GM Rich Wilner accepting
the City's formal resolution
Beyond the cost-saving benefit of their waste reduction and recycling, Affairs receives community recognition and increased revenue.

The City of Atlanta proclaimed November 11, 2014 "Affairs to Remember Caterers Day" in recognition of sustainability efforts, and in particular the milestone of having diverted one million pounds of recoverable materials from Georgia landfills. 

In 5 years, Affairs diverted over 1 million pounds of material from landfills!

The RiA Blog article, ... and the journey began with a delicious divorce from the landfill, showcases the City of Atlanta Affairs to Remember Caterers Day resolution, details Affairs waste reduction and beyond sustainability successes, and substantiates the Ei | Affairs long-term, close relationship.

In an industry notorious for costly high turnover, Affairs has minimal turnover, especially with the hourly staff. At Affairs, employees are served a nutritious, hearty meal daily at their kitchen. For some employees, the lunch is the main meal of the day. Affairs invests in their employees with above-industry pay, especially for hourly staff. Reward: an impressive portion of the Affairs staff boasts 30+ years of employment at the caterer.

SUCCESS: To date over $500,000 of booked business is the direct result of Affairs' impressive sustainability success.

Case Study: GWCCA | Levy Restaurants
A hospitality industry pioneer

Georgia World Congress Center
photo courtesy of GWCCA
The Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) opened in 1976 and over the years expanded into the fourth largest conference center in the nation. In 2009 the GWCCA hosted the ZWZ launch press conference, leading to a CNN prime-time story and a front-page New York Times article.

Following the ZWZ press conference, the GWCCA hosted the Meeting Planners International lunch for 1500 guests where Ei coordinated the luncheon presentations. Monumental: ALL food related to the lunch was consumed, donated or composted.

In 2013, the GWCCA hosted the Men's Final Four Championships at the Georgia Dome, an arena within GWCCA campus. One of the Atlanta Local Organizing Committee (ALOC) stated goals was to make the 2013 Final Four the "greenest games ever." GWCCA Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer took the helm for achieving the lofty goal. Success: the comprehensive ALOC plan culminated in substantial green footprints before, during and after the games.

Upon request, post-event Tim and an EPA colleague drafted the Final Four RFP sustainability section. Thus, new industry standards were established!

Tim serves as the Chair for the 2019 Super Bowl Sustainability Committee. The 2019 Super Bowl is hosted at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, located within the GWCCA campus and operated by the Atlanta Falcons.

GWCCA Executive Team with
LEED emblem
On October 28, 2014, the GWCCA announced the 3.9 million square feet conference center was awarded LEED Silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The announcement thrust Atlanta into the national | global sustainability spotlight as home to the world's largest LEED-certified convention center AND the 14th largest LEED-certified building.

Recertifying two years early, on November 28, 2017, the GWCC was awarded LEED Gold certification, the second highest level in the rating system. In the recertification, the GWCC was thirteen points higher than the 2014 application and five points higher than the minimum requirement.

The IMPACT Blog article, Atlanta: the greenest convention, sports, and entertainment destination in the world, announces the GWCCA Gold LEED certification and details the impressive sustainability successes at the GWCCA.

Levy Restaurants (Levy), owned by Compass Group North America, is the GWCCA-contracted foodservice operator and a strong partner in food waste reduction. Specializing in premium-quality culinary services to major entertainment and sports venues, Levy operates in over 100 foodservice outlets; Levy's 2017 revenue exceeded $1.5 billion. With a powerful Atlanta presence, Levy provides foodservice for Olympic Centennial Park, Philips Arena, Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Atlanta Motor Speedway in addition to the GWCCA. Per the Levy website:

Good doesn’t quite cut it at Levy

The Compass Group Trim Trax program plays a key role in GWCCA food waste reduction. Within the program, chefs take ownership of their food cost and develop a keen awareness for potential food waste in their kitchens. Trim Trax is a measuring tool and tracts food waste at the unit level in the following categories:
Measuring food waste
with Trim Trax system
photo courtesy of Levy
  • BOH - Production Waste  
  • Premium - Over Production 
  • FOH – Production Waste 
  • Restaurant & Cafe Production
Additional details on the Trim Trax program are included in Holly's PPT presentation, which is available for download on the Ei Speaking Engagement page.

Beyond Trim Trax, GWCCA Levy Executive Chef Matt Roach understands consistent staff training is key to food waste reduction. Chef Matt adheres to the following protocol to ensure minimal BOH food waste is generated at the GWCCA:
  • Clear bins help chefs to monitor waste throughout shifts.
  • New employees receive knife skills training.
  • Annually, the entire staff receives a knife skills review.
  • At the annual review, a 50# bag of onions is prepped to ensure team members are within the approved percentage of acceptable waste.
  • For repeat shows, actual food usage reports are run to develop more accurate production schedules & prevent overproduction.
SUCCESS: When Trim Trax was implemented at the GWCCA, prep food waste reduced 10% and remained consistent over the years.

Imagine the tremendous food waste and food cost reduction by implementing the Trim Trax system across Levy's 100-plus foodservice outlets. When the entire Compass Group North American empire is considered, the food waste-reduction tonnage and food cost-savings collective monetary impact is staggering!

Case Study: Arwyn Watkins
Measuring food waste minimizes food waste.

Arwyn Watkins
photo courtesy of Arwyn
In alignment with the food waste reduction success by Levy Restaurants, Arwyn Watkins, President Culinary Association of Wales, knows first hand the importance of measuring food waste generated in foodservice operations. In Arwyn's words, "I hope that in many kitchens around the world today measuring food waste is a habit and if it is not it needs to be."

Around 30 years ago, Arwyn was hired as the Executive Chef for a ferry company with ten ships and the capacity to serve 2,200 customers every 75 minutes. The food and kitchen labor costs were above acceptable standards. In his assessment of operations in-place, Arwyn discovered food waste was disposed of directly into the ocean via a mechanical system that prevented food waste measurement.

Immediately, Arwyn devised a simple, effective solution:
  • the mechanical food waste disposal systems were dismantled on the ships.
  • food-waste containers were installed on the car deck some 6 flights of stairs from the kitchen galley.
According to Arwyn, the action was taken to break old habits and get chefs to consider their actions before setting off on the challenge of 6 flights of stairs to dispose of food waste.

SUCCESS: Overnight the ferry operations experienced a reduction in food waste generated, lower labor costs incurred, less food purchased, and a significant uplift in the ships' foodservice profits. Simple solutions are often the BEST solutions!

Throughout the four case studies, the key ingredients for success in food waste reduction programs detailed above were interwoven within the respective culinary operations. 

Holly ended her empowering yet practical presentation with following phrases across two closing slides:

Bottom Line:

Well-run kitchens generate minimal food waste.

Food waste reduction makes good business sense: it improves the bottom line!


Beyond the “right thing to do,”

Food waste reduction is the “profitable thing to do,”

… and the “EASY thing to do!” 

Chef Chris Koetke during
the Feed the Planet session
Feed the Planet Committee Chair Chef Chris Koetke returned to the stage and announced the WorldChefs Food Waste Challenge, the culmination of the impressive Feed the Planet session. The Challenge tagline is:

Love Food. Hate Waste. ... Save Money.

A comprehensive Feed the Planet PPT presentation, as well as the solo The Profitability of Waste: the business case for food waste reduction presentation, are available for download on the Ei Speaking Engagement page.

The Holly Elmore Images FB album, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia July 2018 Visit, includes a section on the 2018 WorldChefs Congress & Expo along with sections on Holly's guided and self-guided KL tours.

Thank you to Ingrid Yllmark and the Electrolux sustainability team for sponsoring The Profitability of Waste presentation and making it possible for Holly to travel to Kuala Lumpur for the WorldChefs Congress.

When the key ingredients are followed, food waste reduction is infiltrated within standard kitchen operating practices. Industry pioneers with minimized food waste showcase how reducing waste is the "right thing to do," "the profitable thing to do" and the "EASY thing to do!" As stated in Holly's farewell slide:
Let's Get Started!

About The World Association of Chefs’ Societies:

Founded in 1928 in Paris, The World Association of Chefs’ Societies (WorldChefs) is a dynamic global network of over 100 chefs associations representing the spectrum of chefs across the myriad of levels and specialties. The venerable August Escoffier served as first Honorary President.

In alignment with its mission, WorldChefs creates impact within four key areas: education, networking, competition, and humanitarian & sustainability. Within the humanitarian & sustainability focus area, Feed the Planet and World Chefs Without Borders programs relieve food poverty, deliver crisis support, and promote sustainability across the globe.

Feed the Planet is a WorldChefs initiative designed to inspire sustainable food consumption among communities and professionals. In addition, Feed the Planet supports people in need through emergency relief, food poverty alleviation, and education. Founded in 2012, Feed the Planet is powered in partnership with Electrolux and AIESEC, an international, apolitical, independent and not-for-profit organization, run by students and recent graduates eager to build positive social change.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Feed the Planet, an empowering WorldChefs' Initiative

Founded in 1928 in Paris, The World Association of Chefs’ Societies (WorldChefs) is a dynamic global network of over 100 chefs associations representing the spectrum of chefs across the myriad of levels and specialties. The venerable August Escoffier served as first Honorary President.

In alignment with its mission, WorldChefs creates impact within four key areas: education, networking, competition, and humanitarian & sustainability. Within the humanitarian & sustainability focus area, Feed the Planet and World Chefs Without Borders programs relieve food poverty, deliver crisis support, and promote sustainability across the globe.

Chef delegate group photo @
2018 WorldChefs Congress & Expo
Integrating the spectrum of focus areas, WorldChefs hosts the biannual four-day Worldchefs Congress & Expo as the premier showcase for culinary innovation, In mid-July, over 1,000 chef delegates and competitors from 80 countries converged on Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the Worldchefs Congress & Expo 2018.

The 2018 Congress celebrates 90 years of empowering chefs through education, competition, and camaraderie.

Feed the Planet
Feed the Planet is a WorldChefs initiative designed to inspire sustainable food consumption among communities and professionals. In addition, Feed the Planet supports people in need through emergency relief, food poverty alleviation, and education. Founded in 2012, Feed the Planet is powered in partnership with Electrolux and AIESEC, an international, apolitical, independent and not-for-profit organization, run by students and recent graduates eager to build positive social change.

The WorldChefs Sustainability Education for Culinary Professionals course is a Feed the Planet initiative that teaches chefs how to think and act sustainably, to lead positive change for the planet, and improve profitability in the kitchen; the course is a cost-free WorldChefs member benefit.

Working closely with Feed the Planet Committee Chair Chris Koetke, Elemental Impact (Ei) provided the sustainability course's waste & recycling curriculum. The RiA Blog article, Sustainability: a matter of thinking critically & solving problems in an adaptive manner, gives an overview of the course during its development stage.

Chef Koetke introducing the
Feed the Planet program
On day three of the 2018 Congress, the educational plenary program was dedicated to Feed the Planet. Presentations focused on the current global food waste scenario along with empowering programs committed to evolving the seemingly broken food system. After the "big picture" presentations, the focus narrowed down to local, effective initiatives and case studies on food waste reduction in culinary operations. The morning session culminated in the launch of two challenges for World Chef member delegations.

After he opened the Feed the Planet session with a brief initiative overview, Chef Koetke introduced Paul Newnham with the SDG2 Advocacy Hub and Feed the Planet Day Host. The SDG2 Advocacy Hub coordinates global campaigning and advocacy to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2: To end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture by 2030, or simply zero hunger.

In his opening remarks, Paul introduced The Chefs' Manifesto, a written declaration co-created by over 130 chefs from 38 countries through online outreach and a series of workshops. The Global Goals for Sustainable Development (also referred to as SDG), the seventeen goals decided upon in 2015 by world leaders for a better world, was the foundation for developing a manifesto action plan.

The Chefs' Manifesto Action Plan includes the following eight areas the chefs were passionate about tackling:
  1. Ingredients grown with respect for the earth and its oceans.
  2. Protection of biodiversity & improved animal welfare.
  3. Investment in livelihoods.
  4. Value natural resources & reduce waste.
  5. Celebration of local & seasonal food.
  6. A focus on plant-based ingredients.
  7. Education on food safety& healthy diets.
  8. Nutritious food that is accessible & affordable for all.
Once complete with his The Chefs' Manifesto presentation, Paul moved into his Feed the Planet Host role with an introduction to Rochelle Schaetzl, Nestle Professional Business Capability Development Manager, for her Ensuring a Sustainable Future for the Culinary Profession segment. Rochelle opened with challenges facing the hospitality industry ranging from the lowest paid workers to the highest employee turnover to recent chef suicides.

Within her presentation, Rochelle shared integrated WorldChefs programs designed to build a sustainable future for the culinary profession. The various programs attract | recruit future chefs and develop | retain existing chefs. In 2017, the International Chefs Days was a tremendous success with over 4,700 chefs from 55 countries educating 37,800 children globally on the culinary profession. Other successful programs include the WorldChefs Academy, YoGuTa, Nutripro and WorldChefs Partnership.

Global Food Waste | Hunger Crisis
Following Rochelle, United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Digital Engagement and Partnerships Lead Frances Simpson Allen gave an empowering presentation on The UN World Food Programme: Saving Lives, Changing Lives.  Frances grounded the crisis with the following global facts:
We produce enough food to feed approximately 9 billion people each year.
Of the 4 billion metric tons of food we produce each year, one third is wasted, costing the global economy nearly $750 billion annually.
1 in 9 people goes to bed hungry every night.
Aligning with their "feed hungry people" mission and zero hunger goal, the WFP deploys 5,000 chartered trucks on roads, 92 chartered planes in the air, and 20 chartered ships at sea DAILY for providing food to hungry populations. With more than 80% of their resources dedicated to conflict environments, in 2017 WFP fed over 91 million people in 83 countries. In 2018 WFP intends to feed 124 million people.

To engage consumers and chefs, WFP launched the four-step Recipe for Disaster social media campaign:
  1. Open your fridge and grab any ingredients that are close to their "use by date." 
  2. Create a meal using those ingredients (and any others you may need to create your dish.)
  3. Share your video or pictures using #RecipeForDisaster and nominate three friends to create their own by tagging them.
  4. Make a donation to WFP and help us reach our target of Zero Hunger by 2030.
WFP food delivery
photo courtesy of WFP
Frances ended her thought-provoking presentation with a call-to-action for chefs to reduce waste in their own kitchens, use their influence to change expectations, behavior, and tastes, to train the next generation, and push the boundaries of what’s acceptable or desirable or profitable.

Bringing a local flavor to a global challenge, Food Aid Foundation (FAF) Founder & CEO Rick Chee educated on Connecting the World of Waste to the World of Wants. FAF is a Malaysian-based tax-exempt non-profit organization that serves as a food bank and provides food to charitable homes and the underprivileged population. As a seasoned entrepreneur and business owner with a strong background in foodservice facility planning and logistics, Rick is well connected within the hospitality community. Rick uses his connections to educate on waste and secure donations for the FAF food bank.

The global dire food waste facts support Rick's statement:

We are running a rotten food system.

Rick's presentation was filled with a plethora of images documenting the tremendous impact FAF has on the local population. A strong team player, Rick provided donated wasted food from local sources for the Retaste – Reimagining the Flavour of Waste demonstration and presentation by Ruth Osborne and Christopher (Chris) Ekman of Pauls Kok + Retired Hen up next on the agenda.

Addressing Food Waste, one kitchen at a time
In her opening slides, Ruth gave an astonishing global fact:
If it was a country, food waste would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter after China (#1) and the United States (#2).
According to Ruth, Retaste is a movement; Retaste is a verb; Retaste challenges the public and chefs to view waste as an opportunity to shift perceptions and reimagine what is flavorful, what can cook well, and what we SHOULD use; Retaste is a temporary restaurant owned and operated by Ruth and Chris that receives donated food waste from local retail stores for their menu preparation. Since it is permitted restaurant, Retaste must abide by local health safety regulations related to food preparation and service.

Image courtesy of ReTaste
While Ruth presented, Chris prepared impromptu, amazing dishes from the donated food provided by Rick. Chris' on-stage culinary ingenuity was impressive.

Ruth ended her presentation with a profound quote by Douglas McMaster: “Food waste is the failure of the imagination.”

Following Ruth and Chris, Ei Founder & CEO Holly Elmore presented on The Profitability of Waste: the business case for food waste reduction. After a quick overview of the successful Zero Waste Zones 2009 launch in Atlanta, GA, Holly shared a recipe for food waste reduction success. In addition, Holly outlined the basics of where and why back-of-the-house food waste is generated.

Through four powerful case studies, Holly emphasized key ingredients for success: zero waste is a team sport, keep it simple, keen awareness is a necessity, and take baby steps, lots & lots of baby steps. Holly's overall message: 

A well-run kitchen generates minimal waste!

The RiA Blog article, The Profitability of Waste: the business case for food waste reduction, gives an overview of Holly's presentation with an emphasis on the case studies.

Take the Challenge!
Rounding out the formal presentations, Electrolux Vice-President Corporate Communications Ingrid Yllmark and Social Investment Junior Project Manager, Electrolux Social Responsibility Ekaterina Trofimova shared how You can Make Difference. With each meal, an individual gets a vote on how to make a difference and change the world.

Ingrid showcased the World’s Largest Lesson (WLL) that introduces the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to children and young people everywhere and unites them in action. Within the WLL, toolkits for educating children about each of the seventeen SDG are provided. Toolkits include lesson plans for a 70-minute workshop along with other creative educational resources.

For SDG #12, Responsible Consumption and Production, the lesson objective is to educate children on how to minimize food waste and become the advocates for sustainable food consumption. Ingrid invited chefs in the audience to make a difference by joining the WLL as an instructor and educating on responsible consumption and production.

Chef Koetke returned to the stage and announced the WorldChefs Food Waste Challenge, the culmination of the impressive Feed the Planet session. The Challenge tagline is:

Love Food. Hate Waste. ... Save Money.

The WorldChefs Food Waste Challenge consists of two sub-challenges: 1> educational introduced by Ingrid and 2> operational introduced by Chef Koetke. Within the operational Challenge are seven initial steps:
Measuring BOH food waste
photo courtesy of Compass'
Trim Trax program
  1. Sign up for the Challenge on the WorldChefs website.
  2. Kick-off day for BOH (back-of-the-house) Food Waste Challenge - marks the beginning of the operational Challenge with a webinar that explains the steps within the Challenge along with pointers on how to accomplish the steps.
  3. Measurement with the toolkit - participants commit to weighing the kitchen (BOH) food waste for three months and develop a baseline of food waste generated in kitchen operations. Worldchefs will provide a tracking tool for creating the food waste baseline. 
  4. Submissions commitment - sign-up for the operational Challenge on the WorldChefs website.
  5. Webinar check-in with an inspirational presentation - the food waste reduction portion of the Challenge begins. Each participant commits to reducing BOH food waste by a chosen percentage over a six-month period. Worldchefs will provide guidance on percentages and tools to help address BOH food waste.
  6. Submission of BOH food waste reduction results - at the midway point (three months) WorldChefs will host a webinar check-in with an inspirational and educational presentation.
  7. FOH (front-of-the-house) Food Waste Challenge kick-off - participants renew their BOH food waste reduction commitment for another six-month challenge and embark on a FOH challenge, following similar parameters to the BOH challenge.
Within his closing remarks, Chef Koetke invited the attending chefs to participate in the WorldChefs Operational Food Waste Challenge; twelve country delegations verbally agreed to participate in the Challenge!

As a finale to the Feeding the Planet session, the presenters returned to the stage for a question and answer session moderated by Paul. Questions came directly from the audience and the live FB stream.

A comprehensive Feed the Planet PPT presentation, as well as Holly's solo The Profitability of Waste: the business case for food waste reduction presentation, are available for download on the Ei Speaking Engagement page.

The Holly Elmore Images FB album, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia July 2018 Visit, includes a section on the 2018 WorldChefs Congress & Expo along with sections on Holly's guided and self-guided KL tours.

Power of Chefs
EMPOWERING: WorldChefs dedicated an entire day of educational sessions to Feed the Planet and launched the WorldChefs Food Waste Challenge at their 2018 World Chefs Congress & Expo! 

Feed the Planet session presenters
photo courtesy of WorldChefs
When the world's premier chefs association teams with the UN Food Waste Programme, supports The Chefs Manifesto, and encourages participation in the World's Largest Lesson on SDG #12, Responsible Consumption and Production, the power of global chefs is invoked! 

At the top of the food industry hierarchy, global chefs are in the position reduce food waste within the entire food system, ranging from their operations to the distribution channels and to the farms. ... and as humanitarians, chefs will ensure excess food is redirected to hungry populations! 

Knowing global chefs are staged for action in the food waste reduction arena, the Earth is a brighter planet to call home.

Note: When describing an organization's programs, goals and missions, copy from the organization's website was often used or strongly paraphrased. Whenever copy was used in the article, the respective organization's website was linked.

Monday, June 18, 2018

New Era, New Name: Regeneration in ACTION!

On June 13, 2018, the Zero Waste in ACTION (ZWA) Blog surpassed the 385,000 pageviews milestone! Launched in 2009 as the Zero Waste Zones Blog, the original premise was to document the Zero Waste Zones successes and later the Recycling Refinement and Sustainable Food Court Initiative accomplishments. When the Zero Waste Zones were sold to the National Restaurant Association in 2012, the Zero Waste Zones Blog evolved into the Zero Waste in ACTION Blog.

Respected Journalism
Along with sister Elemental Impact (Ei) blog, The IMPACT, the ZWA Blog grew into a valuable industry media resource. In 2016 Ei catapulted into respected environmental journalism when the prominent invitation arrived in early November:
The U.S. State Department invited Ei to join the invitation-only COP22 preview press conference call. Journalists from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times were among the respected, mainstream media on the call.
The IMPACT Blog article, Ei: Respected Journalism, chronicles Ei's segue from a valuable industry media resource to respected environmental journalism. In addition to the blogs' contribution, Ei Founder Holly Elmore authored a plethora of industry trade journal articles and documents, which are detailed on the Fingertip Press page.

In honor of the ZWA Blog's March 2016 250,000 views milestone, the ZWA Ei Blogs: respected media & valuable industry resources article published to celebrate strong readership and acknowledge the teamwork necessary to build the solid foundation. In addition, the article details interesting reader analytics.

Below are a quick blog stats overview:

The IMPACT Blog:
  • 148,000 pageviews
  • 130 published articles
  • Average 1,140 pageviews per article
  • Most popular article: Ei New Mission Statement (12/12) 2,965 views
Zero Waste in ACTION Blog:
Beyond Sustainability, Beyond Resilience: Regeneration 
Over the past decade, sustainability moved from a buzzword to a movement to a culture within leading communities, universities and businesses. Significant strides were made in zero waste practices, renewable energy technology, and reduced carbon | water footprints. Yet the glaciers continue to melt, the ocean acidification levels are increasing, and desertification is escalating.

Abandoned farmstead in
American Dust Bowl, Oklahoma
photo courtesy of

Beginning with the above paragraph, the ZWA Blog article, Beyond Sustainability: Regenerative Solutions, articulates the pending oxygen deficiency and food crisis substantiated with prominent scientific research. The article questions whether the established sustainability movement and the new resilience focus are enough to reverse the out-of-balance carbon cycles causing the pending crisis.

The time is NOW to move beyond sustainability | resilience and embrace regenerative solutions that return the carbon cycles to a healthy, balanced state. The food and oxygen crisis is real and grounded in solid scientific research. Regenerative solutions are simple and align with nature's perfect systems.

New Era, New Tagline
Since inception, Ei lived the tagline Sustainability in ACTION! Working with a powerful team of Ei Pioneers and Ei Industry Experts, Ei evolved into a respected national non-profit known for introducing sustainable best practices within a range of industries.

Beginning with the Zero Waste Zones, Ei initiatives epitomized the following mantra: 

Ei is a creator, an incubator. 
Ei determines what could be done that is not being done and gets it done. 
Ei brings the possible out of impossible. 
Ei identifies pioneers and creates heroes.

As documented in The IMPACT Blog, Happy 8th Birthday, Ei!,  2017 was the Year of Shifting Gears. In 2017 Ei announced Soil Health, regenerating the foundation of life, was a prime focus, replacing the prominent Recycling Refinement (RR) work. In addition, Ei Leadership experienced a changing of the guard and Ei welcomed new Strategic Allies.

The Golden Hoof,
a regenerative farm in Boulder, CO
The ZWA Blog article, Soil Health, regenerating the foundation of life, recounts how Ei RR work was complete within the above mantra parameters, yet serves as the foundation for Soil Health initiatives.

For documentation of Ei's RR era, visit the Milestone's page for a monthly listing of profound action within the Ei journey dating back to pre-inception; the Mission Accomplished page lists Ei endeavors with achieved goals and considered complete via a sale, term expiration or simply mission accomplished!

With gears shifted, the time arrived to assess the use of "sustainability" in the Ei tagline. The ZWA article, Regeneration in ACTION, announces Ei's new tagline of the same name:

Regeneration in ACTION

New Era, New Name
With the evolution of Ei's focus areas and tagline, it is time to give the Zero Waste in ACTION Blog a new name. Though there will be a continued emphasis on minimizing and reducing waste, the article focal points will expand to new horizons. Complementing the Soil Health platform, the Water Use | Toxicity platform is a prime focus.

Jay Brady
In March 2018, Jay Brady officially joined the Ei Leadership Team as the Water Use | Toxicity Program Director. With an initial priority on the Ei Cooling Tower Blowdown Initiative in the Florida market, Jay works closely with Ei Industry Experts Steve Myers of Filters Plus and Jim Harrell with Renaissance Technology. Stay tuned as big announcements are expected in the coming months.

In addition, the Ei Conscious Cleaning Initiative (Ei CCI) is in the pre-launch stage. Over the past months, the Ei CCI Team of industry experts scheduled a plethora of introductory and demonstration meetings with potential Ei Industry Pioneers. Ei Industry Experts Jack Adelman of SouthEast Link along with Larry Smith and Chris Kessler of GenEon work closely with Holly on developing the Ei CCI protocol and parameters.

Ei CCI potential impact is bigger, much BIGGER, than the prominent Zero Waste Zones 2009 launch.

The ZWA Blog article, The Evolution of Standard Cleaning Practices, gives a high-level history of cleaning and introduces conscious cleaning.

... and in alignment with the Ei tagline, the Zero Waste in ACTION Blog new name is:

The Regeneration in ACTION Blog

Elemental Impact embraces a new era, a new name, and renewed impact!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Evolution of Standard Cleaning Practices

From personal hygiene to food-related activities to facility maintenance, cleaning is important to a community's and individual's health status. Thorough cleaning practices kill harmful bacteria and viruses and prevent the infestation of rodents and other pests who may carry a variety of diseases.

Over the past century cleaning practices evolved from simple soap and water to synthetic disinfectants and sanitizers to Electrochemical Activation (ECA).

From an excavation of ancient Babylon, evidence of soap-like material dates back to 2800 B.C. Though it was used throughout various civilizations, soap was generally only available to the elite; the common population was relegated to cleaning with water and other clever alternatives. By the mid-1800's, a series of soap-related inventions enabled the widespread availability of inexpensive soap. Until the development of synthetic detergent in the early 1900's, basic soap remained the primary cleaning product.

Cleaning Basics
According to many recognized sites, including the National Food Service Management Institute Keep Food Safe: Clean, Sanitize, and Disinfect document, three main cleaning practices are necessary for healthy environments:
Typical commercial cleaning set-up
photo courtesy of Rubbermaid
  • Cleaning - removes dirt & debris from the targeted area; sanitizing and disinfecting require clean surfaces.
  • Sanitizing - reduces harmful bacteria with high heat or chemical solutions.
  • Disinfecting - stronger than a sanitizer, a disinfectant solution kills bacteria and viruses on targeted surfaces.
Beyond quality solutions, consistent tools and practices are important for effective custodial programs. It is important to read product labels and follow the designated dwell or contact times required to disinfect surfaces. According to numerous sources, disinfectant dwell times may be as long as ten minutes.

Future articles will further address cleaning tools and practices.

Toxic-Cleaning Development
The 1916 development of synthetic detergent in Germany was a response to a World War I-related shortage of fats for making soap. Subsequently, chemical companies introduced a plethora of cleaning solutions designed to sanitize, disinfect, and sterilize. Though generally effective, many of the solutions were toxic when inhaled or ingested by humans or other living beings.

Published in September 1962, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson is credited as the catalyst for the environmental movement. Though it addressed the devastating ramifications of DDT pesticide use, Silent Spring showcased the far-reaching impact of toxic-chemical use whether for pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, or cleaning.

The August 2015 Natural Resources Defense Council The Story of Silent Spring: How a courageous woman took on the chemical industry and raised important questions about humankind's impact on nature  explains Silent Spring's legacy:
Photo courtesy of Peter Scales 
“What if the birds all die? Rachel Carson 
and “Silent Spring””
"The most important legacy of Silent Spring, though, was a new public awareness that nature was vulnerable to human intervention. Carson had made a radical proposal: that, at times, technological progress is so fundamentally at odds with natural processes that it must be curtailed. Conservation had never raised much broad public interest, for few people really worried about the disappearance of wilderness. But the threats Carson had outlined—the contamination of the food chain, cancer, genetic damage, the deaths of entire species—were too frightening to ignore. For the first time, the need to regulate industry in order to protect the environment became widely accepted, and environmentalism was born."
As the environmental movement grew, awareness of toxic cleaning solutions' impact on the indoor and outdoor environments fueled the development of green cleaning alternatives.

Founded in 1989, Green Seal (GS) is a national non-profit dedicated to promoting a sustainable economy through their Environmental Leadership Standards. GS Standards address performance, health, and sustainability criteria. Cleaning products are one of many categories reviewed and certified within the rigorous Standards. In addition to the long-standing GS cleaning product certification standards, in July 2013 GS issued the GS Standard for Commercial & Institutional Services.

Similar to DDT applications, toxic cleaning solutions have long-term implications for cleaning staff and residents of the facility, whether a home or commercial building. According to the February 18, 2018, Newsweek Impact of Cleaning Products on Women's Lungs as Damaging as 20-a-Day Cigarette Habit: Study article, women who used the cleaning products regularly had a markedly decreased lung capacity along with increased rates of asthma. Decreased lung capacity is attributed to the damage that cleaning agents cause to the mucous membranes lining the airways.

Conscious Cleaning
Though they are an improvement over toxic-cleaning solutions, many green cleaning products are synthetic in nature and may pose harm to individuals and the environment. Conscious cleaning solutions cause no harm whether ingested via breath or swallowing or flushed into sewer systems. Vinegar and baking soda are two common household products that are excellent conscious cleaning solutions.

As stated in the Cleaning Basics section, beyond cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting are important to maintain a healthy, safe environment for children, employees, and community residents. Thus, Elemental Impact (Ei) embraces ECA as the commercial cleaning system of choice in the soon-to-be-announced Ei Conscious Cleaning Initiative within the Water Use | Toxicity platform.

ECA systems combine salted water with an electrical charge. By varying the mineral catalysts, the ECA system produces three distinct products: sanitizer | disinfectant | deodorizer, glass & general purpose cleaner, and heavy-duty cleaner | degreaser.

ECA cleaning products are generated on-site. Thus, transportation carbon footprints and cleaning supply packaging associated with mainstream janitorial systems are reduced. Supply inventory is drastically reduced and chemical-related injuries are eliminated.

After a two-year evaluation, Georgia Institute of Technology (Ga Tech) transitioned cleaning and disinfecting | sanitizing solutions to an ECA-based system. Ga Tech Building Services Director Tommy Little and his team performed extensive, detailed testing of the ECA system effectiveness, at visual and microbial levels. The results were impressive!
Over nine years, Ga Tech reduced their on-campus cleaning chemicals by 90.7%! 
Beyond the tremendous cost-savings experienced with the ECA cleaning program, according to Tommy, "Best of all ...MY STAFF LOVES IT!!" Why does the Ga Tech building services staff love the program? Here a few reasons:
  • The cleaners work as well or better than prior cleaners.
  • Solutions do not dry out hands or cause respiratory problems.
  • Sanitizers | disinfectants actually eliminate odors.
  • The system portability - solutions may be made anywhere on campus.
Tommy Little & Wendy Welker
by their GS Certification banner
Over the years, Ga Tech was recognized by The National Association of Higher Education Facilities
Officers, Green Cleaning Award for American Schools & Universities, Princeton Review, and The National Wildlife Federation for their renewable green cleaning. In addition, Ga Tech achieved independent certification under the Green Seal GS-42 Green Cleaning Standard.

Ei Partner SouthEast Link, a local custodial supply company dedicated to renewable cleaning programs and systems, worked closely with Ga Tech throughout the ECA system evaluation and implementation stages.

... and Ga Tech saves an estimated $300,000 per year by producing ECA solutions on-site versus purchasing cleaning solutions for the campus custodial program.

On March 6 Tommy and his team hosted the Ei Conscious Cleaning Demo & Tour. Facility & housekeeping managers from Atlanta's venues and businesses committed to pioneering the movement from sustainable to regenerative best operating practices attended the impressive two-hour demo and tour. The Ei FB album, Ei Conscious Cleaning Initiative, includes an event pictorial recap.

With industry pioneers like Ga Tech at the helm, standard commercial cleaning is staged to evolve from current toxic or green-cleaning practices to conscious-cleaning programs. After all, conscious cleaning benefits the environment, the community, and the facility's bottom line!

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Flint River: a river ready to regenerate

As the second longest river in Georgia, the Flint River is critical to the state's ecological, environmental, economic, and water-supply foundations. Flowing unimpeded for nearly 220 miles, the Flint River is one of forty rivers in the nation that flows unimpeded for more than 200 miles.

Scenic Flint River
photo courtesy of  Sherpa Guides |GA
From its headwaters south of Atlanta, the Flint River flows nearly 350 miles through southwest Georgia where it joins the Chattahoochee River at the Georgia-Florida border to form the Apalachicola River, which flows on to the Gulf of Mexico. The entire basin is often referred to as the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint basin.

In the 1970's, the Georgia Natural Areas Council named the Upper Flint River Georgia’s “Most Scenic River.” Beyond recreational purposes, the Flint River is known for its vast biodiversity. In 2009 the Halloween Darter found only in the Flint, Chattahoochee, and Apalachicola Rivers was recognized as a newly discovered species. Four federally protected mussel species live in the upper Flint waters. The lower Flint River basin, along with the upper part of the Apalachicola basin, boast the highest species density of amphibians and reptiles on the continent, north of Mexico. (1)

A River in Crisis
Yet the Flint River is running dry. Twice named one of America's Most Endangered Rivers by American Rivers, the Flint River is a river in crisis.

Contaminated stormwater flows
through the drain directly into the river
According to American Rivers, a contributing factor to the Flint River's increasing low-flow challenges is the headwaters ultra-urban environment. A significant portion of the headwaters is covered with building structure | pavement or flows within drainage ditches. In addition, contaminated stormwater from impervious surfaces flows directly into the headwater streams, without municipal water treatment. The headwaters are harnessed and flow under Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), the busiest airport in the world.

In April 2013 American Rivers and the Flint Riverkeeper published the Running Dry: Challenges and Opportunities in Restoring Healthy Flows in Georgia’s Upper Flint River Basin report. Within the Green Stormwater Infrastructure to Restore Natural Hydrology section, the report recognizes that current stormwater infrastructure upgrades with "green infrastructure" are one of many potential contributors to restoring baseflow in the basin's upper reaches. As stated in the report:
 “Green infrastructure” for stormwater management can include both retrofits to stormwater infrastructure and new construction, and it seeks to restore or replicate natural hydrology as much as possible. Infrastructure elements specifically tailored to infiltrating water into soils in order to restore groundwater and baseflow could help remedy the upper Flint’s water quantity problems in addition to improving water quality. Green stormwater infrastructure can be as small-scale as a residential rain garden or as large-scale as systems of bio-swales or bio-retention ponds, and can even extend to broader “natural infrastructure” strategies such as targeted land conservation to preserve wetlands and stream corridors, or in some cases restoring natural floodplains, wetlands, and degraded streams.
There are many opportunities for improvements to stormwater management in the upper Flint’s most urbanized areas—at and near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport—and also in suburban areas of Clayton, Coweta, Fayette, Fulton, Henry, and Spalding counties.
Green infrastructure may include bio-swales, wetlands, retention ponds, and other bodies of still water, which are perfect bird nesting and feeding areas. With ATL a close neighbor, it is important to avoid still water in the stormwater improvement plans within a specified distance from the airport. Flying birds are hazardous to airplane take-offs and landings.

Finding the Flint
Finding the Flint is a vision for connecting Atlanta’s Flint River Headwaters and the Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance (AAA), a driving force for revitalizing the area surrounding the Atlanta Airport.

Park Pride Executive Director Michael
Halicki next to the urban headwaters
Funded by American Rivers and the Conservation Fund in partnership with the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), Finding the Flint brings together the impacted local government and civic organizations: Clayton County Water Authority, Upper Flint River Working Group, Flint Riverkeeper, ATL, Cities of College Park, East Point, and Hapeville, AAA, AAA Community Improvement Districts, Development Authority of Clayton County, and Fulton County Citizen's Commission on the Environment.

In fall 2017 the ARC awarded the Upper Flint Green Infrastructure Preliminary Design Services contract to Pond & Co. Additionally, writer and urban designer Hannah Palmer was named Finding the Flint Coordinator.

Flint River Headwaters Tour

On March 17 Atlanta-based non-profit Park Pride hosted the Finding the Flint tour as part of their 17th Annual Parks & Greenspace Conference, Parks & the Resilient City, pre-event activities. American Rivers - Georgia Director Clean Water Supply Ben Emanuel and Hannah led the tour and educated the diverse, enthusiastic group. 

The tour consisted of five opportunities to witness the current state of the Flint River headwaters at the following locations: 

Georgia Power substation with
Flint River headwaters in the culvert
Willingham Drive - the river headwaters flow in a culvert alongside a Georgia Power substation along Willingham Drive; there is a vision to create a pocket park along the headwaters stream. Across the street, there is available land for a potential larger park. 

2> Virginia Crossings - the river headwaters flow underneath the parking lot and are seen through the stormwater drain; there are approved plans for a hotel on the parking lot site. With construction slated to start soon, the March 17 tour may be the final tour to visit the stormwater drain pictured earlier.

South of the Virginia Crossings parking lot, the headwaters return to the light of day for a brief stretch before its journey under the ATL campus. There is a vision for connected trails and greenways as the stream flows through office and industrial complexes.

3> Airport Loop Road - the Delta Flight Museum is located on the banks of the Flint River headwaters as the stream emerges from underneath ATL. There is a vision for green amenities on the grass areas near the museum.

Cargo plane landing on runway #5
at the Forest Parkway bridge.
4> Forest Parkway Bridge - once south of ATL the river headwaters return to the light of day for the remainder of the river's flow to the Florida state line. At the Forest Parkway bridge, there is a vision to create a plane-watching site by the river.

5> Atlanta South Parkway -  the Flint River regains a natural shoreline as it flows south within continued urban impact. From the Atlanta South Parkway bridge, it was disheartening to witness how local residents use the river shore as a dumping site.

Elemental Impact (Ei) Founder Holly Elmore and Ei Advisor Boyd Leake of Community Environmental joined the Park Pride Finding the Flint tour. Ei is committed to Flint River headwaters projects from two aspects: 1> support of the ATL's Flint River initiatives via the Sustainable Facilities Initiative - ATL Pilot, and 2> development of a Lambda Alpha International (LAI) Atlanta Chapter project. LAI is a global land economics honorary; Holly serves on the Atlanta Chapter Board and spearheads the LAI Atlanta Flint River project under development.

The Ei FB album, Flint River Headwaters, includes a section with a pictorial recap of the empowering tour.

Finding the Flint brings together the community across local jurisdictions, businesses across industry boundaries, and citizens who call the Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance area their home. With the spectrum of committed support, the Flint River is staged to flow from a "river in crisis" to a "river in regeneration." 


1> referenced from American Rivers, Flint River: a Natural Gem with Urban Beginnings.