|Bigger than Us podcast |
Since inception in 2010 as the home for the Zero Waste Zones, Elemental Impact (Ei) embraced the "nature knows best" concept. Ei's work uses a holistic approach where the broad ramifications of action taken is assessed including the essential microbial communities.
As featured in her May 2020 Bigger than Us podcast interview, Ei Founder Holly Elmore is known for the following quote:
In order for life as we know it to survive and thrive on planet earth, we must - absolutely must - get our soil and water microbial communities back to a healthy, balanced state.
Food-Waste Collection for Compost
During the Ei Era of Recycling Refinement, from inception through June 2017, commercial collection of food waste for compost was a primary focus. In 2014, Ei announced post-consumer food-waste collection for compost or a state-permitted destination other than landfill was the prime Sustainable Food Court Initiative focus.
|The "Nature Knows Best" slide in the|
World Chef's Sustainability Course
Though they can emulate nature's system, humans cannot duplicate it. As human-created food-waste destinations stray further from natural parameters, the end product contains fewer nutrients required by the soil’s microbial community. Thus, Ei embraced outdoor windrow-compost operations as it emulates natural decomposition; Ei opposed anaerobic digestion of food waste as the system strays from natural decomposition. Ei's perspective was based on the implications for the soil and water microbial communities related to food-waste destination options.
In July 2017, the RiA Magazine article, Soil Health: regenerating the foundation of life, announced the Ei Soil Health platform. Within the announcement, Ei evolved from a focus on recycling refinement and food-waste collection for compost to Soil Health and Water Use | Toxicity. Inherent within the Soil Health platform are focuses on Regenerative Agriculture, Carbon Sequestration, and Urban Carbon Sinks. Thus, Ei segued from the Era of Recycling Refinement and into the Era of Regeneration.
Carbon Crisis: simply a matter of balance
Within the Era of Regeneration, Ei's underlying premise is restoring balance to the Earth's five carbon pools: atmosphere, oceans, soils, biosphere, and fossil. Ei Strategic Ally Kiss the Ground's The Soil Story video explains the Earth’s carbon cycles in an easy-to-understand format where soil is the hero for regaining balance.
In the November 2017 RiA Magazine article, Beyond Sustainability: Regenerative Solutions, Ei coined the term Urban Carbon Sinks where regenerative landscape and grounds maintenance practices are the protocol. Ei's Urban Carbon Sink Pilot $100,000 grant proposal was a finalist in the Ray C. Anderson 2020 NextGen Grant process. Due to COVID-related challenges, the 2020 final grant proposal was not submitted. An impressive Urban Carbon Sinks team is excited for the 2021 NextGen Grant request for proposals.
Holocene Extinction (sixth mass extinction)
According to the November 2019 Science Alert article, Are We Really in a 6th Mass Extinction? Here's The Science, current conditions indicate that the Earth's Holocene extinction, or sixth mass extinction, is well underway. From the article:
A mass extinction is usually defined as a loss of about three quarters of all species in existence across the entire Earth over a "short" geological period of time. Given the vast amount of time since life first evolved on the planet, "short" is defined as anything less than 2.8 million years.
... The Earth is currently experiencing an extinction crisis largely due to the exploitation of the planet by people.
The previously referenced Beyond Sustainability: Regenerative Solutions article establishes the building crisis of the diminishing food and oxygen supply.
|Abandoned farmstead in the|
American Dust Bowl, Oklahoma
photo courtesy of Britannica.com
Our most significant non-renewable geo-resource is productive land and fertile soil. Each year, an estimated 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil are lost due to erosion. That's 3.4 tonnes lost every year for every person on the planet. Soils store more than 4000 billion tonnes of carbon.
A dangerous dilemma is brewing with an increasing global population and a diminishing ability to produce food.
According to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) June 2020 How much oxygen comes from the ocean? fact sheet:
Scientists estimate that 50-80% of the oxygen production on Earth comes from the ocean. The majority of this production is from oceanic plankton — drifting plants, algae, and some bacteria that can photosynthesize. One particular species, Prochlorococcus, is the smallest photosynthetic organism on Earth. But this little bacteria produces up to 20% of the oxygen in our entire biosphere. That’s a higher percentage than all of the tropical rainforests on land combined.
Yet plankton is perishing at alarming rates due to ocean acidification and warmer water temperatures.
Though life as we know it on planet Earth is endangered, Nature always prevails and will simply nurture and embrace new life forms if the existing species perish.
|An elder tree thrives within a |
building in Old Havana
photo credit: Holly Elmore Images
During the 2020 COVID-19 global pandemic quarantines, citizens witnessed an immediate impact of reduced human activity via clearer skies, orchestras of bird songs, and the roaming of wild animals in urban and rural parks. The experiences were a glimpse of how quickly the natural world resumes when human activity subsides.
With a commitment to align work with Nature, Ei defined The Principles of Nature with three broad categories:
- Dynamic Balance
- Necessity of Cover & Ability to Roam
Beyond the environment-related activity within in each category, societal systems including economic structures, financial markets, urban design to name a few also align within and are impacted by The Principles of Nature.The Nature of Nature, Why We Need the Wild, author Enric Sala explains the fallacies inherent within using a country's Gross National Product (GNP) as the standard indicator for a country's economic growth and stability. According to The Economic Times, GNP is defined as follows:
GNP measures the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced by the country’s factors of production irrespective of their location. Only the finished or final goods are considered as factoring intermediate goods used for manufacturing would amount to double counting. It includes taxes but does not include subsidies.
In Enric's perspective, the GNP is one of the worst indicators for human prosperity for three reasons:
- It does not factor in the destruction of the natural world and externalizes devastating consequences in favor of manufacturing capabilities.
- It assumes that the only value of a society is what can be measured as part of an official, organized market.
- It does not measure well-being and happiness.
|The opening slide in the GRLEI intro PPT|
photo credit: Holly Elmore Images
- Holly Elmore, GRLEI Chair (Ei Founder)
- Bernadette Austin, GRLEI Focus Area Lead (Acting Director of the Center for Regional Change at the University of California at Davis)
- Brad Bass, GRLEI Advisor & Industry Expert (30-year veteran at Environment and Climate Change Canada as well as a Status Professor at the University of Toronto (UT))
- Ronald Thomas, FAICP, GRLEI Adviser & Industry Expert (Ron Thomas & Co. President)
Infrastructure – explores the built environment including a city’s water & sewer systems, water treatment plants, public utilities, as well as corporate, government, and educational districts | campuses. Additionally, focus is on the availability of and access to affordable housing within a community.
The Focus Area slide in the GRLEI intro PPT
photo credit: Holly Elmore Images
- Environmental Resources – explores the impact of existing and proposed projects and infrastructure within urban and rural communities on energy sources, soil health, local greenways, open spaces, waterways, and resident access.
- Social Equity – explores ways to promote complete communities that include equitable access to housing, transportation and transit, education, employment, human services such as healthcare and safety, and other amenities such as parks. These complete communities balance land uses focused on people, (such as commercial and residential land uses), with natural and working land uses such as open space, waterways, farms, and ranches.