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Journalist Tatiana C. K. Schlossberg discussed the environmental impact of everyday consumption at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum Thursday night.
Speaking alongside president of The Atlantic and Institute of Politics resident fellow Bob Cohn, Schlossberg — who authored the book “Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don’t Know You Have” — examined the environmental implications of different consumer behaviors regarding fashion, internet usage, food, and fuel.
The event began with a discussion of Schlossberg’s recently published book. Schlossberg said she wrote the book after becoming anxious about climate change, and beginning to report on the subject for the New York Times.
She added that she decided to write “Inconspicuous Consumption” to make the issue more accessible for readers who may not have an extensive science background.
“It is almost impossible to make sustainable choices given the system that we live in,” she said. “And that’s a problem, but we can’t solve that problem unless we understand it.”
Schlossberg and Cohn also discussed the fashion’s industry impact on the environment. Schlossberg spoke about her work to explore fast fashion companies creating a “disposable culture” and its significance on the environment.
Additionally, she examined the topic of technology through the lens of environmentalism, speaking about Internet usage and the impact data centers fueled by diesel had on the environment.
Schlossberg said companies like Amazon and Microsoft have such a big impact on the environment because of the scale of their operations, and that these companies should be leading the way in terms of environmentalism efforts.
“There has been too much emphasis on the consumer to make the right choice and that narrative of personal responsibility has been destructive in a lot of ways because it has taken the attention away from those who are actually responsible,” she said.
Schlossberg added that she thinks voting is the most effective response to the environmental concerns she studies.
“I think the most important individual action is to vote and to get involved in the political process and to put pressure on companies or not support companies that aren’t at the very least transparent,” she said.
Audience members echoed Schlossberg’s focus on political action. Toward the end, IOP President Anna L. Duffy ’21 asked Schlossberg how she thinks voters can make climate change more important in political debates.
Several attendees said they found the event informative.
Attendee Abigail M. Fennelly ’23 said she was struck by the high amounts of waste produced by the fast fashion industry.
“H&M and other fast fashion brands, especially Forever 21, is designed to fall apart, so you have to shop again,” Fennelly said.
Daniel Bicknell ’13 said that he enjoyed the event and appreciated the chance to learn about environmentalism.
“The forum generally has a lack of climate and environment events, so I was thrilled to see one dedicated to everyday environmentalism,” he said. “I’m proud to support more events like this in the future at the forum.”
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