ABLC 2017 Summaries Now Published

The Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference (ABLC) 2017 in Washington, D.C. was amazing, as it often is every year, but this year in particular was special because of all the uncertainty in our future regarding the government’s support of biofuels and biomaterials, the constantly changing global economy, and just the sheer amount of new and innovative technologies being developed on what seems like a daily basis.

There were many new announcements at the ABLC and some shocking things too, so check out my summaries below.

Day 1 ABLC Highlights

Day 2 ABLC Highlights

And don’t forget to visit Biofuels Digest for other upcoming biofuel and biomaterial conferences and their new NUU online publication for the latest news on the bioeconomy, with many articles written by yours truly. Thanks for your support!!!


TerraTech’s “Hot Products and Trends in the Sustainable Markets” Radio Show

Missed me on this morning’s TerraTech radio show on Hot Products and Trends in the Sustainable markets? Hear my updates at 16:30 mark on latest biomaterials news and stories like 3D printed cars, ExxonMobil’s move into algae biofuels, biomaterial based organs for transplants, and U.S. Navy hagfish slime for defense!



“Fountains of Youth and Fortresses of Steel” – Hear What I Have to Say on TerraTech’s Radio Show

I guess I didn’t do too bad of a job back on February 1st as a guest speaker on Jim Lane’s TerraTech radio show, as I was asked to speak again – this time for the full hour so we could go in a bit more in-depth on some of these fascinating biomaterials and genetics news articles I’ve been writing about lately.

Hear me speak for a full hour – if you can handle that – on
today’s TerraTech radio show about “Fountains of Youth and Fortresses of Steel.”

All these new innovations are important to show that we can make practically anything with biomaterials. It isn’t just biofuels anymore or bioplastics or biochemicals. It’s about a complete overhaul and new way of thinking at our world and seeing that anything can be made with biomaterials.

The key as we move forward in this direction is ensuring that we aren’t coming up with inventions or new ways of doing things that are less sustainable in the long run or more polluting or toxic or damaging than what we are replacing it with. I mean, when physicists came up with nuclear energy, it was supposed to be a great thing, but there are definite downsides to it as well.  So whether we replace our new car with a 3D printed biomaterial one, we have to really look at where did they get those biomaterials from? Was it helping an impoverished country and their farmers perhaps? Or was child labor used which wouldn’t be helping our people and planet at all?

Those are all things to keep in mind and consider as we talk about the future and implications of biomaterials.


Shrimp Shells As Biodegradable Bags? Could Be Solution to Plastic Bag Pollution

The latest news from the University of Nottingham is that scientists have found a way to use shrimp shells to make biodegradable plastic bags. I recently reported for Biofuels Digest’s NUU publication how researchers in Portugal are using shrimp and crab shells for biomedical devices, which sounded like a neat biomaterial solution for the medical community. But what about shrimp shells to replace plastic bags? I’ve been thinking alot about whether this is really a better option and it’s a tough one. Here are my thoughts on this:


  • This development in using shrimp shells is specifically for use in Egypt where plastic pollution is a huge problem, especially plastic bags which are contaminating the water ways. This directly impacts the health of the people in Egypt.
  • It can replace the fossil fuel, oil based plastic bags now used so that if bags do get into the water ways as they have been doing, then at least now they will biodegrade and not cause any harm to the aquatic life or humans living near those water ways and drink, bathe, irrigate crops, and use that water.


  • It’s not providing a solution for the root of the problem which is 1) why are so many plastic bags being used in the first place and why can’t reusuable bags be an option? 2) how to prevent any trash, even biodegradable plastic bags from getting into the waterways?
  • There are some unknown questions that I can’t seem to gather the answers from based on the article. For example,
    • Where will they get the shrimp shells from? The article makes it sounds like the shrimp shells are coming from waste that otherwise would be thrown away. I am not sure how much shrimp is raised, caught or processed in Egypt but if they can take something that would otherwise be thrown away, then great. But I would hope they wouldn’t purposefully be growing shrimp for their shells to make the bags with.
    • What additives are they using to bind the shells and make the bags? I would hope they aren’t adding some chemicals or toxins to bind the material and create the bags.

So while I really love the idea of a biodegradable plastic bag that won’t pollute waterways and will biodegrade quickly, I would need more information on the actual way the bags are produced and how they get the shrimp shells, if they are really eliminating a waste by using the shrimp shells, etc.

I can’t wait to hear more about it and see what other new bio-innovations are created to help solve our huge worldwide plastics problem!


Today, I Folded My Underwear…and How that Means I’m Back from My Hiatus

After 10 years of not folding my underwear and just stuffing them in a drawer, today I folded them.

It may not seem like a big deal to you. Maybe you always folded your underwear. Maybe you never did. But I used to fold my underwear in a very precise fashion ever since I was a little kid and it wasn’t something I learned, as even my Mom used to find it amusing.

Was I OCD? Maybe a little. But for me, folding my underwear was like being in a meditative state. I found the repetitive pattern and movement relaxing. I enjoyed the peace and quiet of my mind as I folded them. I didn’t dwell on what happened yesterday. I didn’t worry about what would happen tomorrow. I just focused on what was right in front of me and enjoyed the moment.

So why did I stop folding my underwear 10 years ago and why is it such a big deal that I started up again?

10 years ago I had my first child and several major health issues in our family. That’s why I stopped. I just didn’t have time to fold my underwear anymore. You may think it’s an unimportant thing, but it signified a big change for me.

I had my first baby, trouble breastfeeding, dealing with my baby’s health issues (hip dysplasia), and went back to work full time within 3 months. Many Moms have a hard time transitioning back to work, but I especially was having a hard time as my precious 3 month old just had hip surgery to try and fix her hip dysplasia and was in a full body cast (spica cast) with only her little head and arms free to move. It’s a time in our lives that I hate to think about and I often try to forget about.

One day during all this craziness, I woke up with my arms and legs totally numb and ended up in the hospital hearing the ER doctor say “I’ve never in my entire career seen thyroid levels like yours. If you weren’t so young and healthy, you’d be in a coma by now based on your thyroid levels.”  Yeah, that was scary.

I found out I had Hashimoto’s disease – an autoimmune disease that destroys your thyroid. If you know about thyroid levels, my TSH was over 1,500 which is such a high number that U.S. laboratories can’t even measure it above 1,500. Normal TSH levels should be around 1 to 3.

The ultimate betrayal.  My body was attacking itself.

I was destroying me.

It took me years to come to grips with this, years to get the right dosage of thyroid medication and years for my daughter’s hip surgeries and body casts to get her hips to a “good enough” place so she can walk, run, dance and play like the other kids.

Then I had a second child, who luckily didn’t have hip dysplasia but was born with congenital vascular issues on her left hip, buttocks and leg making her left leg and foot smaller and shorter than her right. So, no surgeries as a baby for her, just expensive shoe lifts to try and even out her leg lengths, and possible surgeries if the length difference increases, which I don’t like to think about.

So the point is, with everything going on over the last 10 years with full time work, a growing family, and health issues, I haven’t had time to fold my underwear. I haven’t made quieting my mind a priority. I haven’t taken the time to enjoy the now.

But today is a new day.

Today, I quieted my mind.

Today, I enjoyed the moment.

Today, I folded my underwear.

And maybe it’s this time of year full of New Year’s Resolutions talk, or the renewal I feel in my heart, but during today’s quiet moment, I came up with some fun ideas and plans for this blog. Today I am committing publicly to posting more Living Green tips on here and sharing our journey to protect our health and our environment.

So join me on this journey, subscribe to my newsletter to get weekly green tips and news, and fold your underwear so you can enjoy a moment of peace and stillness in your mind today.


A Fierce Green Fire

If you have nothing on your agenda for this Earth Day, check this out:

American Masters presents A Fierce Green Fire, the first big-picture exploration of the environmental movement, premiering nationally Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 9-10 p.m. on PBS (check local listings at http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/schedule/) in honor of Earth Day.

The one-hour documentary chronicles one of the largest movements of the 20th century, and one of the keys to the 21st.

Written, directed and produced by Academy Award-nominee Mark Kitchell (Berkeley in the Sixties), American Masters: A Fierce Green Fire spans 50 years of grassroots and global activism from the 1960s-2009 and connects the major causes of environmentalism, from conservation to climate change. Narrated by Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Ashley Judd, Van Jones and Isabel Allende, the film premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and has won acclaim worldwide.

Inspired by the book of the same name by environmental journalist and film interviewee Philip Shabecoff, and informed by advisors like conservation biologist E.O. Wilson, A Fierce Green Fire unfolds in five acts, each with a central story and character, featuring vivid archival footage and new interviews that shed light on the battle for a living planet. The first four acts include success stories of people fighting for causes against enormous odds, and the fifth concludes with climate change.



20 Recycle, Reuse and Repurpose Activities for Kids

20140418_152357Especially with Earth Day coming up this week, I wanted to share this neat list of 20 activities for kids that involve Recycling, Reusing and Repurposing! Enjoy!

I am spending my lunch break on Tuesday (April 22) Earth Day at my daughter’s school representing a local environmental organization I’m on the Board of called Keep Prince William Beautiful.  I’m so honored to have been asked by her teacher to come in and share some “Three R’s” information in a fun way with them! She knows of my environmental background so it’s neat to be able to integrate my work and my passion into young children’s education!

What will you be doing for Earth Day?