Summary of Paper Beats Plastic?

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In a densely-packed, sometimes frenetic presentation, sustainability strategist Leyla Acaroglu debunks some common environmental myths and calls for a broader, life-cycle view of consumer goods. Keep pace with this fast-talking sustainability innovator, and you’ll come away with some fresh insights about how companies ought to approach innovation and design.

About the Speaker

Leyla Acaroglu is a sustainability innovator and strategist.



Making good environmental choices is complex, so humans tend to rely on overly simple, often flawed, “environmental folklore.”

Choosing paper bags over plastic may seem more ecofriendly. Paper bags biodegrade, are fit for reuse and sometimes are recyclable. They don’t end their lives wrapped around sea animals. But when debating this conundrum, most people consider a bag’s disposal. Few consider the manufacturing process, and in that respect, paper bags are, in fact, much worse for the Earth than their plastic counterparts. Understanding how and why means fully understanding the life-cycles of the two alternatives.

Indeed, making the right choices for the environment is complex, yet humans prefer simple answers. Thus, society tends to rely on easy-to-grasp, intuitive “environmental folklore.” Because it often lacks a grounding in science, environmental folklore can trigger widespread behavioral changes whose net environmental impact isn’t actually better. True improvements must address three complex systems: human systems, ...

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