How small choices can make a big impact

Here at the Rochester Institute of Technology, we do a lot of community outreach, and we often hear people questioning their impact on our planet. Our research has shown that in many product categories, the ripple effect of each small choice can create an enormous impact. We wanted to communicate that all of us are not stuck with only negative choices and that there are thousands of better products on the market that have a smaller environmental footprint or make less of an impact. Additionally, as each of us demand better products with our hard earned money, industry responds with new and better products.

"What are the impacts of my product choices on planet Earth?”

So how do you “shout it from the rooftops” to communicate this important message? We decided to create a video. We set out to tell a simple story -- but found that even a quick overview of sustainable purchasing turned out to be very challenging.

“I’m just one person, so how can it possibly matter?”

Sustainability is a balance between social, economic, and environmental issues. When our team first sat down to discuss the impacts that products have, we included everything from natural resource depletion and critical minerals, to child labor practices and wage inequity, to pollution and acid rain, to fossil fuel use and waste disposal. Our challenge was to simplify the message and find the right balance of information to convey.

We understand that awareness is only the first step. Our next step will be to produce a new video to guide purchasers through the often-confusing messaging around sustainable product attributes and provide the information they need to help make better decisions about the products they purchase.


Sustainability in Practice Climate Change Corporate Sustainability


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About the author

Golisano Institute for Sustainability (GIS) is a global leader in sustainability education and research. Drawing upon the skills of more than 100 full-time engineers, technicians, research faculty, and sponsored students, it operates six dynamic research centers and over 84,000 square feet of industrial infrastructure for sustainability modeling, testing, and prototyping. Graduate-level degree programs are also offered that convey the institute's knowledge to the next generation of industry professionals.

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