143: Dune Ives, part 2: How Did Plastic Pollution Become Normal? (transcript)

February 26, 2019 by Dani Mihaleva
in Podcast


Dune Ives Lonely Whale

Martin Luther King talked about a negative peace where a problem exists but people don’t face it or deal with it. In a positive peace where people solve the problem which requires facing it. He used nonviolent civil disobedience to force people to face problems that affected others but that as voters and citizens they could do something about. People didn’t like facing these problems but you can’t get change otherwise. Nonviolent civil disobedience it works with human laws but doesn’t apply so well with our environmental problems. So how do we face these problems? How do we get people who have already fully aware of how much they’re polluting, fully aware of how many greenhouse gases they’re emitting way beyond what risks undermining culture and society? Yet there are people using 90 percent less energy who are more happy and that they could achieve that as well. How do we get them to stop choosing to do what they’ve already been doing? Environmental leaders are struggling to find a strategy that works for us as nonviolent civil disobedience did in a former time, however uncomfortable it makes people in the moment. If you’ve heard and talked about straws recently, Dune and her work have reached you. We’re all working on what will motivate people, what gets people to act. And then hear how happy she is talking about gardening, for example, or reusing things. Acting relieves guilt. It doesn’t cause it. It relieves it. Responsibility, yes, it means you can’t do what you used to do. But ask any parent – responsibility for what you love improves your life. Dune talks about what she, Lonely Whale, Adrian Grenier are doing. I hope it [unintelligible] everyone listening because we could all use more fun and [unintelligible] have that fun being responsible.


Joshua: Welcome to the Leadership and the Environment podcast. This is Joshua Spodek. I am here with Dune Ives. Dune, how are you doing?

Dune: I’m well. I’m well. It’s nice to talk to you.

Joshua: And I really want to get into hearing about the composting and composting less, less waste. But I have to tell you that since talking to you last time I’ve talked to a lot of people about straws and before talking you I didn’t pay attention how many people talk about straws now and talking to you led me to realize… Or you said it’s about starting a conversation and I realize that you guys have really opened up a conversation.

Dune: It’s remarkable how many people want to talk about straws and I don’t know if you found this that you know of 10 people you talk to about straws, I would say eight people are really excited to talk with you about straws because of the change they’ve made where they feel really good about it. And they know that there’s something they can do. Then there’s somebody who… There’s a disbeliever. We don’t use any straws. And then there’s the 10 percent and the 10 percent is always my favorite. Now that the others aren’t, not that all my children are beautiful and smart and funny, but it’s the 10 percent, the one who says, “It’s not about the straw. The straw is not the problem.” And that’s always my favorite conversation because they’re right. And so I’m curious like of all the folks that you spoke to about straws or talk to you about straws does that follow something very similar, with a similar pattern for you?

Joshua: What I’ve noticed…Yeah, it’s funny because the reason I am answering slowly because numerically it’s a lot more people talking about straws and they are like, “Oh, this is interesting.” And we’re at a restaurant, there’s a bunch of people there and the guy I am with he works with Coca-Cola on sustainability. And so when they brought the water out and the water had straws, he said, “We don’t want the straws.” They said, “Well, if we take these back, we’re just going to throw them out. So it doesn’t matter. You might as well keep them.” And then I said… So he started putting them out everyone’s place but I said, “Well, about mine I’d prefer no straw. Take it back.” And she says, “We’re just going to throw it out.” I said, “What you do is your business but I don’t want one with a straw.” I wouldn’t have done this hadn’t I talked to you and also had I not been with a sustainability person there.

And I wanted to point out that if every time they take it out someone just says, “Oh, well, whatever.” I feel like that’s kind of what our world is doing. So I don’t want to do that and partly I want to send a message “People don’t want straws” and then she wouldn’t have to take them all back. Anyway. That was not a conversation about straws but it was…. I probably had I not spoken to you probably I would have been like one straw, one way or the other, it doesn’t really matter. But what I pick up on maybe less numerically is that is people who say what difference the straws make because that’s something that I hear a lot. As you said before, straws are something everyone can do. It’s very simple to do and I agree with that. And then I thought but it isn’t that big of a difference. But then I thought if the point is to start a conversation usually a conversation doesn’t end… You’re not saying like, “Here’s the final word.” And so I feel like you must also… What I really wanted to hear was do you hear back that and what’s the next step in the conversation. Because I imagine that’s coming up. Sorry for the long answer to your question that wasn’t even answering it exactly.

Dune: It’s perfect. It’s perfect. I mean this is exactly I think the interesting space that we’re in not just with plastic but with all sorts of environmental issues is what’s become normal for us. And are we willing to say… [unintelligible] just became normal overnight. I’m not okay with that. I’m not okay with that being the new normal. This can’t become the new normal. It can’t be that people assume that I live in excess every day. That I want to consume single use plastics because I don’t and don’t presume to know what my environmental goals are. There is a great, not great, but there is a piece that came out, it was in New York Times today about the red tide in Florida and the extent of the damage that the red tide caused this fall. And you know it’s an image of one woman who started to capture on her phone footage of bottlenose dolphins washing up on shore dead because of the red tide. And she kept taking pictures of it. And one of the photos which is so striking she wrote in the sand right next to this beautiful dolphin, “This is not normal.” And that has really stuck with me this morning kind of as a reminder of what we’re trying to do and we’re really trying to redefine what normal is. The normal shouldn’t be that a server automatically assumes that you want a single use plastic straw wrapped in a piece of paper. Or worse wrapped in a piece of plastic that can’t be recycled either. Normal should be that people understand that we shouldn’t be leaning in with the environment first and not leaning in where our consumer behaviors that have been created for us, some by us, some for us over the past couple of decades. And that’s the heart of the conversation. What do we want our new normal to become and what are we going to stand for so that our kids or their kids can have a planet like you and I have had that we’ve been able to enjoy and have given us so much over a few decades that we’ve been on this planet?

Joshua: I want to add to that. Did you read the New York Times magazine article on the insect apocalypse?

Dune: Oh, no I didn’t but it’s 60 percent. We’ve lost 60 percent. Correct?

Joshua: A lot more of insects. I mean they were measuring 80 percent and sometimes more at different places. I happen to be just reading it while we’re waiting to start this conversation. Can I read you a passage here?

Dune: Yes, please.

Joshua: It says that it’s exactly what you’re talking about. People look at today and think this is normal. And then next year it’ll be, say a generation from now, there’ll be that much less stuff and people will think that’s normal. What we think of normal this is from a book called The Once and Future World by the journalist J.B. MacKinnon setting records from recent centuries that hint at what has only recently been lost. So now I’m going to quote:

“In the North Atlantic, a school of cod stalls as tall ship in midocean,” meaning that there’s so many fish that this ship isn’t moving that it says, “Off Sydney, Australia a ship’s captain sails from noon until sunset through pods of sperm whales as far as the eye can see. Pacific pioneers complain to the authorities that splashing salmon threaten to swamp their canoes.” There were reports of lions in the south of France, walruses at the mouth of the Thames, flocks of birds that took three days to fly overhead, as many as 100 blue whales in the Southern Ocean for every one that’s there now.”

It’s what we think of nature has far less life than it used to. Here it says that, “Scientists learned that the world’s largest king penguin colony shrank by 88 percent in 35 years, that more than 97 percent of the bluefin tuna that once lived in the ocean are gone. The number of Sophie the Giraffe toys sold in France in a single year is nine times the number of all the giraffes that still live in Africa.”

I don’t know how easy it is for people to connect the packaging that they get when they buy their food or where they order from Amazon. If they can connect those things… The population growth is another big thing.

Dune: Can I read you something?

Joshua: Yes, please. Everyone’s like…

Dune: They’re going to love this. This is from as equally as important a publication. It’s Nancy Krulik’s book George Brown, The Class Clown. The addition is called Hey! Who Stole the Toilet? So I read it to my four-and-a-half-year-old last night as he was going to bed. And there’s passage in here. There’s a boy. There’s a boy named Louie:

“Aaah,” suddenly Louie jumped out of his chair and started screaming, “Bug! Get that thing away from me!” He picked up two cans of bug spray and started spraying wildly in the air. “Cut that out!”, Sage shouted. Everyone stopped and stared. Sage did a lot of goofy things. But she didn’t usually shout “Bugs are living things. You can’t just kill them.”

So that’s what my four-and-a-half-year-old is being exposed to. And what I love about the stories I’m seeing in very thoughtful children’s books, Hey! Who Stole the Toilet?, it’s this message that we have to care for every living creature on the planet. It doesn’t matter how big or how small they are. And so my turn stopped when we got to that passage and he said, “Yeah we shouldn’t be killing bugs. Bugs are good. Bugs are beneficial.” So we’ve lost that connection to why nature matters. I heard a phenomenal presentation years ago by a gentleman who was talking about the importance of insects to help ensure a healthy bear population. And we don’t think about that, do we? That we need every insect to stay alive on this planet so that bears stay alive. Why do we need bears to stay alive? We need Apex predators because Apex predators keep balance into our ecosystem just like whales and sharks. And so when I get a question of “Why are you focused on plastic? You’re not focused on climate change. Surely doing climate change is more important than plastic.” I respond to this and say that, “One, plastic is climate change.” Because we only get plastic from oil and gas extraction. And oil and gas extraction leads to more greenhouse gas emissions. So there is a very tight connection there. But secondly that sperm whale they just wash up on the shore, that bird that just died from plastic ingestion, or the turtle that gets stuck in plastic or the seal that gets caught in a net. Every one of those is dying unnecessarily. And if we’re going to experience and we’re already experiencing significant changes in our environment as a result of a warming climate, if we want our marine ecosystems to be able to rebound, we have to help make them resilient which means we need to have an abundance and diversity of species. I want to be bothered by salmon. I want to have to stop my boat in the water and not be able to move because there’s so many salmon blocking my way. I want that because then I know that’s a sign of a healthy planet. But we don’t have that today. And so our ideas of what is inconveniencing us and what convenience is to us, we have to start challenging those norms and we have to start defining a new future for ourselves and for our children.

Joshua: It’s so touching to hear that… It’s so rare that I find someone who also is like… “But I want to see my grandmother in some other place. And why would I…You know I just want to fly to view…” Redefining comfort and convenience because for me because the biggest change came from changing to avoiding food packaging and things became so delicious for me once I learned how to make vegetables from scratch that I look at change not as decreasing my comfort or convenience, nor as distraction or inconvenience. I view it as something that can be delicious. So when I gave myself the challenge of not flying for a year I had a feeling of there’s going to be something delicious here. So I’m curious for you. What’s on the flip side? If you do stop doing things that pollute, if you do things to protect and steward the environment, how do you think of it? Do you think, “Oh, I’m going to make my life less convenient?”

Dune: I don’t think I’m going to make my life less convenient. I had an experience Friday. I went up to speak to a company in Vancouver B.C. about plastic pollution. And this is a company that is really looking at transitioning its packaging, very interesting, very forward leaning, very thought provoking, talked a lot about plastic pollution. And I learned a lot from that exchange that I had with them. And then that night they invited me to go to dinner with them and they went to a dinner and there was a restaurant that is owned by and staffed by blind people. And this dinner gives you the experience of being blind. You walk in to the entryway and you can’t have any phones because you can’t have any light in there, light is really detrimental to the experience but it’s also detrimental to everybody who’s in there because it changes how you perceive where you are at your physical location in proximity to others. So you walk into the darkness and then you penetrate even further into the darkness. And all of a sudden convenience is gone. There is nothing convenient for a sighted person about being blind in that moment because we have no experience with it. We can’t move around by ourselves, you can’t go use the restroom by yourself. You have to be really careful where you place your water glass and to know that it’s there. I found that I was quiet a lot. I was just listening and it was loud. But I couldn’t see the person across from me so I couldn’t read their body language. And so I actually had to pay attention to exactly what they were saying in that particular moment and how I was feeling about it.

The person sitting next to me panicked. He was not enjoying the experience at all. And part of it was just being in a very dark space. And normally I get claustrophobic in the window seat so I was afraid I was going to get claustrophobic. But what happened to me is I relaxed for the first time in a long time. Because I had nothing to worry about. Somebody was going to bring me a lovely meal, I was going to figure out how to eat, nobody was going to see me because I would have food all over my face. But I didn’t have the sense of I need to look at my phone right now, I need to make that call right now, I need to be multitasking. All these things out for me make my life a little bit more convenient I didn’t have any of that, nor were there any plastic straws served [unintelligible] because that would have disastrous as well. So it is interesting when you give something up how freeing it can be. I think at first there is a sense of panic or hesitancy or second guessing it but if you just let yourself exist in something that requires you to be a little bit slower, pay a little bit more attention to the person you’re talking to, to really experience your environment, that meal you’re sharing with somebody, that conversation you’re having or just even sitting in silence next to someone, you learn a lot about yourself and I think you also have much more enjoyment.

Joshua: This echoes so much with my experience as well that so many people they do all these things that you said it makes your life more convenient but it doesn’t necessarily make one’s life better. And for me my takeaway from what you said you gave an example that I think people can viscerally imagine. I’ve never been in that situation. I’ve heard about restaurants like that. And it feels like you’re taking something away but you’re not and you find what’s valuable is your self-awareness, your relationships with others, your experience in the moment and we’re losing a lot of that. Because I noticed that we… I mean, sure, there are benefits like when I watched Frontier House a long time ago on PBS there were saying how it’s non-stop like washing dishes, washing clothes, washing, washing, washing. There was no moment of peace. And it seems like a clothes dryer or clothes washer would be a big benefit for that but on the flip side, I forget, there’s something like a third of Americans or some high number of Americans are taking antidepressants and there’s opioids and there’s obesity. And it doesn’t sound like the system is as flawless as it is. And as I’ve done the things that I’ve done I’ve found that I’ve gotten more in touch with my community with people around me, certainly with my family. So there’s my food and the farmers around me, things like that.

Dune: That’s right. And I think we’ve allowed ourselves to accept that we’re so busy. We’ve allowed ourselves to accept that we have to pile on everything that we can do. And I know I’m no saint. I am not somebody who can sit here and tell you that I dedicate enough time to myself and my family as I need to or to my community, or even to the people I live next to, my friends. I put a lot more of myself into work. I put out a lot more of myself into travel because I’m so driven for the impact that we know that we can have. And so when I do get downtime it’s really important to spend that time in sharing a meal with people at your own home rather than going out or getting something to-go. But at home made with food that came from a farm that you visited or out of your garden in your own backyard even if all it is a strawberry and rhubarb. Anybody can grow strawberries and rhubarb but it’s so incredible to enjoy that [unintelligible] from your own backyard. And so every little moment I can to take slow down and to connect and to remember my to-go cup, my reusable mug for my coffee or to remember my reusable water bottle then I am making a choice that convenience is not my number one priority for the day.

Joshua: Yeah. There’s a couple groups of people that I talk to about behavior change regarding the environment. There’s a couple of groups that it doesn’t make sense to me. I was at an Entrepreneurs’ Organization, EO, I don’t you know them, at an event recently and these entrepreneurs they’re all struggling. I mean they’re working really hard and they love what they do. And if you ask them, “Is what you’re doing easy? Could you just start this no problem?” And they’re like, “No, it takes a lot of work.” And then I’d talk about something like avoiding packaged food and they’re like, “Oh, no, that would be impossible.” I’m like how do you go from “You’re taking on the world’s to make this business” to “I just simply can’t do that.”?

And the other group is parents that I feel like the changes that I made to my life seem really small compared to someone their entire life depending on you for several years and then not just their life but like their future depends on you. Like I don’t have to change a diaper to not fly, I don’t have poop on my hands and I’ve never met a parent who regrets having a child or having change the diapers. I feel like this change that I’ve made is smaller and less rewarding as rewarding as it is it doesn’t feel as rewarding as parents seem to be… I don’t have any kids. But it seems to be much more… I mean it is less than the joy that I get from being with my nieces and nephews. And that seems less than what they what parents get from their own children.

And then adventurers too. The people who go travelling, they’ll climb some big high mountain or something like that. Like not flying is somehow impossible for them and yet scaling a cliff is easy for them. And I am like, “How is it not…?” That same transition is attainable to you and it’s going to be very rewarding when you do it.

Dune: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. You’re spot on. You’re spot on with that. I think part of it is for me anyway, I can’t speak for anyone else. But for me is allowing myself to be open to that question of Is what I’m doing the right thing? Is it enough? Is it too much? How can I improve upon it both as an individual but also at Lonely Whale? We are constantly asking ourselves that question. Are we living up to the ideals that we’re espousing? Nothing tells me more than to go to a conference that’s focused on sustainability to see single use plastic cups and things wrapped in plastic. Are we really being as soft as we think we are? Or are we overlooking things and just going with what we know and what’s right in front of us? Because somehow that’s easier. I think it’s very short sighted. It’s very near term thinking rather than long term thinking. You know I look at that too and think, “Well, why on Earth that Trump has opened up an MRI again? Very short-term thinking. It has nothing to do with long-term thinking and strategy for the planet, not strategy for a few. The more open minded we can be about what other people need from us and how we can get there with them, the more I think the better decisions we will make.

Joshua: And that strategy you described of living by one’s values, what are my values, what am I missing, thinking of others, thinking long-term, that’s effective strategy for life. There’s a reason “The unexamined life is not worth living.” as a phrase has existed for I don’t know a thing it’s ancient Greek so it must be several thousand years. There’s a reason in it because it makes your life better. I feel like thinking and acting that way in the environment is great training for thinking and acting that way in the rest of life because when you do it with other people maybe your job’s at risk if you take risks with your boss, changing that relationship and relationships maybe if you start changing in ways… When you do with environment it’s you and your values and you can try things out and you don’t risk your relationships with others and so forth. I think it’s great training for general life improvement but it’s really hard until you make that shift, then it becomes really easy. But for some people it’s really hard to get started. For me it would be really hard to go back.

Dune: Yeah and I also think that we need as a species, if you look at history, it always seems like we need to have an inflection point. And what I worry about with climate change or what I worry about with plastic pollution is that going back to the story of the woman who’s documenting the effect of the Red Tide in Florida on marine species. The more you see a dolphin washed up on shore, the more often you see that, the more it becomes normal and the more you start to accept it because easier to accept it than it is to do something about it. It goes right back to psychology and why we act the way we act, how we behave, what it takes for us to shift our own behavior. So we have these crazy hurricanes and tornadoes and flooding situation, which happen so often now that it almost feels like it’s just normal. And there are very few of us that are standing up as often as we need to say, “That’s not OK. This is not the normal that I want.” The normal is the normal that I had when I was 15 years old. How do we get back to that? 15 years old, growing up in Alaska being eaten alive by mosquitoes and [unintelligible], bugs everywhere, insects everywhere. That’s the life that we should find because that means we have a healthy planet.


Joshua: I hope that the people listening to this podcast with the word leadership in the title if they’re thinking, “I want to be a leader someday”, part of what you’re saying is it at this point now, the people who act now are going to become the leaders or they had the opportunity if they want it and to let it go is abdicating… Well, I would say abdicating but it’s also missing… I think that there is global demand on the scale of billions of people for people to take the lead and act first so that they can follow. Maybe that’s the inflection point we need. But if people want to be leaders, this is the opportunity. I mean I guess there are other big problems in the world but this is a major one that there isn’t really two sides to it. I mean everybody wants a clean environment. I know that there are other sides of some people put jobs on the other side in some cases but I guess the other side is like lethargy and I think that if people who act… You know one of the major predictors of if someone gets solar more than how much money they have or money they’ll save or the politics is if their neighbor has solar. Simply by behaving in certain ways you will lead other people. You don’t even have to try and that opportunity is there. It’s huge. It’s like someone wants to lead, this is so much of a bigger opportunity to lead than I don’t know getting promoted to become a managing director at some bank or stuff like that. One of the things I say a lot is when people say, “What’s the point? Why do you do this?” and I say you know some woman was the first woman to wear pants and now it’s normal. No one thinks twice about it but can you imagine the ridicule she must have faced? I’m going to look it up because there must have really [unintelligible] her. I’m sure it was difficult and now it’s just normal. And if I’m the woman wearing pants, so to speak, so be it. It’s not that big of a deal. It doesn’t hurt. It is that big of a deal I think and I hope it’s a big deal and the effect that it has.

Dune: And that’s, now to bring it back to the straw campaign, that’s the point of the straw campaign. Every person can lead on something really simple. A leader is somebody who doesn’t tell you what to do, a leader is somebody who shows you what they’re doing and inspires you, and challenges himself, and keeps asking questions. And so when you sit down at a table in a restaurant and somebody at your table says, “No straws, please.” but you haven’t thought of that yet, it’s going to cause you to ask the question, it’s going to cause you to want to get involved in the issue. Every single person can do that. Not everybody can do what the young amazing girl in Sweden is doing skipping school for weeks on end to protest her country’s lack of leadership although some of us look at Sweden and are “Wow, they are such strong leaders.” But she thinks like they’re not doing on climate change. She is one person sitting on the stairs of a government building every single day, week after week after week demanding change. Silently. Imagine if we all did that, if we all led with our environmental interests in mind, the kind of change that we can see happen is extraordinary.

Joshua: Man, thank you for sharing this. Yeah. I had a Swedish woman on a podcast and she was talking about her. I don’t know but the silent part because I have seen on YouTube this video. So I hope people go over and look up, I don’t know her name, but her mom’s is somewhat famous singer.

Dune: She is an opera singer.

Joshua: Yes, someone famous in the United States and around the world. Yeah.

Dune: But she’s stopped traveling, she stopped taking planes so limited her career she stopped taking planes because her daughter influenced her.

Joshua: And she also influenced the woman who was my guest, Evelina Utterdahl. I can’t say it, who’s a travel writer who now doesn’t fly and she’s really excited because she’s… This isn’t going to come from… She’s going to travel to… Oh, I can’t tell you. She told me in confidence. Anyway, she’s got something really big coming up.

Dune: Nice, nice.

Joshua: Yeah. Sorry. A little teaser. But Earth Wanderess is her screen name and yes, she’s traveling the world without flying and loving it. She’s not like hurting. It’s not like this is hard. She’s like, “I’m doing what I’ve always done. I’m just not going against my values.” And I feel like what you’re talking about is integrity. Everyone loves integrity. They say they do so.

OK. We keep talking and stuff and I keep thinking I want to ask you about your composting and reducing food waste and I keep thinking this is really interesting. But I want to switch over to how things have gone because I’m curious… Last we spoke you said you would buy food the right amount and then every now and then you’d get takeout and some food would get thrown away and that you were going to reduce that. Do I remember right?

Dune: That’s correct.

Joshua: And you’re doing it in Thanksgiving. So that’s an extra challenge.

Dune: That’s right. That’s right. So I weighed before and after, I weighed our food waste before and our food waste after. Before Thanksgiving we had eight pounds of food that we could have eaten that went to compost and this is not like the tops of carrots that you would normally need. But this is like “Do we make too much oatmeal? Or do we make too much risotto?” And then we just didn’t eat the leftovers. Or “Did we forget about the celery on the bottom of the vegetable bin? And now we’ve got to get rid of it.” which happens all the time. So eight pounds before. After we were at 10 pounds. So I didn’t do it. I failed. I failed for a few reasons. I mean I wouldn’t say I failed. That’s big words. I didn’t achieve my goal. But we did have 14 people over for dinner and we did cook a lot of foods and then we ate that food for days and days and days. And what happened is two things. We made a lot of foods before the holidays. So we made this incredible risotto. My husband made the most amazing mushroom-based risotto. Absolutely delicious. And we loved it so much that we made extra [unintelligible] but we did that in the two days, the day before Thanksgiving. So that was a problem. Because you’re not going to eat anything but Turkey after Thanksgiving. And then secondly the morning of Thanksgiving I made this gigantic pot of oatmeal in a slow cooker. And it was so good it was ginger, it had raisins, it was delicious, an apple. But my son didn’t eat it because it had ginger. I made the wrong thing and then our friends who are from Alaska and Hawaii they also didn’t eat it because I didn’t realize they don’t eat breakfast. So here my husband and I have this you know right sized appetite but I just made too much food. And then the third problem is that we made so much food that we had to have two coolers sitting outside of our house that we would use to put like the lettuce in and that we weren’t quite ready to use or the extra food that we put in our storage container and then we forgot about it because it wasn’t there when we [unintelligible] the fridge.

So I talked to my husband about it the other day and I was like, “I didn’t hit my goal.” and he said, “It’s because we didn’t right sized how much food we made.” And understandingly that’s difficult to do during Thanksgiving and when you have guests and you don’t know exactly who is coming and you want to make sure everybody is fed because Lord knows on Thanksgiving you don’t want to not have enough food. But we did go overboard and made too much food. And then we just couldn’t eat at all. But we made a phenomenal out of the rest of the turkey, out of peppers that we have in my garden that are still out there which is amazing because it’s Seattle and then out of the carrots that we still had leftover and I think the celery my husband just made an incredible turkey chili. And so we used up everything else and now we have this big pot of turkey chili and I’ve eaten four bowls of it in the last day and a half.

Joshua: So a couple of things went through my mind. One is that I want to be your neighbor because then I want to get a lot of ginger oatmeal and risotto. And you probably feel good about giving it to me so I could get it for free. But then I also think if that’s how a thoughtful person is doing it, I can’t imagine the fridge, actually I can imagine the fridges of other people. I just watched this movie…What was it called? Just Eat It. I don’t know if you’ve seen it. And they decided they’re going to go for six months I think without buying any food just getting wastes that’s around. They go to their brothers’ house and the guy’s emptying his fridge and they get tons and tons of tons of food. By the end of the movie they’re getting good at getting food that’s wasted from other places that they’re actually giving away tons of food. There’s this one scene where they find a dumpster full of hummus, they are all sealed containers before their due date behind some supermarket somewhere. So a dumpster, this thing is, I don’t know, 20 feet long. I mean it’s the size of the back of a truck of an 18 wheeler, roughly speaking, full of hummus that was just getting thrown away. And it’s crazy. It’s crazy. It’s like I mean it’s a systemic issue, I guess.

And also the other thing it made me think of it’s funny that we spoke last time I was at Patagonia, at its headquarters and you said something that Patagonia is one of the only places where I’ve seen this is that they… Most places see how good they’re doing or how difficult things are, something like that. But Patagonia said what you said, “We are doing what we could and we want to do more.” And this is what’s happening right now and this is what we’re trying to do. Well, you didn’t get to that point yet if at all but they just want to whitewash everything. I do this as well. But you said, “Yeah, this is the situation.” You’re not trying to prettify it or greenwash it or anything like that. I think that’s important because if you don’t do that, if you don’t address how things are, it’s difficult to change.

Dune: I mean if you put too much pressure on yourself to get it right from the very beginning, you’re just going to fail and you’re going to stop trying. So the way, I learned this both from. From Adrian our co-founder as well as the team at Dell Technologies that we work with at Next Wave. Now there’s a guy named Oliver Campbell who always talks about their work as a journey. And I think that’s right. And Adrian always talks about this journey that you have to go on not by yourself but with somebody else. And it isn’t about getting it right the very first time. It’s about trying and it’s about setting your sights on what you are where you want to go, being open to change that goal but just starting down the path. So now as a family right now we’re hyper aware of well how food much are we buying. We actually haven’t been to the grocery store since Thanksgiving… Well I guess for a couple of provisions really nothing since Thanksgiving and a lot of those because we’re hesitant to buy food because now I am on this mission to reduce our food waste. But we’re on this journey now and we can’t get off the journey. We’re on it for sure and eventually we will get to the point where we have four pounds or less every two weeks going into compost. Now can you imagine though if that 18 pounds that we had in one month went to the garbage, went into the landfill? And food waste is another… There is another important issue that we need to start talking about globally. It’s food waste. We need to talk about it more than we’re currently talking about it.

But I think that’s been… In this presentation I gave on Friday it kind of evolved from some advice that I got from a friend years and years ago. That if we’re going to influence the way in which other people think and act and how they view themselves in this world, the only way you can do that is if you lead with humility, honesty and humor. If you don’t have those three H’s, then you have to have all three, you can’t just have two. You have to have all three. Then you’re probably not going to change your own behavior, let alone somebody else’s. So am I being honest with you? Do I have humility in the way that I’m approaching this topic? I’m honest. I didn’t succeed in my goal of reducing our family’s food waste by half. I didn’t. I increased our food waste. Oh my God. Am I building a little bit of humor into it? Probably not as much as I need to but somewhere there’s humor in food waste. I’m not sure where it is but I’ll find it. Probably I am trying to make my four a half year old child eat the oatmeal with ginger. I’m sure all the moms are cringing out there right now like, “Why would you do such a thing to your poor child?” Do I have humility? Do I know that I got a lot to learn? I need to reach out and I need to ask someone for help to really make this work. And I need to slow down a little bit too. You know if I’m going to hit that goal, I need to slow down and find the time to do the meal planning that we need to do in order to see the reduction that we want to see. And there we go right back to that conversation about are we allowing convenience in the way in which we think our lives should be run to get in the way of the change that we know that we can make?

Joshua: I’m still learning because I think all I have is honesty. I think I have kind of short on the humor and humility.

Dune: I think you have a lot more humility than you think you do. And that’s the podcast. You’re reaching out, you’re finding out what everybody else is doing.

Joshua: Well, I got to work on them anyway. I want to go back to the food waste part in your family’s practice that you describe what happened. I’m curious the emotions and the relationships. Actually, I want to ask about the relationships first because it sounds like it started from here or something… If I read you right, it was something that you were aware of and you had been meaning to do and the last conversation we had jumpstarted it. And it feels like it’s something that you guys are bonding over. Am I reading that right?

Dune: I think my husband is excited that I’m finally on board, honestly. I think he’s been here for a long time.

Joshua: He’s been waiting for you to come on board?

Dune: Yeah. I think he’s always like, “I told you so.” He would never say those words but he’s been there for quite some time. And so now I’m on board. Right into now. Now we can have a really good conversation because food waste also directly relates to the amount of money you have in your pocketbook at the end of the month. And so if you’re planning correctly, you’re not going to overspend and food is expensive and good food is more expensive than not good food. So if we’re taking the time to do our bit [unintelligible] our body is providing fresh organic food. And sadly that is still more expensive in most parts of the country [unintelligible] they’re not fresh, packaged, non-organic food.

Joshua: Subsidized heavily by the government.

Dune: Yes. Exactly right.

Joshua: Although I’m getting really good at getting free food at the farmer’s market.

Dune: Oh, awesome.

Joshua: Yeah. Here’s a little tip is that when they bring all these vegetables in and then they take off the ugly leaves to make it look better and the ugly these they put in a box to bring back but they’re just as delicious. And so if you go to the same stands all the time you develop a relationship with them. And I get the compost so I come in and buy two dollars with a kale and then I get like 20 dollars’ worth of free clippings. I just gave you a secret. But like knowing how to cook and building community trumps all these other costs. And of course, everyone knows, I don’t know if everyone knows, buying in season is way cheaper because the farmers are always flooded with stuff and they’ve got to get rid of it. And so you get the benefit of when you buy like kale in season you get huge amounts for a couple of dollars. The price per pound is, I don’t know, like a quarter or a tenth of what it would be at the store. And off season, forget about it. I don’t know. Then you’re getting it shipped in. So he’s excited. How about for you? Are you relieved, happy, enthusiastic or what?

Dune: Very enthusiastic. Very enthusiastic because I feel like you know of all the big issues that I work on at the foundation and it’s you know sometimes it just can be overwhelming. Like the article today about the Red Tide even though it’s not plastic it’s… You know we get a lot of information on a daily basis. And we know that over the course of the next however many years we’re in existence we’ll continue to have impact, we’ll continue to grow our base, we’ll continue to influence corporations and influence policy. We know all that will happen. But sometimes on a day to day basis as an individual it can be difficult to really know whether or not I’m making a difference. And so if I can make a difference at my own home by reducing food waste that’s something I can control. I can see that I can measure it. I’m in charge of that. The family’s in charge but it’s something that we can do and we can do it together. And so it somehow makes everything else seem doable. Because if you can have control and have impact in one part of your life, then you can in another part of your life as well. So I’m excited for it. I’m scared to death to go to the grocery store because I am going to overbuy. I know I will. I’ll buy one too many grapefruit. I just know it. In the grocery store that we’d like to go to is pretty far away from us. So when we go we need to buy it all and then bring it back. It’s not like we’re going every single day. So some choices that I need to start making.

Joshua: I wonder if you’d be up for doing a third conversation because I feel like you’re just beginning this and I’d be curious to hear… I anticipate the listeners would be curious as to what comes next.

Dune: Let’s do it. I’m totally down for it. Yes. Let’s do it before Christmas though.

Joshua: Oh, you don’t want to have the challenge of cooking…

Dune: Well, my parents are cooking on Christmas, so that’s better. I’ll just make sure that she counts the leftovers.

Joshua: Well, I think it was three weeks from the last time until this time, right? So three weeks from [unintelligible].

Dune: Let’s do it.

Joshua: OK. Do you want to schedule for the 24th?

Dune: Let’s do it. Yeah, let’s do it on the 24th. That’d be perfect.

Joshua: OK. So well, let’s do it while we’re on the recording. It’s also Monday. I presume you’d want to do it earlier in the day in case there’s family stuff and Christmas Eve.

Dune: That’s right. I can do it anytime.

Joshua: So if you do it noon my time, that would be 9:00 AM your time. Is that too early?

Dune: No, that’s perfect.

Joshua: OK. So I’ll send that after we hang up. And well, since we are going to talk again we’ll pick up here next time, also getting the new stuff. My usual questions to end with are Is there anything I didn’t think to ask? And is there anything you want to say to the listeners?

Dune: I think I’ll reiterate something I said last time, just pick something and just try it and just do it. And once you’ve mastered it, then pick something else so that you can have success and you can build on it but do it with somebody so it’s lot more fun. So I need to have a conversation with my husband tonight about our meal planning for this week. So that’s what I’m going to do.

Joshua: It sounds like you’re going to make it fun.

Dune: I already tried to make it fun. Exactly. Have humor. Don’t take yourself so seriously, a sucker punch somebody would say, “No, no. Don’t do that.” Unless it’s [unintelligible] chemical that’s not real.

Joshua: Yeah. I think you’d really like this movie, Just Eat It. The people who did it they’re involved with Chris Jones… Is it? Who did Albatross. And so I feel like you guys might be a… Oh, wait a minute. I think they’re in Seattle too. Maybe they’re in Vancouver but they’re somewhere there. And yeah really, it’s about food waste. And you know I could easily go on but we’re going to pick up here next time and I’m really glad that you shared openly and honestly with humility and humor what happened with you and I hope that… I think that’s what leaders do is they don’t hide that stuff and that allows people to follow. So I hope that had the effect on listeners of giving their shot for them as well. So Dune Ives, thank you very much.

Dune: Yeah. Thank you so much. I’ll talk to you in three weeks.

Joshua: Great.


You can’t go wrong leading with humility, honesty and humor. And she has those and if you’ve listened enough episodes probably more than I do. My continual takeaway from everyone who acts on their values is that’s starting acting leads to acting more and enjoying it no matter how aware anyone is action increases that awareness and it increases the three H’s – humility, honesty and humor and it improves your relationships. Everybody loves acting on their values. There’s no better way to face the front-page news that we all see of the doom and gloom than knowing that you’re doing what you can influencing others because it does make a difference.

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