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What areas of sustainability need more attention and focus?

#sustainability

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Belle Estee’s Answer

I think some places for attention, especially in this "new normal" are how we ship and package our goods. Approaching this from multiple angles (i.e. urging manufacturers to purchase recycled and recyclable packing materials, giving customers greater incentive to reduce the number of shipments from websites where they may order multiple items like Amazon, etc.). I've seen more companies use crumpled recycled paper in place of packing peanuts or bubble wrap, which is a great change that I hope to see more of it!

Another place, as mentioned by Don, is in the food packaging industry. Many items are packaged in excess (i.e. tube in a box) or using materials that are not easily recycled in most municipalities. Prioritizing easily recyclable materials is important since some municipalities only accept recycled materials, types 1 and 2. It can be misleading/frustrating for the consumer to see a recyclable symbol on an item, later to find that the material is a type that is not accepted by their municipality or local recycling center.

Thanks for the great question and I hope this helps!
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Emily’s Answer

If you're interested in sustainability, I would consider a career in Package Engineering. The University of Wisconsin - Stout had an emphasis area in Sustainability back when I graduated. There is a huge demand for Package Engineers with this expertise.
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Kathy’s Answer

Another area of consideration is from medical device industry. We have some very old processes in terms of sterilization and disinfection, here at Medtronic we have a sustainability group trying to raise awareness to find new ways to do these processes.
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Elisabetta’s Answer

Hi Cecelia: For you career, it's best to focus on what you like best. Make sure to pick a sustainability field that you have a strong passion and interest in. Generally, I categorize sustainability fields for careers as follows, and each of these will only be of growing interest in the future:
- Energy management and Energy efficiency
- Renewable Energy
- Life Cycle Assessment and Eco Design
- Circular Economy
- Materiality and Metrics
- Supply Chain Sustainability
- Sustainable Finance and ESG Investing
- GHG Accounting
- Sustainability Reporting and Communication

You can simply look these up and you will learn more about what each entails and what academic path is best to pursue them.

Elisabetta
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Don’s Answer

The development of sustainability drive more attention to the world, I try to explain this term into economic benefits. This will be a new economic system development, especially in the field of renewable materials. Recycling materials will be an important topic for public.

For example, there is a large amount of paper cups consumption in coffee industry which damage the global environment. We have a stronger awareness of environment protection, and willing to use recycling and resoluble material to replace traditional paper cups.

You also can try to think about using that kind of material to create a new product like they will use the paper cup to transform to some furniture. Even some fashion industry would have intention to collect the used clothes and use that kind of materials to make the new one. And we can also exchange our resource by simply finish this process by internet to avoid wasting.

I think there would be a lot of ways for you to make sure your goals of sustainability can be achieved successfully. I strongly suggest you have information about different resources related to the aspect that you are interested.
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Ben’s Answer

Hi Cecilia, thank you for asking this question! If more people asked this, we wouldn't need so much attention like we do today.

Perhaps it's instructive to think of this question in two ways:

1. What are the MOST damaging/polluting practices today that need to be curbed? In other words, where could you have the greatest impact?
2. What are the problems, big or small, that already have solutions but not enough people are working to solve?

For the first question, you can actually learn this yourself with a quick and fun quiz here (you might be surprised at some of the takeaways - I sure was!):
https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2019/04/specials/climate-change-solutions-quiz/index.html

For the second question, this takes some digging, and Belle and Don gave some great answers already. One thing I would add is that usually the "gross" or just "boring" things tend to go overlooked as opportunities. This is where recycling of all kinds comes in, and there is LOTS of progress that needs to be made in plastics as Belle and Don suggest. Another area is food waste - yes it's gross, but it's also very damaging when you consider not just the methane emissions from landfills but all of the resources (water, electricity, labor, etc.) that go into producing food that is never eaten. If you could help recycle food waste through composting or anaerobic digestion, or help find ways to reduce it altogether, that could go a long way.
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Hamish’s Answer

Global warming, is soft and nice. But it needs great marketing to change it to. The real term is atmosphere cancer
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