Pittsburgh Environmental & Health Conference
By: Sara Innamorato
Pittsburgh Environmental & Health Conference:
Encouraging the Fight for Community Health in the ‘Burgh
Last Friday, October 25 – 300 Pittsburghers came to hear national and local environmental leaders lecture on topics ranging from reducing waste to building healthy communities. Naturally it felt like something GTECH should be involved in. Three of our staff members: Michelle McDonald, Travis Mecum and Zaheen Hussain got to take a day out of the office and experience the event.
Who was your favorite speaker?
TM: I attended the conference to hear Edward Humes, author of “Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash”, speak about waste reduction and waste-to-energy issues. I was so impressed I purchased a copy of his book. My favorite though was Richard Louv.
ZH: Me too! For the sake of splitting things up, I’ll go with my OTHER favorite speaker, Lois Gibbs. The story of her community in the Love Canal region of NY is inspiring.
MM: Yes, Lois Gibbs was amazing. I remember studying her story in college and it was kind of extraordinary to hear her speak in person. There is still so much passion for what she does.
What fact shocked you?
MM: Endocrine, cardiovascular and psychological systems are impacted drastically by our surrounding environment and in a world where we are surrounded by pollution, hazardous chemicals, garbage our communities and bodies pay the price – big time.
ZH: During the “Air We Breathe” panel discussion I learned that Pittsburgh has a 23% asthma rate and in 2012 200 of the 366 [yes, it was a leap year] the air quality wasn’t “good”. I also enjoyed how cities can have both a healthy economy and a clean air.
TM: I was surprised at the caliber of speakers at the event – I mean you have Richard Louv, Lois Gibbs – these are legends in the environmental world.
What did you bring back to your work at GTECH?
TM: The main argument in Garbology is how much waste Americans produce – my job is directly related on how to convert that waste into something positive for communities.
MM: GTECH really strives to make change from these environmental burdens, specifically through the ReEnergize Pittsburgh program. We are aiming to improve air quality through advocating and educating communities on energy efficiency. It proved that there is a need for the work that we do.
ZH: During Ann McGinn’s talk, she said, “Health of individuals is inseparable from health of communities.” As far as ReEnergize is concerned – she spoke about early life factors having impact on adult health, which is why we are so concerned with people making energy upgrades in their homes. It is an issue of health and safety.
Did you attend the Pittsburgh Environment and Health Conference? Tell us your favorite part below.