THERE ARE some staggering statistics mentioned in this TED talk by Leyla Acaroglu, a social scientist-slash-product designer-slash-sustainability strategist. Stats like:

  • 40% of fresh food is wasted in the US, which equates to $165 billion per year.
  • Methane, which landfills emit, is 25 times a more potent greenhouse gas then CO2, meaning how you dispose of waste, whether or not it’s biodegradable, is very important (in other words, simply choosing the biodegradable option doesn’t automatically mean you’re a saint).
  • 65% of Brits (a country in which 97% own electric kettles) overfill their kettles, wasting a lot of energy. This wasted energy, from one day and just from kettles, is enough to light all of the streetlights in England for a night.
  • It’s cheaper to mine gold from e-waste than it is to get it from ore (a terrible health and eco problem in many countries around the world where people burn toxic material to extract it).

In the end, she says consumption is the biggest problem — which is obvious — but given it’s the lifestyle the vast majority of people in our culture abide by that’s not likely to change anytime soon. So instead the solution is to be innovative with product design to lessen the impact on the environment, like designing kettles that make it possible to boil just a cup of water, or fridges that don’t promote the wasting away of fresh food.