Sustainability conference tackles ‘green’ economic growth

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The first panel focused on the role island wisdom plays in cultivating a circular economy, which cuts out waste, keeps materials in use, and regenerates natural resources. Monica Okada Guzman, the executive director of Guam Unique Merchandise and Art, says that this idea has been long embedded in the Chamorro culture.

The third week of the University of Guam’s Center for Island Sustainability virtual conference series featured two panels discussing island wisdom and its role in achieving green economic growth.

Eight panelists from around the world were brought together in an online session as part of the UOG’s Center for Island Sustainability conference to talk about how to decrease waste and increase economic opportunities.

The first panel focused on the role island wisdom plays in cultivating a circular economy, which cuts out waste, keeps materials in use, and regenerates natural resources.

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Monica Okada Guzman, the executive director of Guam Unique Merchandise and Art, says that this idea has been long embedded in the CHamoru culture.

“Our ideal of sustainability — reuse, recycle, repurpose — has been ingrained in our minds. With modernity, we went into not practicing these sustainable practices. But it’s ingrained in us and it’s just a matter of reawakening that practice in us,” Guzman said.

The second panel featured circular economy practitioners and their experience taking different waste products and turning them into economic opportunities.

Matthew Simpson, whose Kosrae-based company, Green Banana Paper has recycled more than a million pounds of green waste by selling wallets and business cards from banana paper, gave some words of encouragement to aspiring environmentally concerned entrepreneurs.

“I love talking to young and enthusiastic people, so I would tell them to follow their passion. Of course, if they’re not passionate, they’re not going to want to work hard when things get tough. And to take the time to realize that things take time. They take years. Don’t be in a rush and enjoy the process,” Simpson said.

The fourth part of the virtual conference series will take place next Friday, May 22, at 9 am and will feature CIS Seed Talks. Those who are interested can register for free at uog.edu/cis2020.

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