Today we will begin a new series of blogs where we will interview people involved with PSI and Product Stewardship. Our first interview is with from the King County Department of Natural Resources in Washington State and holds the all important role of Board President here at PSI.
PSI: What is the #1 product stewardship issue that needs to be addressed?
DG: I always come back to the “cradle-to-cradle” concept: all products should be able to be sorted into one of two categories, those that are compostable and those that are not. The latter group (what McDonough and Braungart called “technical” materials) should belong to the manufacturer who made them, and should be taken back and reused in infinite recycling loops. If we can get this concept to be widely accepted, the details will fall into place.
PSI: What brought you to the environmental movement?
DG: Birds. I’ve been a birder since I was nine years old. When I was 11 I read “Silent Spring,” and it turned me into an environmentalist even before that term was coined.
PSI: Who was your greatest influence?
DG: I was fortunate as a kid to have three wonderful mentors: a naturalist, a local land conservationist, and an ahead-of-her-time environmentalist. The first two, Linaea Thelin and Ben Nichols, were local icons not widely known beyond the town; the third some of this blog’s readers might know from her pioneering work in New England environmentalism: Nancy Anderson.
PSI: What could the environmental movement do better?
DG: Become so mainstream that it is no longer a movement. That means being meaningful to all different types of people and part of their core values: children’s health, things like that. The “environment” for too long was conveyed as something out there, a national park or a habitat to be preserved. Instead, we should be promoting the environment as all around us, where we live, and make it as fundamental as eating and breathing. We have progressed in this direction over the years, but we still have a ways to go to connect environmentalism with social justice, family-wage jobs, poverty-eradication and core American values.
PSI: What is the environmental movement doing right?
DG: Moving in the direction I just noted above.
PSI: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being not at all and a 10 being zero waste, how good a recycler are you?
DG: 6, maybe 7.
PSI: What is the 1 gadget from “the future” you’d like to see in real life?
DG: Completely compostable stuff that is now made up of plastics or mixed materials that can’t even be recycled. Compostable packaging, compostable toys, compostable building materials. I know that’s not just 1 gadget, but that’s a concept I’ve long envisioned. Compostable stuff would not contain hazardous chemicals beyond what are already present in nature.
PSI: What 1 thing do you do better than anyone else you know?
DG: Throw an axe. (I won the Northeast woodsmen’s championships one year, many years ago…)
PSI: What would be the title of your autobiography?
DG: In balance: a journey not a destination.
PSI: What would you be if you could be anything else?
DG: A bird — I’ve always thought it would be cool to fly and look at the world from over the treetops. Which species? Something like a kingfisher, a bird with attitude.
PSI: What is your proudest accomplishment?
DG: Raising two bright, caring kids who are so concerned about the environment and have such a world view that they give me hope for the future.
Dave Galvin is program manager for the Hazardous Waste Management Unit in King County (Seattle, Washington), part of the multi-agency “Local Hazardous Waste Management Program in King County.” This program addresses household and small business hazardous wastes in the Seattle metropolitan area. Dave began working in this subject area in 1979 and was the one who coined the term “household hazardous waste.” He was the founding president of the North American Hazardous Materials Management Association and is the current president of the Product Stewardship Institute’s board. He has also worked on stormwater and combined sewer overflow controls, trace organic chemicals in wastewater, pesticide-reduction, and Endangered Species Act listings of salmon, along with his decades of attention to hazardous wastes.