Green Grid Radio

Engaging and transformative reporting on the environment, energy, and sustainability

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S5E1: Coffee: Trouble Brewing?

Coffee is the second most traded global commodity after oil, employing millions of people to produce the 2 billion cups consumed around the world every day. But from production in developing countries, to global trade, to consumption in developed countries, the industry is plagued with some dirty secrets.

In this collaborative piece, Green Grid Radio and Making Contact team up to explore the lesser-known environmental and social justice costs of your morning coffee habit.

Jennifer Dunn reports from Colombia as she learns how Colombia’s small-scale coffee farmers are struggling to protect their crops and salvage their livelihoods. Mallory Smith hears from both sides of an ugly split in the fair trade movement, a movement which was first borne out of the desire to improve the lives of those who grow our coffee, but which some say has been co-opted by people with a different vision. And Laura Flynn decides to find out what happens to our little K-cups – those convenient single-cup brewing pods which seem like a miracle of modernity – once we throw them away.

Hosted by Mallory Smith and George Lavender. Contributing producers: Jennifer Dunn, Laura Flynn, Mallory Smith.


Coffee farmers Jairo Martinez, Mariana Cruz, Suzana Angarita

Jeff Goldman, former executive director of Fairtrade Resource Network

Jeff Chean, Principal and Chief Coffee Guy Groundwork Coffee

John Hazen, single-cup coffee machine owner

Rebecca Jewell, recycling program manager for Davis Street Transfer Station


Pensacola Twilight, Lee Rosevere

Cafetero, Christian Martinez

Grand Caravan, Blue Dot Sessions

Them Never Love No Bans, Hot Fire

La Boite a Sons – Contest Contributions, various artists


For more information:

Fair Trade Lite: Fair Trade USA moves away from worker co-ops

Hijacked Organic, Limited Local, Faulty Fair Trade

Roundup on Fair Trade USA/FLO Split

A Brewing Problem

Your Coffee Pods’ Dirty Secret

Kill the K-cup (video)


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Coming up in S5E1: Green Grid Radio Collaboration with Making Contact

Green Grid Radio will be back on air this Wednesday, March 25 for an episode about coffee, produced in collaboration with Making Contact, a social justice radio program.

This 3-segment episode follows the coffee bean from production to trade to consumption, sharing untold stories that might cast a dark shadow on your cup of dark roast.

Making Contact producer Jennifer Dunn ventures into the interior of Colombia to talk to coffee farmers about the struggles they face as vulnerable actors in an international play. I (Mallory) report on fair trade, discussing the controversial split in the movement that some say has jeopardized the very purpose of fair trade. And finally, Making Contact producer Laura Flynn explores a waste facility to find out what happens to Keurig’s plastic K-cups when we throw them away.

This episode will be played on radio stations at various times this week. Keep an eye out for the link to live stream this special collaboration, which we will post here soon! And as always, the show will be available on our iTunes podcast shortly thereafter.

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S4E8: Biome

I was born with a disease called cystic fibrosis (CF), the number one genetic killer of children in the United States. The most serious complication of the disease, which affects about 70,000 people worldwide, is the vicious cycle of chronic infection, inflammation and scarring in the lungs caused by defective chloride ion channels in the cell membrane.

Metaphorically speaking, the planet is diseased too. But while I can stand up and talk about my experience, the environment speaks to us in a language that is often incomprehensible to those who don’t study science. It speaks in a set of symptoms, signs that grow louder and clearer by the year.

In Biome, you’ll hear two stories that may not seem to have anything to do with each other. But be patient. I’ll walk you through a story of DNA and destruction, of colonization and conservation, of the body and the biome.

This piece was produced as part of The Senior Reflection in Biology.  Music used:

The Album Leaf – Blank Pages, A Day in the Life, Perro, Summer Fog, Shine

The American Dollar – Anything You Synthesize

This Will Destroy You – I Believe in Your Victory

Maneli Jamal – Us Against them

Antoine Dufour & Tommy Gauthier – Solitude

Josh Woodward – Together On Our Own


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Coming up in S3E8: One Nation, Under Meat: The American Dream Strikes Back

This Thursday, we’ll dive back in right where we left off last week in our discussion of meat production and food systems.  While the first hour of this two-part series diagnosed some of the symptoms of our failing meat industry, the next hour will explore food on a broader level: How did we get here? What are the barriers that prevent meaningful reform? Does the world food economy suffer from the same flaws that plague us here in the U.S.? What can each of us do to provoke change?

S3E8: We Meat Again: A Tragic Love Story of the American Appetite

Image attributed to Kevin Uhrmacher/NPR , “A Nation of Meat Eaters” (2012)

Make sure to tune in to KZSU 90.1FM on Thursday, 6-7PM PST, or stream the show live on As always, the show will also be available shortly after on this site and our iTunes podcast.

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Coming up in S2E8: Reason for Hope: Fitting Biodiversity Conservation into Solar Development Plans

The eighth episode of Green Grid Radio’s second season will be “Reason for Hope: Fitting Biodiversity Conservation into Solar Development Plans,” and will feature Garry George, Renewable Energy Project Director at Audubon California. Garry reviews renewable energy development projects and acts as a voice for wildlife in order to mitigate the harm bird populations suffer as a result of the creation of wind and solar farms in desert lands. Garry will speak with us about solar energy technologies impacting birds, Audubon’s perspective on the Departments of Energy and Interior‘s 2012 plan for solar development on public lands in the west, and how we can create a future in which we don’t have to choose between biodiversity protection and a healthy climate. With the urgent need to transition to renewable energy sources, making sure that we move forward in a way that doesn’t step on the wings of endangered birds in the process is critical. You don’t want to miss this episode!c

Make sure to tune in Thursday to 90.1FM (in the Bay Area) from 6-7 PM (PST) or online at Thanks for listening!


S2E6: Ecovillages: Sustainable, Cooperative Lifestyles that Really Work

Last Thursday, the Green Grid Radio team approached the topic of ecovillages and cooperative living. In “Ecovillages: Sustainable, Cooperative Lifestyles that Really Work,” Tony Sirna spoke with us about the inception and operation of Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, an intentional community in northeast Missouri. Sirna, an alum of Stanford who lived in Synergy (a cooperative house on campus), wanted to create social change after graduating and implement the cooperative living model in the real world. We spoke with Tony about why he decided to start Dancing Rabbit; how the community works socially, politically, economically, and environmentally; and how he hopes to use Dancing Rabbit as a model for the rest of the U.S. of how to live in harmony with your family, your neighbors, and the planet. Student guests Hannah Rich and Aliza Gazek, current residents in Columbae (another cooperative house on campus), joined us as well to talk about their experiences living cooperatively. Sirna, Rich and Gazek all expressed hope and excitement at the idea of using larger-scale intentional communities to educate the public and live sustainably beyond college.

S2E6: Ecovillages: Sustainable, Cooperative Lifestyles that Really Work S2E6: Ecovillages: Sustainable, Cooperative Lifestyles that Really Work

Alongside coops, other groups on campus initiate low-budget, high-impact projects to benefit the larger community. Tying in with that notion, this episode also featured the next “Energy on the Farm” segment with Sasha Brownsberger of the Green Living Council. We checked in with GLC on their activities this year. You can listen to this week’s fascinating episode below:

Listen here:

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S2E5: Powerhouse: How Video Games Can Produce Serious Energy Efficiency

On Valentine’s Day, the Green Grid Radio team unveiled the fifth episode of the season, “Powerhouse: How Video Games Can Produce Serious Energy Efficiency.” Professor Byron Reeves‘ PhD students, James Scarborough and James J. Cummings stopped by to share their perspectives on the Powerhouse video game as a part of Stanford ARPA-E Initiative project. Can we leverage the millions of gaming hours being played globally into initiatives like energy efficiency? Who are the gamers these days, anyway? Well it turns out that homeowners may be the exact audience most amenable to the sway of video games. This week’s guests brought a fascinating social and behavior psychology perspective to how people can have a large role in reducing the demand side in energy consumption, all through video games. Please enjoy this week’s episode below:

S2E5: Powerhouse: How Video Games Can Produce Serious Energy Efficiency

James Scarborough in the studio to discuss social gaming and the Powerhouse project.

Listen here: