We are the Future: Changes to Live Sustainably 

I was invited to speak at an event hosted by the Israeli American Council. It was on a Thursday night in Santa Monica, and I can honestly say that my first instinct was to say no. I am loath to travel to the west side any day, let alone on the evening of a normal workday!

Speaking at the Israeli American Council
Jonathan Levy speaks at an event hosted by the Israeli American Council.

The IAC works to foster a sense of community between Israeli-Americans and Jewish-Americans. Israel is a tech-forward country that has always out of necessity had to use their natural resources sustainably and responsibly. It seemed like a great opportunity for me to connect with people who shared my values, or were at least open to hearing what I had to say. After giving it some serious thought, I said yes!

Air

There were four speakers in total, including myself. The event opened up with an interesting presentation on air quality by Leeor Alpern with the South Coast Air Quality Management District. He shared with us a new app that allows us to track air quality in our specific area in real-time, as well as report gross polluting cars! The app can be downloaded here.

Sustainable Products

It transitioned to a presentation on developing a sustainable project, by Brush with Bamboo. As many of you know, I have known the Kumar family for a few years now, and legitimately stand by their toothbrushes. I know first hand how difficult it is to live sustainably, and feel like they have done a great job of making a product is sustainably and ethically as possible. Here is a fun marketing video they created a few years ago.  

Soil

Next was a great presentation by Lauren Tucker, who is the co-founder and Executive Director of Kiss the Ground, a non-profit than believes in global regeneration by healing and nurturing our soil. We learned a lot about the relationship between indigenous people and European Colonialists, as well as about how our current farming and agricultural practices are damaging our soil.

From left to right, event host Daniel Housman, me, Manju Kumar from Brush With Bamboo, Leeor Alpern from SCAWMD, Lauren Tucker from Kiss the Ground, Rohit Kumar from Brush with Bamboo, and a member of the IAC.

Waste

And finally, I spoke on our collective relationship with waste and how it has a direct and indirect impact on our air, soil and water. My opening line was actually about how trash comes last, which elicited quite a few chuckles. It is so true though. Trash comes last. No one wants to deal with trash, and yet it impacts all aspects of our lives.

For the past 25 years or so we have been sold a false-promise that throwing materials into a blue recycle or green yard waste bin is good enough. The guests learned, however, that our recycling infrastructure is insufficient to handle the sheer volume of materials that we attempt to recycle. I could go on forever about this, but I recently wrote about my experience touring a materials recovery facility, and I recommend you take a look!

Much to my surprise, my presentation led to quite a few questions and comments. I thought for sure that people would have wanted me to finish so they could leave. It was, after all, two-and-a-half hours into the event. I was impressed by the quality of the questions and comments. The people in attendance were clearly concerned about the state of our recycling infrastructure and ready to take action to drive change.

About the author

Jonathan Levy is an environmental consultant focused in solid waste and zero waste lifestyle enthusiast. When he isn’t knee-deep in a dumpster, you can find him entrenched in a book, hiking the San Gabriel mountains, or tending to his composting worms.

Other posts by Jonathan Levy

Inside a Residual Materials Recovery Facility

Repairing My iPhone 7

[Support Needed] SB-54 California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction ACt