UPSTREAM: Everything that should happen before we buy

Date & Time: Tue., April 6, 2021 at 6:00 PM

About this Event

We all know there’s too much stuff, but not all stuff is created equal. Some objects and their material composition are more problematic than others. Some is toxic. Some is too complex for any single stream recycling process. Some gets flushed down toilets and ends up contaminating our water. A single use straw seems small and harmless enough until you realize we use tens of billions of them in the US alone in a given year (Source: Technomic), none of which have a viable end of life besides the landfill. 

This evening at BASG we’re going to look at what is being done upstream from us as consumers to reduce waste, which in turn reduces carbon. Here are four areas we’re targeting:

• Sustainable Design: How do you design for ease of repair, ease of recycling, safety, energy efficiency? 

• Extended Produce Responsibility EPR): If the producers of goods are held responsible for the end of life of their products, the hope is they’ll turn to better design. EPR shifts the costs of waste and recycling from government (typically municipalities) to producers. Though we have some success, there are also unintended consequences. Stay tuned 😉

• Packaging: Beyond the products themselves, we’re deluged by polystyrene, plastic film and a plethora of detritus destined for the trash. What’s being done to reduce packaging waste?

• Sustainable Purchasing (corporate and consumer): As companies make efforts in all these areas it’s incumbent on us, the buyers, to distinguish the better from the worse and vote with our wallets. Organizations with enough buying power can demand that industry change to meet more sustainable criteria. You, the consumer can make informed choices. Does your laundry detergent come in a plastic jug or have you discovered laundry packaged in just cardboard or do you simply refill your own container?

Come join us to learn what’s happening and how to think about the products we purchase. What happens upstream determines what we contend with downstream, and recycling can’t come close to remediating the damage we’re doing as what we consume ultimately ends up in the trash. Worse still, the negative impacts are not shared equally by communities.

Our Speakers

Arnold Sapenter, MBA, LEED Green Associate

Arnold Sapenter is a high energy organizational consultant with over 30 years of professional experience in cultural diversity, environmental planning and sustainability program development as well as, organization training, project development and management. He is an adept communicator and analytical thinker with proven ability to develop and lead cross-functional teams. An expert presenter, negotiator, and facilitator able to forge solid relationships between government and community partners and across multiple organization levels. Arnold serves as a board member and volunteer for a number of non-profit organizations including the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, the Fenway Health Center, the National Forum for Black Public Administrators Boston Chapter and the Shirley Eustis House in Roxbury. After retiring from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as Director of Sustainability and previously serving as the Director of Diversity and Program Monitoring; Arnold decided to use his program development, project management, training skills and experience to assist business, and non-profit organizations in achieving their missions and strategic goals related to cultural diversity, social justice and environmental sustainability. For more information go to:

Sarah O’Brien

As the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council’s CEO, Sarah is responsible for ensuring that SPLC’s many programs empower procurement and supply chain professionals around the globe to successfully implement high-impact sustainable purchasing practices. Sarah is an expert on sustainable purchasing and specifically on the procurement of more sustainable electronics. Prior to joining SPLC she was Director of the multi-stakeholder Clean Electronics Production Network (CEPN) working on the elimination of worker exposure to toxic chemicals in the electronics supply chain. For more than a decade previously, Sarah led global purchaser engagement with the EPEAT sustainable procurement tool for the Green Electronics Council. Earlier, Sarah developed and managed the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing program of the nonprofit Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (now renamed Practice Greenhealth) and served as a Senior Outreach Associate for INFORM’s PBT-free purchasing program, working with states across the country on reducing their procurement of products containing mercury and other persistent toxics. Sarah has a BA from Yale University and a Masters degree in anthropology from Temple University.

Shruti Parikh

Shruti is the Packaging Design Lead at Takeda Pharmaceuticals based out of Massachusetts, USA, where she is leading and building Industrial Design, Sustainable Design, and Patient Engagement Interaction Design capabilities globally. Her innovation in packaging comes through the establishment of human factors processes and by employing user-centered design principles and practices. This approach, in collaboration with stakeholders, contributes to the creation of value-adding solutions and services that mitigate product misuse, reduce user variability and enable better user experiences.

Shruti is passionate about challenging the status quo to think differently. She focuses on macro trends and incorporates them into the design of products, enriching customer experiences and touchpoints. Impatient for action, Shruti wants to help build an inclusive future that allows us all to thrive socially, ecologically, and economically. She advocates circular economy and is actively seeking collaboration to amplify positive impact in the world.

Carie Davis

Carie is a former structural packaging designer for Coca-Cola, and has worked for 20 years in R&D, design and innovation for multinational corporations. She is now focused on investing in circular economy tech and expanding capital access for women entrepreneurs as General Partner at Futureproof.