Landfill Sites are Finding Second Lives as Real Estate Properties


Innovative projects have sprung up over the years that house retail, apartments, golf courses, conference centers and hotels. Arlene Karidis | Mar 05, 2018

Developers have been converting closed landfills to other uses for decades, but for some time, they often ran up against site-related restrictions limiting what they could do with these sites. Today, engineering and design techniques have advanced to the point that a landfill could be converted to almost any real estate type—at least if the economics worked out.

In the past two years especially, there has been an uptick in projects, happening mostly in urban areas with strong real estate markets and scarce open space. One of the most high-profile conversions currently underway is New York City’s Freshkills Park, which will be three times the size of Central Park and sprawl one of the world’s largest, now defunct landfills.

But plenty of innovative projects have sprung up over the years that house retail, apartments, golf courses, conference centers and hotels, with one such complex using landfill gas to heat the hotel.

Shoreline Park in Mountain View, Calif., features an 18-hole golf course, clubhouse, restaurant and historical building for events as well as an amphitheater where spectators on the lawn literally sit on trash, though they would have no idea, says Pat Sullivan, senior vice president of SCS Engineers.

“To build these projects, you have to address issues like landfill settlement, which occurs more in some places than others,” says Sullivan. “So, parks and golf courses are among the most common redevelopments as they need open space and settlement affecting elevation is not an issue.”

It’s possible to design uses that must be flat, but there will be ongoing maintenance. Plus, designing and building for structural stability could run millions of dollars.

Another issue is keeping landfill gas out of structures, which requires installing methane protection systems and methane monitoring systems, putting membranes beneath foundations and sealing penetrations.

Engineers in the solid waste space are applying several structural design techniques that other industries have leveraged for years like building on piles, which has historically been done on marshlands and other unstable ground. They’re also designing floating foundations that allow for movement and making adjustments when differential settlements happen.

Over the years, SCS has designed landfill-related systems for 15 to 20 projects, mainly apartments, business complexes, entertainment complexes, hotels, parks and golf courses. In the past three years, the company has fielded calls from about 25 developers looking into options, resulting in five projects that have since moved into development stages.

The Freshkills project, which involves 2,200 acres of a closed landfill, began early planning stages 12 years ago. The first three sections are open, and the rest will roll out over the next 18 years.

Some features are athletic fields, kayak launches, horseback riding trails and art installations. There will eventually be a marina, waterfront dining and possibly a ferry service.

The landfill, which closed in 2001, has a long, controversial history.

“Staten Island neighborhoods that bordered the landfill [notorious for odor] loathed this dump. Freshkills was a defining attribute of this borough, and it left a scar on the community for 50 years, up until 2001,” says Eloise Hirsh, Freshkills park administrator.

The city began hosting tours and events and handed out materials with a basic explanation of what goes into building a landfill.

“We pointed out there has been a tremendous return of wildlife to this area, and it has the largest supply of grasslands in the region, which are important for avian habitat,” says Hirsh.  There have been landfill-related issues to address, such as final cover and stormwater systems.

“The planting soil layer is of special interest as the material must conform to the most restrictive New York State Department of Environmental Conservation residential standard, and we must be able to grow grass without external watering and with minimal erosion [to avoid leachate],” says Ted Nabavi, director of waste management engineering for the New York City Department of Sanitation.

Stormwater had to be routed to basins through stormwater control swales to manage runoff. This will entail ongoing maintenance of the swales, some of which are several thousand feet long with minimal slopes, says Nabavi.

Hirsh says the park department makes sure to explain to the public that these amenities stand on an engineered site.

“We want them to understand it’s been carefully designed and built. This is despite the fact that it does not look engineered,” says Nabavi “When they come, they see it’s what a natural park should be and are blown away by the beauty.”

Source: Waste360 & WIH Resource Group All rights reserved

Also check out this great book by Author Tracy Todaro Wallace: “Forget What You Think You Know“, now on Amazon at https://goo.gl/1BBxm6

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Why Alternative Fuel Vehicles Still Make Sense


There’s no denying that many early alternative fuel adopters made the transition years ago because gasoline and diesel were much more expensive in comparison. Although anyone at the pump knows traditional transportation fuel prices have remained relatively low for a while now, what might be in store for gasoline and diesel costs in the near future? And, more importantly, why are fleets across the U.S. still switching to alternative fuels, such as natural gas or propane autogas?

Regarding the first question, NGT News turned to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Jonathan Cogan, spokesperson for the government agency, said the EIA found that average U.S. retail prices for gasoline and diesel in 2017 rose to $2.42/gal and $2.65/gal, respectively. Furthermore, the EIA forecasts further increases in the coming year and 2019.

“EIA expects the retail price of regular gasoline to average $2.51/gal during the first quarter of 2018, $0.19/gal higher than at the same time last year, primarily reflecting higher crude oil prices,” explained Cogan. “EIA expects that the U.S. monthly retail price of regular gasoline will increase from an average of $2.54/gal in January to a 2018 peak of $2.63/gal in August before falling to $2.47/gal in December 2018. The U.S. regular gasoline retail price, which averaged $2.42/gal in 2017, is forecast to average $2.57/gal in 2018 and $2.58/gal in 2019.”

Similarly, Cogan said, “The diesel fuel retail price averaged $2.65/gal in 2017, which was $0.34/gal higher than the average in 2016. The diesel price is forecast to average $2.95/gal in 2018 and $3.01/gal in 2019, driven higher primarily by higher crude oil prices and growing global diesel demand.”

Granted, despite the expected increases, those prices still aren’t as high as those that helped spur the alternative fuel vehicle revolution years ago.

“The reality is that, in 2017, the difference between natural gas and diesel was not significant,” said Daniel Gage, president of natural gas vehicle (NGV) trade group NGVAmerica.

“I hate to speculate on EIA forecasts, because they are just that – forecasts that often don’t prove true,” claimed Gage, who later acknowledged that “when diesel prices rise higher and higher, owners of larger fleets often look to other, lower-priced alternative fuel options like natural gas.

However, switching to an alternative fuel offers fleets a variety of benefits aside from potentially lower fuel prices alone.

Basin Disposal's (of Washington State) new CNG-powered residential garbage truck

“First, it’s environmentally friendly,” said Gage. Indeed, state and local governments and small and major companies are increasingly setting sustainability goals. Transportation fuels like natural gas and propane autogas help these institutions achieve their targets because the alternative fuels burn much cleaner than conventional fuel and, thus, reduce harmful emissions. In addition, Gage says the use of U.S.-produced alternative fuels “contributes to energy security and reduces our nation’s reliance on petroleum-based fuels,” which are often imported.

NGVs and autogas vehicles also often perform better in colder temperatures and require less maintenance than diesel vehicles. In the case of maintenance savings with natural gas, Gage said, “Its lack of lead means no fouling of spark plugs; crankcase oil is not diluted or contaminated. Its cleaner burning extends intervals between oil changes and tune-ups. It does not react to metal, so it is less corrosive.”

Phil Squair, senior vice president of governmental and public affairs at the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA), added, “There is no question that economic factors are the primary reason consumers switch from one fuel to another.”

That’s why continued support through federal, state and local funding is essential.

For example, Squair said, “State policies play a major role in autogas vehicle adoption.” Gage agreed about the importance of such policies, saying, “States can impact the adoption of natural gas technology primarily through the adoption of incentives and the supported development of refueling infrastructure.”

Myriad states have a long history of providing incentives to help fleets offset the cost of purchasing alternative fuel vehicles and to help fund the build-out of infrastructure. For example, Pennsylvania recently awarded more than $1.1 million to support five projects through its Alternative Fuel Incentive Grants program. Such programs throughout the country have spurred alternative fuel vehicle adoption and a growing network of refueling stations.

Squair noted that NPGA is also “pressing state regulators to adopt propane technologies” when using states’ funding from the Volkswagen diesel-emissions scandal settlement. “Propane is a very economic solution compared with other options, so state energy and other goals can be advanced in this manner,” he said. NGVAmerica has also launched a similar initiative advocating NGV adoption.

On the federal level, NGVAmerica and NPGA recently teamed up to push for the renewal of lapsed alternative fuel tax credits.

“The extension of the alternative fuel tax credit is so important,” stated Squair. “We are working with hundreds of other organizations to pass an extenders bill this Congress.”

Fleet adoption

Many fleets, large and small, still find alternative fuel vehicles attractive.

According to Gage, “Refuse and transit players are dominant in the [NGV] market. But medium- and heavy-duty vehicles and high-fuel-use applications – like smaller shuttle buses, delivery trucks, and light-duty pickups – also are popular natural gas candidates. Since natural gas vehicles can be refueled quickly (just like gas/diesel) or through time fill (slowly overnight, for example), it works for long-haul trucking along refueling corridors and fleets that return to base nightly.”

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For example, Waste Management, a Houston-based provider of waste management services in North America, continues its major transition to natural gas as part of its sustainability efforts. The company currently operates a fleet of over 6,000 natural-gas-powered trucks, and it recently revealed plans for more compressed natural gas (CNG) refuse trucks slated for a new facility in South Carolina.

In a press release, Tracey Shrader, the area president for Waste Management, said, “We continue to be a leader in our industry by investing in CNG infrastructure and trucks fueled by CNG – a win for our customers, the environment, and Waste Management.”

When announcing a Miami-Dade Transit order for 300 CNG buses early last year, Alice N. Bravo, Miami-Dade County’s department of transportation and public works director, said, “By upgrading our fleet with CNG buses, we’re implementing a cost-effective approach to the reduction of our dependency on petroleum-based fuel and lowering our maintenance costs.”

In October, several United States Postal Service (USPS) contract-carriers inked CNG fuel- supply deals for new heavy-duty trucks. At the time, USPS’ Bridget Rice said, “Our carriers live in the very same communities we serve, and we continue to look for ways to reduce our impact on the environment. Since 2005, we have increased the use of alternative fuels by 141 percent, and we are encouraged that our contract-carriers are using alternative fuels as well.”

As for autogas, there has been “strong growth” of propane-powered bus adoption among school districts across the nation, according to Squair.

For example, Township High School District 211 in Illinois recently announced plans to add 15 autogas buses to its fleet. When explaining the decision, Diana Mikelski, District 211’s director of transportation, called propane “a good fit” and said it had “an overall lower cost, is more environmentally friendly and has increased winter reliability.”

Mikelski added, “Diesel buses have to be plugged in during the winter. Even then, the fuel can gel if it’s too cold. With propane buses, the fuel is not subject to gelling and the buses do not require electricity.”

In Ohio, Laketran recently announced an expansion of its propane-powered partransit bus fleet. General Manager Ben Capelle reported “positive feedback” from drivers and riders on its current autogas vehicles and said the agency is “reducing our fuel expenses by 35 percent and saving on maintenance expenses.”

In December, beverage company Nestle Waters North America announced it was significantly boosting its propane-powered fleet to 600 vehicles with the addition of 400 medium-duty delivery trucks.

We’ve been running propane autogas vehicles since 2014, beginning with five Class 5 vehicles,” explained Bill Ardis, national fleet manager for the company’s ReadyRefresh unit. “Based on the proven emissions reduction compared with our older diesel units, and lower fuel and total cost of ownership, we knew this was the right application for us within the alternative fuel space.”

According to Squair, “Other areas of [autogas] growth include law enforcement and first responder vehicles, as well as commercial lawn mowing.”

Looking ahead

Squair and Gage seem optimistic about autogas and natural gas vehicle adoption, respectively.

For Gage’s part, he said, “Steady growth for NGVs appears likely – for both traditional on-road applications like trucks, trash, and transit – but also for off-road applications for mining and construction vehicles, and high-horsepower applications like rail, and open water/inland waterway marine.

Of course, natural gas and autogas aren’t the only alternative fuel options, either. For example, fleets are also increasingly going electric. Whether it be through a municipal deployment of light-duty electric vehicles in Virginia, a large roll-out of hybrid vans for telecommunications giant Verizon, or an order of electric transit buses slated for Los Angeles, fleet operators consider electric technology another viable, cost-effective alternative to diesel and gasoline.

Despite the best predictions, future prices for conventional fuels are nearly guaranteed to stay volatile. Nevertheless, the future for alternative fuel adoption – and the many benefits associated with a cleaner transportation sector – remains promising.

Source: NGT News & WIH Resource Group All rights reserved

Also check out this great book by Author Tracy Todaro Wallace: “Forget What You Think You Know“, now on Amazon at https://goo.gl/1BBxm6

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23 Survival Skills that Our Great Grandparents Knew (That Most of Us Have Forgotten)


When you look at the technology boom of the last century, you could say that we’ve come a long way. We’ve eradicated diseases, made international travel and communication possible, and come up with all sorts of gadgets to make our lives “easier.”

​While all of this technology may seem like a good thing, it is having the disastrous effect of making us utterly and completely dependent on it.  Considering our dependency on technology, to some degree, its putting our very survival in jeopardy in terms of our ability to survive sustained periods of time without it.

​These 23 survival skills below are examples of common knowledge things that our ancestors used to know and practice in their everyday lives. Remember, there was a time when people were self-reliant and didn’t depend on a chain of systems – electronics, internet and other technology, to get them through their days, years and lives.

​And also remember that, YES, it is possible to regain this self-­reliance and take control of your own survival.

1. Gardening

In 1900, only 13% of the US population lived in urban areas. The rest lived mostly in rural areas and many worked as farmers. Today, half of all people live in cities and the figure is expected to grow.

In the cramped living conditions of cities, it is no wonder that people have stopped gardening. For them, food is something that you get at the supermarket and not pick from the ground.

​To urban dwellers, growing a garden might seem like a simple or even fun task, with the hardest part of it being all those weeds to deal with. But gardening (at least in a way which will actually produce you a substantial amount of food) is actually a task which requires vast amounts of knowledge.

​Here are just some of the things you need to know to grow food effectively:

  1. ​Soil conditions
  2. Crop rotation patterns
  3. Pruning
  4. Composting
  5. Sun exposure charting
  6. Seed germination
  7. Planter building
  8. Pest control
  9. Tool care and maintenance

In a SHFT situation where food is a commodity that you can’t get at the supermarket anymore, you will wish you knew these skills so you could produce your own food.

Better to start learning these skills now than when your life actually depends on it!

​2. Raising Animals

feeding cows

We’ve all heard the stories about the farmer having to get up at the rooster’s crow to milk the cows and feed the animals. Raising animals won’t just teach you responsibility (which is one trait our great grandparents definitely had more of than us). When you are responsible for animals, you learn everything that goes into caring for a living creature.

​You will get really good at working with wire for all those times you need to make repairs to the fence – a skill which will come in handy if you ever need to string barbed wire around the perimeter of your home for a SHFT defense system.

You will get really good at diagnosing and treating animal diseases – a useful skill for when no doctors or medicines are available.

​You will get good at building coops and pens — a skill that you can apply to building a survival shelter in Bug Out situations.

​3. Hunting

Hunters butchering kill

In 2013, an Austin-based startup created an “auto-aim” rifle which automatically locks onto the target and tracks it. Whether it is a goose flying in the sky or a deer bounding away, you are guaranteed to get a hit. This is yet another example of how technology is destroying our self-reliance.

​Hunting used to be a common pastime, and many schools even had hunting clubs and the students would bring their rifles to school and keep them in their lockers (good luck getting that started again in our schools!). Yes, there still are plenty of people who hunt, but the numbers have dwindled.

​Even the people who still do hunt today don’t do it in the way that our great grandparents did. Hunting usually means setting some bait, climbing into a watch tower, and waiting until a deer comes around to take your shot.

​By contrast, our great grandparents hunted by staking out animals – a skill which required them to be very familiar with animal habits and tracks. They could walk quietly and undetected through the woods and patiently wait for the right opportunity to get a shot at a large prize.

​Along with hunting with rifles, our great grandparents also knew how to set up snares to catch smaller game.

In a SHFT situation, it is these snares which will probably be most useful for survival.

Unlike rifles, snares don’t require any ammo, they don’t make a loud noise which will give away your location, and are more likely to get a catch since small animals are found in greater abundance.

​4. Preparing Meals from Scratch

woman making food

FEMA recommends that everyone keep a supply of non-perishable foods like dry beans and flour in their homes in case of a disaster. The irony of this is that many people have absolutely no clue on how to prepare these dry foods.

As for the 50lbs of flour that some people have stockpiled, I hope they like eating raw flour – because it takes some knowledge to turn flour into bread!

Processed foods make up approximately 70% of the American diet, and only a small percentage of Americans are cooking at home. When they aren’t eating fast food or take out, they are eating frozen dinners and meals which came from boxes.

Our great grandparents didn’t have 45 different types of frozen lasagna to choose from. Heck, they didn’t even have supermarkets, never mind freezer sections!

They make food from scratch out of necessity, and it was nutritious and wholesome without needing any fancy ingredients.​

​5. Preserving Food

Thanks to our complex food storage and distribution systems, we can have foods like bananas and cucumber year round – never mind that the bananas probably grew over 1,000 miles from where you live or that cucumbers are only in season in warm months.

​Our grandparents and great-grandparents didn’t have this. Instead, they would take advantage of the food seasons. They’d produce a surplus and preserve it for times of scarcity.

Thanks to the food revolution that is occurring, there are increasingly more young people who have gardens and are doing things like home canning.  However, we could really step this up a notch and start teaching people food preservation skills like:​

  1. Lacto-fermentation
  2. Pickling
  3. Smoking
  4. Dry salting
  5. Curing
  6. Drying
  7. Cellaring

6. Not Wasting Food

When you have to grow, forage, and hunt for your food, you don’t take it for granted. This isn’t something which can be said of today’s generation!

​Consider that the average American family throws away 1/4 of the food they buy, adding up to a total of approximately $1,365 to $2,275 annually. Our great grandparents would be horrified!

The reason that people are so willing to toss food into the trash is because they assume that they can always go to the supermarket and get more.

Our great grandparents and grandparents lived through the Great Depression and World Wars I and II. They knew that crises can strike at any time and leave you hungry and deprived.

So, when you have surplus, you put some aside for those rainy days – something we should all be doing right now by investing in a long-term food storage supply.

7. Natural First Aid

Did you know that you can stop bleeding with cayenne pepper, or that thyme is a natural remedy for coughs?

You might not, but your great grandparents certainly did.

Before the era of superhighways and cheap cars, people didn’t have easy access to doctors. They did things themselves. When SHFT and you’ve got a case of bad diarrhea from drinking dirty water, you will wish you could call up your grandparents and ask for advice.

8. How to Navigate (without a GPS)

If you have kids, then you probably know about the children’s show Dora the Explorer. When Dora goes on adventures, she calls on her friend Map to get instructions. Except that Dora doesn’t actually read Map. She just tells Map where she wants to go and Map tells her how to get there.

The first time I watched that show with my daughter, I thought it was ridiculous: You just can’t say the name of where you want to go and expect map to know everything! Then I realized that Map is exactly the same as the GPS systems which virtually everyone today relies on.

Once the grid goes down and everyone’s GPS is fried, you are going to have a lot of people wandering around lost in their own cities.​

To increase your chances of survival in an emergency situation, you can take these steps to learn more map reading skills and familiarize yourself with your area:

  1. ​Hang a map of your local area in your home so you can study its layout.
  2. Look at your map from a tactical standpoint and devise exit strategies and pinpoint safe zones.
  3. Determine where you will go in a disaster situation where you must evacuate; chart multiple routes from your home to this location.
  4. Go for a hike in the woods with a map and a compass.
  5. Sign up for your local orienteering group.
  6. Drive around your neighborhood without a map or GPS to familiarize yourself with it.

9. Home Maintenance

How many people today know how to do even the most basic of home maintenance or repairs, like putting up shelves or fixing a leaking pipe?

In a serious disaster situation, these skills are going to go a long way to your survival – such as when to put those basic carpentry skills to use when building a shelter. However, there doesn’t have to be a major SHTF disaster to get use out of these skills.

In a local disaster such as a hurricane (and these are happening with higher frequency), it is common to have broken windows, roofs, and doors. You must be able to fix these so your home remains safe and livable until you are able to clean up or evacuate.​

At the bare minimum, everyone should know the following three things. After you’ve got these down, you can gradually build up your skills by fixing home maintenance issues as they arise.​

  1. ​How to shut off the water main: Make sure you and all your family members know where the water main is located and how to shut it off. If a water supply pipe gets damaged during a disaster situation, you don’t want to confound the disaster by having water flooding into your house.
  2. How to shut off the gas main: This is especially important for earthquakes and other natural disasters as gas supply pipes are often damaged. The leaking gas can kill you!
  3. How to board up a window: Before a hurricane, you should always board up windows to prevent glass from breaking and flying everywhere. You’ll also need to board up windows before evacuating to protect your home from looters, and to fix any broken windows for protection against the elements.

10. How to Reuse Everything

In one memoir about growing up in the Great Depression, a woman tells about how her family salvaged socks which got holes in them. The holes usually appeared in the toes or heel. The hole would be sewn up, causing the sock to be slightly smaller – so the sock would get passed down to the next child in line.

When that child got a hole in the socks, they’d be sewn up once again and passed down. So it would continue until the socks were too small to be used. No, the socks still didn’t get thrown away. At that point, they’d be used for cleaning and scrubbing floors.

When you don’t have much, you learn how to make use of every single thing you can find. Luckily, this life skill is becoming popular again. You can see examples of people making all sorts of furniture, decor, and kids’ crafts out of old plastic bottles, salvaged wood, and so forth.

Take a look in your own trash can. What items are in there? Which of these items could be used in a survival situation?

11. Memorizing Phone Numbers

This might seem like a joke, but think about it for a minute. If a disaster occurred and your mobile phone was damaged, would you be able to call your loved ones?

​Long before cell phones allowed us to make a call with a single tap, people actually memorized the phone numbers of their family, friends, and doctors.

​If you don’t think that you will be able to memorize all your important numbers, then at least WRITE THEM DOWN ON PAPER. Do not only store your phone numbers on your computer or in the cloud.

Yes, the digital method of storing phone numbers might be fine for situations like if your cell phone is stolen. But what if the grid goes down and you can’t get online and your cell is dead?

Make a paper list of important contents with their phone numbers and addresses. Put this list in a waterproof sleeve and put it with all of your other important survival documents.

12. Cultivating Community

It wasn’t that long ago that neighbors knew each other and could rely on each other for things like the proverbial cup of sugar.

They did things like host dinner parties, block parties, and gossiped with each other. Today, most people don’t even know what their neighbors’ names are, nevertheless had any sort of bond with them. The most socializing we do is through Facebook.

Being friendly with your neighbors might not seem like a survival skill, but it might be the one which ultimately saves your life. Humans are social creatures and our main strength – and reason we’ve survived despite being weaker and slower than predators – is strength in numbers.​

When the SHTF (Sh** Hits The Fan), wouldn’t you rather be able to call on your neighbors to help you defend the perimeter and share your skills, or would you rather have them come banging on your door to steal your supplies?

13. Sewing

Our grandparents could have easily went to the store and purchased clothes. Or, if they lived far from a city, they could have hired a dressmaker to make their clothes. However, sewing (as well as other skills like crocheting, knitting, and darning) were more than just skills women were expected to know.

As Gutenberg history of sewing says,

“Sewing was for many a routine component of a household economy, usually (but not always) cheaper than buying items ready-made…Sewing represented the home, women’s conventional role of caring for her family, and was associated with concepts of thrift, discipline, domestic production, even sexual morality. “

​14. Hand Washing Clothes

In the 1950s, only 33% of households had a washing machineToday, nearly all homes have one.  As for the homes without them? They likely go to a laundromat.

How many people would be able to wash their clothes efficiently without a washing machine?  Imagine a situation where the grid has gone down and the washing machines don’t work plus there isn’t any running water!

A good solution? How about this simple DIY bucket washing machine.

15. Bartering

In history, farmers didn’t have much money but would have goods. They used these to barter with members of the community for things they needed. When the Great Depression struck, many people survived by bartering.

​Bartering is still very common in many parts of the world.

Speaking personally, I can say how uncomfortable I felt the first time I had to barter at a market in East Asia. It got easier (and the amounts I paid became much lower) – but it took time to develop this skill. Should the world economy crash and we needed to rely on bartering again, most of us would struggle.

​16. Marksmanship

Marksmanship is something that we still respect and honor through events like the Olympics and ISSF.  However, the percentage of people who know and utilize this skill is in a decline. Heck, even “trained” police officers are lacking marksmanship skills!

Luckily, there are some organizations – like Project Appleseed – which are hoping to revive this lost skill for future generations.

17. Making their Own Cleaning Products

You’ve probably heard that our great-grandparents used to make soap out of animal fat, but do you have any clue on how to actually do it?

If there were a major economic collapse or grid failure, most of us would be incredibly dirty and we’d all be facing a major hygiene problem!

18. Foraging for Food

When we picture our great-grandparents’ and grandparents’ lives on the farm, we picture them gardening and tending the animals – but we tend to omit the foraging part.

Yet, our grandparents used to take long walks into wild fields and forests to gather mushrooms, tubers, leafy greens, berries, and many other wild edibles.

Foraging is a long part of our history, and it was how our grandparents were able to supplement their food and get greater diversity.  Luckily, foraging is making a comeback with youth but the knowledge is mostly lost and relegating to a few “foolproof” species of edible plants.

If you want to learn foraging, how about starting with these edible plants found near your home.

19. Warming a Home

In our great-grandparents’ time, wood stoves were the most common way of warming a home during the cold months. They’d also employ various tricks, like using “bed warmers” filled with coals.

​In the 1900s, “instant heating” methods started to become more common.  However, these are anything but “instant” by our standards. You would have to load coal into a furnace, using guesswork to determine how much coal to use.

Today’s generation would probably freeze to death without their central heating – like the 24 people who died from freezing during a power outage.

20. Butchering

Because hunting and raising animals was an important part of life, you can bet that they also knew how to butcher it.  My grandparents would even make sure to use every single part of the animal, making “head cheese” from parts that people today say are too gross to eat.

The number of hunters in America is declining (and the rest of the modern world).  As we lose hunters, we also lose the skill of butchering animals.

21. Cloth Diapering

My wife and I used cloth diapers for our daughter when she was born. We were surprised at how much backlash we got for this.

​“Isn’t it disgusting!”

​“You put those dirty poop diapers in the washing machine where your normal clothes go!?!?”

​I tried to explain that it’s not that much different to disposable diapers: You just put the cloth diaper into a bin instead of the trash. And we have a washing machine – it isn’t even like we are washing the diapers by hand!

In this sense, I personally think that cloth diapering isn’t just a lost survival skill. It is a lost mentality.

22. Entertaining Themselves

Our grandparents didn’t have TV growing up, not to mention eBooks, the internet, YouTube, video games, the dozens of other forms of instant-entertainment that we have today.

​They probably did have radio, but your great-grandparents probably didn’t.  The first commercial radio station didn’t broadcast until 1920.  Radio became popular quickly but, by 1930, still less than half of American households had a radio.  Radio was like the internet back then.

Without instant-entertainment, our grandparents had to entertain themselves.

​They read the Bible.

They told stories.

They made toys (my favorite example being a balloon made from a pig bladder).

These might not seem like survival skills, but entertainment is important for stress relief so you can better cope with everyday survival.

​23. Making Do

The average American goes to the grocery store 1.6 times per week. That doesn’t include the number of trips to other stores like hardware stores.  Nor does the figure include all of the online shopping we do for random items.

With goods so readily accessible today, our generation has never learned to “make do” with what we have. Instead, we just buy whatever is missing.

This easy access of goods has killed our creativity and problem-solving skills.

It is a bit scary to imagine what would happen to this generation if we suddenly had to learn to make do with what was available!

​How do you feel about this? Are we losing our self-reliance?


Image credits:

Women of the Australian Women’s Land Arm” (CC BY-NC 2.0) by State Library Victoria Collections 1930” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by YlvaS

Source: Primal Survivor & WIH Resource Group All rights reserved

Also Read this great book by Author Tracy Todaro Wallace: “Forget What You Think You Know“, now on Amazon at https://goo.gl/1BBxm6

FWYTYK Cover

ABOUT WIH RESOURCE GROUP, INC. (WRG)

WIH Resource Group is global leader providing of diversified environmental (waste and recycling), financial, expert witness services, transportation / logistics consulting solutions to its Clients throughout North America and internationally.

WRG provides solutions to complex challenges to its clients in the areas of environmental, alternative fuel fleet conversion studies, customer satisfaction surveys, fleet management matters, equipment and assets valuations, mergers & acquisitions (M&A), landfill gas management, renewable energy, waste & recycling collections, business process improvement, procurement services assistance, waste management operations, recycling processing, transfer stations, operational performance assessments (OPAs), recycling facilities (MRFs) studies, transportation and other feasibility and related financial analysis.

Formed in 2005, WRG’s Team consists of subject matter experts from the waste, recycling, alternative fuels, and transportation industries from both the public and private sectors.  WRG’s Team of experts have over 150 years of combined experience.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the rest of the Team of subject matter experts at WIH Resource Group.

For more information about WIH Resource Group’s diversified client services, and how we can best serve you, visit www.wihrg.com

Contact us today to see how we can best serve you at 480.241.9994 or admin@wihrg.com

Visit our new website!   www.wihresourcegroup.com

wihwebsite

YOUR GLOBAL LEADER IN CONSULTING

Celebrating a decade in business, WIH Resource Group is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including waste management, recycling, financials, transportation, M&A due diligence and support, alternative fuel fleet conversions, facilities, environmental, energy for private sector business and government clients.

WIH Resource Group is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves. WIH Resource Group provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world’s built, natural and social environments.  WIH Resource Group serves clients in more than 175 key markets internationally.

WIH Website logo

Click on an image below to take you to WRG’s other sites!

Five Tips on Making Everyday Count by Richard Branson


There’s always so much going on at Virgin and I have to juggle many different business focuses on a daily basis. I’m often asked how I do it and how I’ve managed to go into so many different sectors and make a success out of it.

I love life – and after 67 years of it I’ve worked out some of the things that help me manage my workload and have fun at the same time. I don’t really separate work and play – it’s all living. This doesn’t mean I’m always working, it means I’ve learned the art of balance. – Richard Branson

Richard Branson ipad necker

On Virgin.com, our current Spotlight series is all about fulfilling potential. On this theme, I wanted to share my top five tips on making every day count:

5. Do something fun as you start your day

I like to get up early and start the day with some sport – usually a fierce game of tennis or an hour of kitesurfing. It gets the blood pumping and makes you feel like you’ve achieved something before you’ve even started working. It also releases endorphins so you’re more likely to be in a good mood!

If you’re not an early bird, perhaps try and build some exercise into your commute instead. Get off the train a stop early, ride your bike, do a yoga YouTube video in your lounge. I hear people say they don’t have time for fitness, which is true. You don’t have time for it, you make time for it. There is nothing more important than your health.

Richard Branson takes a phone call before going kitesurfing

4. Just do it!

I learned very early on, from Student Magazine to Virgin Records, that if you want something to happen, don’t just sit around waiting for it. Work hard, take your chances, and seize opportunities when they present themselves. Don’t give in to the fear and self-doubt and instead find ways to make it happen. Those who are bold have a higher chance of being rewarded.

3. Set goals and challenge yourself (and write them down)

You should always be looking for ways to make things better – including yourself. You can never know it all, and it’s so important to always be learning and developing. I find it really useful to set myself some goals and write them down. I make long-term and short-term goals, and the short-term successes keep my morale up and spur me on towards longer-term goals. By writing them down, you can work through your list and tick them off. Writing things down keeps you focused and makes sure you don’t forget great ideas. I look at my notebook every day and am always scribbling notes to myself.

Richard Branson writing a letter

Richard Branson writing a letter

2. Have a break

It’s so important to carve a little time for yourself to breathe. I find the best way to do this is to make a cup of tea and take 10 minutes to reflect. Often this time sparks new ideas as your mind wanders, or helps you find solutions to problems that have been bugging you. I find that taking a break helps me rest rather than give up. If you burn yourself out, you’re no good to anyone.

1. Do some good

I feel that fulfilment and purpose are very closely linked. Most people feel the most fulfilled and happiest when they are having a positive impact on those around them. Business should be a driving force in creating a better world, so if you can combine your entrepreneurial skills with a social purpose, you can have a great effect on the world. I’ve always set out in business to disrupt industries to benefit the customer and had great fun doing it. More and more I am focusing on the big problems that the world faces, such as climate change, human rights and drug policy. I spend a lot of time working with Virgin Unite, the B Team, the Elders and the Rocky Mountain Institute. I want my grandchildren to grow up in a safe, secure world without the threat of climate change catastrophes or conflict.

How do you make every day count? 

 

Source: Virgin.com & WIH Resource Group All rights reserved

Also Read this great book by Author Tracy Todaro Wallace: “Forget What You Think You Know“, now on Amazon at https://goo.gl/1BBxm6

FWYTYK Cover

ABOUT WIH RESOURCE GROUP, INC. (WRG)

WIH Resource Group is global leader providing of diversified environmental (waste and recycling), financial, expert witness services, transportation / logistics consulting solutions to its Clients throughout North America and internationally.

WRG provides solutions to complex challenges to its clients in the areas of environmental, alternative fuel fleet conversion studies, customer satisfaction surveys, fleet management matters, equipment and assets valuations, mergers & acquisitions (M&A), landfill gas management, renewable energy, waste & recycling collections, business process improvement, procurement services assistance, waste management operations, recycling processing, transfer stations, operational performance assessments (OPAs), recycling facilities (MRFs) studies, transportation and other feasibility and related financial analysis.

Formed in 2005, WRG’s Team consists of subject matter experts from the waste, recycling, alternative fuels, and transportation industries from both the public and private sectors.  WRG’s Team of experts have over 150 years of combined experience.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the rest of the Team of subject matter experts at WIH Resource Group.

For more information about WIH Resource Group’s diversified client services, and how we can best serve you, visit www.wihrg.com

Contact us today to see how we can best serve you at 480.241.9994 or admin@wihrg.com

Visit our new website!   www.wihresourcegroup.com

wihwebsite

YOUR GLOBAL LEADER IN CONSULTING

Celebrating a decade in business, WIH Resource Group is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including waste management, recycling, financials, transportation, M&A due diligence and support, alternative fuel fleet conversions, facilities, environmental, energy for private sector business and government clients.

WIH Resource Group is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves. WIH Resource Group provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world’s built, natural and social environments.  WIH Resource Group serves clients in more than 175 key markets internationally.

WIH Website logo

Click on an image below to take you to WRG’s other sites!

Fleet Maintenance and Best Management Practices in the Solid Waste Industry


In order to best determine what improvements may be needed for a City’s or private waste hauler’s solid waste collection fleet, an examination of the fleet’s management, maintenance programs, vehicle replacement schedules, accounting methods, parts inventory management, procurement and a whole host of other critical areas—all of which affect the cost of operating the fleet—is needed.

“Benchmarking and establishing best management practices (BMPs), allows fleet maintenance and management to develop a baseline from which improvement goals can be established”. Bob Wallace, MBA – President, WIH Resource Group, Inc.

In addition, a comprehensive analysis of both the types of services the fleet is providing contrasted with exactly how the fleet is being operated to serve the exact needs is critical. All too often in conducting fleet maintenance and management evaluations, it is determined that the fleet specifications and the associated container type(s), are not optimal for the services the fleet is being required to provide.

Best Management Practices (BMPs)

The term “Best Management Practices” (BMPs) is used to describe the proven techniques, methods and process used by vehicle and equipment management operations to optimize competitiveness, performance and cost effectiveness. Many fleet managers implement best practices as a means to improve operational outputs and customer relations, while reducing the cost to deliver these services.

While industry standards vary somewhat depending on specific vehicle manufacturer; respective components—such as engine, axles, drivelines and transmissions—an important method and valuable tool for any organization, public or private is to benchmark its own fleet management and maintenance procedures against other like sized organizations with comparably climate, geography (terrain) and service area sizes (population) and service types (automated collection verse manual), solid waste, recycling, green waste, food waste, bulk or alley services. This refines and identifies exactly how an organization compares to other organizations in terms of industry comparable BMPs.

Industry Standards and Benchmarking Studies

Benchmarking can be defined as the systematic process of searching for best practices, innovative ideas and highly effective operating procedures that lead to superior performance—and then adapting them to improve the performance of one’s own organization. Benchmarking has been widely embraced by both the private and public sectors as an essential business practice for continuous performance improvement. Solid waste collection fleet managers rely on benchmarking data to:

  1. Objectively measure the quality and levels of the services they provide.
  2. Identify and implement best practices that will enable them to reduce costs and improve services.

Collection Services Review: Residential, Commercial, Industrial and Recycling

Before choosing the components of a collection operation, an organization needs to know what it wants and what services it needs to provide to its customers. Identifying specific needs and service types aids in determining what procedure or type of equipment will fill that need. Next, reviewing the range of optimal specification of the equipment, their tare weight, costs and options, and finding out who manufactures the optimal equipment, allow for an informed and educated decision. All of the products, procedures and systems for the solid waste industry will work, with varying degrees of success, under varying conditions. So how does a fleet manager choose?

The rationale for change can range from a desire to improve operations, satisfy a new demand for services, correct a deficiency or renew worn-out equipment. Whatever the problem, it is important to understand it completely. Trying to determine the financial or political costs of solving the problem are key.

The next step is to visualize what might solve the problem. Can it be solved in one stage, or would it take more? Sometimes one phase must be up and running before the next phase can be implemented. Are there future options that must be allowed for now? Can reordering your present resources solve the problem? It’s important to perform a cost-benefit analysis of all the options.

Fleet Management Audits: Maintenance Verses Operations

Many mechanics contend that drivers abuse trucks, while drivers complain that mechanics cannot keep trucks on the road. The truth likely lies in the middle, but how do managers know for sure? By improving fleet systems information, managers can use concrete data to pinpoint problems concerning procurement, employee attitudes, driver training and to evaluate mechanics’ productivity and performance.

A comprehensive fleet management audit can be valuable in evaluating drivers, mechanics, and operating and cost performance measures that are regularly used to effectively manage a fleet organization. Key performance measures include the unit cost to operate each piece of equipment, the ratio of preventive maintenance costs to total maintenance costs, vehicle availability, vehicle use, labor productivity and shop rate. Managers then can:

  • Identify and allocate costs
  • Evaluate trucks’ conditions
  • Evaluate mechanic productivity and performance
  • Examine management information systems—hardware and software
  • Examine strategies for purchasing vehicles and parts
  • Examine vehicle replacement programs
  • Compare operations to similar-sized fleets

Fleet Size and Specifications Review

Presently, the collection of solid waste is much more expensive than its disposal. Most municipal collection fleets are made up of a variety of truck specifications that service areas with dissimilar topography, population density and waste generation rates.

When vehicles are selected for solid waste collection fleets there is usually very little consideration given to providing the required service at minimum cost. One possibility for minimizing collection costs is to select a fleet of collection trucks, while simultaneously satisfying the service constraints. To illustrate this approach, the waste collection system of a large metropolitan area should be analyzed for proper fleet size and type of collection vehicle. Selection of the optimal fleet size, type of truck and its specifications, are formulated and solved based on analysis of local needs, service parameters and a wide range of other regional and local considerations.

Fleet Use and Efficiency Evaluation

Experienced fleet managers can save 10 percent to 20 percent in maintenance costs—depending on their operation’s condition—if they devote just 20 percent of their time on analysis and long-term planning.

Although many fleet managers who advance to higher positions are strong on buying, repairing and selling equipment, they are weak in analysis and long-range planning—the functions that give their organizations the competitive edge. Analysis and long-term planning particularly are important when determining fleet size—a well-known factor in lowering transportation costs. One way to help optimize fleet size is to change shop hours.

For example, if all mechanics worked only day shifts, every truck serviced is one less truck out on the road. To complete routes, spares must be used, which often are the oldest and least reliable vehicles in a fleet. Spares also are the costliest to maintain, yet have to be kept in a satisfactory operating condition in order to keep them ready for use when newer trucks are being serviced.

Switching mechanics to evening/night shifts should allow maintenance to get rid of most of the reserve trucks, thus slashing maintenance costs and reducing the fleet size without affecting customer service. While this move likely will lower employee morale temporarily, in the long run, it could save jobs.

Fleet Preventative Maintenance Program

All vehicles and other pieces of motorized equipment require maintenance and repair during their life. Since a fleet management organization’s primary mission is to maximize the availability of vehicles so that its customers can productively do their jobs, the focus of maintenance management for such organizations needs to be in developing practices that minimize unscheduled incidents of repair and that return vehicles requiring repair to service in as little time as possible.

The objective of a preventative maintenance (PM) program is to minimize equipment failure by maintaining a constant awareness of the condition of equipment and correcting defects before they become serious problems. A PM program also minimizes unscheduled repairs by causing most maintenance and repair activities to occur through scheduled inspections. An effective PM program pays dividends not only in improved vehicle safety and reliability, but also financially by extending the life of vehicles, minimizing the high cost of breakdowns and reducing lost employee productivity resulting from fleet downtime.

Parts Inventory Management

A significant portion of a fleet operation’s annual expenditures can be accounted for in parts management. This cost can vary significantly from one fleet operation to the next depending on the composition, age and application of equipment in a fleet.

The primary goal of every parts operation is to maintain a sufficient inventory in order to fill a high percentage of part requests immediately while sustaining a high part turnover rate. This can be a difficult task, due to the logistics with seasonal parts, vehicle and equipment replacements, poor vendor performance, cumbersome procurement procedures, insufficient warehousing space, inadequate staffing levels, an antiquated information system and a wide array of other factors. Hence, efforts to reduce a parts operation’s costs and maintain an inventory to sustain an acceptable fill-rate can often time seem to be diametrically opposed.

Fleet Maintenance Training Programs and Policies

As refuse collection vehicles continue to grow in complexity and sophistication, the technicians who maintain them must upgrade their skills to keep the vehicles running properly. To reduce costs and prevent vehicle downtime while improving technicians’ capabilities and morale, organizations need to invest in new, ongoing technical training programs.

Making an investment in an organization’s people through training builds the morale of a team and helps keep the reliability of fleets at a higher standard.

Fleet Replacement Program

The replacement of vehicles and equipment in a timely manner is a problem for many fleet operations. The decision to replace equipment is often driven by the fiscal health of the organization, breakdown or failure of the asset, or some other unpredictable factor. However, a proper fleet replacement program can provide both fleet reliability and fiscal stability for a fleet operation and to the general organization.

Vehicles and equipment are replaced at various times depending on the type of vehicle and the nature and intensity of its use. Timely replacement is important for controlling vehicle availability, safety, reliability and efficiency. The economic theory of vehicle replacement holds that vehicles should be replaced when the sum of ownership and operating costs is at a minimum.

A fleet replacement plan projects future replacement dates and costs for each vehicle in a fleet. Its purpose is to identify long-term spending needs and associated budgetary requirements. In most fleet operations, vehicle replacement practices are dictated primarily by the availability of replacement funds rather than by objectives such as minimizing vehicle lifecycle costs. Consequently, the comparison of projected annual fleet replacement costs with historical replacement spending levels provides a good indication of the adequacy of fleet replacement practices—as opposed to guidelines or goals. Inadequate replacement spending not only increases the age and operating costs of a fleet, but also results in the accumulation of replacement needs that, if left unattended, can become so large that significant fleet downsizing is unavoidable.

Replacement guidelines are used to project and plan for future fleet replacement requirements and to trigger assessments of the need to replace individual vehicles whose age and/or life-to-date usage is approaching established guidelines. There are two primary methods of setting vehicle replacement criteria and retention cycles—the empirical (or lifecycle cost) method and the best practice method.

Fleet Financial and Accounting: Cost Allocation Management

There are basically two ways that operating funds can be provided to a fleet management organization to support the management, maintenance, and fueling of a fleet: through direct appropriations to the organization or through the use of an internal charge-back system which recovers the organization’s costs through charges to other organizations for the goods and services it provides them.

One reason for implementing a charge-back system is to promote equitable treatment of fleet users. Since users pay only for the resources they consume, there is no cross-subsidization of fleet costs under a properly designed and implemented charge-back system. One of the implications of this benefit is that fee supported departments and programs pay the full cost of the fleet resources they consume and do not receive any subsidies from the general fund, which often occurs when a fleet management organization is part of the general fund.

Fleet Maintenance and Management Performance Measurements

Implementation of a system of meaningful key performance indicators is another important initiative that a fleet management organization can pursue to improve communication with its customers and to demonstrate the value of the services that it provides. Performance measurement allows an organization to:

  • Reduce reliance on subjective judgment and speculation
  • Track performance against standards and benchmarks
  • Hone in on areas of the organization that require improvement
  • Track trends over time

Procedures should be in place to distribute work to mechanics so as to promote high levels of mechanic productivity and efficiency and to minimize repair turn-around time and assign the work to a specific mechanic based on an assessment of mechanics’ availability and skills. Additionally, a prioritization system should be used to identify vehicles that are to be moved ahead in the repair queue based on their importance to the customer organization.

Vendor and Contract Performance Reviews and Programs

Vendors may be relied upon to perform fleet maintenance and repair services for a variety of reasons, including managing in-house work backlogs; avoiding costly investments in facility construction, tooling, training, and staffing to meet low volumes of service demand in remote areas or for specialty repairs; and to achieve a degree of flexibility (e.g., in terms of locations, hours of service, etc.) in the provision of services.

The cost-effective use of vendors requires, however, that procedures be followed for 1) determining the comparative cost effectiveness of performing a service in-house or using a vendor, 2) managing and controlling vendor performance relative to individual service orders and ongoing service levels (in the case of contract providers of services), and 3) capturing all relevant information on vendor-performed services so as to maintain a complete record of vehicle maintenance history and costs and provide for timely user billing via a charge-back system.

Repair quality assurance procedures are used to ensure that requested services are performed properly. When repairs are not completed correctly, the vehicles are often returned resulting in “comeback” repairs. One of the best strategies for avoiding comebacks is to use some form of post-repair quality assurance process. Quality checks can range from simple road-tests, to quality checklists, to the complete observation of the repair.

Fleet Vehicle Maintenance Management: In-House verses Outsourcing

Outsourcing is a process that most people view as an all or nothing process. In some cases this is true. However many fleet management and maintenance operations are very efficient at specific services, such as preventive maintenance. In such an instance an appropriate approach may be to outsource part of maintenance services such as larger repairs like transmission and engine rebuilds.

Nonetheless, the choice of outsourcing part or an entire maintenance operation is not an easy one. It oftentimes requires the review of an impartial party that understands when an operation should be outsourced, how it should be done, and the contractual pitfalls that can result in unforeseen charges and financial liability.

Fleet Warranty Replacement and Repairs

Another critical cost management area of fleet maintenance relates to warranties. Fleet maintenance managers should strengthen its practices in this area by using the functionality of their fleet maintenance software programs and or in the case of manual records keeping, a method for identifying vehicles, components, and parts that are covered by manufacturer warranty. Significant cost avoidance and recoveries can be achieved through proactive efforts in this area.

Some organizations have outsourced warranty recovery activities to private sector firms that specialize in this service. These firms often perform on a contingent fee basis and are paid by taking a percentage of the money that they recover for their clients.

Fleet Management Technology

One of the most significant changes in the fleet industry has been a veritable explosion of quantitative data. The sources of these data are multitude: fleet management information systems, fuel management systems, ERP and financial management systems, professional association databases, the Internet, GPS and AVL solutions, Web-based reporting engines, ad hoc report writers and document imaging systems.

The increased availability of data on the fleet and the fleet operations has placed significant pressure on fleet managers and staff to maintain and produce a wide array of management information for clients, financial and auditing departments, executives, elected officials, and the general public. A major challenge for fleet managers has been and will continue to be the struggle to keep these entities sufficiently informed in a timely manner.

Some of the best fleet managers in the industry have addressed this requirement by implementing proactive processes and solutions that “push” information to stakeholders on a regular schedule. “Push” technology can automatically deliver key management decision making information to e-mail accounts, printers, fax machines, pagers, PDAs and other communication devices. An increasing number of fleet management organizations are using their own Web sites as a means of distributing invoices, reservation confirmations, recall notices and the like to their customers.

Collection Vehicle Routing and Route Auditing Review

With organization collection vehicles each approaching an approximate annual operating cost of $120,000, organizations have good reason to make every daily routing as profitable and efficient as possible. It should be the goal and intention of fleet management to reduce the overall operating expenses. The key contributors to cost are fixed vehicle cost, variable vehicle cost and labor expense. To begin to understand the daily operations, one must understand each line of business. The typical collection business is divided into three major areas: commercial, residential and industrial. Each area includes municipal solid waste and recycling material, and each is very different from the others. The single largest differentiator between residential and commercial routes is the mandatory adherence to driving on one side of the street. Unlike commercial routes, residential routes are only permitted to service customers on the right side of the street.

Industrial routes introduce a different routing problem. The differentiator between industrial and commercial is the size of the container. A typical commercial container is eight loose yards, while an industrial container may range from 20 to 40 loose yards and only one container may be serviced at a time. While hauling these large containers, it is common for each container disposed of and returned to the original customer’s location. Software using GIS-based route management applications deliver reduced operational costs by 1) organizing routes to minimize overlap and thereby reduce the number of vehicles required to service customers, and 2) sequencing the stops along a route to make the best use of fuel, driver schedules, and disposal trips.

Whether routing software or manual routing is performed, the net effect of reduced routes continues to improve operational efficiency and increase cost savings for organizations but also delivers a positive impact on the environment and employees. Fewer trucks on the road result in a noticeable reduction of emissions and noise in communities. Reduced travel during busy times of the day, and less traffic for the communities in which an organization serves are also noticeable benefits. Collection routes must be planned to incorporate organizational rules such as prohibiting zigzagging and double-siding collection operations. Several routing software offer these solutions.

In addition to establishing safety procedures and guidelines for equipment, waste companies should design their routes with accident prevention in mind. Defensive routing helps reduce the potential for trucks and employees to be placed in hazardous situations. Defensive routing means that a route design minimizes backing, eliminates double siding and zigzagging, maintains a safe speed and eliminates unprotected left-hand turns through right-hand routing. Solid waste collections service providers companies also should perform route observations to ensure that employees are working safely, wearing seat belts and other PPE, and following procedures.

Fleet Maintenance Environmental Compliance

Most refuse truck maintenance shop managers comply with federal, state and local safety and environmental regulations—when they know about them. There are numerous acts, regulations and agencies that apply to truck maintenance facilities, and it’s not always easy to find out about them or to understand them. This can make compliance difficult.

In surveys, most maintenance managers indicate that staying abreast of vehicle technology is their top challenge and concern, followed by compliance with governmental regulations; however, compliance looms larger in the event of an “incident.” Shop managers need to be trained effectively on environmental compliance matters just as any other significant size facility that manages special wastes such as shop solvents, used motor oil, antifreeze and other lubricants.

Maintenance managers should implement an extensive employee training program covering areas such as hazardous materials, fire protection, personal protective equipment (PPE) and toxic sub-stances. In addition, periodic inspections of tools and machines, receiving and storage areas, building conditions, and electrical, lighting, heating and ventilation systems.

Safety Policies, Procedures and Training

A perception exists in some quarters that waste is a dangerous business, and accidents are inevitable. However, industry members cannot afford to have such a passive attitude. Every injury is preventable, and firms have access to highly effective methods and equipment to help them manage employee safety. There is nothing routine about the waste industry. Driving conditions change; employees handle different materials from one day to the next; and disposal sites vary according to content. The only constant is that there will always be waste. Practical safety solutions require diligence and creativity on the part of management, supervisors and employees. Companies should remember that, despite the fact waste companies have much in common; each deals with special factors that require tailored solutions.

Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) accidents occur far too often, and LOTO violations are the most often cited OSHA violations for the industry. (OSHA’s LOTO standard requires that a piece of equipment’s energy source be de-energized, including blocking and bleeding, before maintenance or service is performed). LOTO-related injuries are under complete human control and are preventable. Maintenance shop accidents often occur as a result of improper LOTO while repairing such equipment as front end loader top door and forks, working under suspended loads, performing brake adjustments, replacing and testing hydraulic cylinders, and repairing rear door seals.

For every vehicle it owns, a company should refer to manufacturer guidelines, establish a maintenance schedule and stick to it. Furthermore, when emergency repairs are performed, make sure they are properly completed and not rushed to get the vehicle back in operation.

Safety must be an industry-wide goal, and waste companies can achieve better success if they work together to identify effective safety solutions. One step that waste companies can take to improve their workers’ safety is to adhere to American National Standards Institute (ANSI) equipment and operational standards. In the 1970s, a group of industry representatives identified the need for a set of waste industry safety standards that would supplement the more general Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. ANSI guidelines are designed to help reduce accidents and injuries, and companies will benefit from incorporating them into their safety programs. The ANSI Z245 standards are much more useful to our industry than OSHA. The standards are specific to what we actually do. ANSI has made things more applicable and easier to understand.

Training should be the cornerstone of any waste organization’s safety program. Organizations must establish a culture in which employees know about hazards that exist in their work environment and in which they are properly equipped to handle all situations, routine and non-routine. Because waste industry workers generally are not under direct supervision, management must take the lead by providing effective training, personal protective equipment (PPE) and incentives that encourage employees to take responsibility for their own safety. Supervisors and managers should train their employees to do the following when they’re on the job:

  • Assess. When dealing with any situation, a worker should ask the following questions: What could go wrong? If something did happen, what would be the results? What can I do to avoid potential incidents?
  • Analyze. An employee should determine whether he or she is adequately trained and properly equipped to deal with the results of an accident.
  • Act. If the worker is properly prepared and equipped to perform the task, he or she should take actions necessary to ensure the job is done safely. If not, the worker should not undertake the task.

Safety starts with buy-in from your entire workforce. Employees must be able to make safety decisions and participate in the entire process.

Driver Safety, Development and Training Programs and Policies

Preventing fatalities, injuries and accidents in the solid waste industry is an ongoing struggle. Each day, tens of thousands of collection trucks run their routes, sometimes making more than 800 residential pickups. These trucks dump their loads at transfer stations, material recovery facilities, incinerators and landfills. Then waste is processed, transferred, or compacted via manual labor, sorting equipment and heavy equipment. This mix of trash, people, trucks and heavy equipment, often in close quarters, can result in safety hazards that can lead to accidents.

Despite these challenging conditions, the solid waste industry places a high emphasis on employee and community safety. Waste organizations recognize the relationship between safe operations and maintaining a productive and healthy workforce, providing a responsible presence to customers and their communities, and controlling the cost of waste services.

A waste management organization’s safety department is responsible for improving worker safety and, not coincidentally, reducing property damage, personal injury claims and workers compensation costs. However, it can be difficult for a safety director to single-handedly change an organization’s safety culture and persuade veteran workers to change their job performance.

Drivers, helpers and others are often more responsive to their direct reports or supervisors than to a high-level Safety Director whom they may rarely or never see.

Fleet Pride Programs

The solid waste collection industry has historically had problems with equipment abuse/misuse and pre-trip/post-trip inspections for years. These problems have affected organization’s operating budgets, safety, performance and job satisfaction. They have also built walls between the operations and maintenance staff and departments. One solution is a program that is waste designed to directly attack this problem and in the process reduce operating costs, improve safety and provide greater job satisfaction for drivers and technicians.

Consider this: If an organization has a $4.5 million investment in its fleet and fails to catch developing problems, it reduces the average vehicle life by only 1 percent, representing a $45,000 loss to the organization. There’s no price we can place on the value of being sure that equipment is safe when it hits the road. Most organizations have experiences that suggest that their drivers are not doing an effective job of inspecting their equipment. The program is driven by three major components:

  1. Manager training—Program success depends entirely on whether or not managers take this type of program to heart and effectively drive it. Other programs fall down if they were simply sent to the field with no further explanation or without a strong statement of support. So one of the program’s key strategy points is to be respectful of managers and provide full support—with the expectation that they will follow through.
  2. Incident awareness—This process helps each location to identify, log and analyze incidents where abuse/misuse or maintenance error were a factor. Managers are expected to demonstrate the same engagement in using this program as an ongoing tool to train staff and reduce incidents of abuse/misuse. The Incident Awareness Program creates accountability for front-line managers, technicians and drivers.
  3. Employee training—A series of training sessions begin with orientation and introduction to the new Incident Awareness process. The sessions also cover pre-trip/post-trip inspections and driving behaviors that contribute to equipment abuse/misuse.

Program objectives are:

  • Eliminate equipment abuse/misuse and improve pre/post trip inspections
  • Reduce operations and maintenance costs
  • Improve driver and equipment safety
  • Provide greater job satisfaction in operations and maintenance
  • Identify drivers and technicians likely to have accidents and provide safety/administrative intervention
  • Reduce conflict and increased collaboration between operations and maintenance regarding vehicle condition
  • Reduce operator and technician turnover costs

Establishing Best Practices

In summary, it is important for any refuse or recycling collection fleet management to implement Best Management Practices (BMPs) relative to their collection fleets’ maintenance programs and general fleet management. Benchmarking and establishing best management practices, allows fleet maintenance and management to develop a baseline from which improvement goals can be established.

The following comprehensive list is a summary of the solid waste and recycling collection industry standard BMPs and general recommendations in best managing and maintaining solid waste and recycling collection fleets:

  • Best Management Practices (BMPs)
  • Industry Standards and Benchmarking Studies
  • Fleet Management Audits – Maintenance Verses Operations
  • Fleet Size and Specifications Review
  • Fleet Utilization and Efficiency Evaluation
  • Container Management
  • Parts Inventory Management
  • Collection Services Review – Residential, Commercial, Industrial and Recycling
  • Fleet Preventative Maintenance Program
  • Fleet Replacement Program
  • Fleet Financial and Accounting – Cost Allocation Management
  • Operational Safety Policies, Procedures and Records
  • Fuel Management Program & Use of Alternative Fuels
  • Fleet Management and Maintenance Training Programs & Policies
  • Driver Safety, Development and Training Programs & Policies
  • Fleet Maintenance and Management Performance Measurements
  • Vendor and Contract Performance Reviews and Programs
  • Fleet Vehicle Maintenance Management – In-House verses Outsourcing
  • Fleet Warranty Replacement & Repairs
  • Fleet Management Technology – Onboard computers, scales, GPS,
  • Collection Vehicle Routing
  • Fleet Maintenance Environmental Compliance

As is the key with implementing any new business and operating improvements, and establishing companywide goals, frontline staff, mid-level and senior management program buy-in and support is the key. Without these levels of support, critical fleet maintenance and management best management practices typically fail.

Bob Wallace, MBA, is the President for WIH Resource Group (Phoenix, AZ), a global waste management consulting firm, providing diversified services and extensive experience to clients in both the private and public sectors. Bob has more than 28 years experience in M&A due diligence & transactional support, legal expert witness services, customer satisfaction polling and surveying, financial assessments, solid waste and recycling management, transportation / logistics operations, fleet management, alternative vehicle fuel solutions (CNG, LNG, Biodiesels, EVs, etc.), WastebyRail program management, recycling/solid waste program planning and development.  Bob also has expertise in the areas of solid waste and recycling collection routing and route auditing, disposal and transportation rate and contract negotiations and strategic business planning. He has extensive experience in conducting both solid waste collections and transfer station operational performance assessments OPAs (a business improvement process) developed by WIH Resource Group.

Bob previously served as a board member for the Arizona Chapter of SWANA and has served on the National Solid Waste Rate Committee for the American Public Works Association (APWA). He is also a former board member of the California Refuse and Recycling Association’s (CRRA) Global Recycling Council (GRC).

Wallace can be reached at (480) 241-9994, via e-mail at bwallace@wihresourcegroup.com or visit www.wihrg.com

Sidebar – Fuel Management Program and Use of Alternative Fuels

Nearly 50 percent of the annual cost of operating and maintaining a typical fleet is directly attributed to fuel and fuel management. It is also an area of fleet management that has become extremely complicated, because of legislation and policies at local, state and federal government levels, global economics, vast changes in technology, increased availability of alternative fuel types, new multi-fuel enabled and hybrid vehicles and equipment, and ongoing pressures to reduce emissions. Thus, for many fleet managers, fuel management is a black box of complex issues, which require large sums of funding.

Minor improvements in a fuel management program, however, can yield significant savings in the short and long term. Some areas of consideration for review in fuel management include:

  • Alternative Fuel Program Development
  • Alternative Fuel Program Reviews
  • Bulk Fuel Site Design and Engineering
  • Commercial Fuel Program Development
  • Emission Reduction Planning
  • Fuel Management Program Development
  • Fuel Management Program Review
  • Fuel Tax Reimbursement Optimization
  • Fuel Site Consolidation Reviews
  • Fuel Site Mapping and Location Services

Container Management

Containers and carts don’t have the same safety concerns as trash trucks, compactors and balers—that is probably why the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z245 standards deserve attention. Because containers and carts often seem like innocuous pieces of equipment that couldn’t possibly have potential safety hazards, they can be taken for granted.

The 2008 revision of the container safety standard, ANSI Z245.30, outlines new designs for warning labels and safety signs. The standard calls for new three-panel signs. One panel should have a large, bold and single-word headline reading “CAUTION” in black type over a yellow background or “WARNING” in black type over an orange background. Another panel should feature a drawing demonstrating the hazard and a phrase describing the hazard, such as a drawing of a stick-figured person tumbling off of a roll-off, with a caption that reads, “FALLING HAZARD.” A third panel should include a detailed warning. For example, the panel may have a warning reading “KEEP OFF! Do not climb in, on or occupy this container for any purpose. Injury from slipping or falling may occur.”

Solid waste service providers should periodically review the requirements in ANSI Z245 safety standards with maintenance crews and collection truck operators to help protect customers, employees and trucks. Knowing which containers can safely be used in certain applications and with which refuse vehicles is something that every collection crew should understand.

How dangerous can a container or cart be? Both have caused a few serious injuries over the years, making safety standards worth developing. Two standards developed by ANSI Accredited Standards Committee Z245 address safety, performance and design compatibility requirements for carts and containers. ANSI Z245.60 sets compatibility dimensions for manufacturers so that containers can be safely used with refuse vehicles, and ANSI Z245.30 covers operational safety requirements for carts and containers. What is new in this standard is that it provides dimensional requirements for the Type S container—that is, “the front-load container with side sleeves.”

The Waste Equipment Technology Association (WASTEC) also has released its “Recommended Practice, WRP-9-2004,” which details the recommended dimensional range of the front loader forks for compatibility with the Type S containers. If container manufacturers build the container according to the Z245.60 standard, and if truck manufacturers build trucks according to the recommended practice, the two will work together. Other new compatibility dimensions in the revised ANSI Z245.60 standard covers Type-L hook-lift containers, the standard aims to match up the lifts on trucks with the hooks on containers.

Collection organizations should look at these two standards to make sure that the forks on the trucks match the compatibility standard for the S container. If they don’t match, “damage can occur to both trucks and containers.”

Author: Bob Wallace, President – WIH Resource Group, Inc.

ABOUT WIH RESOURCE GROUP, INC. (WRG)

WIH Resource Group is global leader providing of diversified environmental (waste and recycling), financial, expert witness services, transportation / logistics consulting solutions to its Clients throughout North America and internationally.

WRG provides solutions to complex challenges to its clients in the areas of environmental, alternative fuel fleet conversion studies, customer satisfaction surveys, fleet management matters, equipment and assets valuations, mergers & acquisitions (M&A), landfill gas management, renewable energy, waste & recycling collections, business process improvement, procurement services assistance, waste management operations, recycling processing, transfer stations, operational performance assessments (OPAs), recycling facilities (MRFs) studies, transportation and other feasibility and related financial analysis.

Formed in 2005, WRG’s Team consists of subject matter experts from the waste, recycling, alternative fuels, and transportation industries from both the public and private sectors.  WRG’s Team of experts have over 150 years of combined experience.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the rest of the Team of subject matter experts at WIH Resource Group.

For more information about WIH Resource Group’s diversified client services, and how we can best serve you, visit www.wihrg.com

Contact us today to see how we can best serve you at 480.241.9994 or admin@wihrg.com

Visit our new website!   www.wihresourcegroup.com

wihwebsite

YOUR GLOBAL LEADER IN CONSULTING

Celebrating a decade in business, WIH Resource Group is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including waste management, recycling, financials, transportation, M&A due diligence and support, alternative fuel fleet conversions, facilities, environmental, energy for private sector business and government clients.

WIH Resource Group is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves. WIH Resource Group provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world’s built, natural and social environments.  WIH Resource Group serves clients in more than 175 key markets internationally.

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Click on an image below to take you to WRG’s other sites!

6 Waste Industry Trends to Watch in 2018


Each day, waste industry workers perform vital functions that keep cities clean and communities healthy. Most of those functions remain fundamentally the same year-to-year: collect material, sort it, recover value and dispose of the rest.

And yet, there are shifts each year that change how the industry operates. Composting, glass recycling and the increasing use of compressed natural gas (CNG) helped shape 2016. In 2017, the conversations that moved the industry ranged from China’s ongoing policy changes to how the big companies in the industry responded to natural disasters.

In a short reader poll, we asked the Waste Dive audience to signal what trend is most likely to affect the industry in 2018. Nearly 50% of respondents said China would be the biggest story of the year, with other topics falling below 25% of the total vote.

Most readers voted for China as being the biggest story to watch in 2018.

Some of those trends will continue this year — especially when we consider how China’s policies, now coming into effect, will shift recycling markets. Other ongoing debates, like the meaning of “zero waste” and the idea of franchised collections, will undoubtedly be affected by the new Chinese policies and how the U.S. and industry organizations respond. Here are six trends that will be worth watching as 2018 kicks off.

1. The full enforcement and continued effects of China’s import policies

According to reader feedback, China’s new import policies continue to dominate the recycling conversation and will be one of the top stories to watch in 2018 — even if the country works with trade organizations to compromise, as some hope or expect. Now that the import restriction date has officially passed for the 24 banned materials, the pressure points will become even more clear. Companies and brokers have already begun looking to Southeast Asia in anticipation, and the situation at West Coast ports is shifting as a result.

Many are still just as concerned, if not more so, about the March contamination specifications. Meeting the slightly relaxed 0.5% standard without a major upgrade is still seen as nearly impossible. For those that already do single-stream, and may be having challenges finding a market for glass, the situation is additionally frustrating.

It’s possible that the tax reform windfall will free up funds to invest in new sorting equipment — including artificial intelligence — at MRFs. In the meantime, companies have also been staffing up and slowing down lines. Relying on staffing agencies to do that may have also gotten easier now that the BFI joint employer standard has been overturned and the industry hopes to reinforce that policy with legislation. How companies prioritize safety, and whether the addition of new employees coupled with slower work speeds affects injury rates, will be particularly interesting to watch.

2. The continued debate over franchising in cities across the U.S.

Uttering the words “franchise” or “zoned collection” is one of the easiest ways to strike fear in many of the industry’s smaller service providers. As consolidation continues, their ability to compete on price in an open market is one of the few guaranteed selling points they have left. Technology companies and brokers that rely on their relationships with these providers are also opposed to the concept.

Yet the industry’s largest companies have made no secret about their support for franchising — at the right price — and will have multiple opportunities to help advance it this year.

This will be the case as discussions continue from smaller cities such as Springfield, MO and St. Paul, MN to New York, and possibly Boston. Existing contracts in states such as California and Nevada can also be expected to receive ongoing attention. The Los Angeles recycLA system may be the most prominent example, spurring strong reactions from all sides. For environmental groups and franchise supporters, it’s a sign of what’s possible elsewhere. Though for detractors and real estate interests it’s already becoming a cautionary tale.

3. The continued and gradual deployment of technology in the industry

Perhaps as a sign of the year to come, the biggest company in the industry, Waste Management, hired its first chief digital officer as 2017 was coming to a close. Additionally, 2017 saw that company invest in fleet data capture and next-generation landfills. Penn Waste saw a big increase in efficiency by deploying artificial intelligence (AI) in a MRF and Lytx unveiled its newest video software.

These investments and experiments will continue into 2018 and likely beyond. While the waste industry is sometimes seen as slow to change, big players are continuing to put resources into tech to improve efficiency and safety. The gradual deployment of new tech in the industry will bring, as one leading voice said, “waves of change.” That change, in 2018, will likely look like the increasing use of electric or hybrid vehicles, increased interest in autonomous vehicles and, of course, continuing use of CNG for fueling vehicles.

These technologies and others, including the use of AI, could help improve efficiency and safety. While there were fewer fatalities in 2016 than 2017, refuse collection remains the fifth-most dangerous occupation in the country — so any improvements in safety could mean big outcomes for the industry.

4. The ongoing debate over how to define “zero waste”

As all of these more tangible trends play out, 2018 will also be a year of continued “zero waste” aspirations — and perhaps some reckoning. Nearly every major city has some type of “zero waste” or ambitious recycling diversion goal at this point. Fewer have a clear plan for how to achieve those goals or can agree on what the terminology actually means.

All supporters agree this means limiting landfill usage, but from there it has become a very adaptable concept. Some cities will be taking the European model of using waste-to-energy as an interim disposal solution. Others have shunned disposal technology of any kind — even though they still rely on it to some degree — and are holding out for a more viable circular economy solution around universally recyclable packaging.

Many packaging manufacturers have set lofty targets of their own, and found creative ways to demonstrate movement, but may not be ready to enact more meaningful changes. For many of the cities with their own goals that could also be the case. Diverting organic waste and finding ways to limit other types of traditionally unrecyclable packaging is a critical first step. Finding ways to keep that up on a consistent basis, and actually engage people enough to change their behavior will be another story.

With contamination an issue in many cities, and more harmful to the viability of scrap markets than it has been in years due to China, the “zero waste” movement could be overdue for a reality check. Progress is happening, and much more of it is possible, but all involved may need to be more honest about the systemic changes required to make that happen.

5. The industry affects of tax reform — and what that could mean for M&A

The industry has experienced rapid consolidation in recent decades. Based on what executives have been saying in earnings calls and interviews there could be much more ahead.

Now that President Trump has signed the largest corporate tax cut in recent history — without including some elements that concerned the industry in previous versions — companies will have a lot more capital on hand. Waste Connections CEO Ron Mittelstaedt has previously predicted an M&A “bonanza.” Others have been similarly bullish and the bill was a top priority for executives throughout 2017.

Whether this will lead to more high-profile deals like the recent Progressive Waste Solutions or ReCommunity acquisitions remains to be seen. Tuck-ins are already prevalent and smaller family-owned operations will continue to be popular targets.

In the short-term, this may mean national or regional companies can bring some of their more modern capabilities to small communities. That will be especially useful as collection efficiencies and recycling contamination continue to be big priorities. Communities could also see economies of scale by having access to larger networks of processing and disposal facilities. While drivers and other front-line workers remain in high demand, this consolidation could also mean lay-offs for employees in office or managerial roles.

This can all be expected to make financial analysts and shareholders very happy. Whether it will translate to the workers from acquired companies getting better pay, communities getting better service, and more material going to the highest and best use, will be key areas to watch.

6. The influence of the Environmental Protection Agency

Under Administrator Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency has offered some clarification on New Source Performance Standards for landfills and announced plans to aggressively target some Superfund sites for cleanup and remediation.

However, the agency has also been party to significant drama concerning the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). While RFS volumes are set for 2018, the political back-and forth is unlikely to come to an end. The EPA’s decision to enforce — or not to enforce — emissions standards could influence how landfills operate. The battle over the RFS could influence how biogas producers choose to invest in anaerobic digestion for food waste or other organic feedstock.

Pruitt’s commitment to getting the EPA “back to basics” and Trump’s deregulatory agenda could combine in 2018 to mean big shifts for how the waste industry is regulated at the federal level.

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Source: Waste Dive & WIH Resource Group

ABOUT WIH RESOURCE GROUP, INC. (WRG)

WIH Resource Group is global leader providing of diversified environmental (waste and recycling), financial, expert witness services, transportation / logistics consulting solutions to its Clients throughout North America and internationally.

WRG provides solutions to complex challenges to its clients in the areas of environmental, alternative fuel fleet conversion studies, customer satisfaction surveys, fleet management matters, equipment and assets valuations, mergers & acquisitions (M&A), landfill gas management, renewable energy, waste & recycling collections, business process improvement, procurement services assistance, waste management operations, recycling processing, transfer stations, operational performance assessments (OPAs), recycling facilities (MRFs) studies, transportation and other feasibility and related financial analysis.

Formed in 2005, WRG’s Team consists of subject matter experts from the waste, recycling, alternative fuels, and transportation industries from both the public and private sectors.  WRG’s Team of experts have over 150 years of combined experience.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the rest of the Team of subject matter experts at WIH Resource Group.

For more information about WIH Resource Group’s diversified client services, and how we can best serve you, visit www.wihrg.com

Contact us today to see how we can best serve you at 480.241.9994 or admin@wihrg.com

Visit our new website!   www.wihresourcegroup.com

wihwebsite

YOUR GLOBAL LEADER IN CONSULTING

Celebrating a decade in business, WIH Resource Group is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including waste management, recycling, financials, transportation, M&A due diligence and support, alternative fuel fleet conversions, facilities, environmental, energy for private sector business and government clients.

WIH Resource Group is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves. WIH Resource Group provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world’s built, natural and social environments.  WIH Resource Group serves clients in more than 175 key markets internationally.

WIH Website logo

Click on an image below to take you to WRG’s other sites!

16 Tiny Stories that Will Change the Way You Live


Given the time of year and the season, we recently received this article and found it inspiring and decided to share it on our company blog for you to benefit from as well.  Here’s wishing you a great, safe and happy holiday season from your friends at WIH Resource Group!

Image result for life changingTen years from now, it won’t really matter what shoes you wore today, how your hair looked, or what brand of clothes you wore.  What will matter is how you lived, how you loved, and what you learned along the way.

Deep down you know this already, right?

Yet today, just like the majority of us, you are easily distracted and derailed by the insignificant.

You give too much of your time to meaningless time-wasters.

You step through days, skeptically, with inner resistance.

You take your important relationships for granted.

You get caught up in hurtful drama.

You give in to your doubts.

And the list goes on.

But why?

Why do you follow these hurtful patterns of behavior?

Why do you set yourself up for regret when you know better?

Because you’re human, and human beings are imperfect creatures that make misjudgments constantly.  We get caught up in our own heads, and literally don’t know our lives to be any better than the few things that aren’t going our way.  And as our minds subconsciously dwell on these things, we try to distract ourselves to numb the tension we feel.  But by doing so, we also distract ourselves from what matters most.

We scrutinize and dramatize the petty annoyances in our lives until we’re blue in the face, and then we sit back and scratch our heads in bewilderment of how unfulfilling and empty life feels.

But the older we grow, the more focused we tend to become, and the less pointless drama, distraction and busyness we engage in.  Life humbles us gradually as we age.  We begin to realize just how much nonsense we’ve wasted time on. And we begin to adjust our focus toward what’s truly important.

Are you ready to adjust your focus?

Today, I challenge you to be an old soul—to adjust your focus sooner rather than later . . . to dodge the avoidable regret and stress on the horizon.

How?

There are many approaches, but let’s start by learning from other people’s stories . . .

Stories of Subtle Regret, to Help You Live Well

Over the past decade, via our blog, Getting Back to Happy course (and coaching), side projects, and live annual conferences, Angel and I have been blessed by the amazing stories that people around the world have shared with us.  And right now, with full permission from the original sources, I want to share powerful snippets from twelve of these stories with you.  These are super short but incredibly focused accounts of life, decision-making, and the subtle regrets that sneak up on us along the way.

There’s definitely something for all of us to learn (or re-learn) here:

  1. “I recently met a super wealthy and influential businessman at a corporate conference—the man has a net worth of over a hundred million dollars.  In conversation, he told me he regretted never making it to his son’s hockey games or his daughter’s dance recitals.  It made me smile because my total net worth is probably only as much as this man’s last paycheck, but I’ve made it to everything, and my two children always smile and wave to me in the stands during practice and on game days.”
  2. “Today is the 14th day in a row that my 87-year-old nursing home patient’s granddaughter has come to visit him.  Two weeks ago, I told her that the only time I see her grandfather smile all week is when she visits him on Saturday afternoons.”
  3. “In the final decade of his life, my grandfather woke up every single day at 7 A.M., picked a fresh wild flower on his morning walk, and took it to my grandmother.  One morning, I decided to go with him to see her.  And as he placed the flower on her gravestone, he looked up at me and said, ‘I just wish I had picked her a fresh flower every morning when she was alive.  She really would have loved that.’”
  4. “Last night my best friend since childhood was put in the hospital for attempting suicide.  She’s always listened to my petty problems and asked me how I was feeling.  But I’m sitting here in tears now, and realizing that I rarely ever asked her how she was feeling because she always seemed like she had the perfect life in my eyes.”
  5. “Earlier today, in the last few hours of her life, she told me her only regret was that she didn’t appreciate every year with the same passion and purpose that she has had in the last two years after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. ‘I’ve accomplished so much recently,’ she said. ‘If I had only known, I would have started sooner.’”
  6. “Today, after spending the past three years constantly hassling and bickering with the 20-something who lives and parties next door, I found myself crying in his arms and thanking him repeatedly for saving my son’s life.”
  7. “This morning at a train stop near the hospital, a man and his three young kids got on.  The kids were loud and completely out of control, running from one end of the train car to the other.  An annoyed passenger sitting next to me looked over at the man and asked, ‘Is there a reason you’re letting your kids go nuts right now?’  The man looked up with tears in his eyes and said, ‘The doc just told me their mother isn’t going to make it.  Sorry, I’m just trying to think before we all sit down at home to talk about this.’  And, of course, the annoyed passenger was speechless.”
  8. “Today my son turned seven, and I turned 23.  Yes, I had him on the day I turned 16.  Many of the choices I made when I was a teenager were beyond foolish, and I still have my regrets.  And even though I know I’ve grown, I sometimes I get worried that I’m bringing my son up wrong—that I’m somehow subconsciously passing my past foolishness on to him.  But today I took him to the park to celebrate our birthdays.  He played for two hours with a girl who has burn scars that cover most of her neck and face.  When my son took a break to eat a snack, he pointed to her and said, ‘She’s really pretty and cool!’  Which left me thinking, ‘I must be doing something right as a mom.’”
  9. “The ‘biggest nerd’ in my 2004 high school graduation class—a nice, quiet boy who I wasn’t very nice to—is now the heart surgeon who saved my mom’s life after she suffered from a sudden heart attack at 68 last night.”
  10. “As my grandfather rested in his hospital bed this evening, desperately fighting pancreatic cancer, he squeezed my hand tight and said, ‘Promise me, no matter how good or bad you have it, you will wake up every morning thankful for your life.  Because every morning you wake up, someone somewhere else will be desperately fighting for theirs.  It’s something so simple and important that I never valued until now.’”
  11. “I was recently reunited with an old friend after nine years of silence between us.  Throughout high school and college, we were best friends.  Then just before college graduation we got into a nasty fight over a boy.  Terrible, hateful words were exchanged and we never spoke again, until today.  And as we hugged each other, and cried, we acknowledged how irrelevant that boy is now.”
  12. “I am a 27-year-old mom to four beautiful children. Everyone in my family told me I was too young to have kids at 20.  And there were admittedly a few regret-filled times in my past when I deeply doubted myself and my decision to be a young mom.  But what nobody anticipated, including myself, is that at age 26 I would be diagnosed with a rare fallopian tube infection, requiring a full hysterectomy.  Now when people say I look too young to have four kids, I feel incredibly blessed.”
  13. “Today my daughter firmly confronted me with the fact that my biggest fear, a fear that has undoubtedly held me back from many life experiences, has never come true.  And I am turning 76-years-old tomorrow.”
  14. “This morning one of my regular customers, a really grumpy elderly man who has been eating in our diner every morning for the better part of five years, left me $1,000 in cash for his $7 breakfast.  Alongside the cash he left a small note that read, ‘Thank you, Christine.  I know I haven’t been the brightest smile in your life, and I know we’ve even exchanged rude remarks a few times over the years, but your smile and generally hospitable service have sincerely given me something to look forward to every morning since my wife passed away.  I wanted to say thank you.  I’m moving eight hours down the road this afternoon to live with my son and his family.  May the rest of your life be magical.’”
  15. “I sat down with my two daughters, ages six and eight, this afternoon to explain to them that we have to move out of our four-bedroom house and into a two-bedroom apartment for a year or two until I can find another job and build our savings back up.  It’s a conversation I’ve been avoiding for over a month, as I’ve struggled with the doubts and regrets of not being able to provide a financially stable household for us.  But my daughters just looked at each other after I told them, and then my youngest daughter turned to me and asked, ‘Are we all moving into that apartment together?’  ‘Of course,’ I immediately replied.  ‘Oh, so no big deal then,’ she said.”
  16. “This afternoon I was looking through an old Windows laptop that my dad used seven years ago before he lost his battle with colon cancer.  The laptop has been sitting around collecting dust at my mom’s house ever since.  In a folder named ‘Video Project’ oddly placed at the root of the C: drive, I found a video file my dad made about a month before he died that my mom and I had never seen before.  In the 15-minue video my dad talks about my mom and me, how grateful he is to have had the chance to a be part of our lives, and that he has no regrets at all about anything in his life—that he is totally at peace.  He ended by saying, “I know you two will miss me, but please smile for me, because I’ve lived well and I’m OK.  Really, I’m OK.”

Let Go & Let Appreciation Fuel Your Next Step

I hope the stories above made you think about how to improve your approach in certain life situations.  But, perhaps some of them also reminded you of how you’re falling short.  If it’s the latter, I want you to take a deep breath right now.  Remember that you don’t have to be defined by the things you did or didn’t do in the past.  Don’t let yourself be controlled by regret.  Maybe there’s something you could have done differently, or maybe not.  Either way, it’s merely something that’s already happened.

Do your best to cleanse your heart and mind.

How?

With focused presence and appreciation.

Just this morning, for example, after coming to terms with a regretful business decision I recently made, and after writing my heart out for an hour, I went for a long jog at the beach . . . sea foam kissing my feet with each step, white sand footprints behind me, and the morning sky bursting with bright colors overhead.

At the end of my jog I turned toward the ocean and took several deep breaths, mostly because the sky, and the Atlantic, had momentarily taken my breath away.

I stood there on the sand and applauded.  Yes, I literally clapped my hands in recognition.

Because this is the only response life truly deserves: a fully present, appreciative applause.

Today, wherever you are, whatever regrets or circumstances you’re dealing with, take a moment to really appreciate this gift we call life, and applaud.

Then do your best to give back to life.  Do something—anything—to show your gratitude for this imperfect miracle you’ve been given.  Be kind to a stranger, create something others can use, be loving to your family . . . make a small difference in your own unique way.

And see how it feels.

Written by

ABOUT WIH RESOURCE GROUP, INC. (WRG)

WIH Resource Group is global leader providing of diversified environmental (waste and recycling), financial, expert witness services, transportation / logistics consulting solutions to its Clients throughout North America and internationally.

WRG provides solutions to complex challenges to its clients in the areas of environmental, alternative fuel fleet conversion studies, customer satisfaction surveys, fleet management matters, equipment and assets valuations, mergers & acquisitions (M&A), landfill gas management, renewable energy, waste & recycling collections, business process improvement, procurement services assistance, waste management operations, recycling processing, transfer stations, operational performance assessments (OPAs), recycling facilities (MRFs) studies, transportation and other feasibility and related financial analysis.

Formed in 2005, WRG’s Team consists of subject matter experts from the waste, recycling, alternative fuels, and transportation industries from both the public and private sectors.  WRG’s Team of experts have over 150 years of combined experience.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the rest of the Team of subject matter experts at WIH Resource Group.

For more information about WIH Resource Group’s diversified client services, and how we can best serve you, visit www.wihrg.com

Contact us today to see how we can best serve you at 480.241.9994 or admin@wihrg.com

Visit our new website!   www.wihresourcegroup.com

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YOUR GLOBAL LEADER IN CONSULTING

Celebrating a decade in business, WIH Resource Group is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including waste management, recycling, financials, transportation, M&A due diligence and support, alternative fuel fleet conversions, facilities, environmental, energy for private sector business and government clients.

WIH Resource Group is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves. WIH Resource Group provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world’s built, natural and social environments.  WIH Resource Group serves clients in more than 175 key markets internationally.

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