SOS #43    J. Morris Hicks    (2-4-20)  
Three Keys to Taming the Recycling Monster
Product Design. Less Consumption. Circular Economy.

In the modern, supremely efficient Great Big Northern of the future, citizens will not even have to think about recycling - because details like that will have been carefully studied and thoughtfully addressed by the thousands of members of the GBN design team.

To put it simply, living green  in the GBN will be effortless because it's all built into the system - in a marvelous place where only green options exist.

Background. Last week, a newspaper story entitled Seven Reasons Why Recycling Isn't Working in NYC  caught my attention. I can tell you right now that it was no fun to read that article, but reading it prompted me to search for more "big picture" data on our nation's recycling. After a quick search, I found that data on an  EPA website  - and that new info inspired everything that I have written below.

There are many thousands of words on that EPA website but there are also lots of "big picture" graphs that help make all those numbers easy to understand. It all begins with the total annual tonnage of municipal waste.

The only good news in the graph below is that the tonnage going to landfills seems to have leveled off at just under 150 million tons per year. 

The bad news  is that we're still sending 150 million tons of municipal solid waste to landfills every year.
Regarding the above chart, the total amount of municipal solid waste is still increasing - reaching 267.8 million tons in 2017, which is 5.7 million tons more than what was generated in 2015. 

As for the landfill tonnages leveling off, here's the big picture from the EPA as of 2017 - with different colors representing different products.
What's missing here? There is one huge segment of our civilization's waste that is not covered under the "municipal solid waste" category. The key word here is municipal, which does not include the enormous amount of non-recycled waste (manure) produced by the world's animal food industries. Read on.

According to a September 2019 article in The Guardian, the world's livestock are on track to produce over  five billion tons of manure  per year by the year 2030, much of which ends up in our rivers, streams and oceans. They call it the Planet's Poo Problem .  

As a point of reference, five billion tons is more than twenty times the USA's 2017 total waste from "municipal" sources. 

What does five billion tons look like? How many half-ton pick-up trucks would be needed to carry it away? Would you believe ten billion? That's almost forty times more than the 275 million vehicles now registered in the USA.

Ten Billion Truckloads of Livestock Poop
Ready for some good news?  I found all of the above to be very depressing until I got to thinking about how we could handle both the recycling and the planet's poop problem in the envisioned green paradise of the Great Big Northern 

As for the poop problem, the GBN will not be contributing to the world's five-billion-ton annual total. That's because there will be zero manure from farm animals as all of the food there will be plant-based. 

Urgent adoption of plant-based eating is a no-brainer after any sane person examines the two huge problems with animal agriculture regarding health and sustainability:
  1. Most of our chronic diseases can be slowed, stopped or reversed simply by switching to a whole food, plant-based diet. 
  2. Animal-based foods are one of the leading drivers of climate change, ocean acidification and water pollution - and it's the only major driver of those problems that can be addressed quickly by anyone who so chooses. 
Our food is just one of the many elements of our ultra-wasteful and harmful American lifestyle that must be totally re-invented so that the net effect of everything we do has a positive effect on the natural world. Here are some of the other lifestyle categories that will be carefully reexamined and redesigned.   

Now that we won't have to worry about the poop problem in the GBN, let's move on to lifestyle and product design. Following the rules of a circular economy, our way of living will be designed following a strict set of survival principles that virtually eliminate the plethora of ways in which we are inflicting damage in 2020. 

Circular economy  is an alternative to a traditional linear 
economy  (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them while in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.

Lifestyle Engineering. That's the term that I use to describe the process of ensuring that every element of our way of living be carefully examined and re-engineered so that only green options exist in the GBN - making it effortless for us to  live in harmony with nature.

Positives outweigh the negatives. As we move down that path, some elements of our lives will be dramatically different from what they are today but, if we do things right, there should be enough positives to offset the pain of giving up some of our favorite things. 

To be sure, many people will not want to move to the GBN during the first five or ten years, but as environmental conditions worsen, more and more people will find the sparkling new super-corridor increasingly more attractive. 

All regional laws and rules will be developed by AGRA, the American Green Region Authority,  and will be focused on one guiding principle: making life as enjoyable and as comfortable as possible while ensuring that Mother Nature always comes first. Provided below are two  lifestyle guideline lists - with the first list being somewhat more challenging than the second one.

Four Lifestyle Guidelines that some may fear at first
  1. Unlike the never-ending growth and maximizing of consumption practices that exist today, the economic and governance systems in the GBN will provide incentives for minimizing consumption. That's right, we'll be rewarded for consuming less.
  2. For example, no one will own real estate, automobiles, bicycles, clothes or home furnishings. Think of living within somewhat of an uber model where all of those things are shared or, in the case of home furnishings and clothes, delivered to the living space when it is assigned to an individual or a family.
  3. People will earn privileges based on their education and their level of contribution to the overall survivability and enjoyment of the entire GBN Corridor. For example, superstars might be rewarded with better-furnished living quarters with fabulous views in a superior building and within walking distance of the HyperLoop.
  4. Everyone will apply for and be assigned some kind of role in the operation of the GBN and will earn a form of currency commensurate with the type and quantity of work that they do. There will be full employment as everyone who wants a job will have one.

Four Lifestyle Guidelines that everyone will like:
  1. Everyone living in the GBN will have the same high-quality level of healthcare as everyone else. The ubiquitous, highly nutritious, whole, plant-based foods will quickly result in the rapid decline of most chronic diseases for all people who move there.
  2. Everyone will be provided with free food, transportation and housing - to be assigned based on their level of contribution to the overall GBN lifestyle. 
  3. Although some of our current entertainment venues will not be available in the GBN, there will a plethora of superb, highly regarded entertainment options for every person who lives there: things like symphony, museums, amusement areas, parks, recreation areas...
  4. Only residents and their guests will be allowed to travel on the GBN HyperLoop system. Likewise, those fabulous new Flying Cruise Ships can only be enjoyed by GBN residents and a limited number of their guests per year.

When will the GBN be ready? Assuming that we can launch a high-level global "conversation" about the urgent need to completely redesign the way we all live on this planet - I could see the massive design project starting sometime in the window between 2022 and 2026. 

If we get started on the design phase in 2022, there may be a real possibility that the first 100-mile section of this 3000-mile, phenomenally-beautiful, futuristic and ultra-sustainable living corridor might be ready to receive its first residents as early as 2030.

But realistically speaking, our government will likely need to be jolted into action by something really horrific - like a sudden increase in temperatures in the midwestern USA that lowers the agricultural yield there by more than 50%.

Sadly, our somewhat dysfunctional U.S. Government will probably need a series of horrible events that make this OUTCRY from the billion animals who perished in the Australian fires look like child's play in comparison. 

I continue to emphasize the  urgent need for a "global conversation"  on how we can create a pleasant and meaningful life in complete harmony with nature. In reality, the best that we can hope for is that the ideas expressed herein will help to spark that crucial global conversation about maximizing the chances that our species will survive beyond this century.

What I do know for sure is that the days are numbered for our grossly unsustainable, harmful and wasteful way of living that we've created for ourselves in just a blink of the eye in geological time.

I am damn sure that we can do better. And we must! 

Last week, I included this brief description of how we can begin to change the narrative. It bears repeating. 

Changing the narrative.   Rather than continuing to talk about how bad climate change is and what we're going to have to give up to control it - we can begin to envision and promote a superior way of life that over 80% of the world's population would welcome with open arms.

As we begin taking steps toward that vision, we must keep this question at the forefront: H ow we can create a comfortable and meaningful life for ourselves that is "green enough" to convince Mother Nature that we deserve to continue living here? Exactly how green is green enough?

The Bottom Line. So what's it going to take to spark that global conversation? I have mentioned a Gang of Ten American Billionaires in several of my earlier SOS Memos. You can scroll through all of those memos on this page

You also may want to refer your friends and family to that same page, where they might notice something that helps to spark their interest, enthusiasm and action.  I choose to believe that we can turn the climate change monster into a spark for moving urgently toward a sustainable civilization.

Finally, I believe that if we can get this process started here in the USA, that the rest of the world will follow. That said, we should welcome environmentally-conscious leaders from other countries to join us in the design process.

J. Morris (Jim) Hicks

PS: You may be wondering how you can help promote the never-ending search for a way to save our species. You can get me in front of some audiences who you think might be ready to hear about the long-overdue, global "conversation" about our survival.
You can join my mailing list and/or find all of my previous postings by visiting the SOS Memos page on my website Here are a few of them:

As always, I am simply trying to spark the global conversation about what is needed. By sharing a vision of what I believe is possible, I hope to influence others to think bigger, better and bolder. 

To see the latest on our 2020 book, OUTCRY, now being written, scroll to the bottom of my home page at: 


As for speaking, I continue to search for mainstream audiences who may have an interest in learning more about a realistically hopeful vision for our future - and their role in making that vision come true.

As such, I will travel anywhere for an opportunity to speak to one or more groups in each city that I visit. I will create a custom presentation for each audience and I only ask for travel expense reimbursement and a modest honorarium.

In the months ahead, I will continue to focus on the urgent need for a totally reinvented greening of our civilization - beginning with a model in the USA that could be applied globally over the next fifty years. 

Upcoming talks : There are lots of open dates on my calendar as my next scheduled talk is  at Camp Plant-Stock in Black Mountain, NC, in August.

As for the specifics of my topic, I invite you to  contact me directly  about how I might tailor my presentation to best suit an audience you may have in mind: 

Universities,  churches,  think-tanks, legislative bodies, environmental  organizations, alumni associations, leadership clubs, PTA's  and/or civic groups who may appreciate a message of reality and hope for our future. 

Please let me hear from you directly regarding any ideas or questions you may have.

What else can you do to help? Three things:

1. Live as greenly as possible while doing all that you can to raise the awareness of "big picture" solutions that are crucially necessary for saving our civilization.

2. Share this BSB and my  "Mama Ain't Happy" BSB with prominent journalists, thought leaders and/or elected officials whom you respect. They need to learn a lot more about the many reasons why  Mama ain't happy.

3. Here are a few more GRATOLA-related blogs that you can share with your most powerful friends, leaders, journalists and movie producers.

Click here for links  to all blogs and SOS Memos since 2016

Until next time, just remember...

Humanity is on a collision course with Nature.
A damaged Nature will survive. We may not.
We must change course to avert an ecological disaster.

This SOS Memo series was created by:

J. Morris (Jim) Hicks 
CEO, 4Leaf Global, LLC

I welcome your feedback and/or questions at:

In the past two years, I have spoken at a  VegFest in
Fort Myers, at  in Honolulu and Kahului, Maui, the   College of the Holy Cross  in Worcester, MA, a  Plant Powered Manhattan  event in New York, at a lakeside health conference in  South Haven, Michigan, in Buffalo, NY, at the University of Scranton, at Dr.  Fuhrman's  Golden Gate Health Getaway  in California and at the Healthy World Sedona Health and Sustainability Conference in AZ.

To schedule a presentation at a venue near you, please contact me at

Promoting health, hope and harmony on planet Earth

Moonglow J. Morris Hicks

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