October 6, 2022

Circularity: A powerful tool to combat climate change

Circularity: A powerful tool to combat climate change

Sandra Goldmark in front of the lamp

Sandra Goldmark is senior associate for interdisciplinary engagement at Columbia’s School of Climate and director of campus sustainability and climate action at Barnard College.

Sandra Goldmark is used to set the stage for action. A theater designer by training, Goldmark has been doing a lot of bridging lately. such as the Columbia School of Climate Senior Assistant of Interdisciplinary Engagementhe works across disciplines and sectors to promote the idea of ​​creating circular systems as a way to reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions.

Goldmark detailed his approach in his book 2020. Fixed: How to have stuff without breaking the planet. He prescribes a series of fundamental changes in society’s approach to “matter” and advocates a shift to a circular economy. Instead of sending products on a linear journey between factory and landfill, the circular economy focuses on repairing, refurbishing, reusing and upcycling to get the most out of each product.

Mark Levin's headshot

Manhattan Chapter President Mark Levin will be the featured speaker at the Sept. 20 event.Circular Lever: Science, Business and Society

On Tuesday, September 20, as part of New York Climate Week 2022, the rotation will be in the spotlight. Organized by Barnard College and Columbia’s School of Climate, the event brings together big names in urban government, policy and environmental experts to explore, examine and emphasize the value of rethinking consumption. Register for the event.

In the Q&A below, Goldmark tells us more about the spin-off and what he hopes the event will achieve.

What is circularism and why is it important?

Circularism provides a framework for thinking about consumption. Being circular means moving from what we call a linear system to a circular system. In line, we mine materials from the earth, make things, use them, and basically throw them away. In a circular system, we extract raw materials and make things, but we use them for a long time. We fix them. When we can no longer use them, we break them down into their constituent parts and rebuild them or transform them into new objects.

Circularity is important because it is powerful and can be used at any scale. This is a way of thinking [reducing] Waste and it’s a way to think about the front end, what we make and what we buy. With circular consumption, every resource we extract from the earth is incredibly valuable and will be used for a long, long time.

Does this idea come up in a significant way?

Over the past few years, we have seen a continuous increase in people’s awareness and active engagement with climate issues. People are seeing extreme weather events near and far as people become increasingly frustrated with the lack of action. This frustration leads them to ask how we are going to reduce greenhouse gases and avoid the worst consequences of global warming. Circularity is a solution—one of the solutions needed to address climate change—and it’s a solution that works at any scale. The World Resources Institute has estimated that doubling global circulation by 2030 could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 20 percent.

How will this New York Climate Week 2022 event help individuals, communities and businesses embrace the principles of circularity?

The purpose of this event for me is to raise awareness about the power of this tool, circularity. It’s available to us right now, today—from how we design products to what we choose to buy and whether we compost. This is what exists in our societies and economies right now. We don’t have to invent it from scratch and it doesn’t always require a lot of new technology. This is something we can use right now and rely on to solve many problems. We can use it as a waste reduction tool. We can use it as an emission reduction tool. Being circular can even have benefits for biodiversity, as you use fewer raw materials, therefore, destroying fewer habitats. It’s a really powerful tool and I think people don’t always realize it’s there and available to us.

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