Sustainability Superheroes blog
Using Decision-making and Entrepreneurial Thinking
Welcome to Part 4 of Sustainability Superheroes in the world of manufacturing! If you haven’t already, make sure to check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 so you can stay updated on all the exclusive news!
Today, our special guest is Natali Archibee, Sustainability Manager with The Mosaic Company located in Tampa, FL. The Mosaic Company supplies the world’s largest supplier of phosphate and potash, while helping the world grow its food. They are feeding countries like the United States, Canada, India and Brazil.
The process of mining phosphates and potash materials requires high amounts of water and energy. So how does a massive global company mitigate their consumption and work sustainably? Find out in this exclusive interview with Natali Archibee!
Tell us about your company and what you do.
What are some of the sustainability issues or concerns you have in your industry?
What other initiatives are you undertaking now?
The Mosaic Company is actually aligned to 6 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals! “We contribute to zero hunger, food security, managing water use, and limiting the potential negative effects for the use of our products. We are also aligned to the clean energy goal,” Natali says. The manufacturer generates energy in their operations from the sulfuric acid manufacturing process. “We harness waste heat from that process and use it to make energy, which accounts for about 40% of the total energy we use in our operations.”
What are some of the problems you’d like to solve in the near future?
Being as sustainable as possible is a long journey and a complicated process for any operation, but The Mosaic Company works with STEM-trained professionals to aid them in the process. Natali says, “STEM-trained professionals are very instrumental to our sustainability journey. So it’s been STEM-trained accountants, analysts, operators and manufacturers. They have been very critical to our success so far in terms of technology and taking our program to the next level.”
When it comes to future challenges, these professionals are going to be very critical in solving issues. The Mosaic Company is investing in programs to recruit and build their capacity in these areas.
Test Your Knowledge!
After reading about Natali Archibee's work or watching the videos, take this quiz and find out if you've got what it takes to be a sustainability superhero! If the quiz does work on this page, you can also take it here.
How Does a Printing Company Reduce Waste and Stay Eco-Friendly? Featuring Suzanne Alvarez of C&D Print and Packaging
Welcome to Part 3 of Sustainability Superheroes in the world of manufacturing! If you haven’t already, make sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 so you can stay updated on all the exclusive news!
Today, our special guest is Suzanne Alvarez, Print and Packaging Specialist with C&D Print and Packaging Company, located in Pinellas Park, FL. For over 45 years, the company has been working with creative agencies and corporate businesses to bring their printing projects to life. They build lasting relationships with their customers, and consistently exceed their expectations.
Print and packaging plays a huge role in consumption and waste, so how does a well-established printing manufacturer with many clients take on the role of being environmentally friendly? Find out in this exclusive interview with Suzanne Alvarez who shares with us the inside scoop on her company’s issues, future plans, and other sustainable initiatives she’s working on!
Tell us about your company and what you do.
She says, “We now use all vegetable based inks and everything is all digital. We’ve been doing this for the last ten years, which is pretty impressive for this industry.” Sounds like a great accomplishment! We’re already off to a good start!
What are some of the sustainability issues or concerns in your industry?
Despite the sustainability efforts, Suzanne says there are still some harmful processes, like the UV process, which is quite toxic, but the company is doing what they can to avoid this. She says, “We’re using newer equipment for us and clients, but also for sustainability. At the same time it’s been costly on our part, so it’s kinda scary. You think, 'Oh let’s make this big investment,' and all you can do is hope it’s something that other people care about.”
However, C&D does have clients that call them specifically for the fact that they are an award-winning and sustainable company. Overall, it depends on the client and what they want. Sometimes, she’ll even try to negotiate with clients about what they want vs. what they need in order to produce and consume less.
What are some of the sustainability initiatives you’re taking now?
Suzanne’s company is continuing to find more ways to stay green, despite the many sustainable efforts they’re doing now. “We have started using an LED press. It uses a different kind of ink and drying process. Instead of ink drying on a sheet naturally over time, it is cured with LED lights on top of the paper,” Suzanne says. This removes the toxicity of the production, eliminates the drying powders they used in the past, and uses less paper. It’s also better for the workforce. Plus, the clients love it!
Another sustainability initiative Suzanne mentioned was about clients making errors, which then creates more waste. But, C&D has a huge recycling program that helps with these mishaps. Suzanne and her company are always prepared!
What are the problems you’d like to solve in the near future?
One problem Suzanne and her company are currently dealing with is their estimating system, which uses too much paper. She says, “We’re working on using less paper wherever possible. I think there’s great room for improvement everywhere like the cups and plastic in offices. And whenever clients want to print and make things, I always ask them what it’s for and what’s your distribution?”
In the future, Suzanne says she’s looking forward to hemp products coming into the market. The company recently started using hemp paper, which she hopes will go down in price in the future, so that more clients will consider using it for their print projects.
Test your knowledge!
After reading about Suzanne Alvarez’s work or watching the videos, take this quiz and find out if you've got what it takes to be a sustainability superhero! If the quiz does work on this page, you can also take it here.
In the #RethinkTank!
Florida Educators Investigate Invasive Plant Species With Advanced Technology During Sustainability Webinar
Tampa, Fla. – Florida educators from all over the state continue to attend sustainability workshops despite a current global pandemic. On 6/17, teachers came together to learn about invasive plant species while learning to use some of the latest technology for distance learning.
Sustainability Superheroes is a project created by the USF Stavros Center with the Coca Cola Foundation to provide training to K-12 educators on incorporating global, sustainable issues in their classrooms. The invasive species webinar was a huge success! Teachers of all subjects learned about Florida’s invasive plant species and how they are damaging the environment, while costing the state millions in recovery efforts.
During the webinar, teachers investigated the state’s most wanted plant species, while receiving Nearpod training and valuable resources to use with their students. This platform makes distance learning a breeze. Teachers learned how to use features like the collaborate board, which enables students to type in their own ideas and use pictures on a digital bulletin board. Nearpod also offers voting polls, multiple choice questions, drawing boards, virtual field trips, and much more. Teachers have complete control of managing students’ answers and creating a multitude of activities!
Part of sustainable education is not only encouraging students to help the planet, but also make smart decisions. The lesson plans and activities in this invasive plant species workshop incorporated decision-making and social-emotional learning to guide students in working well with others and solve environmental problems.
Get the full presentation on invasive plant species here. It has the Nearpod lesson for you to use with your students and plenty of other resources! Sign up for new webinars on the USF Stavros Website!
To stay updated with workshops, activities, events, and sustainability news, follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter all @usfstavros.
Florida Manufacturers Still Struggle to Comply with Environmental Responsibility. Featuring Patti Gander of Florida Makes
Sustainability Superheroes is giving you another special look into the world of sustainable manufacturing! This is part 2 of our sustainable manufacturing series. View part 1 here.
Today, we’re featuring Patti Gander, Business Advisor with FloridaMakes. Located in Orlando, Florida, this manufacturing, industry-led partnership center works with small to mid-size manufacturing companies and helps them advance to their greatest potential. Their mission is to “improve the productivity and technological performance of Florida’s manufacturing sector” (FloridaMakes).
As they are constantly strengthening and growing these companies, they consider several different factors, with one of them being sustainability. Find out how Patti Gander tackles the controversial situations that many manufacturers continue to struggle with!
What sustainability issues or concerns does Florida Makes have?
Left: Deborah Kozdras (USF Stavros Center) Middle: Patti Gander (FloridaMakes) Right: Marilyn Barger (Florida Advanced Technological Education Center of Excellence)
Patti has worked with many different manufacturing companies and has even been a leader in a manufacturing organization for most of her career. She has noticed some continuous sustainability issues in this industry. The predominant manufacturers in Florida are rather small with 50 employees or less, and these organizations tend to lack compliance and understanding for sustainable responsibility. Patti says, “It’s not that they don’t want to comply. It’s that they lack knowledge in what compliance is. They believe that environmental policy and recycling are a cost to the organization and don’t understand that there are things they can do that satisfy both sides of the balance sheet.” This is why proper sustainable education and awareness is so important.
Although social responsibility cannot be legislated, it’s essential to help recognize global issues. Awareness and improved social consciousness can help the whole world think greener!
Could you give us an example of a company that you worked with in Florida?
Patti was once the plant manager in an organization, and they were planning on switching from a five-day work week to a four-day work week in an attempt to save money and energy. She says, “The overall cost savings in utility went significantly down. From an environmental perspective, you’re also using less energy.”
In addition, the company even added timers to the air conditioning units, so the temperature would increase after a work shift, then gradually decrease before the start of a work shift. This strategy was beneficial to the company, the environment, and even the workers because they wouldn’t have to drive to work one day. Taking a day-off, saving money, and helping the environment? It’s a win, win, win!
What are some sustainable problems you want to solve in the future?
Some industries still need to catch up on being more sustainable. For example, the electronics industry continues to generate hazardous waste with the use of toxic chemicals. Patti believes that we still need more research in the inputs and the fabrication of products to be more environmentally friendly. She hopes to discover more ways to recycle materials and eliminate toxins. Substituting damaging operations into more sustainable methods can avoid a depletion in the limited resources that we have.
Test Your Knowledge!
After reading about Patti Gander's work or watching the videos, take this quiz and find out if you've got what it takes to be a sustainability superhero! If the quiz does work on this page, you can also take it here.
Things may be starting to open back up, but officials are still recommending everyone to social distance and quarantine as much as possible. This is a good time to learn about sustainable lifestyles from home. These are great for placing your energy into something good for yourself and the planet, while also relieving any stress or anxiety you might have during these times of uncertainty. Here are some eco-friendly activities to do in quarantine.
1. Learn something new
Use this time to be productive and keep your brain stimulated while learning about the planet. Read books, listen to podcasts, or watch documentaries all about the environment! Maybe look into trying more sustainable meals and learning how to cook vegetarian and vegan foods. You can also join our sustainability webinars and register here. We discuss global sustainable issues, solutions, and offer teaching tips and lesson plans!
2. Declutter and redecorate
Quarantine is giving everyone plenty of time to declutter, organize and maybe even redecorate living spaces! Start with one room or small area, and continue to clean little by little each day. Declutter your closet and donate clothes you don’t use, so they can be reused by someone else. Amp up your office with eco-friendly paper and other desk supplies. Add plants around your home to bring more greenery and bring more life into your space. And finally, think of more ways you can reduce your waste and reuse more!
3. Create a recycled DIY project
Extra time means more time to be creative! Check around your home if there is anything you would like to use for a new DIY project. You could turn an old t-shirt into a reusable bag for groceries or vacations. Turn glass or plastic containers into a new home for plants. There are endless sustainable DIY projects you can do!
4. Start a garden
You might have some extra space in your backyard that you should probably brighten up. Start a vegetable or flower garden and plant whatever you’d like! Be sure that you don’t plant any invasive plant species, which can be very damaging to the environment. If you don’t have too much space, you can also grow herbs in small pots or reusable containers like glass jars and tin cans
5. Do a green switch
Make your lifestyle more eco-friendly by switching to greener practices. An easy change would be to start using Ecosia, which is a search engine that plants trees. Spend the time to look for a more sustainable electricity and gas provider. With more time on your hands, you don’t have an excuse to put off these green changes!
Join us in the #SSRethinkTank for an entrepreneurial thinking activity that begins with an image. This activity has three steps: 1) See (ask descriptive questions), 2) Think (ask analytic and evaluative questions to define what is broken), and 3) Rethink (use design thinking to consider solutions to the problem). With these activities, we can help students to identify, critique, and provide solutions to some of the sustainability problems that exist in the world.
Here is the problem: Your neighbor heard that you are learning about Sustainability at school. She wants to plant this flower in her garden. What should she do?
1) What do you see? In this step, show the image and tell students to provide you with evidence they see. This step isn't about inferences or opinions. That comes in the next step. You can also guide students through some descriptive questions (what, who, where, and when).
3) Rethink! After the analysis phase, we work on an evaluation by asking: What is the problem caused by Mexican Petunias? After defining the problem, engage students in a rethink activity, where they use entrepreneurial thinking to create change. Tell students: "After you define what is broken, get in the Rethink Tank and design a solution."
Here are some questions you can use to help guide their rethinking:
What advice would you give to your neighbor? Create a poster or social media post about your findings.
Did you know that waste is one of the greatest enemies of our planet? Most of the items we throw away end up in landfills that release chemicals and greenhouse gases into the air. This is very damaging to our environment, as it can lead to global warming and pollution! Yikes!
Can you be a Sustainability Superhero and protect us from evil polluting garbage? Recycling (and reusing) weakens the evil garbage and helps stop the harmful pollutants. Do you have what it takes to recycle the right way and save the planet? Find out in The Recycling Hero Quiz!
Quiz adapted from https://earth911.com/
Tampa, Fla.– Amid the current global pandemic, K-12 educators from all across Florida are still participating in the Sustainability Superheroes workshops, created by the USF Stavros Center with the Coca-Cola Foundation.
The virtual workshop took place on June 3rd, 2020 and was hosted and produced by Deborah Kozdras, Angel Danger and Sherry Moser of the USF Stavros Center. Teachers of all subjects learned about invasive animal species in Florida while using some of the latest technology from home. They were also given a number of resources and materials for their students. Distance learning doesn’t have to be hard with the help of Sustainability Superheroes!
Part of sustainable education is not only to encourage students to help the planet, but also make smart decisions. The lesson plans and activities in this invasive species workshop incorporated decision-making and social-emotional learning to guide students in working well with others and solve environmental problems. Check out the resources from the workshop. Then, sign up for new webinars on our USF Stavros Website!
To stay updated with workshops, activities, events, and sustainability news, follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter all @usfstavros.
Discover the Secrets in the World of Sustainable Manufacturing! Featuring Peter Cirak of Seal Dynamics
Sustainability Superheroes is giving you a special look into the world of sustainable manufacturing! Today, we’re featuring Peter Cirak, Director of Quality Assurance with Seal Dynamics. Located in Tampa, FL, this global distributor reverse engineers aircraft parts to maintenance repair facilities worldwide and even airlines like Delta and Southwest! They have stocking locations in the United States, United Kingdom, Dubai, and Singapore.
A massive, global company comes with big responsibilities for the planet. How does a large manufacturer like this handle sustainability issues and plan a more environmentally-friendly future? Peter Cirak tells us about Seal Dynamics’ sustainability concerns, current initiatives, and plans for a greener tomorrow!
What sustainability issues or concerns does Seal Dynamics have?
He says, “We take all that cardboard and shred it in such a way to be used as dunnage.” Dunnage is a material used to secure products during the shipment process. “We take that leftover cardboard and use shredders that recycle that cardboard to use as dunnage.” This tactic is much more sustainable than using something like styrofoam, which is tough to recycle and is actually the worst type of plastic!
What are your sustainable initiatives?
“Finding new uses for things that become obsolete is something that we can even do at home! We take full advantage of this at our facility,” says Peter. Seal Dynamics is living up to the three R’s of the environment: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. How can you find new uses for items at home?
What sustainable plans does Seal Dynamics have for the future?
One of the largest costs of Seal Dynamics is energy consumption, and they plan to find new ways to cut down on using less electricity. The company is aiming to move and make some upgrades in the future. Peter says he will push to create a more sustainable energy source! He says, “The nice thing about sustainable energy initiatives is that the infrastructure can be placed in such a way where it can handle hurricanes, and this way, you’ve got your own energy source during power outages.” Sustainability is indeed a double-edged sword in a good way!
Peter concluded the interview with an important message for students. He says, “For students going through education right now, people like myself are looking for you to come into the workforce with a passion for sustainable efforts.” Sustainable education is truly the pathway for the future!
Now it is your turn! Conduct some research to learn more about sustainable forms of energy. You can start with some of the resources from our workshop on sustainable energy. What are some energy-saving ideas you could give to Peter? What are some future solutions that Seal Dynamics could implement?
Test your knowledge!
After reading about Peter Cirak's work or watching the videos, take this quiz and find out if you've got what it takes to be a sustainable superhero! If the quiz does work on this page, you can also take it here.
Tampa, Fla. – Over 60 K-12 educators from school districts across the state attended a Sustainability Superheroes webinar focused on incorporating responsible decision making and social emotional learning to help students use critical thinking and solve global sustainable issues.
The webinar was hosted by Deborah Kozdras and Angel Danger of the USF Stavros Center, who have both worked diligently to construct this online workshop and continue to plan much more for the future. The theme for this webinar was saving endangered species. Teachers learned how to use various educational books and videos to form lesson plans through some of the latest technology that makes distance learning a breeze for both teachers and students.
During the webinar, teachers participated in interactive activities and lesson plans using Nearpod. This innovative software is easy to use and offers many features like open-ended questions, voting polls, collaboration boards, and even digital drawing to effectively teach a multitude of topics. In the Nearpod lesson, Deborah and Angel used The Great Kapok Tree– a picture book by Lynne Cherry. It tells a story about rainforest conservation and provides insight into one of the world’s most abundant natural resources: the Amazon Rainforest. Teachers loved the book and the fun Nearpod activities that were created with it!
Another quirky, yet educational tool that Deborah and Angel shared with the teachers was ChatterPix. This app allows users to take a picture of anything and make it speak using their own voices! Students love the app, and it’s available on both Android and Apple stores. Teachers also learned how to use Canva to create their own infographics and other digital creations, which is perfect for providing students the exact information needed for a lesson. Students could also create their own! Canva is free to use and comes with themed templates, thousands of clip art images, a built-in stock image and video search, and much more. Teachers also learned about Wakelet. This platform allows students to share images, videos, and text to easily collaborate with their classmates.
Despite the current global pandemic, the USF Stavros Center continues to enrich teachers with resources, lesson ideas, and online educational tools to continue effective education through distance learning. The Sustainability Superheroes webinars have been replacing the usual workshops, which cannot be held during this time of quarantine and social distancing. The webinars have been a massive success in providing K-12 teachers with activities, ready-made lesson plans, and the latest technology to give their students the best education possible during these difficult times.