Aug. 17, 2020

#93: All The Fun Stuff (That Shouldn’t Be) in Your Drinking Water

#93: All The Fun Stuff (That Shouldn’t Be) in Your Drinking Water

 In Episode 93, Quinn & Brian ask: What can we do about all of this not-water in our water?

Our guest is: Imari Walker, who is quite possibly the world’s preeminent Microplastics Bae. Imari is an Environmental Engineer, a Microplastics Researcher, a SciComm YouTuber, a Duke PhD candidate, and a true revelation to talk to.

Here’s some fun facts: in 2018, there were ~359 million metric tons of plastic produced worldwide, and if current trends continue, roughly 12 BILLION metric tons of plastic waste will be in landfills or the natural environment by 2050. Also, to stay relevant, there are now almost as many disposable masks in the ocean as there are jellyfish. So where does all this waste come from (spoiler: check yo’ stretchy pants), why is it all just being thrown around willy nilly, and how can we get people to stop doing that?

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Important, Not Important is produced by Crate Media

Transcript

Quinn: Welcome to Important, Not Important. My name is Quinn Emmett.

Brian: And my name is Brian Colbert Kennedy. This is the podcast where we give you the tools you need to fight for a better future for everyone. The context straight from the smartest people on Earth and the action steps that you can take to support them.

Quinn: That's right, and our guests are scientists, doctors, nurses, engineers, farmers, politicians, astronauts, seaweed farmers. We even got a reverend.

Brian: You threw seaweed farmers in there. I like that one. That was a good episode.

Quinn: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brian: This is your friendly reminder that you can send us questions, thoughts, or feedback to us on Twitter @Importantnotimp or email us at funtalk@importantnotimportant.com.

Quinn: That's right. You can also join tens of thousands of other smart people and subscribe to our free weekly newsletter at importantnotimportant.com. On this week's episode, Brian, we're talking about all the fun stuff that's in your drinking water-

Brian: Yeah.

Quinn: ... what you can do about it.

Brian: So fun.

Quinn: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brian: Our guest is Imari Walker. She's an expert on microplastics-

Quinn: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brian: ... which from my understanding are very small plastics.

Quinn: Well done. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brian: She's also true revelation to talk to.

Quinn: She is. She is. Curiosity, intelligence, enthusiasm. She is the type of person I'm very excited is leading the way on these sort of things. We need more of that.

Brian: A love for cats. She has it all.

Quinn: Yep, we can skip right over that. Anyways, this was great. We're excited to be back. And let's go talk to Imari. Let's do it.

Quinn: Our guest today is Imari Walker, and together, we're going to talk about what's in your water, and more than ever, the answer is stuff that shouldn't be. Imari, welcome.

Imari Walker: Thank you. It's great to be here.

Brian: We're so happy that you're here. Could you maybe just tell everybody who you are, what you do?

Imari Walker: Yeah. I am actually at Duke University. I'm a graduate student starting my 5th year studying microplastics. So my doctoral dissertation is in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department studying chemicals associated to plastic and how they end up in things like our fresh water or the stomach acid in a bird or a fish, and just understanding how those chemicals transform, and are possibly more toxic than the original products. But yeah, I'm a engineer and a chemist.

Brian: Wow.

Quinn: Engineer and a chemist. Great. Brian, it's just like you.

Brian: Same as me, yeah. Same as me. And you said you went to Duke, and Quinn, you love Duke, right?

Quinn: Look, it's not that I don't love Duke, it's that one of my good friends growing up was like UNC basketball guy and so he-

Brian: Oh, got it.

Quinn: I know, I know, I know, I know, I know.

Brian: Sorry about this, Imari.

Quinn: Look. We don't have to get into it. It's fine.

Brian: No, that's sounds-

Quinn: It's a different time.

Imari Walker: I was going to say, my undergrad was at UC Berkeley, so my true rival is Stanford right now.

Quinn: Oh, nice, nice, nice. My wife went to-

Brian: See? We can all be friends.

Quinn: My wife went to Stanford but she also doesn't care about sports and so people are very confused when they're like, "Oh, Berkeley's terrible!"

Imari Walker: Like, "What?"

Quinn: Yeah. She's-

Brian: We can all be friends.

Quinn: Yeah. We can work on it.

Imari Walker: Awesome.

Brian: Fantastic. Holy cow. Quickly as a reminder to everyone because we haven't done this in a while, our goal always is to provide some context for what we're talking about today. And then really dig into action-oriented questions that we can all ask to help support today's topic and Imari.

Quinn: Yep. That sounds pretty great to me. Let's see if we can remember how to do this. Been on a little bit of a hiatus. Which, things have been a little crazy out.

Imari Walker: Just a little bit.

Quinn: Just a little bit. Anyway. Anyways, Imari, we'd like to start with one important question to set the tone for the chaos to follow. Instead of saying, "Tell us your entire life story," we like to ask, Imari, why are you vital to the survival of the species?

Imari Walker: Man.

Quinn: If I just had a compilation of guests making that noise after I ask it.

Brian: Yeah, that first reaction. We need to do that.

Quinn: Yeah, it's great. Great. Be bold.

Imari Walker: The easy answer right there is that I'm just one person in a collective of people that care about leaving the world in a better place than it started. But I kind of hope to be relevant in the fact that I am a Black female environmental engineer chemist trying to change the world as far as microplastics and water quality. And I'm trying to be an inspiration to other people who may not have considered a career like this, or the idea that you can be a scientist or engineer and even a science communicator. So I'm hoping to take a little bit more of a public-facing way to show people that there are people like us out there trying to change the world.

Quinn: That sounds like an easy enough job.

Imari Walker: A little bit.

Brian: How's that coming?

Quinn: Well, I love that. Thank you for being so thoughtful about it. And by the way, I'm sure you will pick these at some point, but I'm going to do so now. But your YouTube videos, which it seems like the channel is fairly newish, is that correct?

Imari Walker: That is correct. It started in May.

Brian: Nice.

Quinn: I'm a massive fan of them. They are just fantastic. And I love that you explain in your intro and also in the videos that they're not just for regular YouTube science nerds, but also I love the ones that are positioned for folks that are looking to go to college or are in college or doing post-grad research and stuff. Why did you make that decision?

Imari Walker: So when I decided mid-corona ... I guess this is my corona life crisis.

Quinn: Sure. By the way, could be a lot worse.

Brian: Yeah, you're killing it.

Imari Walker: But I wanted to do something that was meaningful. And I realized that all these conferences were ending and being canceled, and I was like, "How am I going to communicate science if we can't be face-to-face and talk about my research?" But I realized that the entire community needs to know about this work, not just the scientists. And when I told my mom I wanted to do a YouTube channel, she was like, "Oh, great. Because I have a lot of ideas."

Quinn: What?

Imari Walker: "You need to tell all your cousins about how to get into college. You can make the video for everybody." And so she was very, "Yes, you know all this stuff about how to get into the top colleges in the country and how to get scholarships to pay your way. And just talk about your life experience because that can be meaningful to other people that haven't seen a Black woman talk about these kinds of things."

Quinn: oh, I think that's awesome.

Brian: That's incredible. Her mom's the best.

Quinn: Yeah, I know. Wait, how do we just get her on the line? In addition to you, you're great. But it seems like your mom is fantastic.

Imari Walker: Oh, she's great. I love her. And I talked a lot about this before with her.

Brian: Cool.

Quinn: Is she going to listen to this?

Imari Walker: Absolutely. I've told her all about it.

Quinn: Oh, Jesus. Oh, the pressure. Oh my God. How is she going to feel if there's a couple F-bombs involved in this in some capacity?

Brian: Oh, come on.

Quinn: I'm going to try not to.

Imari Walker: I'll say she's very fluent. So you're good.

Quinn: If you're not four months into COVID, then I don't know, man. Wasn't there science that came out that ... Brian, we talked about this. That says that it actually helps relieve stress?

Brian: Absolutely.

Imari Walker: I'm sure. My mom right now is busy taking care of elementary school, my little sister, and full-time being an attorney. So it's-

Quinn: Wow.

Imari Walker: ... a big job to handle as one person.

Quinn: That's awesome.

Brian: She's just sounding more and more badass.

Quinn: Should we send Brian to help? Would you think that would help or make it more difficult for her?

Brian: Whatever you need.

Imari Walker: She's out in California. She's in Sacramento. I'll just-

Brian: Cool. Short trip.

Quinn: Bang. Road trip. Are those allowed? I don't even know if those are allowed at this point.

Brian: I'm not sure.

Quinn: Los Angeles is just burning down. But anyways, let's get to our topic today, which is the things that are in our water that's not supposed to be, one version of that in particular. Just a super quick context: think basically ... Some things I've pulled from the internet. In 2018, there were about 359 million metric tons of plastics produced worldwide, which is a lot. I don't know how many whales that is. I probably could have done the math on it, but you know. And then a 2017 in the journal Science Advances estimated that if current production and waste management trends continue, roughly 12 billion metric tons of plastic waste will be in landfills or in the natural environment by 2050, which doesn't sound great.

Quinn: But the questions are, where the hell does that all come from? And why, and how do we stop doing that? So I want to dig into our topic of the week here. What are microplastics? Why are they in the water and thus most likely in my body? Which as Brian can tell you, until now basically was a temple.

Quinn: So Imari, before we get to that, quick question. Your college dissertation at Berkeley, and correct me if I'm wrong here, was on the quantification of particulate inorganic carbon sedimentation using autonomous Carbon Flux Explorer. Is that correct?

Imari Walker: Oh, yeah. Throw it back. Yeah, that's it.

Quinn: Is that Back to the Future?

Brian: What are those words?

Quinn: Is that what that is? Did you invent the DeLorean?

Imari Walker: Oh, no. Wow, this was a long time. But my advisor back at Berkeley, Jim Bishop, he designed robots to go to different parts of the ocean and just basically have a camera facing up towards the sky.

Quinn: Interesting.

Imari Walker: And it would record whatever dirt or dead organisms would collect onto the camera, and then cleaned off every hour or so, and he had thousands of pictures at different depths. And I basically traded code with some of the other graduate students to understand or identify what was organic versus inorganic, and try and quantify the number of particles over time. So that was a way of trying to understand the carbon cycling and how that was changing with depth.

Quinn: I like how you say, "Oh, I just basically made some code that filters through footage of organic versus inorganic."

Brian: Yeah, no big deal.

Quinn: One of my favorite games to play is, and to be clear I would be fully guilty of this, is to ask Brian after one of our scientists or engineers or astronauts, whatever, talks about something such as that, to ask Brian, how would you do that? Where would you begin that process? And who can know? Who can know?

Brian: It's always a welcome question.

Quinn: Yeah, yeah, I'm sure.

Imari Walker: It's like a game of Tetris. I think, from what I remember, you just look at different pixels and identify them as particles or not.

Brian: Great. Sounds easy.

Quinn: Is she mocking us? Okay.

Brian: Exactly.

Imari Walker: No.

Brian: We're talking about microplastics. So let's get on the same page, I guess, everybody at home and I want to say me, too, because I don't know what's happening.

Quinn: Yep. Yep.

Brian: Where do they come from?

Quinn: What are they?

Brian: Right. What are they?

Imari Walker: Yeah, so microplastics are just pieces of plastic that are smaller than five millimeters.

Quinn: Okay.

Imari Walker: So that is smaller than a push pin.

Brian: [crosstalk 00:12:18]

Quinn: I was going to say, this is America. We don't do millimeters here, Imari.

Imari Walker: It was so hard. When you switch to research, you got to go to those units now. So it was quite an adjustment. I was like, "Convert it to inches." But no.

Quinn: Yeah.

Imari Walker: Basically, if you have one of those tacks on a bulletin board or a push pin, that is anything smaller than that, that top of the pin is what we would call a microplastic. And they can be what we call primary microplastics, which are things that you can find in face wash or your body scrubs or even sometimes toothpaste. Those are just tiny, spherical microplastics that ... I used to use all the time. I had no idea that that was plastic in my body wash.

Quinn: Right.

Brian: Yep.

Imari Walker: And then there's second microplastics. And so those are things like anything we throw away or gets improperly disposed of, that form of plastic is going to degrade over time. And sometimes that takes up to hundreds of years. But with the exposure to the environment, where you're getting exposed to air, water, a little bit of wind and sunlight, the combination of those factors along with mechanical abrasion processes. So I always imagine a water bottle you threw out after your long beach trip, sitting on the shore, and those waves and the sand are hitting it and forming microplastic particles.

Quinn: It doesn't sound great. I'm going to be honest.

Brian: So some of it's water bottles and normal things and now, after a long time-

Quinn: I feel like that's the thing that people think of first, right?

Brian: Right, right.

Imari Walker: Oh, yeah. The things that get degraded over time. And I think the one that we don't think about as often is actually microplastic fibers. So those are the things that come from our clothing that we're wearing. I don't know when's the last time we checked the labels on our clothes other than to see what the size is to make sure this isn't shrinking or-

Quinn: Mine tend to shrink quite a bit. I'm going to be honest.

Imari Walker: But things that aren't labeled cotton, things that are labeled rayon or polyester, those are plastic. Our stretchy pants are forms of plastic, and whenever we wash them or even throw them in the dryer, they're releasing thousands of these microfibers out into our environment.

Brian: Okay, yes, I was just going to say, how do they get into the air and then of course the water?

Imari Walker: Yeah. So okay, yeah, let's talk about air.

Brian: Yeah.

Imari Walker: So first we'll say clothing. So when you throw things into the dryer, you've got your outlet. You know, you already have a lint collector, but it's not going to collect everything.

Quinn: Right.

Imari Walker: Things are going to flow out into the air. So that's definitely a factor of at least from our indoor environment releasing fibers outdoors.

Brian: So I have these yoga pants, right? They're kind of stretchy. They're very comfortable. And when I dry them-

Quinn: When was the last time you did yoga?

Brian: No, they're for wearing. Comfortably wearing around the house.

Quinn: Okay, so just call them comfortable pants.

Brian: So just pants.

Quinn: Don't put a label on yourself that you don't deserve.

Brian: Athleisure wear. It's called athleisure wear, okay? Thank you very much, Imari. Thank you for that.

Quinn: Okay, okay.

Brian: Sorry about Quinn. So when I dry those, literally pieces of plastic is going into the air?

Imari Walker: Yes, yeah. So they're releasing a large amount of our fibers. And at least on the outdoor side as well, whenever we get in our car and go for a drive ... How many of us are actually getting in our cars these days?

Quinn: Yeah.

Brian: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Turns out everyone in Los Angeles has for three months, and that's part of the problem.

Imari Walker: Oh, no.

Brian: It's just a separate, separate discussion. Continue.

Imari Walker: I mean, they're all related. Coronavirus and plastics and climate change, they all bolster each other, to be honest. But when you drive, you drive on tires that are made of synthetic rubber and whenever you combine pavement and a tire, you're going to get tire rubble, tire dust. And that's just another form of microplastics that's being released into our air and into our waterways with rain events.

Imari Walker: And then I think the last air example I think about is whenever countries decide to burn their trash. Not every country has waste management practices like landfills and stuff. Some of them will just outright burn trash and release all kinds of toxic chemicals and sometimes smaller fragments of the plastic into the air.

Brian: Great.

Quinn: Yeah. This seems great.

Imari Walker: Not to scare you. But that happens.

Quinn: All right, so that's how all this crap is in our air and now our water.

Imari Walker: Yeah. And we're inhaling it in some ways. Outdoor dust, probably not as much. The indoor environment is probably more significant if we're worried about how much we're inhaling, just because we have carpets, we have furniture, our clothes are plastic. So there's almost probably tenfold exposure to microplastics if we're looking at the indoor environment. We're now indoors more than outdoors.

Quinn: Yeah.

Brian: Well, it's interesting how much that seems to have come up in the past few years, even when we're talking about things like natural gas. Because obviously this is completely unequal like the rest of America, outside there's large portions of the country where the air is very toxic and it's bad, and we've always thought, "Oh, being inside is better." But it turns out, there's a large number of toxic, not just the terrible cleaning products that magically got everything white for 40 years and also give your kids cancer. It's things like the natural gas stove or fireplace or whatever it might be in your home. And it turns out, I guess, all the microplastics, like you said, we're washing or we're breathing, whatever it might be. It seems like being inside is also not great.

Imari Walker: It's not perfect. It's a sad situation. I'd say vacuum often. If you see dust accumulating, time to vacuum up.

Brian: What do we know about what microplastics to our bodies? And I guess what do we not know yet?

Imari Walker: I think, as far as from the human health perspective, we don't know much to say definitively what's going to happen. They've done work on model species like rats to see what could possibly happen in the human body. And so some things that we're particularly worried about are ... All right, let's talk about inhalation. If we're inhaling plastic into our lungs, and that really depends on the size of the microplastic. If we get closer to a nano range, which is less than 100 micrometers, those have the ability to deposit in the deep lungs. And so with that, we're worried about the idea of getting lesions in our respiratory system, and so that's a question of inflammation, cancer, what we don't know. But they have done, I think they've done biopsies of human lungs that used to work in textiles, and they would find microplastic fibers in their lungs. But there's no study that actually pinpoints any of this at this point. It's definitely one of the concerns for inhalation.

Imari Walker: For ingestion, whenever we consume microplastics, whether that comes from our table salt to getting a beer or even drinking water or drinks that have microplastics or consuming seafood-

Brian: There's plastic in my beer?

Imari Walker: Yeah. There's plastic in your beer.

Brian: God.

Imari Walker: It's sad.

Brian: Okay, okay.

Imari Walker: Deep breaths. Deep breaths. It's okay.

Quinn: This whole conversation is just an intervention for Brian.

Brian: Yep. Right. It's working.

Imari Walker: If we're going to avoid everything microplastic, it's going to be close to impossible right now.

Quinn: Perfect.

Brian: Great.

Imari Walker: But you choose your battles. But we're consuming it. Not only is it in our food, but if you're sitting indoors and your dinner plate is just sitting there and you're eating, your dust particles are falling onto your food. So you're probably getting more microplastics from just your indoor air environment landing on your steak than the actual steak with microplastics. I don't know if steak has microplastics.

Brian: Probably.

Quinn: I mean, steak's not great.

Imari Walker: No.

Brian: For many reasons.

Imari Walker: Exactly. But they have been looking into vegetables and other things like fruit to find microplastic particles within them. So we can talk about soil in a second.

Imari Walker: But when you're consuming microplastics, the worry is that it can accumulate in our stomach. If it's not pooped out, which we have found microplastics in poop, it's official. I didn't do that work. That's not me.

Brian: Nice.

Imari Walker: Yeah. But it can possibly move into blood vessels and end up accumulating in places like our liver. And so that's a big concern for ingestion.

Quinn: Is there just not enough ... How come there's so much uncertainty? There's just enough data yet? It hasn't been studied for long enough?

Imari Walker: I'd say a combination of that. There's not enough research in that field and to study humans is very difficult.

Quinn: Right.

Imari Walker: And so there's a lot of ethics associated to that. I just look and comb through what I can of people that are trying to do this work. But it's so recent, the new interest in what's going to happen to humans.

Imari Walker: But we've seen a lot of things that have happened things like marine organisms, where they lose energy or metabolism or it gets clogged in their stomachs and they're unable to remove microplastics from their bodies. And so that can lead to things like lower energy levels, the possibility of lower fertility and the ability to reproduce. Some marine organisms just die because they can't handle it. There's chemicals associated to these plastics. So there's a whole host of possibilities whether the effects for marine organisms, because they're continually interacting with them in our oceans, in our fresh water environments.

Imari Walker: I know a study found that cocoa pods, when they were consuming microplastics, they stopped eating. About 40% of their normal food intake, they just reduced that. And so that made their eggs become smaller and then it made it that they were less likely to hatch those eggs. So it affected their entire population.

Quinn: Wow.

Imari Walker: Yeah. It's scary.

Quinn: It seems like as usual, we've started pulling a string and we're finding out other things we should know and other things we just don't know yet. It seemed like 15 years ago it was, "Oh, hey, one, well, stop buying soda. But two, if you're going to buy soda, be sure to cut the rings so that the fish and the dolphins don't eat the plastic rings and they choke," and it turns out it's not just the large, six-inch plastic rings. Those don't break down, and then when they do, those turn into tiny microplastics. Oh, and also they come from other things, not just your soda and your beer rings, like your clothing or chemical factories, and those get into blood streams. It just seems like the rule of if this, then what else?

Imari Walker: Oh, yeah. And I think when you talk about the soda can, we forget that it may be metal on the outside, but it's plastic on the inside. They're usually lined with what's called epoxy, and the base chemical associated to epoxy is bisphenol A. So I think a lot of people, when they say there's chemicals in plastic know what you're talking about. But then they see things like EPA-free bottles in children's products and, I think, that's one that people got really excited about and said, "We need this out of our products." What they didn't realize is that bisphenol A was replaced with other kinds of bisphenols. Bisphenol F, bisphenol S.

Quinn: Sure.

Imari Walker: And those are somewhat more toxic in studies than the original products. So yeah. There's a lot to the story of plastics, even inside that can.

Quinn: Humans are very happy to look for the easy answer and the easy win.

Brian: Sure, sure.

Quinn: You know? Like banning plastic bags somewhere and then calling it a day, essentially.

Brian: It seems like I guess because there's not a ton of clarity, there's not much concrete evidence and we can make only good guesses, that that's probably why there's an issue regarding big action being taken about this. Since we can't prove it, that it's hurting us on a vast scale, there's no way that we're going to throw a wrench into capitalism.

Imari Walker: Oh, no.

Quinn: I mean, we don't do shit about cars, and we've known about that for forever.

Brian: Right, and we've known.

Quinn: So if we can move outside the house a little bit. As with all things in America, it's important to point out that these aren't just coming from your clothes or the consumer products you buys. They're in a large way coming out, and please correct me if I'm wrong here, from a lot of these petro-chemical factories as well. Is that correct?

Imari Walker: So they are what are producing the plastics, converting those. They're taking oil and making plastic. But yeah, I actually don't know the percentages associated to household use of plastic versus anything else. I would say that plastic packaging is a huge use of plastic that's just accumulating unnecessarily.

Quinn: It's interesting. I'm curious. Because we know about all the, for instance, all the petro-chemical plants that are mostly around the Gulf Coast, right? Up and down the river in Louisiana, right? Cancer alley. That's famous. That has been a nightmare for 40 years or whatever. So I'm curious how those come into play as well. And now of course, they're adding more of those in Texas and they're building more in Pennsylvania and part of the reason is, and this is how we touch on a lot of things here ... When I was doing my reading, they're talking so much about how electric vehicles are growing and so eventually cars on combustion engines will be outlawed everywhere and that's starting in Europe and it will eventually at some point happen here, you'd think, or the whole things is over.

Quinn: But the oil companies are like, "We're fine, because we're just going to make more plastic because you people can't stop buying plastic." And they're building these things within a mile of schools in some places. And of course, they're not schools where private white kids go, right? So it's interesting to me that it seems like we're just starting to fight this fight, right? Because these chemical plants and these petro-chemical plants, refineries, that like you said are making the plastics and are refining them from petroleum, are in the air and the water of America's Black and brown people. And it seems like we haven't even started to take that on.

Imari Walker: Yeah.

Quinn: I'm just trying to take a step back and look at the bigger institution of it and where is it all coming from. Basically, I don't know if you're a video game person but what's the final boss we're actually going to have to take on here?

Imari Walker: Oh, I agree. I think that a lot of ... They're arguing that it's more supply-demand. But there's a huge environmental justice associated with plastic. Yeah, if you're building it around communities of color and disadvantaged places, I always come to question, what is the air going to be like there? What are the water going to be like when they're consuming it? And I know that's also a reason for why, especially in the Black community, when I talk to my family like, "Hey, you should stop drinking out of a bottled water and start getting a reusable glass bottle or whatnot," they're like, "Well, I'm not drinking tap water. Did you not see what happened in Michigan with lead?"

Imari Walker: I've been drinking out of bottled water since the dawn of time. I remember as a kid that we just never used dishes for a while in certain households. We would always reach for the Solo cup and the plastic plate. And that was just normalized, that we didn't need things that were not plastic.

Quinn: And you're from Georgia, right?

Imari Walker: So I'm from California, but I also lived in Georgia.

Quinn: Oh, okay.

Imari Walker: I lived there for high school. And so it was just pretty normalized as far as what I understood, was that plastic makes things easy.

Quinn: Sure.

Imari Walker: And I don't trust the water because people are out there poisoning us. And while there are stories like that, where disadvantaged communities are not getting proper water quality, that's not necessarily true for the entire United States. So at least with my vehicles that I make, I'm trying to empower people, especially communities of color that have a distrust of water, to consider looking at their county website for water information. Even EWG to get a contrasting information on what other contaminants are present, and doing their own water quality testing kits, if they're really worried about that kind of stuff.

Imari Walker: But yeah, I think the real pressure as far as plastic production should be on corporations to really take a look at why are we continually producing all this plastic since World War II? It's almost exponential. And so I think it's time to try to really pressure these companies ramping down a little bit, considering what the effect is on the rest of the world and our communities.

Quinn: And it's so complicated right? And this is where you really have to try to engage as much as possible in systems thinking and first principles and such. Which is completely understandable why your family and other families in Georgia or again, especially in Texas and those areas or Flint and all of Detroit, why they would be skeptical of city-run water or of not privately owned and why they would just buy bottled water.

Quinn: But at the same time, now you're telling them, "Yes, yes, but now there's also there's this other problem with this thing you used as an answer," which is don't drink out of the bottles and the things you wear, et cetera, et cetera. Please don't get a well because the wells aren't monitored. They aren't verified by any sort of water quality thing.

Quinn: I'm stuck on this a little bit because we're having a conversation really soon with some folks who are really into the water stuff, and you're right. It's something like 85% of American water, of public utility water in America, doesn't have any safety issues. And that's really great on a global scale. But I don't think that we can escape the fact that the varying 15 to 20% that does have issues is predominantly in areas of Black and brown people, and/or people below the poverty line. So again, it's understandable why people would be skeptical and why they would say, "No, I'm just going to buy the 30 pack of plastic water from CVS every week." I mean, I get it.

Imari Walker: And it's scary, because it's also a question of equity. That bottle of water is almost charged 3,000 times more than tap water. You're paying more to basically put tap water in a plastic bottle and sold to you at a premium. So it's just a huge, huge issue of equity. And then you're not only drinking the tap water, but you're drinking possibly the chemicals associated to that bottle in the tap water.

Quinn: Not to put you on the spot with this, but is there a place for this sort of larger, societal, civil rights version of this that fits into your work, or an application of your work at some point? I realize you're literally still getting your degree here. The point is we need you. I'm just curious in the way the world is changing and how information is so much more powerful and also available, so that we are starting to, again, know more of these things and know how the system is designed and how it is punishing certain people. I'm just curious if you see that playing a role at any point?

Imari Walker: Yeah, so right now I don't really know too many environmental justice-related groups focused on the plastic issue at hand. I know one of the projects that I'm currently working, which I guess is not necessarily a part of my dissertation, is studying communities of color close by to Durham, and trying to understand what their well water is like in comparison to the municipal water. The fact that it was almost gerrymandering, the way that their pipes were drawn around this Black community, not giving them access to municipal water services. And so I do the chemistry of that water, and I do what's called non-target analysis, which is chemical forensic science, to try and identify compounds that might be associated to their septic tanks or to whatever they spray on their lawns that could end up in their wells.

Brian: Sure.

Imari Walker: And so for me, I wanted to do something for my community while I still have these tools that I'm learning in my Ph.D. And so it still kind of fit in line with the skills I wanted to grow as a person and a way to try and help understand what's going on in communities of color.

Quinn: It seems like a great starting place, right? There's either such a substantial overpowering amount of disinformation or misinformation that is extended to these people, or there's been a lack of information extended to them. And so they go on whatever Pepsi's marketing tells them about the bottled water or whatever some uninformed county official tells them about building their well. "It'll be great. You've got your own water." Meanwhile it's not regulated in any way and you have no idea what's in there.

Imari Walker: Yeah, it's frustrating. And then there's always issues of water quantity. If their well breaks, what do they do?

Quinn: Right.

Imari Walker: Now they have to go to the municipal water. They have to drive with a plastic tank, fill up their water there and transport it back, and it sits in this plastic tank in the sun and the environmental, forming microplastics and releasing all kinds of chemicals. But it's technically tap water, but it's now in a plastic carboy in the sun.

Quinn: Sure.

Imari Walker: So sad. It's really sad.

Brian: Yikes.

Quinn: Well, all we can do is take action and try to help.

Brian: Right, right. Yeah.

Quinn: Is fight the good fight here.

Brian: Yeah, and so as we start to look at that towards action steps, I want to know. We've just starting banning plastic bags, right? And plastic straws and microbeads in cosmetics, et cetera. Is that just the tip of the iceberg? Are these things good and helpful?

Imari Walker: I think that single use plastic is what makes up the majority of improperly disposed waste in things like our ocean. So I think that plastic bag bans are a great start, along with straws. But I think we need to think a little bit wider scale.

Quinn: Right.

Imari Walker: And really try and limit things like plastic packaging. We're going to keep ordering things, I'm assuming. We're all staying at home. We like to buy stuff. How do we make sure that's done in a way that doesn't accumulate unnecessary amounts of plastic? And then let's talk about coronavirus. We are all wearing masks now. Please wear masks, everybody.

Quinn: Sure. Jesus Christ, just wear a mask.

Imari Walker: We're wearing masks, but a lot of people are buying those single-use medical masks instead of these reusable, get your t-shirt-

Brian: Washable.

Imari Walker: Yeah, washable masks. And so that is accumulating massive amounts of debris and masks in our environment and in our landfills. And I think an article was just released that said almost as many masks in the ocean as jellyfish now.

Quinn: Oh, great.

Brian: What?

Imari Walker: I think they were trying to predict how many are accumulating, because we're just using them all over the world now. We're mass-producing. Our petro-chemical companies are now designed to mass-produce these masks. And while they are very important for our medical workers, who need to have that single-use option, the general public should really start considering moving towards cloth options or things that are reusable.

Quinn: Yeah, and it fires me up, and this is why the answers to these things and the real objects of our ire need to be the corporations and the institutionalized design of these things. I understand why people, and I get this all of the time, why in conversations when we're trying to encourage people how to live a cleaner life for themselves and for society, when you're like, "Oh, but don't actually drink that water because that's got plastic. Oh, but don't actually build a well." Eventually they just go, "Well, how do I fucking win?" Where is the fucking win?

Brian: Right.

Quinn: And the problem with that is, yes, people definitely need to make better choices and better choices can improve the health of yourself and your family and your locality and your water and your society for sure. And they can also spur for a movement, for example, in 2020 when we've got social media and things like that, right? You're not just shouting into the wind as much as you can. But the real movement is going to be on this institutionalized front, whether it's with climate or clean energy or clean water or whatever it might be, right?

Quinn: But I get why, again, it's complicated when you keep taking a step back. When you think about coal, for example, right? Industrialized countries, as we call them now, have spent 100 years, since Peaky Blinders, developing and industrializing and become rich, relatively rich compare to the rest of the world, on the back of easy coal, and then for the last 50 years, easy plastic, right? Meanwhile we desperately need to ban both of those things. And so the countries that further behind, probably because they were colonized at first, on those metrics at least, they're told, "Sorry, you don't get to use coal and you don't get to use plastic." And that's shitty because we got to, but it's also necessary.

Quinn: I guess the difference being that if we stopped using coal and plastic right now, right? For coal, at least we've got these starter technologies that for sure we shouldn't be relying on but we should be working on simultaneously, these things that can suck emissions out of the air. But I guess the problem with plastic, and please, please correct me if I'm wrong here, one, it never breaks down, and two, there's not a fucking giant magnet you can draw along the beach and suck all the plastic up, right? Unless that's what you're doing with your flux capacitor or whatever. Again, please correct me if I'm wrong. There's no way to actually get rid of this stuff. So we can stop making it, but are we just going to be living with all of this that's already out there? I'm not trying to be doom-y, I just want to establish facts here so people understand.

Imari Walker: Yeah, I feel you with the gloom and doom. I agree with you. I think it's going to take larger time scales than we will live to see to actually remove plastic from our environment that was made back in World War II. And I guess that depends on the plastic type, of course, as well.

Imari Walker: But yeah, I was just thinking about this earlier. I was like, "How do we take a magnet that doesn't pick up organisms or nutrients out of the ocean and suck up microplastics?" I have not heard of anything as of yet. So I guess in that realm, we could try and do things to remediate our environment. But I think the biggest solution right now is to try and lessen the amount that is being released into the environment. That our waste management practices and production decreases.

Quinn: Sure. And it's like you talked about with the masks. Again, it reminds me of 20th century energy and the arguments that all these fossil fuel companies are making in court now, which are just fucking null and void. Oh, there it is. Sorry, Mom.

Brian: She's good.

Quinn: They're like, "Hey, guys. You used our energy to build society. You're welcome." And everyone in the other side of the courtroom is going, "No, no, no. See, we asked for energy. We didn't ask for fossil fuels. We asked for energy." And there's a different way to do it and it's the same thing as the masks. Plastic is the easy answer. We need masks. To be very clear, we need masks. You don't have to make them out of plastic just because it's the cheapest, easiest option, because there is a fucking trade off to it.

Quinn: And we need to make that decision now, four months into this thing, because everyone, seven billion people, are going to be wearing them for the next few years. And we've got to find a way and it can't just be fancy canvas masks assembled in Los Angeles, as great as those are, because no one can afford them, right? We have to find other ways to do this and we have to challenge these institutions to do them now so that it doesn't become a bigger problem, because again, we can't get rid of the plastic once it's out there.

Imari Walker: Oh, yeah. And i think that it's really interesting to see that there's companies now advertising the single-use plastic as hygienic and clean. Almost to get everybody back on. "Oh, you need to buy single-use cups." And everything is go right back to it because you don't want to get this virus, so get things you can throw out so you don't have to interact with them again.

Quinn: And it's so easy to think, "Oh, that's probably just a coincidence and they're not doing that on purpose." Until you read the strategy documents from these companies from the past 30 years. Or what they're even doing in the past two years when they're buying all their green washing advertisements, being like, "Oh, we're spending a million dollars on carbon capture this year." And it's like, "Motherfucker, you made $100 billion last year. Don't tell me how you're spending a million dollars." It's just literally marketing money. It's insane.

Imari Walker: The drop in the bucket. It's sad. And there's also companies that are now trying to push back at certain bag bans. I know in California, it was paused so that y'all could use plastic bags again during the virus. But there's a lot of work trying to undo the work being done to limit plastic.

Brian: We must take action.

Imari Walker: Take it back.

Brian: Take it back!

Quinn: Let's tell them what's up, Brian.

Brian: Yeah, yeah. So let's talk about action steps that our listeners can take to support you and your mission with their voice, their vote, and their dollar. So let's start with voice. One of our overarching goals is to shine a light on where we need to go as a people. So what are the big, specific, actionable questions that we can all be asking of our elected representatives to support you in your mission?

Imari Walker: The specific, actionable things that we can ask representatives would be, what are your waste management strategies in your city or state, and how are these planning to change with the ever-increasing plastic in our world? Along with, not everybody has recycling, and that's a crazy thing to me. My last apartment did not really have as many recycling options. And so I've been trying to at least get that up and running and making sure that all plastic is getting recycled, because that's a whole other bag of discussion that somebody great should come talk to y'all about.

Imari Walker: But just working to fix our waste management practices of plastic first. And then putting more pressure on corporations to really think about a circular economy with their products. I know that I think Coca-Cola is trying to buy back their bottles to continue to reuse them. So trying to encourage corporations to consider that once you put this product out into the universe, how do you get that back and continue to reuse it in innovative ways so that we're not ramping up production over and over again? That kind of pressure from representatives and from government to take those steps I think is going to be very important, because it's not going to just take us and our dollar, it's going to take policy in place to try and limit single-use plastic and create circular economies with plastic.

Quinn: I love it.

Brian: Love it. And then what can listeners do with their money? Besides supporting candidates vocally or on the federal level, are there specific places that we can be donating? Places that are really fighting these fights?

Imari Walker: Yeah. So there's a couple. There's a Plastic Ocean Collective. The one right now ... So this is July. This is Plastic Free July and that is a plastic-free foundation with the goal of creating a world free of plastic waste. So you can donate on their website, which is plasticfreejuly.org. You can also take their Pesky Plastic Quiz, which is what I did yesterday, and it shows you what are you currently doing to mitigate plastic waste and what are the things that you should consider or may not be as possible for you just because of your economic situation or what's accessible to you. So I think that org is a really interesting one. And they're not just focused on July. They're trying to just start a movement. Starting today, this month forward, how do we as a group of people try and limit plastic?

Brian: Very glad to hear that's not just July.

Imari Walker: No, no.

Brian: No, that's really awesome. Okay. We can put links to those in our show notes. And then what are things we can do just on a personal level? I don't know. Washing and drying our clothes, or air purifiers, or any other maybe things that the average person wouldn't think about that they could do to help?

Imari Walker: Yeah.

Quinn: And sorry. And I just want to be, again, clear there, like we are with our climate stuff. Which is like, the onus is not on the person to solve this problem. That is our elected officials and industry. But like you said, and the research is beginning to show, these things do affect your air and your water and your blood stream, so there are actions we all should be taking just to make ourselves and our families healthier, again, if we're socioeconomically able to do that. So again, proceed.

Imari Walker: Yeah. No, I absolutely agree. I think the pressure should be more on corporations than on humans. But things like buying bulk, like going to the wholesale club and getting bulk or dried beans and fruit. Those can be helpful. Using a reusable water bottle or mug. Now, in our current days of days, going to a coffee shop with a reusable mug is not going to be very feasible, but there are still water-refilling stations for water bottles, and those are still labeled as safe to do so.

Imari Walker: Getting things like bulk tea leaves. So we were just talking about tea before this.

Brian: Yeah.

Quinn: Oh, I knew it was going to come back to this.

Imari Walker: We're back to it. So if you like to drink tea ... I love drinking tea. You've got to think about what your teabag is made out of. So a lot of them are actually made out of plastic bags.

Brian: Perfect.

Imari Walker: And so if you throw that into a hot cup of water, you're likely to release billions of microplastic particles into your drink.

Brian: Awesome.

Quinn: I learned about this about a year ago. I was a big tea drinker. And the idea that these things were plastic, I was horrified. Like you said, you're putting it into hot water. You're just doing the thing to yourself.

Brian: Is the average teabag that thing that sort of looks like it's ... I don't know. I wouldn't think plastic right away, but is that plastic?

Imari Walker: No, I think those fancy premium ones that look like a cloth bag.

Brian: Yeah, right, right, right.

Imari Walker: And that cost extra. The fancy ones are typically what I think of with those plastic teabags. And even with coffee, if you have a Keurig and you're popping the pod in to get your coffee, that's a single-use plastic.

Brian: Yeah, yeah. Those are bad.

Imari Walker: Yeah. You can get a replaceable one.

Quinn: Apparently the Nespresso ones are recyclable, at least, I send them back. I really would love to have someone from that company on the show to explain to me how those are recyclable and all of the Keurig ones are not. Because it doesn't seem like quite the nightmare, these things.

Brian: Yeah.

Imari Walker: Yeah, there's so many. Plastic makes things easy, but they're not that easy at the end of the day.

Brian: Right. It's very tricky actually.

Imari Walker: Oh, yeah. For things like clothes, I would think about trying to buy things that have cotton in them or linen, since it's warm outside right now. Or even just buying secondhand. If you try and put clothes that were originally plastic back into circulation so that they're not getting thrown away earlier, that's going to definitely help as far as the idea of fast fashion. We're continually buying things for one wear, and then letting them accumulate and then get tossed when we're done with.

Imari Walker: And even microwaving plastic. Yeah. We're going back into the office with our reusable lunchbox. You don't want to microwave your Tupperwares much. I don't recommend it. It's just heat and whatever substances are present in there absorbing those chemicals into your food.

Imari Walker: What about in the bathroom? Oh, let's talk about wet wipes.

Brian: Oh, let's talk about wet wipes.

Quinn: Yeah, yeah.

Imari Walker: Yeah, let's get into the special time in the bathroom.

Brian: Sure.

Imari Walker: So I always end up talking about poop because I'm an environmental engineer.

Brian: For sure.

Quinn: So do we and we're not, which is weird.

Brian: Yeah. Makes less sense for us.

Quinn: Please continue.

Imari Walker: Yes, so imagine using your wet wipe. Most of them, flushable or not flushable, tend to have some sort of plastic which is called a polyethylene terephthalate. And so those will end up being flushed down the drain, accumulate in our sewers and sometimes cause blockages. But they release all kinds of microplastic fibers into our water and then if they're cleaned out with our poop. You never know what happens to your poop when you're done. It will be removed as sludge and then land applied later. So lovely fertilizer.

Brian: Wow.

Imari Walker: Yeah. Those contain thousands of microplastic fibers that end up in our agricultural environments and can possible get uptaken into our food like our vegetables and fruits. So think about whether you really need to use a flushable or a non-flushable wipe, and even consider looking into bidets. I haven't tried one yet, but that's an option.

Quinn: They'll change your fucking life, is what they are. I got one five years ago. They are delightful.

Brian: Good to know.

Imari Walker: Duly noted. He's voted for it.

Quinn: I got whatever the Wirecutter one is. Hold on. I'm going to find out what it is.

Brian: Oh, Wirecutter is great.

Quinn: It's so dangerous.

Imari Walker: [crosstalk 00:54:44]

Quinn: The Toto Washlet. You don't know Wirecutter? Oh, no.

Imari Walker: No.

Quinn: Oh, this is real bad.

Brian: Tell us about Wirecutter.

Quinn: Wirecutter is like Consumer Reports except they just say, "This is the best one. Get this one." It's been around for five years. It's fantastic. And then they'll write 2,000 words about why it's the best one, but it's great.

Imari Walker: No, that's perfect. That's exactly what I need. I need fully verified that something is exactly what I need.

Brian: Right. Exactly.

Quinn: Yeah. Those people owe me a lot of money. Anyways. Well, that's all really, really helpful. I really appreciate it. Again, to sort of summarize it, it sounds like check out things like Plastic Free July. Talk to your representatives and make a stink with industry about circular economies. Check out things like, like you said, Coca-Cola trying to bring back their bottles. Find out about chemical plants in your locality. Check your water quality. There's some great sources to do this and we'll put them in the show notes. Whether you're on city water or you're one of the small percentage on private water or you have a well, which again, no one is checking your well water but you. Is there a way for people with well water? Can they bring them to a scientist such as yourself to get their quality checked? How does that work?

Imari Walker: I do believe there are certain research centers that are taking water samples, but I don't actually know if you have to pay for them or not. That's always the other issue is how expensive that can get. But I can send you some links if I see something. There might be someone in my lab that does that.

Quinn: Okay, well that's something interesting we could figure out. Let's chat. And then otherwise, it seems like, buy in bulk. Don't buy a set of 50 seaweed things that have 50 different packages. Try not to use the Keurig coffee things. Buy secondhand clothes when you can, even if it's plastic. Pass that on. Participate where you can in a circular economy. And please stop microwaving plastic and using plastic teabags. Does that start to cover it?

Imari Walker: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. That's perfect.

Quinn: Awesome.

Brian: "Perfect." Wow. Well done, Quinn.

Quinn: I did nothing. I literally just said what she said back.

Brian: You just said what she said, yeah.

Quinn: No, I did none of this work. And neither am I qualified to do any of it. Imari, we're getting close to time here, so we want to get your out of here. But we have a last few questions that we ask everybody, if you have two more minutes for them.

Imari Walker: Absolutely.

Brian: Lightning round.

Quinn: It's still not a lightning round.

Brian: Oh.

Quinn: We're going to change the name one day. Thanks, Brian.

Brian: Got it. Yep.

Quinn: Imari, when was the first time in your life when you realized you had the power of change or the power to do something meaningful?

Imari Walker: Gosh. It almost feels like right now.

Quinn: I hope you don't mean literally today on this podcast. There's got to be something else.

Imari Walker: No, no, no, no.

Brian: Not like this exactly moment but-

Quinn: Sweet Jesus.

Brian: ... separate from us.

Imari Walker: I'll say that it feel like one of the moments that's made an impact on me was May, when I decided to create a YouTube channel to try and educate people on chemicals in our plastics and in our consumer products, and then teach people about higher education and the opportunities for themselves. Corona life crisis. Gets a cat as I start a YouTube channel.

Imari Walker: But I told people, this is what I want to do. I want to be a science communicator. I want to tell people to think a little bit more about the choices that we're making. And so my first video, I think, came out May 19th, and then the one about the 10 facts about microplastics, May 28th, that one ended up blowing up to over a couple thousand views. And so that moment of, "Wow, it's not just my mom watching this video. People are actually curious about microplastics and want to continue to talk about it like on this podcast," was an eye-opener for me.

Quinn: That's awesome.

Imari Walker: Yeah, it was crazy. And I think also the change in this double pandemic that we're dealing with. The fact that police brutality is, here especially with the Black community, I think the Black Lives Matter movement kind of amplified that Black voices are ... They need to be amplified. They need to be given a voice and show that we are a diverse group of people and have the opportunity to create change. The fact that it coincided around a similar timeline was really empowering for me.

Quinn: That's awesome. Well, we thank you for putting all that out there on top of all of your research and work you're doing for your own education and professional life.

Quinn: Imari, who is someone in your life that has positively impacted your work in the past six months?

Imari Walker: If it's not my mom, then it would have to be my fiance. Because I consider this channel and scientific communication another job and my own form of work. But I think he single-handedly really encouraged me and continues to push me to doing what I love and what I'm passionate about. So not only is it his birthday today, but-

Quinn: Hey oh!

Brian: Hey, happy birthday!

Quinn: This is coming out after his birthday, but happy birthday.

Imari Walker: Yes. Happy birthday, Demetrius.

Brian: Wait, so you can tell us now. What's the plan? What are you doing?

Imari Walker: Oh, oh my gosh. Yeah, I'm about to go get some barbecue. But he's going to cook it, because he's from Kansas City.

Brian: Oh, oh.

Imari Walker: So they have the best barbecue. But yeah, we're going to get some barbecue and a cake and just enjoy our day.

Brian: I love cake.

Quinn: How much can you enjoy judge it? You're going out in a pandemic to get the man barbecue. I mean, come on.

Imari Walker: Oh, yeah. It's going to be a good day.

Quinn: That's awesome. Why are you spending time with us? All right, hold on. We've got to get her out of here. Jesus.

Brian: Not be here right now.

Quinn: Well, thank you. Demetrius, is that what you said his name is?

Imari Walker: Yes, Demetrius.

Quinn: Thank you, Demetrius. Brian, bring her home. Come on, she has so much to do. Let's go.

Brian: Bring it home! No, of course. We love this question. What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?

Quinn: What's your self-care?

Brian: What is your self-care?

Imari Walker: Oh. So pre-COVID, it would be going to the gym. Current right now is journaling. To-do lists, because I'm a weirdo. I need to compartmentalize my life. And then bubble baths and walking my cat outside.

Quinn: I feel like you and Brian could have a whole other podcast about walking your cats.

Brian: I love that you love cats. Big cat guy over here. Big cat guy.

Imari Walker: Yeah, we can walk cats together. It's a great time.

Brian: Love it.

Quinn: Great. This is going great.

Brian: They're so incredible. And then, if you could send one book to Donald Trump? We have a list of recommendations from past guests on Bookshop. What would you add to that list?

Imari Walker: I'm not sure if this one's already on there, but I would say Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry. So that book teaches people self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.

Brian: It's weird that you think that that's applicable when needed.

Imari Walker: Well, you know, IQ typically can't be adjusted too much. But emotional intelligence is a place of growth for anybody. So I really appreciate that book. But I think the world would be different if we had a little more empathy in our leaders.

Quinn: Love that.

Imari Walker: We don't want our president to fail. We don't want our company to fail.

Brian: No.

Imari Walker: We want to do better and save our world. So a little bit of empathy is going to be important in that realm.

Brian: I love that. We will check it out and we will add it to the list. And listeners, you can find that link in our show notes. Used to be on Amazon, but we've moved on to Bookshop, because it's fantastic. And that's it. Bookshop.org/shop/importantnotimportant. What do we got on there? There's 90 books on there now. It's pretty great.

Quinn: Awesome.

Brian: Imari, where can our listeners follow you on the internet?

Imari Walker: So my YouTube channel is Imari Walker. It's spelled I-M-A-R-I W-A-L-K-E-R. And then I'm usually on Twitter and Instagram under calamari93. So C-A-L-A-M-A-R-I 93. That's it.

Quinn: Awesome.

Brian: Do you enjoy eating calamari?

Imari Walker: I do.

Brian: Yeah, I do too.

Imari Walker: I should be guilty, but maybe not. I don't know. I like it.

Brian: Every once in a while, when you need a good self-care day.

Imari Walker: Exactly. Bubble bath and calamari.

Quinn: Right after you walk your cat. None of us are perfect.

Brian: Love it.

Imari Walker: Perfect day.

Quinn: Oh God. Imari, thank you for your time. On Demetrius' birthday. Holy cow. And for all that you do to educate yourself, to educate others, to apply your force of curiosity, clearly, and personality and knowledge and skills to the professional world and society. I think we're all already very lucky and going to be very lucky to have you as part of this team trying to make the world a little bit of a better place. So thank you and thank you for taking the time to talk to us today.

Imari Walker: Thank you both for having me. Happy to do it. It was a good day.

Brian: Yeah, it was.

Quinn: Awesome. All right. Have a great rest of your day.

Brian: Enjoy the cake.

Quinn: Enjoy the cake. Wait, what kind of cake? What kind of guy is he for cake?

Imari Walker: It's ice cream cake. We're ordering a chocolate ice cream cake.

Brian: Yes.

Quinn: Strong. What's the icing?

Imari Walker: Oh, it's probably going to be buttercream.

Brian: Yes.

Quinn: Well, that's the right answer.

Brian: Making all the right decisions here, Imari.

Quinn: It's going to be great. All right, Imari. Have a great day and we will talk to you soon. Take care. Stay cool. Oh my God, don't go outside.

Brian: Thank you so much.

Imari Walker: All right. Bye.

Quinn: Thanks to our incredible guest today, and thanks to all of you for tuning in. We hope this episode has made your commute or awesome workout or dish-washing or fucking dog walking late at night that much more pleasant. As a reminder, please subscribe to our free email newsletter at importantnotimportant.com. It is all the news most vital to our survival as a species.

Brian: And you can follow us all over the internet. You can find us on Twitter @Importantnotimp. Just so weird. Also on Facebook and Instagram @importantnotimportant, Pinterest and Tumblr the same thing. So check us out, follow us, share us, like us. You know the deal. And please subscribe to our show wherever you listen to things like this. And if you're really fucking awesome, rate us on Apple Podcast. Keep the lights on. Thanks.

Quinn: Please.

Brian: And you can find the show notes today right in your little podcast player and at our website, importantnotimportant.com.

Quinn: Thanks to the very awesome Tim Blane for our jamming music, to all of you for listening, and finally, most importantly, to our moms for making us. Have a great day.

Brian: Thanks, guys.