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Changing Lifestyle to Mitigate Climate Change

Changing Lifestyle to Mitigate Climate Change

Organized at 3 PM GMT on 13th 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 Di summarized the panel discussion and put together a set of interesting quotes.


CARL ZIMRING, Associate Professor, Social Science & Cultural Studies

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.
  • We should have the real cost of waste management be more transparent to all 3 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.

    • Packaging for branding but also for safety – marketing to us that a sealed disposable package is safer to use (safe food, safe drug). It is definitely possible to have packaging that are not single use – pushing the burden of disposing is 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.
    • The reason I’m teaching is that I am teaching the future designers of our waste streams the implications of their work. 
    • In the design aspects there are principles for good design strategies (architecture, packing products) and one of the principle that’s been there for centuries ‘design is environmentally friendly’.
    • Using the Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) analysis of a porcelain cup or mugs and a conservative approach of using them 100 times is way better than using a single use Styrofoam cups.

ALISA SHARGORODSKY,  Zero Waste Consultant

When somebody doesn’t see the outcome of their behaviours, their extended behaviour 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.
  • Particularly in places like Africa where they would not have a very efficient way of collecting the trash which results being a safety issue with some places being breeding grounds for all kinds of mosquitos.
  • That’s a big problem in Philadelphia as well where every commercial entity should recycle. I get calls from random people asking for suggestions on what to do enforce the problem.Of the 400 odd food service establishments that were audited – about 63% did not offer recycling services.

Certain design decisions does impact how material is consumed

  • For eg in grocery stores – They offer some bulk foods, but also rows and rows of packaged food and they impact design issue the way they are designed. We cannot just purchase the goods, we have to buy the box with the plastic cover inside – packaging for branding.
  • Our behaviors becomes a quality of life issue on the inter-city neighborhoods that don’t get appropriate attention. Areas with rich neighborhoods receive the proper services and attention and lower socio-economy zones are most affected. From the city standpoint this is not our problem but your problem so deal with it, especially these neighborhoods are subject to short dumping.
  • ‘Cradle to cradle’ concept is becoming more critical. Every city should have a an industrial composting system.
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