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Changing Lifestyle to Mitigate Climate Change

Changing Lifestyle to Mitigate Climate Change

Organized at 3 PM GMT on 6th July, 2016


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Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

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Co-founder, be Waste Wise

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Research Analyst, be Waste Wise

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Madhumitha Rajendran performed research for the panel

Swetha D summarized the panel discussion and put together a set of interesting quotes.


CARL ZIMRING, Pratt Institute

We have to start thinking about the issue of waste as relationship between stakeholders, producers of goods & services and consumers and the public agencies that mediate between them.”

  • I always encourage my students to do a personal audit of their waste – keep a diary of what’s is thrown and the amount of waste that are disposed and taken care of by the waste services.
  • Maybe the convenient systems of waste managing may be encouraging greater disposal – Neighbours would fill their garbage cans at least twice a week because they know that these can be disposed but conversely my parents who live outside the city have to drive in to dispose of their waste and hence they do very little shopping as a result of this.

Cities in partnering with waste management companies /solutions have done a very good job of reducing the burden on consumers but this has come at a great expense for the polity to continue the same services.

  • We should have the real cost of waste management be more transparent to all stakeholders, not only to polity.
  • In the city of Chicago there is an ordinance on the books to contract for recycling services based on the number of units in the building or apartment but never enforced. There is an app ‘My Building Doesn’t Recycle’ that become so famous and heavily used that Chicago started enforcing now what they hadn’t done on 25 years.

The notion of personal safety against the waste stream has been a big area of discussion.

  • Packaging is also used for safety – it has been marketed to us that a sealed disposable package is safer to use. 
  • It is definitely possible to have packaging that are not single use. Single use packaging pushes the burden of disposing on the consumer and to the cities. 
  • What we decide to discard as a society is culturally constructed and if we value the idea of disposable plastic bags – that’s really a decision we are making to shut off the waste dimensions of that on more vulnerable people as well as birds, fish and other wildlife.

In the design aspects there are principles for good design strategies and one of the principle that’s been there for centuries ‘design is environmentally friendly’.

  • Getting the deign community to focus on what the implications of the design are a crucial aspect. Making this as transparent and public as possible is also very important.
  • The reason I’m teaching is that I am teaching the future designers of our waste streams the implications of their work.

ALISA SHARGORODSKY, Zero Waste Consultant

When somebody doesn’t see the outcome of their behaviors, their extended behavior it’s hard for them to visually understand and hard for them to understand what it is we are doing collectively and I do think that leads to increased consumption.

  • There was a Festival in Philadelphia where we dealt with trash differently. Instead of putting in black bags we put in a giant glass corral and people’s reaction were diverse – from why are you showing us this to we created so much trash.
  • Of the 400 odd food service establishments that were audited – about 63% did not offer recycling services
  • There are been initiatives that where people get together for a cause – there have been various levels of social activism that the internet had helped us with.

Certain design decisions does impact how material is consumed

  • For eg, some grocery stores offer some bulk foods, but also rows & rows of packaged food. We cannot just purchase the goods, we have to buy the box with the plastic cover inside (packaging for branding).
  • Our behaviours becomes a quality of life issue on the inter-city neighbourhoods that don’t get appropriate attention.
  • Areas with rich neighborhood receive the proper services and attention and lower socio-economy zones are most affected.
  • ‘Cradle to cradle’ concept is becoming more critical. Every city should have a an industrial composting system.
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