The Zero Waste Countdown Podcast
102. Toxins In Our Plastic Products

102. Toxins In Our Plastic Products

August 2, 2020

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Lisa Zimmerman is a Ph.D researcher in the Department Aquatic Ecotoxicology at Goethe University Frankfurt and  part of the PlastX Research Group.


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She conducted a study called Benchmarking the in Vitro Toxicity and Chemical Composition of Plastic Consumer Products. Lisa and her team took 34 products from German supermarkets like food containers, a water bottle, and a shampoo bottle, and cut them into pieces, then used an organic solvent to determine the toxic chemicals in the plastic packaging.


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Lisa discussed the findings of her study, how it was conducted, and provided us some insight into what we can do to avoid harmful substances that may be in contact with our food. We discuss bioplastics, and how they might not be as healthy as we think, and I got to ask Lisa if it's true that plastic can act as a sponge by absorbing toxins. 


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The Study:


Plastx Group:

101. Apocalypse Never

101. Apocalypse Never

July 26, 2020

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Michael Shellenberger joins the ZWC to talk about his new bestselling book Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All. 


We discuss the problem of ocean plastic, highlighted in his book, but from an unusual angle - some animals have been saved from human hunting because plastic has replaced valuable animal parts. While we know plastic waste is a big problem, Michael has found some intriguing information about ocean plastic through his research.

DSC05048Bernadette from the Congo, one of the featured women in Michael's new book

The main focus of the book is how development and progress ultimately saves the environment. We can save wild spaces by using cleaner energy, advanced technology, and therefore put less pressure on wildlife and wild lands. We discuss the hierarchy of energy which starts at wood, (even whale oil at one point!), coal, liquid natural gas, and finally nuclear. As we go up the ladder in clean energy, will it be possible for developing nations to skip the dirtier stages and go right to the cleanest energy, which is nuclear?

whale+diablo-2 Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Station, California


Why are people so against nuclear, and what about all that nuclear waste? What about the bomb?

Tune in and listen to one of the biggest names in the environment discuss science, ideas, and personal experiences in his new book, Apocalypse Never.

Suparti and Sewing Machine Suparti, who worked at the Barbie factory in Philippines


Michael Shellenberger, Founder and President of Environmental Progress


The Breakthrough Institute 

100. SUPing with Plastic Tides

100. SUPing with Plastic Tides

July 20, 2020


Christian Shaw is one of the founders of, an organization that matches youth interested in sustainability with mentors from around the world. His goal is to combine adventure and science through SUP (stand up paddle board) expeditions, researching ocean plastics with a device they tow behind their boards.  

Team Audio Setup

We discuss how to get youth involved, as well as SUP (stand up paddle boarding), and how getting out on the water for an adventure helps people care about these natural places. 


There's still room to sign up students for the 2020/2021 season! 

Find out more:

Plastic Tides

The Microbead-Free Waters Act


Bad Fish SUP

99. The Trouble With Glass

99. The Trouble With Glass

July 13, 2020

Glass is very popular in the zero waste world. We know it's BPA free, and we know it's not going to end up as microplastic in our environment, or leaking out into our hot beverages. But glass is difficult to recycle, it's expensive to collect and reuse glass bottles, and glass is easily breakable. How can we increase recycling and reuse rates of glass? 

Ionut Georgescu is the CEO of a non-profit called End of Waste Foundation, a blockchain service platform that's funded by environmentally conscious citizens and businesses. The funds are used to develop new technologies and offset costs associated with glass recycling.   

Ionut has been a waste management expert for more than 15 years, he's worked closely with the European Commission as a Waste Director for the Romanian Ministry of Environment, and as the Chief of Staff of the President of the United Nations Environment Program.

98. PFAS Forever Chemicals

98. PFAS Forever Chemicals

July 6, 2020

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Cora Young is an atmospheric and analytical environmental chemist from York University in Toronto. Chemical and News Engineering Magazine has named her to the Talented 12 list, which recognizes up-and-coming chemistry researchers and innovators who are tackling some of the world’s most pressing issues.


Cora went to the Arctic on a scientific research trip to take samples and found forever chemicals PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) in the Arctic.

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CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) as an aerosol propellant were banned when we discovered they were breaking apart our planet’s ozone layer, but they were replaced with other forever chemicals that can cause problems as well. These chemicals keep getting replaced again and again as we discover the damages they are causing.

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Cora and Laura discuss ways to reduce using these forever chemicals in everyday items around our home.

97. Pika Diapers

97. Pika Diapers

June 29, 2020


CEO of Pika Diapers Alon Cohen joins the ZWC to talk about his company's new diaper washing machine, making it easier for parents to use cloth instead of disposable diapers. 

96. Bottled Water

96. Bottled Water

June 22, 2020

Flowater refill stations that hope to rid the world'd dependence on plastic bottles and single use plastics.

Rich Razgaitis is the co-founder and CEO of FloWater, a company determined to stop the horrific flow of plastic from bottled water into our environment. 


Find out why Rich says bottled water is the new cigarette, and how his machines are filtering out tap water problems to bring the cleanest drinking water in the world to where we work, rest, and play. 

Flow Water Station


95. Sustainable Seafood

95. Sustainable Seafood

June 15, 2020


You may not eat seafood, but for nearly a billion people worldwide, seafood is their primary source of protein. 

Teresa Ish is the Program Officer for the Environment Program at the Walton Family Foundation and an advocate for sustainable fisheries. 

94. The Mississippi

94. The Mississippi

June 8, 2020

The Mississippi River is the 4th longest in the world, and the 3rd largest watershed, stretching from as far away as Montana and draining into the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana. Part of the watershed is even in Canada, in the southern provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta! The watershed is a water source for millions of people and many different species in the U.S.


Moira McDonald is the Interim Environmental Program Director for the Walton Family Foundation and an expert in wetlands. She joins the ZWC to talk about conservation efforts on the Mississippi and the current projects happening with the foundation. Moira is committed to a world that's both good for people, and the environment. 

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93. The Green News Industry With Betsy Rosenberg

93. The Green News Industry With Betsy Rosenberg

June 1, 2020


Environmental talk show host and producer Betsy Rosenberg started her career at KCBS San Francisco and became a network news anchor and started a Trash Talk segment back in 1997, offering waste reduction tips on the CBS network.

In 2004 she expanded into America's first syndicated sustainability show on commercial radio, Eco Talk Radio, and has interviewed some of the biggest names in the environmental movement such as Al Gore, Bernie Sanders, John Kerry, and David Suzuki.


Betsy currently lives in Austin, Texas with her husband.