Panel 5 Highlights: Sustainability & Innovation Forum

Listen to the discussion: panel five beings at 1:03. 

At the recent Sustainability & Innovation Forum, panel five debated about ways individuals, through their daily actions are able to contribute to a more sustainable future. 

Panelists noted that in order for consumers to have the option to make their voices heard through their consumption habits, the conversation must first begin with companies. Sustainable sourcing empowers individuals to make good purchasing decisions to be able to feel good about the brands that they're supporting, and voting with their dollars.

Bryan Lew, COO of Fairtrade America remarked: “ (at) Fairtrade America, we work globally with US representative's of a global organization that helps brands in the US, to source sustainably. we help them to be able to figure out supply chain issues to make sure that the farmers that they source from are being paid a fair price that they have no child labor, that they are following good environmental procedures”. 

Working on both the pre-cycling and recycling sides, Terracycle recycles things that are traditionally not recyclable and work with companies on integrating more waste into their products and packaging. Terracycle is also launching the platform Loop  “which is pairing that sort of reboot of the milkman with an e commerce subscription based consumption model”, noted panelist Candice Lawson, Associate Director of North American Brand Partnerships at Terracycle.

The Recycling Partnership is national nonprofit organization that works with communities nationwide on improving their recycling programs. “we're really trying to put dollars towards programs that need it said Chris Coady, Director of Community Programs. With a decade of experience overseeing business development, community relations, and contracting for Material Recovery Facility (MRF) operator ReCommunity, Chris is The Partnership’s resident MRF expert, but he also brings a unique community perspective to the table. Prior to working in the recycling industry, he learned the local government ropes in the New York City’s Mayor’s Office and Department of Transportation. The Recycling Partnership works to educate communities to help fight contamination of recyclable materials, engage residents and build campaigns to tackle their top recycling issues. 

Approaching the discussion from a different angle, Be social change is an organization that helps people build social impact careers and lifestyles. We do that through education events, and guides to live sustainably as well as discounts through socially conscious businesses.” Marco Salazar, Co-Founder and Executive Director. Their membership organization helps individuals with professional development through a supportive on-line and in-person community and social impact events to connect likeminded people. 

On the definition of sustainable living, the panelists defined it as follows:

“It’s mentality of choices and thinking about the impact of every single thing that we do” -Candice Lawton, Terracycle

“This (sustainable living) is really thinking about what my footprint is in all the years of my life […] I want my daughter to have the same choices to be able to make that I get to make. And if we don't make different decisions today, then her decisions are going to be much more streamlined, because those options will be not available.” Brian Lew, Fairtrade

“When you're thinking about climate change, it could be be overwhelming. And then sustainability can mean everything and nothing at the same time to people, it can be a little confusing. And I think it's where I'm just thinking about it from like a startup standpoint of like scaling. And you can either try to scale wide, or you can scale deep. And when you scale deep, you might focus on something that you really enjoy doing, whether it's politics, whether its food, whether it's fashion, and really go deep in terms of trying to be sustainable there. Or it might be context dependent, where we were talking a little bit after where I've kind of had this idea of creating a sustainable living guide, where you do think about every point of your day, you wake up in bed with sheets and a towel when you brush your teeth, and how can I start replacing those with conscious products or, or companies?” -Candice Lawton