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Episode 30 Transcript: Everybody Who was in the 2023 Pool

Complete transcript for episode 30.

Episode 30 Transcript: Everybody Who was in the 2023 Pool

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

Welcome to Everybody in the Pool, the podcast for the climate economy. We dive deep into the climate crisis and come up with solutions. I'm Molly Wood.

It is almost the end of 2023 and hey, I launched a little old podcast about climate solutions in May that’s just about eight months old here and my GOODNESS if it has not been an absolute blast! Thank you so much to you early adopters who hopped right in the pool with me … I know some of you are kind of new here and hopefully you’re telling your friends to listen, too …

And some of you might be new to the show … so I thought I’d do a little retrospective about some of my favorite interviews … some mind-blowing facts … and to highlight some of the solutions that have me feeling yes, genuinely hopeful about the future …

Let’s start with some of the adoptable ideas that a lot of you got excited about and wanted to buy …

Here’s a seasonally appropriate one …

(E14): Megan Downey Voice-Over:

My name is Megan Downey, and I'm the founder and CEO of Shiki Wrap, a startup on a mission to change gift giving for good, and solve problems for eco-conscious gift givers.

I don't know about you, but as a mom, you know, for years I had this huge tub in the basement that I'd have to lug down and, you know, just so much headache and time and hassle and waste. So we're trying to remove all of that and solve real problems for consumers. And we also have some other plans to provide some highly customized, personalized digital gifts as well. Um, 'cause we know that our customers want that. But right now we're just sticking with shifting consumer behavior away from single use paper gift wrap into reusables.

Molly Wood:

I just have to tell you that I'm sitting here in my own shame right now as a person with four tubs and a drawer. Gift wrapping material,

and as much as I try to harvest it and save it every year, I mean a lot of it. And it's, it is, it is shameful. Okay. Well, so now is the perfect time to talk about the product.

What have you created and tell us about the specific genius, which is like, it just tells you how to do it.

Megan Downey:

Yeah. Yeah. Um, so I was initially, you know, I'd always had this problem, but then I was volunteering for my daughter's school fundraiser where they, uh, have the kids sell stuff to raise money for the school. And we were trying to find a replacement for the biggest seller, which was gift wrap. And so, that's how I initially learned about Roki.

And Roki is not the only fabric gift wrap around. There are many cultures that have used cloth and textiles in, in their gifting. Um, but when I saw it, I was like, of course this is a no-brainer. Never thinking I was gonna make a thing. Just trying to figure out where can I buy this stuff and source

it 'cause I love it

Molly Wood:

What is, wait back up a minute. What is


Megan Downey:

Roki. So it's the Japanese

roki, the Japanese tradition of wrapping gifts in cloth. Um, it's actually it, it has a rich and beautiful history. And, uh, when I actually decided that there wasn't anything on the market that actually met my needs, that was stretchy, that was easy to use, that had the designs that I wanted. Um, one of the first things I did was I reached out to a group of fiki experts in Japan, being a white female founder, um, of a product deeply inspired by Japanese tradition, and one of the whitest states in the country. By the way, Vermont Um, I, I wanted to reach out to experts and so they were so generous.

They actually took the initial products and studied them and wrote a report and invited me to come and learn from them. Um, there are so many beautiful ways that you can wrap gifts. You can make funny ears, you can, you can do all kinds of gorgeous things with fki, it's, it's like a whole thing. Um, I just wanted to, you know, could I, if I made this thing, would people like, other than my aunt buy it and then figure out how to use it?

Like, could you just tie two knots? That's really all you need. And now you, you can even just use a hair tie if even tying the two knots scares you. Um,

so it's incredibly easy to useWorks for gifts of all shapes and sizes. Um, I will say I do feel like I went to market with my second product first, um, because the gift bag is really the go-to for a lot of us consumers. Um, and so we just completed a second Kickstarter campaign to fund the reversible reusable gift bags as well.

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

This is going to double as a little bit of a Where Are They Now … because Meagan just let me know that while she’s still fundraising to keep growing Shiki Wrap … the company just wrapped up … heyooo … a visit to LA to show off the reusable wraps and do a little demo for … the Kardashians. So look for Shiki Wrap on some Instagram posts near you … I hope!

Waste of all sorts was a big topic in my interviews this year … shout out Mill … I’m on the waiting list for my compost appliance and I WILL post an Instagram Reel once I get it … and a lot of you also got excited about this next option …

(E11): Ryan Metzger Voice-Over:

I'm Ryan Metzger and I'm the co-founder and CEO of RID Well. And Rid Well is a service that makes it easy for you to waste less, and we do that by picking up, reusable and hard to recycle items from your front porch.

Ridwell is a subscription recycling and re-use service that gives you a box for your front porch so you can recycle hard-to-handle products like batteries, light bulbs, different kinds of plastic, clothing or fabric or scraps, and a rotating category every time, like yarn or school supplies or old glasses. I’ve been using it for months … and I wish it didn’t have to exist … but I’m thrilled that it does.

Ryan Metzger:

Yeah. That goes back to really the founding story, you know, that I told you earlier, and so Owen and I, he's my oldest son, we would do these pickups and what was really special about that experience was neighbors started giving us ideas. This. And so I remember one vividly, some woman said, oh, you know, Owen, do you have anything for, you know, eyeglasses?

Like, my husband changed his prescription. He has these three pairs that are, uh, not used to him, but they might be useful for someone. And so we then looked and, um, you know, figured out that there was a partner for that. And so then we would share it back with the community. Um, and so the community

Ended up really looking forward to, oh, what's next? What's gonna happen? And they didn't really know what it was cuz we didn't necessarily know what it was. It was something that was shared with us or something that was around our house that we were able to find a partner for. And so we've done that at a, at a much bigger scale today where when we go to a new market, we look for a.

Who are the nonprofits generally, who are doing really good things in the community, who have a need for in-kind donations for things? Um, or what are the hard to recycle things? We, we added bread tags or plastic bottle caps, those types of things. Um, so it's really that keep it fresh, keep it new, keep people inspired, that their actions make a difference.

Uh, and so we introduced that, uh, by means of our, our featured category. That is every two weeks there's a new one.

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

Let me just say that I’m currently just making a big pile of mix and match fingerless gloves because I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of all my yarn … but I’m still happily sending my plastic and other items off to Ridwell to get turned into decking … building material … and flower pots.

In the personal action category … two topics captured your imagination … first … you know that saying you are what you eat? Well … your carbon footprint is ALSO … what you eat. I had a fun and provocative conversation with my new friend, Jessica …

(E16): Molly Wood:

I am Jessica Resler and I, uh, have lived in New York for 25 years. I'm an immersive experiential designer, and so that's a very niche part of marketing that kind of combines live and digital experiences. And the reason that we're talking today is I am a, uh, militant, passionate, ethical vegan, and I'm incredibly excited to be on your pod.

Jessica … sent me an email.

Jessica Resler:

I'm a huge fan of yours and I absolutely have so much respect for you and what you're doing. So, um, so basically what happened was you had sent out a newsletter, which I subscribed to, and you were talking about the devastation in Maui. Um, and what actually, what, um, what urged me to email you is you had a picture that had a burger in it, and, um, and I

Molly Wood:

a big burger too. I

Jessica Resler:

It was a big burger. It was a big burger. It was a biggie. And I, um, try to take time, you know, maybe an hour a week just to send out emails and most of which are ignored. Um, but I just send out emails urging people to do something vegan. So I emailed the New York Times all the time and ask them to change their cooking section to, to plant-based only.

And so I, I emailed you. I just said, um, I think it was something about, you know, that you're just doing such wonderful work in your climate warriorship, and would you be interested in some tips and tricks on how to go vegan? Uh, and so that's where we started and you wrote the loveliest email back, and so I really appreciated that.

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

Some fun moments from that conversation …

And to your point too, I mean, there's just. Right now, today there are 61,000 registered plant-based products. When I started being vegan 25 years, 27 years ago, there was not that.

It was a lot of food that tasted like cardboard. It was really hard. The social pressure was tough, and that's not the case.

Molly Wood:

I remember cooking a tofurkey for my vegan then brother-in-law that just smelled like. Socks an asshole. Yeah. Like

There's no other way to

crass, but mm-hmm.

Jessica Resler:

No, it's completely true. And that's just not the case anymore. I mean, we are just in such a different place that there's really nothing you're, you're craving, you know, that you're not gonna find out there.

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

And some brutal facts …


Last year, one research paper determined that if we ended ALL meat and dairy production … and switched the global food system to plant-based over the next 15 years …

that would cancel out EVERY OTHER SECTOR’s greenhouse gas emissions … for the next 30 to 50 years.

This is a thought experiment … obviously … but the point is … yeah. The answer is yes. Reducing your meat consumption … going vegetarian … going completely plant-based? Yeah. It works.

Meat … accounts for about 60 percent of your personal greenhouse gas emissions … beef alone … 45 percent of that. A vegan diet creates 75 percent … LESS greenhouse gas emissions … water pollution … and land use than a heavily meat-based diet.

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

So … yeah. Now you know my mantra is LESS … not NONE … small changes really add up. I will tell you I have not eaten red meat since that conversation and I’ve been about 80 percent vegetarian … about 50 percent vegan … pescatarian the rest of the time unless my kid leaves leftovers in the fridge because wasting food is worse than eating the meat that’s already been cooked. And honestly … I feel really good.

Ok one last thing before our break …

In Episode 7 … I talked with one of my longtime favorite people … Kyle Wiens … the CEO of iFixit … about how important it is to repair … and not replace … your old electronics … and that struck a nerve with a lot of you … including me.

(E7) Kyle Wiens:

How many things do we need in the world? We


all of civilization, we manufacture about 1.5 billion smartphones a year. What's the right amount? The amount is more than zero, it's probably less than 1.5 billion. We probably don't need to be making And every single phone that we make is a couple hundred pounds of CO2 in the air.

It's, uh, several hundred pounds of raw material dug out of the ground to grind out rock and get the gold and the, the lithium and all the materials that we need that we're not good at recovering So, uh, we're, we literally dig a mountain outta the earth every day to make these smartphones Uh, I would like to dig a smaller mountain every

Molly Wood:

So I wonder at what point, know, I, I am of the opinion that every story is sort of fundamentally a climate story. In your case, it sounds like you came to this as it's just a practicality story. The longer I can keep this, the less money it costs. What point would you say you started to become aware of what a big climate story this really is and what a

Kyle Wiens:

Yeah, I mean, I came at it from an e-waste angle, from a looking at, you know, end of life, where do these things go? What are the harms caused, um, in mining and then manufacturing. And then, but then we, we did the math and we realized electronics are the most carbon intensive products that we make. Uh, and, and it's, it's just pure energy that goes into making these if you, you know, take the phone and say, well, where does the energy go? Most of it goes into the chips. It's the individual acs, like, well, where, where's the energy go in making chips? It is literally x-ray machines, ablating atoms off the top of these, these silicon wafers. Every time they build a new or they wanna upgrade the equipment in one of these silicon fabs, they have to bring in massive new pipes with just huge wires.

Like the actual size of the copper wire into these fabs is a large. Part of, of the limitations of like where and how they build these fabs. And of course where the fabs are, generally it's coal fired power. So when I say it's, you know, uh, it could be I think apple's number, something like 500 pounds of CO2 per iPhone.

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

Yeah. Ouch. Ok … time for a quick break. When we come back … moving from personal action to the inspiring entrepreneurs who are working on the really big stuff …

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

Welcome back to Everybody in the Pool. It’s the end of the year clip show … where I’m looking back at some of my favorite interviews over the past seven-ish months of doing this show … in the first half I talked about the things that you and I can do … for the second half let’s look back at some of the entrepreneurs making us feel better about the future … by inventing some seriously cool stuff … to tackle really big problems … like jet fuel …

(E8): Paul Eremenko Voice-Over:

my name is Paul Eremenko. I am one of the co-founders and the CEO of Universal Hydrogen and Universal Hydrogen is working to make the hydrogen value chain work end-to-end in the near future for a variety of mobility applications, starting with aviation.

All right, because the idea of, of hydrogen as a, as a, as an energy storage mechanism for mobility applications, and in particular, aviation goes pretty far back first. Uh, the first manned hydrogen airplane flew in the 1950s.

Um, uh, Soviets flew an airliner in the eighties on, on liquid hydrogen, and none of that was environmentally driven, right? That was all just the, the, the fundamental physics, uh, that make hydrogen such a great aviation fuel.

Molly Wood:

Right. This is where I feel like we should also finally clue people into. What now, because you are in fact using this for airplanes,

That's right. Yeah. Yeah. We're trying to, uh, trying to make, uh, hydrogen commercial aviation a, a near term reality. Um, so as early as 2025 or more likely 2026 in, in a more significant part of the world, um, we do expect to have, uh, hydrogen regional airplanes and commercial service.

Molly Wood:


Paul Eremenko:

Uh, and we flew, flew a prototype.

yes. Like you've flown,

exactly. Yeah. That is the most exciting news of last couple months of March 2nd. Uh, this year we flew, uh, by far the largest stair plane ever to fly on hydrogen fuel cells. Um, that was in Moses Lake, Washington, and it was a 40 50 passenger kind of regional, regional airplane called the dash eight.

It's very similar to our first product, which will be. A conversion of existing ATR 70 twos, which is the most popular regional airplane out there.

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

Then there was cement …

(E19): Cody Finke:

my name's Cody Finke. I'm the co-founder and c e O of Brimstone. And Brimstone is working on getting the c o two emissions out of the production of cement.

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

I just … love Cody.

That there's, um, before us, There were two ways to make ordinary Portland cement.

The first one is what we've talked about, which

is making it from limestone makes a lot of c o two. The second one is making it from a rock called gypsum, which is the other place where there's calcium, and if you make it from gypsum, it makes sulfuric acid, which is a bit worse than c o two. So, so it's not a, it's not a good solution.

Um, but it, you know, it, it was used industrially for about. 60 years, especially in Europe when sulfuric acid was scarce. Uh, and then we started de sizing, uh, fuels for, uh, fossil fuels and sulfuric acid no longer became, was scarce. So those were the two processes, right? You could either make c o two or you could make sulfuric acid, pick your poison

Uh, and now we have, we are the, you know, the only company to make a third process, right? We are the third process to make ordinary Portland cement. And instead of making these like . So crazy chemicals, our waste product Sequesters, c o two. So

it's a, we

Molly Wood:

at what point? in the kind of r and d cycle. Did you discover that? Like, was that just an added holy crap


Molly Wood:

it's actually funny,

you know.

we, uh, my, my co-founder Hugo and I, um, we knew that from, uh, pretty early on,

um, because there's all, there's all this literature. So, so cement itself actually also sequesters c o two, and there's all this, um, but it doesn't sequester as much as it emits, right? There's still a huge net c o two

emissions, but cement itself sequences c o two.

So, you know, we had known about this phenomenon of . You know, rock things sequestering, c o two. Um, and when we, and, and we realized that, you know, the two major, uh, elements will do this are calcium and magnesium, and we knew we made a, a decent amount of magnesium waste product. But, uh, at, at first we didn't talk about it because we were worried that like it would be a distraction.

Um, or that, you know, . You know, people would think it'd be like too good to be true. So we'd just say, yeah, we make this magnesium waste product. And then one of our investors, a guy named Cooper Resler, actually was like, doesn't that sequester c o two? And we're like, . Yes, it does

So we, we, we, yeah, we, this is like, um,

it was definitely

Molly Wood:

what I would've said is you should tell people that yeah,

Cody Finke:

Yeah, he did. And then we tell people that, so we're telling you and told other people

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

And now I’m telling you …

Ok and then there were even more amazing stories … like Diana Little … co-founder and CEO of Anuma Aerospace … this is one heck of an origin story … from episode 22 … here’s how she and her wife got the idea for their lighter-than-air airships … which they hope will replace cargo shipping and trucking at scale …

(E22): Diana Little:

So what we came up with was, um, vacuum lift using vacuum, partial vacuum in a, um, in a big spherical, um, empty Frame. And the cool thing about partial vacuum is that you pull vacuum, you go up, you let some air in, you go down and it's like a submarine in an ocean of air. 'cause you have, that's how they do it with submarines. They fill their, their ballast tanks with water to go down and they expel the water to go up.

Molly Wood:

Um, and, and had. That been done before? Had that been experimented with? Did you perfect it? You just, you invented it. You're being so modest here.

Diana Little:

we didn't invent the idea. The idea was actually proposed by a monk in the late 16 hundreds

Molly Wood:

I mean, I love this interview so much already. Like this , have like

cruises across the sky before airplanes. We have monk inventions. Just keep it coming.

Diana Little:

Yes. Yeah,

this guy's actually considered to be the father of aeronautics. Um, there's a picture of this invention in the Smithsonian Museum that's out at Dulles. We, we went and saw it a couple of years ago and we're like, I'm very excited. Um, this was one of the early inventions for the idea of how humans could leave the planet. Um, this was before they'd even discovered helium.


Or hydrogen. I think maybe they, maybe they did. I don't, and I'm not sure about that. But definitely helium had not been discovered. Um, so he proposed that you could make these vacuum cells and put 'em on a ship. The picture's beautiful. It's this old drawing it and, and lift it up in the air.

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

And finally … episode 24 … the absolutely delightful story of two genius chemists who boiled water in the backyard and made metal …

Alex Grant:

my name is Alex Grant. I am c e o at a company called Magreathea. Uh, we're a tech startup in Oakland, California, developing a new generation of electrolytic technology for making magnesium metal from seawater and air.

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

Turns out magnesium is exactly the super lightweight flexible metal you want to use in electric cars to maximize battery life … in rockets … to get them out of the gravity well with less fuel required … and as an alloy in aluminum and steel production … and right now … about 90% of the production of this critical metal happens in China and Russia … mostly using coal. So Alex and his cofounder just found a totally carbon neutral way to make more … right here at home.

So the key for low cost, reliable low carbon intensity, magnesium metal is technology and we are technologists. So especially kind of suited to unlocking.

Magnesium metal as it is really a technological problem and a price of energy problem. And of course renewables are just crashing the price of electricity. So electrolytic technologies are very favorable. Um, and what's really, yeah, what's really interesting about MAG is that it, it's not a resource problem.

So it doesn't matter if you control a magnesium deposit, you know, the, the vast majority of magnesium metal ever made has been made from seawater by Dow in Texas. So,

Molly Wood:


Alex Grant:

So it's a really interesting critical mineral problem that is completely a technology problem and not, uh, a resource problem. And um, and

Molly Wood:

that's exactly kind of the contribution we're making.

Exactly, yeah, that's exactly our focus.

is making it out of seawater or Salty water brine.

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

I just … love this show. Thank you to all the incredible entrepreneurs and investors and business people who appeared on the show this year … thanks to all of you for listening … obviously this list leaves off a lot of INCREDIBLE builders and inventors …

And I hope to talk to many many more of them in the new year.

IF YOU KNOW SOME … please email me your thoughts and suggestions! My email address is in at everybody in the pool dot com …

Find all the latest episodes and more at everybody in the pool dot com, the website.

If you want to become a subscriber and get an ad free version of the show, hit the link in the description in your podcast app of choice.

Thank you to those of you who already have and again … THANK YOU … for listening and supporting the show and being … in the pool. See you next year.

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