Ramsey sustainability activities (Update 4)–May 2022

I continue to make efforts on the sustainability front, in multiple ways, some very small, but some more significant. One of the largest environmental/sustainability impacts I have made recently is a flight (and upcoming return) from Paris to Brisbane to attend an Australian chapter IGS conference event and make other client calls. I recognize my past history of lots of air travel as being a negative impact to a sustainable planet. It is my hope that the “good” value that I bring with my efforts on geosynthetics helps to balance this, but I feel that I need to make a more direct adjustment. I have looked through several on-line “flight impact” calculators and the results indicate my contribution to the flights emissions is roughly 14,585 Kg of CO2 with an appropriate financial amount of 377 AUD. To that end, I have made a charitable contribution to an Australian organization for that amount. I state this not as boasting, but acknowledgement that I and we all, need to do a better job of understanding and accepting the broader costs and impacts of our actions – the singularly capitalist economic model does not seem to be doing this sufficiently well. The concept of EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) Wikipedia link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extended_producer_responsibility should guide individuals as well as manufacturers. I am trying to “walk the walk” as well as “talk the talk”.

Ramsey assumes IGS Sustainability Chair, publishes cover article – Geosynthetics Magazine

The first week of April 2022 was a busy time on the sustainability topic with two important events. An article, authored by Boyd Ramsey was the cover article of the April issue of Geosynthetics Magazine – an IFAI/GMA publication. The article is linked here: https://geosyntheticsmagazine.com/2022/04/01/geosynthetics-and-sustainability/ The article summarizes the geosynthetics industries positions, with interviews with several industry notables and a call to our industry to continue to improve. Geosynthetics are well positioned as sustainable materials, they provide benefits that are not only economic, but sustainable in all key regards: energy savings, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, durability and total [life-span] analysis. They also deliver sustainable outcomes for communities through water preservation, prevention of coastal erosion, avoidance of pollution and more resilient infrastructure. As manufacturers, our industry needs to further improve – environmetnal and sustainability statements and goals, operational and environmental impact improvements all are independent of the benefits of the materials themselves.

Further to this effort, I have accepted a position as co-chairman of the IGS Sustainability committee along with my esteemed colleague, Preston Kendall. I look forward to working with Preston and the other committee members who are working hard to support and defend our industry on this front. Geosynthetics have an extremely positive environmental and sustainable impact, we need to further communicate and support the contributions of our products.

Additional information can be found on the IGS webpage – https://www.geosyntheticssociety.org/sustainability/

Ramsey sustainability update #3

In keeping with the theme that small changes can make a difference, here are some of the efforts I plan for 2022.   First, and probably the most impactful is tracking and reducing the number of automobile miles that I travel as well as other modes of transportation.  I assume the train and public transport are “good” events.  Since covid, I have not taken any air flights, although I realize that I have a huge history of air travel that I need to balance.  But car travel is likely my largest contributor to “unsustainability”.  I have made some other changes: Switching from my beloved diet coke in cans and bottles to a SodaStream system that really tastes the same and has much lower transportation and recycling impact and complications.  I have begun to request recycling at the hotels where I stay and lacking that service at the hotel, I am carrying my own recycling to the collection points – not as difficult as it sounds, France has “déchetteries” all over the place.  And a continuation of home composting of organic matter. 

Ramsey Sustainability Update #2 – Golf and Cars

One of my hobbies is golf – a wonderful game. (Not quite tennis, but better suited for my age.) However, a golf course can be very environmentally unfriendly: chemicals particularly but also energy consumption,, etc. The FFG (France Federations de Golf) has a broad program on making golf courses as environmentally benign as possible, reducing use of chemicals and operating in a much more sustainable fashion. The program is linked here: https://www.ffgolf.org/Transition-ecologique. So I have joined a club that participates in this program – one benefit, and is also geographically much closer – a reduction in car/Uber miles. Perhaps the second benefit will be greater than the first, but we will have to see. In any case, I encourage my golfing friends and colleagues to consider this theme.

Ramsey Sustainability Changes Update #1

While working on my personal sustainability metrics, I have read several items that have prompted me to act immediately. One of the reading themes is that our personal consumer choices are an important driver for sustainability. Individually, all the choices are small, bur cumulatively they add up to make significant impacts.

So a couple of immediate changes. I have moved over to a product called “Sodastream” several months ago. Much like the transportation reduction with geosynthetics vs. natural materials, this system drastically reduced transportation volumes for carbonated beverages. You move gas cylinders and concentrated solutions, not cans and bottles of bulky and cumbersome (environmentally inefficient) soda. I am on my 5th gas cylinder and will no longer purchase Diet Coke and carbonated water in bottles.

Organic waste to landfills is another area where I can have immediate impact – I have begun, and will continue composting of organic waste and will begin to lobby for a community composting facility and iniative.

Again on the consumer side, I have made 5 or 6 brand changes to move to more sustainable packaging consumption – concentrated products and those with reusable packaging.

We all have to do our parts and this is a very little bit, but every little bit helps – at least I hope so.

Metrics for sustainability objectives – Program goals

There are several levels to the human race’s changes to achieve a sustainable environment and behavior. It starts, as many things do, with a goal. That goal is presented, within this site, on my page titled “Environmental & Sustainability Policy”. But while have as goal is necessary – as Peter Drucker stated ” “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”, so step two is metrics – How and what do I plan to do in support of my personal sustainability goals and how am I doing in meeting the goals? This section of my website will contain that.

As this is the first posting, the metrics will follow…things that are on the table for personal consideration right now, in no particular order: degree of recycling contributions, waste to landfill minimization, if/when travel resumes – how to balance flying, automobile ownership and usage, personal water conservation., composting, how to play more responsible golf, and more to come…

From a business perspective, serving as an industry resource for sustainability efforts, participation and support of the IGS Sustainability Committee, preparing my/our industry to address the “plastics problem” and more…

So my pledge is to complete more specific goals and metrics and list them here by the end of 2021. I hope you and your company do the same.