28. It’s Not You, It’s The System

October 9, 2018


Matt Wilkins is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Vanderbilt's Center for Science Outreach who works as the Resident Scientist at Head Magnet Middle School, developing and teaching STEM curriculum. He collaborates with science, math, English, social studies, and Spanish teachers to build rigorous, engaging, interdisciplinary lessons that help students master abstract concepts, become more curious, and develop critical thinking skills.

Matt's previous and ongoing research involves multimodal sexual selection, acoustic divergence, and speciation. For his PhD he studied barn swallows in North America, Europe, and Asia to quantify variation in feather ornaments and song resulting from different targets of sexual selection across populations. As a postdoc at the University of Nebraska he extended this work by developing a 'phenotype network' approach for visualizing and analyzing the functional evolution of sexual communication signals in barn swallows and Schizocosa wolf spiders.

Parus major photo bomb

On July 6, 2018, Matt's article called More Recycling Won't Solve Plastic Pollution:
It’s a lie that wasteful consumers cause the problem and that changing our individual habits can fix it was published in Scientific American. Matt takes a real world approach and critical look at the American system that punishes individuals for littering but not the companies who create that unnecessary litter in the billions.

Matt's Website

Scientific American Article

The Tennessee Bottle Bill Project


27. Zero Waste Daniel

September 25, 2018


Host of The Zero Waste Countdown Laura Nash met up with revolutionary fashion designer Daniel Silverstein, better known as Zero Waste Daniel, at his design shop in Brooklyn.


Fast fashion is quickly causing our planet a lot of problems - it's using too much water, too much oil, too many petroleum-based dyes, dumping too much effluent into rivers, synthetic clothing causes trillions of microfibres to enter our aquatic systems, it's wrapped in too much plastic, and then the quality just isn't there so after a year or so of being worn, fast fashion is wrapped in plastic garbage bags and trucked away to landfill where it will sit for the next few centuries buried under our soil. How can we get away from this system?

Zero Waste Daniel is changing the way fashion looks and feels - his designs are inclusive, genderless, they come in all sizes, and they represent conscious forward thinking that's very much needed in today's world. Tune in as we learn all about off-cuts and how Daniel is removing millions of them from landfills and spreading a positive message around the world that fashion is about to change for the better.

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26. Swedish Stockings

September 10, 2018


Meet Linn Frisinger, co-founder and CEO of Swedish Stockings who joins Laura in episode 26 of the ZWC to talk all about her sustainable company.

AW18_Alma Rib Tights Navy 4

Their high quality stockings are made from polyamide reclaimed from a big problem in our oceans - fish nets. 


Often called ghost nets, loose fishing nets tangle up and kill marine life and release microplastic into the ocean but Linn's company is reclaiming them and turning them into a durable and fashionable product that can be recycled after its use once customers opt into their return program when the stockings are all worn out. That means Swedish Stockings is sustainable and closed loop.


Laura tested out a few pairs and they are stronger and longer lasting than typical stockings that only get one or two uses before being sent to landfill for the next century and made from the oil and gas industry. 


Use coupon code zerowastecountdown to save 15% on their website

Swedish Stockings




25. Elate Cosmetics

August 29, 2018

Do you know what's in your makeup, or what to do with the container and packaging once you're finished with it? 


Meet Melodie Reynolds, CEO and founder of Elate Cosmetics from Victoria, British Columbia. Her products are ethical and sustainable with bamboo packaging and only ingredients that are good for your skin and healthy for the environment. 


Discount code: zerowastecountdown at elatecosmetics.ca one per customer. 


24. Food Sharing

August 15, 2018

In Australia food waste is estimated to cost the Australian economy around $20 billion dollars each year.

Australians throw away about 5.3 billion tonnes of edible food each year.


In the United States it’s estimated that 415 kilograms (or about 915 pounds) of food is wasted per person each year and in Mexico it’s about half that.


In Canada, $31 billion dollars worth of food ends up in landfills or composters each year which weighs about 1.3 billion tonnes, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Yet 850,000 Canadians use food banks every month.


In 1994 the Canadian province of Ontario passed the Donation of Food Act that releases food donors from liability when giving away food. This makes food sharing and food donation possible through redistribution programs like Food Sharing Ottawa who aims to feed the hungry while sending less food to landfills. 


23. What’s In Plastic?

July 31, 2018


Jay Sinha cowrote the book Life Without Plastic: The Practical Step-by-Step Guide to Avoiding Plastic to Keep Your Family and the Planet Healthy with his partner Chantal Plamondon. They also have their own store Life Without Plastic where we can find healthy alternatives to items typically made from plastic.


Well researched and scientific, Life Without Plastic is a reference guide for different types of plastic in our everyday lives as well as alternatives. Find out the best plastics to avoid and why in this episode of The Zero Waste Countdown.


22. Nu Grocery

July 18, 2018

Do you ever walk into a supermarket and get that sinking feeling in your stomach, as you look around at all that wasteful plastic and unnecessary packaging? Imagine getting your groceries in a plastic free environment with no plastic bags and no plastic single use containers. A place with fresh fruit and vegge, friendly staff, plenty of vegan options, and a scale to tare your own jars. 

Canada's capital city is home to Valerie LeLoup's zero waste grocery store Nu Grocery. Started in 2017 Valerie has made her vision a reality - a place where we can buy food without destroying the planet with all that packaging. 

Tune in to find out what it takes to run a zero waste grocery store and learn more about co-founder Valerie as Laura stops into her shop for a visit in Ottawa. 


21. Zero Waste Periods

July 3, 2018

Have you ever heard of collective action? It's basically when a bunch of people make a change in their own lives that, collectively, ends up making a big difference.

The average female will use approximately 11,000 sanitary products in her lifetime. So what if one person switches to reusable period products, but then another woman switches, and another woman... suddenly millions of bags of garbage would be saved from being produced and sent to landfill. Single use sanitary pads and tampons may be small but they pack a nasty environmental punch. Not only are they made with chemicals from the oil and gas industry but they end up in our water systems once used. 

Meghan Adams is an environmental engineer from the American midwest who wrote a paper on sanitary products. She created a survey that received over 1,200 responses all about sanitary product knowledge and use. Her results may surprise you!


In the U.S. alone Meghan's research estimates over 20 billion sanitary period items go to landfill every year. Join Meghan and Laura as we discuss our research we found and also our own experiences with using different period products over the years. 

Further Reading

DeVito & Schecter Dioxins In Tampons

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention: Toxic Shock Syndrome

Girls Missing School Study


20. Jo Kaminska Foundation

June 20, 2018


Meet Joanna Ruda.


Her company Jo Kaminska Ethical Jewelry has been funding the Jo Kaminska Foundation for years, which focuses on educating others about the dangers of single use plastic overconsumption.


Originally from Poland she’s spent many years living in Sri Lanka and she’s spoken to the UN multiple times regarding plastic pollution. But lately she’s been frustrated as the world keeps pumping out single use plastic with disregard for the consequences – and those consequences are adding up. 




Tune in to episode 20 as Joanna tells us of her travels, the sights she’s seen in Sri Lanka, and how she’s put together an action plan to combat unnecessary plastic. 




19. Plastics & Politics with Catherine McKenna

June 14, 2018



Canada has entered the world stage when it comes to the environment and plastics recovery and reduction.

Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre and Minister of Environment & Climate Change Catherine McKenna knows what's up when it comes to reducing single use plastics - she's also a diver and a swimmer and has seen first hand that the oceans are filled with plastics.


In June 2018 she attended the G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, where The Charlevoix Blueprint for Healthy Oceans, Seas, and Resilient Coastal Communities was created. 

Find out what Canada is doing on the world stage, who's leading our Canadian government to a healthier world, and what the Charlevoix Blueprint means going forward not only for Canada but for our world's oceans and our entire planet.


The Charlavoix Blueprint

Catherine McKenna swims to celebrate the C3 Ship that sailed Canada from coast to coast to coast

CBC article about the shrimp industry