WDCD Live São Paulo speaker Babette Porcelijn wants to curb our hidden impact on the planet

‘We can create a vision of how we can transform the world’


Published in Climate Action & Speakers by

‘We are designers, we can dream up new ideas, we can create a vision of how we can transform the world,’ Dutch designer Babette Porcelijn said earlier this week at the Dutch Design Week. ‘Communication, inspiration, knowledge and innovation, we can do so many things as designers. Choose what you’re good at and what you like most and give it everything you have. Because we really need a paradigm shift to make it right again.’

Yesterday, Wednesday 25th, Porcelijn gave the first of two workshops in our Embassy of Climate Action at Dutch Design Week. Participants discovered the true impact they have on the environment and what they can do about it.

The Dutch Design Awards finalist – you can still vote for her – will also join us as one of the speakers at WDCD Live São Paulo (22&23 November) where she will share the knowledge she acquired during the research for her book De Verborgen Impact (The Hidden Impact). In it she makes us aware of the effect our consumer behaviour has on the planet. Porcelijn tells she was astonished to find out that in general 80 percent of the impact of our actions and purchases is hidden in the process of making and shipping things.

Understandable figures

The idea that we have to take into account the entire chain of collecting raw materials, production, transport, use and disposal of the products and services we use isn’t new. But what Porcelijn added is that she has made this knowledge tangible in clear and understandable figures and infographics.

An example: when driving a car environmentally conscious people will probably consider only the amount of CO2-emissions from burning gasoline. In her book Porcelijn makes clear that this is just a small part of the impact that a car has on the planet. ‘You can drive 5 years on the energy that is hidden in the making of the car’, she writes. And: ‘You would need to plant 1,200 trees to compensate the CO2 emissions of your new car.’

830 million cars

Porcelijn found out that there are 830 million passenger cars driving around in the world, that together use 130 million litres of gasoline every hour. To compensate the production of 58 million new cars every year and all the gasoline that is burned across the globe in one year we would need to plant a forest the size of Brazil, Porcelijn calculated.

It is with figures like this that Porcelijn makes us realize how enormous our impact on the planet actually is – in fact, she says, if all world citizens would live just like the people in the richest countries, we would need 3,6 planets to sustain our demand.

Eco-positive business models

‘We need to introduce eco-positive business models,’ Porcelijn says. ‘Business models that have more positive than negative impact on the planet.’

The designer will elaborate on this during WDCD Live São Paulo both on the main stage and in activation workshops. Don’t miss her inspiring insights and buy your tickets now.  

Want to know more?

Watch Babette Porcelijn and Richard van der Laken talk in the Good Design for a Bad World talks by Dezeen at Dutch Design Week. Join her second workshop at our Embassy of Climate Action in the Klokgebouw on Saturday 28th at 3pm. If you would like to receive an English translation of The Hidden Impact as a PDF, contact the designer

Images: Check Your Hidden Impact Workshop at Dutch Design Week 

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