Julia L F Goldstein

How Are You Changing the World?

Three Takes on Materials and Sustainability

In October, I had the opportunity to speak to three very different audiences: 1) semiconductor packaging industry executives and engineers; 2) members of a synagogue who are part of the congregation's "green team";  3) university students enrolled in an environmental health seminar.

All of these talks covered my primary topic—materials and sustainability—and referenced ideas from Material Value. I mentioned greenhouse gas emissions and recycling in every presentation. But the details were quite different.

For the semiconductor professionals, I emphasized companies in their industry that were leading in environmental sustainability and talked about the role of comprehensive sustainability reporting. I published a blog post on my business website that covers the first part of my presentation, "Greening Semiconductor Manufacturing: Why Should You Care?" I invite you to read it even if you don't work in semiconductors because the general principles apply to any industry involved in manufacturing products.

When I spoke at the synagogue event, I gave a version of my consumer-focused talk, "Don't Toss That There!" about challenges around recycling and composting. I discussed waste management practices specific to the synagogue’s location in San Jose and the surrounding cities where my audience members lived and worked.

I centered my presentation at the university around an electronic device that had become commonplace during their childhood and teenage years with my talk covering environmental and health impacts of smartphone manufacturing. The students were all working toward degrees in the School of Public Health, so I figured that they would care about the societal consequences of e-waste practices and the mining of conflict minerals.

The target audience for Material Value includes people from all three groups where I presented. They have some things in common: they are intelligent, curious, and care about how their decisions affect the environment. But their knowledge base and priorities vary. Because of the book’s broad scope, some readers will be more interested in the chapter on recycling, while others might be drawn to sections about plastics or more efficient manufacturing methods. When I consider what book to write next, I have several ideas in mind. Should I write a more consumer-focused book or one aimed at professionals in a specific industry? I haven’t yet decided.

If you’ve read Material Value, which chapters or sections did you find most valuable or inspiring? Which topics do you want to learn more about? I invite you to contact me and share your opinion. Better yet, share it with the world by writing a review.