Living in a Material World

In 1976, when the Toxic Substances Control Act was introduced, we had no idea how many chemicals were being manufactured, or their effects on people and the planet. Today, we manufacture over 82,000 chemicals and that number continues to grow. The EPA has restricted the production of only 5 chemicals since the introduction of the Toxic Substances Control Act, and one, asbestos, was overturned in 1991. Why are we having so much difficulty regulating the production of chemicals in this country and what effect has it had on us? Jon Strassner, Climate Activist, and passionate podcaster, discusses the impact of chemicals on the planet and our spaces. How can we, as a design industry, have an impact on removing toxic chemicals from society and making our places of work, schools, and homes safer and toxin free? We will learn about chemical regulation and the restrictions on chemicals today, the effects that these toxins have on people, animals, and planet and how designers can absolutely change their behavior to maximize industry impact on this issue. Finally, we will review steps that the industry can take to set the stage for a toxin free future. In summary, our country's regulators have failed to protect us and allowed the powerful chemical industry to self-regulate and audit what they put in our homes, our bodies and into our waterways and air. While fence line communities generally suffer first and the most, every single person has been exposed and affected by toxic chemicals. We spend almost 90% of our time indoors, it's imperative that we start understanding the chemical environment that surrounds us. As designers, you can make a difference.

Jon Strassner, LEED AP

Industry Consultant

Jon Strassner Consulting

With 28 years of industry experience, working closely with the architecture and design community and manufacturers, Jon is passionate about understanding the role we all play in Net Positive Impact, where we don’t just take less from the environment, but restore, regenerate, and replace what has been damaged or destroyed. A passionate founding member of Next Wave Plastics, Jon has worked tirelessly to bring climate awareness to our industry. An Impact Icon 2022 award winner, his thought leadership has not gone unnoticed as designers and manufacturers alike are working to understand their role in climate change. Jon is also the co-founder and co-creator of the Break Some Dishes podcast, where he and his partner, Verda Alexander, look for stories and personas in the sustainability world and bring them back to our industry for inspiration and greater understanding. Together they have released over 50 episodes since 2019. Jon is also the Director of Outreach for mindful MATERIALS and an independent climate consultant.

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