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Solutions to the Tension Between Convenience and Sustainability with Brandi Parker (Episode #158)

Brandi Parker has some uplifting and even “freeing” new ways for us to think about our lives as consumers (with less guilt and shame.) She’s helping us all—industry included—get clarity about who should be responsible for the things we need to “throw away.” Instead of consumers bearing the burden for the “end of life” for everything we buy, she is proposing that the brands we love should be responsible for what they’ve made and put out into the world. And we can push them to do that!

Episode Highlight


About Our Guest:

This delightful and inspiring design expert, Brandi Parker, is reimagining things like materials, packaging, and manufacturing in a way that will allow us all to stick with the brands we love without guilt. 

She is helping the brands we love move away from this “make, take, and waste” consumer model that we are all forced to participate in. That bodes well for us all here on this “Spaceship Earth.” 

If you haven’t heard that term before, it’s a gem when it comes to giving us a simple model for how we go forward. Wikipedia simply says this about the Spaceship Earth concept that it is, “… a worldview encouraging everyone on Earth to act as a harmonious crew working toward the greater good.”

Sounds like a winner to me! In this episode we have some fun with Brandi and we couch many of her insights in that metaphor. 

We imagine that Earth is a spaceship and all the resources we will ever get are onboard. We will get no more water, air, or natural resources. What we’ve got is limited and therefore precious for the journey we are all on together here. 

If that was our mindset—as climate change forces us to rethink our ways of going about almost everything—then how would we re-imagine the way everything we use gets treated after its useful life ends?

Brandi is good at this visionary kind of thinking. She is a remarkable business creative who gets hired by major brands to help them find ways to improve their industrial processes and operate in a way that actually makes the world a better place. 

She has a lovely way of problem-solving that judiciously protects everyone’s dignity while talking about the elephant in the room. She is lightning quick at dot-connecting and pointing to the silos from which we need to come out. And through all that, she points to how human behavior and culture can play a role in holding producers responsible for what they put into our hands.

In this episode of the podcast we talk about some of the common guilt that we need to unload, and today’s episode will help us get there. 

You know that sting of guilt we feel when we can’t recycle something we just used for 10 minutes? It used to be a lot simpler to buy something and then mindlessly throw it away at the end of its usefulness, whether that was 10 minutes or 10 years. 

But now we pause for an instant, often holding a new thought, “Is this something I can recycle or reuse?” And when the answer is “no”—as it often is—there is a little part of us that feels the sting of guilt and sadness. 

And you know how you refuse to throw away those old technologies in your junk drawer, because you don’t know the responsible way to handle them next? 

Brandi Parker gives us the information we need to realize that shame and responsibility is misplaced, and it’s time to change that. 

It’s really about swapping a “responsibility” mindset to one of “opportunity.” 

Most of us are starting to question the waste in packaging, the logic of the carbon footprint for shipping, and vast quantities of money spent on relentless advertising for the brands we love. This could be an opportunity for us to push the brands we love into manufacturing in new ways that ensure we all have a future that includes a healthy, sustainable ride on this Spaceship Earth. 


  • 00:00 Intro & Welcome
  • 03:56 Confronting Consumerism
  • 06:12 Spaceship Earth
  • 09:42 The World Beyond Plastics
  • 13:06 Urgency in Sustainability
  • 15:09 Awareness in Sustainability
  • 17:20 End-of-Use and Consumer Shame
  • 18:34 Break
  • 21:23 Planned Obsolescence
  • 25:26 The Value Chain
  • 30:44 Lessons from Apollo 13
  • 34:29 Sustainable Solutions
  • 43:28 Personal Journey
  • 50:33 Harnessing Fear
  • 54:50 Insights for a Sustainable Future
  • 58:48 Closing

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