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Liv Sala

Covid-19: A Conversation with Frank Snowden

By ecology, features

Yale Professor Emeritus Frank Snowden has a profound understanding of the topic which he illustrates in great depth in his last book Society and Pandemics and more concisely in the compelling conversation that I moderated, organized by the NYU Club of Italy in collaboration with the Yale Club of Italy.
“Epidemics are not random events,” explained Professor Snowden “they give warnings.” How do we activate preparedness at all levels of society? And how is Covid-19 shaping our times?

Frank Snowden attended Harvard University, and obtained his doctorate at Oxford. He taught for forty-five years at London and Yale Universities, and is now Andrew Downey Orrick Professor Emeritus of History and History of Medicine. His major publications relating to epidemic diseases are: Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present; The Conquest of Malaria: Italy, 1900-1962; and Naples in the Time of Cholera, 1884-1911. His current research includes a study on the origins of Covid-19, and the lack of preparedness to face it.

Understanding Sustainability – For what it’s earth Series

By ecology

I was honored to be interviewed by Haaziq Kazi, a brilliant teenager from Pune, India, who I met on stage at the international food summit Seeds&Chips in Milan in 2019 where he presented the prototype of a ship he designed to clean plastic from our oceans. His mission is to raise awareness on what we can do to protect our environment and his new project with the Ervis Foundation is to widen the conversation and connect like-minded people in the #forwhatitsearth series. We can only be humbled by the calling of such an inspired and dedicated teenager. Thank you Ervis Foundation and Haaziq for building bridges and motivating people to take action.

Biova – beer from circular economy

By ecology

Inspired by the Egyptians and motivated to make a positive impact, Franco Dipietro and his collaborators hit a home run: they use unsold bread to brew a delicious beer and in Italy there truly is a lot, every day. To turn an idea into reality, you need an entrepreneurial approach, accurate knowledge of the laws and an organized supply chain. They did it. We can’t wait to find Biova throughout Italy and to appreciate 20 different flavours, one for each region.

Cristina: By volunteering to recover leftover food for the needy, a group of young people experienced the problem of waste firsthand, bread in particular, which, every day, in Italy, amounts to 1,300 tons. Hence the idea of ​​transforming it. We came to Turin to tell their story. Franco, what do you do with the bread?

Franco Dipietro: We recover the unsold bread at the end of the day and turn it into beer, 150kg of bread become 2,500 liters of craft beer. This is our way of giving new value to something that would otherwise be waste.

Cristina: How do you collect it?

Franco Dipietro: We’ve developed our own protocol: we recover it at the end of the day before it legally becomes waste. We take it to centers built specifically to treat it, where we dry it, grind it and turn it into a new ingredient. In this case, to replace barley malt to make new beer. Not only are we recovering something unsold, we’re saving on the use of a raw material, up to 30% and even up to 50% with new recipes that we’re developing.

Cristina: Do you think you can produce all over Italy?

Franco Dipietro: It is a possible supply chain, we’ve studied a model that allows us to replicate it throughout Italy. We always try to have our centers near existing breweries, so only our recipes travel. This way we can limit emissions and related costs.

Cristina: Do you always ferment locally?

Franco Dipietro: Exactly, in the past few years breweries have increased throughout Italy, and they also work for third parties. So we can go “cook” the bread in various places.

Cristina: So each region will have its own flavor…

Franco Dipietro: It’s very interesting because clearly the bread gives a characteristic taste to the beer, therefore according to the regionality of the bread, the taste of the beer changes. This is also a lot of fun to try.

Cristina: This was a lifestyle change for you.

Franco Dipietro: Absolutely, we realized that bread is a very difficult problem to manage. It costs very little and the surplus is too abundant to be redistributed. In Italy, almost two whole soccer fields of bread are wasted every day, so reducing food waste is definitely a way to guarantee a more sustainable future.

Cristina: This circular economy project fulfills SDGs 12 and 13. Let’s celebrate this beautiful solution to reduce food waste with a nice toast! Occhio al futuro

On air June 20, 2020

Gamindo – How to donate by gaming

By technology

How can you turn time into money? Nicolò Santin and a group of young Italians found a winning formula for using games as fundraising tools. By designing video games for companies, who want to support non-profit organizations as a CSR activity and by letting the gamers choose where to donate, the creators of Gamindo implemented a positive cycle.
Gamindo launched its app in February 2020 with 5,000 users and now there are more than 15,000, who can choose from 12 games to support 22 non-profit organizations.

Cristina: Playing, today we’ll make donations to nonprofit organizations without spending a euro from our pockets, thanks to a new video game platform, which converts time into money. Hello Nicolò, how many and what kind of games have you developed?

Nicolò Santin: Over 10 games of logic, memory, running and adventure. We’re focusing a lot on educational games also in relation to Covid and the SDGs.

Cristina: How do donations work?

Nicolò Santin: Donations are possible thanks to the companies on the platform. They commission the games and thanks to the budgets they set aside, people can make donations by assigning the “gems” they receive while they play.

Cristina: It also guarantees you economic sustainability because you’re still a startup, right?

Nicolò Santin: Absolutely. The development of the game guarantees us economic sustainability but the platform’s mission is to allow anyone to donate by playing. It has a social and an environmental impact too.

Cristina: It’s an excellent CSR tool for companies. How many and what kind of associations are you supporting?

Nicolò Santin: We have already supported over 20 NGOs, from Buzzi Hospital to EMERGENCY and Plant for the Planet, with whom we planted over 100 trees on Earth Day, and it was possible thanks to the users and to their matches, who chose who to donate their gems to. This all means a lot to us. We donated 1,000 euros to the Buzzi Children’s Hospital in Milan and Antonella will tell us more.

Antonella: It was a pleasure to collaborate and thanks to Oggy’s video game our OBM Onlus improved hospitality for the families.

Cristina: What is the average age of your players?

Nicolò Santin: 25-30 years old.

Cristina: So old?

Nicolò Santin: Yes, people believe that gamers are teenagers, locked in their rooms, while actually the average age of gamers in Italy is 34.

Cristina: Thanks Nicolò. In recent weeks, the WHO launched the #PlayApartTogether initiative. Video games are estimated to be the favorite entertainment for 2.3 billion people worldwide and this story proves that there can be an important social and therapeutic value as well. This platform fulfills SDGs 8, 9, 11, and 13. Occhio al futuro

On air May 30, 2020

Life Based Value – caregiving as a master’s degree

By technology

Starting from her life experience when she became a mother, Riccarda Zezza created Life Based Value, a platform that transfers the soft skills developed while taking care of others, to the professional field.

Cristina: We all take care of young and/or old people and we know how many skills are needed to do it well. Today we’re meeting a woman who, thanks to her life experience, created a method to transfer soft skills to her profession. Riccarda how was your idea born and how does it work?

Riccarda Zezza: When I became a mother, I was a manager in a large company and I discovered that this was a problem in the professional world, yet the same company had enrolled me in training programs to develop a series of soft skills that maternity was already training. For example, think about time management, crisis management and empathy. I’ve seen a great paradox, even wasteful, because companies spend a lot of money to train their employees for a series of skills that life trains us for, naturally. This happened 7-8 years ago. From there I began to do research with Andrea Vitullo who is an executive coach and we discovered that when we become parents we develop skills that are needed in the professional world. Today, seven years later, we sell this learning method to companies through a digital platform, so our client companies make this method available to new parents, mothers and fathers, but also to caregivers of their parents. Taking care of someone improves these skills and people can scale those talents and adapt them to their jobs.

Cristina: This initiative fulfills 8 SDGs: 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 16 and 17. What is your dream now?

Riccarda Zezza: Today we’re in 23 countries and our users tell us that they have acquired the energy and skills – what they need is the space to bring them into the world, in society. My dream is to demonstrate as quickly as possible that economically and socially caregiving has value, it is a need that the human species has and it ecompasses all those energies and resources that today we’re looking for in the wrong places.

Cristina: Thanks Riccarda. Knowing how to observe and reflect, evaluate objectives and make decisions, improve, adapt and play, makes everything easier. Occhio al futuro!

On air March 21, 2020

Alisea – circular design

By ecology, sdg 10, sdg 12, sdg 15, sdg 17, sdg 8, sdg 9, technology

Susanna Martucci Fortuna, founder of Alisea, turned a crisis into an opportunity. She created an all-Italian supply chain of advanced engineers, designers and craftsmen to give new life to industrial waste.

Cristina: Today we’re meeting a woman who turned a crisis into an opportunity. She was losing her company, and grappling with what to do, she remembered a conversation about recycling and questioned how she could give new life to industrial waste, which abounds in her district of Vicenza. She took her idea to the experts and created an all-Italian supply chain of advanced engineers, designers and craftsmen. Let’s go meet her and see what she does. Good morning Susanna, what are we looking at here?

Susanna Martucci: This is all about graphite: these are graphite electrodes and this powder is the unavoidable waste of the production process, recovered from the factories’ ventilation systems. We reclaim this dust and make it into a new material. This is a granule made with 80% of this waste. This new material, which comes from circular economy, has led us to design an innovative process to make pencils, without wood or glue to attach the eraser. Each pencil removes 15 grams of graphite powder from landfills and in a year we save 60,000 trees – we don’t think about all the wood that goes into your normal pencil.

Cristina: Did you do anything else with graphite?

Susanna Martucci: Yes, we clearly fell in love with this material. In this other case we always start from graphite powder, but add water, a process we use to dye fabrics. The young designers we work with dye all sorts of materials – wool, denim, silk, organic cotton – in a totally non-toxic way. This here, is instead recycled plastic, which we turn into rulers, record sleeves, and more, all from recycled post-consumer bottles.

Cristina: All this thanks to Susanna’s creativity and determination. These children’s puzzles are made from recycled fair stands and so are these bags. We’re running out of time, but this is also graphite with recycled cork. These are made from coffee bags and leather scraps. Susanna’s work addresses 6 of the 17 SDGs: 8, 9, 10, 12, 15, and 17. Occhio al futuro!

On air February 29, 2020

Federico Faggin – Are conscious computers possible?

By sdg 9, technology

Will computers become smarter than humans? Will they help us solve the grand challenges of our time? We spoke with Italian scientist Federico Faggin, who invented the first microprocessor in 1971, revolutionizing the world. In 1986, starting from the common assumption that consciousness is a property of the brain, he worked to develop computers capable of becoming conscious and self-learning. What will become of the human being? What will you do? What will be the next necessary change? Listen to what one of the most brilliant men of our time has to say about the future we’re building.

Cristina: Can computers become smarter than humans? Can they help us solve the great challenges of our time? We talked about it with the Italian scientist Federico Faggin, who revolutionized the world in 1971 by inventing the first microprocessor. In 1986, starting from the assumption that consciousness is a property of the brain, he made efforts to develop computers capable of becoming conscious and self-learning. Federico where are we with the development of conscious computers?

Federico Faggin: We haven’t even started. In my opinion, conscious computers won’t be possible. The computer is simply a manipulator of symbols, although at first I thought the computer could be aware, this was in ‘86/’87. I also thought that the complexity of the brain could be expressed through consciousness, then thinking about it, trying to understand and create a computer that could be aware, I realized that this was impossible because there is no physical law that allows you to transform electrical signals – those of a computer or the biochemical signals of the brain – into consciousness, sensations or feelings. We perceive the world through sensations and feelings.

Cristina: What are the risks of assuming that computers will become conscious?

Federico Faggin: Many people are sidetracked in the way they think they are, believing that life can be simulated on a computer and so on, that awareness is downloadable to a computer. These are things that actually have no scientific foundation, in fact scientific foundation denies them, so why worry? Machines have no understanding, awareness is what gives us an understanding of reality. We are much more than we think we are and this can only be understood through a lived experience, it cannot be mentally understood. As long as a person believes that the only understanding is mental, rather than experiential, he’ll be wrong. Unfortunately, science today thinks everything is mental, forgetting about heart, gut instinct and courage. As long as science, considered the authority, recognizes nothing but matter – physicality and disowns any aspect which suggests something that isn’t matter, we have a huge problem. It’s when someone begins to recognize something that cannot be reduced to matter, that a whole possibility of new knowledge opens up, a new experience which is denied today. A physicist will typically dismiss this conversation by saying “ah but this is philosophy”, putting it aside and going on as usual.

Cristina: The understanding of reality convinced 193 countries to draft and adopt the 2030 Agenda and the 17 SDGs. Federico Faggin was a fundamental driver of many innovations – therefore SDG 9 fully belongs to him. And his study of consciousness affects all the others.

Part II

Cristina: In an increasingly automated world, where many repetitive jobs will be replaced by robots, what will the human being do or have to deal with?

Federico Faggin: His emotional, spiritual and mental development. The hope is that artificial intelligence, used wisely, could lead us to this. The problem is when it is instead used against or to reduce mankind, which is manipulable, to consume goods that are proposed through the manipulation of information. That is the problem. Ethics are fundamental, certainly when artificial intelligence is used in medicine, or in automatic driving, establishing ethical rules of behavior becomes essential. Not to mention the use of artificial intelligence in warfare. There have already been ethical problems with chemical weapons for example, so there are treaties to regulate that. The problem will become more and more serious, as technology becomes more powerful, but ethics can always be violated, that’s the problem. What do we do when ethics are violated? The fundamental problem is to change the image that people have of themselves so they can self regulate. This means educating the awareness of who we are. People think that change occurs outside of us but we must change inside. Today most people believe that changing outside one will change inside, but it doesn’t work that way. One can only change something outside if one changes inside, and it is precisely the problem of consciousness. This is the fundamental step that people must take today to understand that they are not like a machine. Man is not a machine, he is a spiritual being.

Cristina: Do you trust that humanity will collectively awaken? Especially in relation to climate issues?

Federico Faggin: There is no choice, humanity must change. To solve the problems of climate change that will occur in 30-40-50 potentially catastrophic years will require that humanity agree to solve this problem as a species, no longer as individual countries.

Cristina: Will there be a technology that will speed up this process?

Federico Faggin: Technology is easily accessible if the world agrees to employ it for the cause, in fact there is a fundamental technology that in my opinion, by chance, appeared at the same time as global problems, which is the Internet. It allows people to come to agreements in one day, if there is the will. The whole world can know what’s happening on our planet.

Cristina: In this context, SDG 9 – technological innovation could be able to help humanity honor all 17 Goals of the 2030 Agenda. It’s up to us. Federico Faggin concludes his autobiography Silicio with a very fitting quote by Albert Einstein: “Computers are incredibly fast, accurate and stupid, human beings are incredibly slow, inaccurate and intelligent.” The combination of the two constitutes an incalculable force. Occhio al futuro!

On air February 8 & 15 2020

Econyl – regenerated nylon yarn

By ecology, sdg 12, sdg 13, sdg 15, sdg 16, sdg 4, sdg 6, sdg 7, sdg 8, technology

We know that the textile industry, as a whole, is among the biggest polluters. However, there are those who are turning the tide: Aquafil, with its regenerated nylon yarn Econyl, produces textile fibers from scraps, waste and new materials. Producing positive actions and changes for the economy, society and the environment, along their entire production chain.

Cristina: We know that the textile industry, as a whole, is among the biggest polluters. However, there are those who are turning the tide by producing textile fibers from scraps, waste and new materials.
In this company, the factories are powered 100% by renewable energies and closed cycle water is used in every phase of production. They’ve implemented environmental protocols throughout the supply chain and educational projects for employees and in schools.
Research is carried out on new biomass materials, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced every year, programs to protect the seas are promoted and life cycle analysis are carried out for all products. Together, these actions fulfill 8 of the 17 SDGs – the UN Sustainable Development Goals. For every 10,000 tons of raw material from the recycling process, 70,000 barrels of oil are avoided and the equivalent of 57,100 tons of CO2 are saved.
This is how fishing nets are transformed, along with other nylon waste. In 2018, 78 tons were recovered from NGOs operating throughout Europe. Once cleaned, the nets are chemically transformed, the liquid becomes polymer and the polymer becomes yarn. The result is that more and more yarn comes from a regeneration process. To become carpets, glasses, bags, clothes, swimwear.
Dr. Bonazzi, can you imagine fulfilling the nylon market demand with only recycled and reclaimed materials?

Giulio Bonazzi: No, unfortunately not, even if all nylon could be recovered, it would never be enough to guarantee future needs. In addition, recycling has its own environmental impact, we try to constantly improve it, but it’s important to understand how we recycle and how to minimize impacts during the process.

Cristina: What does it mean for you to innovate? Both as a citizen and as an entrepreneur?

Giulio Bonazzi: For me, innovating means quitting something that’s outdated to do something new. Before recycling you have to reduce raw materials, reuse and then, recycle.

Cristina: Do you already have a new family of materials ready?

Giulio Bonazzi: Yes, we want to produce nylon from renewable sources or from biomass, actually we’ve already produced the first kilos.

Cristina: Could we notice the difference between yarn derived from oil, recycling or biomass?

Giulio Bonazzi: No, the finished products are perfectly identical but the difference in environmental impact is huge.

Cristina: What a fine example of circular economy. Thanks Dr. Bonazzi. Occhio al futuro!

On air January 18, 2020

Sunscreens: how to choose the best ones for you and the planet

By ecology, sdg 14

The sunscreen we use is accumulating in the oceans with dire consequences. It is estimated that an average of 10.000 tons of sunscreen washes off swimmers, scuba divers, and snorkelers, and even more sunscreen pollution damages coastal areas due to waste water that eventually flows into the seas.

Not only juvenile fish and invertebrates, but up to 10% of the world’s coral reefs could be threatened by chemicals, specifically 4, found in common sunscreens, and even low concentrations are hazardous: one drop in 6.5 Olympic sized swimming pools!


These are the ones to look out for:
Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3, BP-3) is found in more than 3500 sunscreen brands worldwide. It’s a chemical filter that disrupts coral reproduction, causes bleaching, and damages its DNA.
Butylparaben, the most common preservative, also causes bleaching.
Octinoxate (Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate) is another filtering agent proven to cause coral bleaching.
4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4MBC) is another chemical to avoid. It is allowed in Europe and Canada, not in USA or Japan.

The Haereticus Environmental Laboratory researches the effects of sunscreens and other personal care ingredients on coral reefs, other ecosystems and wildlife. The list of ingredients that they consider to be environmental pollutants includes:

Any form of microplastic sphere or beads.
Any nanoparticles like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. (These are friendly ingredients when non-nano.)
4-methylbenzylidene camphor
Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)

This is a certification to look for if you want to protect your skin and the marine ecosystems: Protect Land + Sea 

Coherent beauty

By ecology, sdg 14, sdg 3

How to take care of our body and skin without damaging the planet? It's not easy.

Recently I trusted the reputation of a brand that I used a long time ago and bought some face creams. Then I looked at the list of ingredients…

  • Titanium dioxide is used as a protective filter for UVB rays. There are studies showing that very small nanoparticles >35nm of uncoated titanium dioxide can be harmful to the environment by being toxic to marine life. The extremely small size of these particles generates oxidative stress under UV light potentially causing cellular damage to sensitive organisms such as coral or juvenile fish and invertebrates.
  • Liquid paraffin is a colorless and odorless oil, which has mineral origins and is composed of a mix of C15-C40 hydrocarbons obtained from the distillation of petroleum oil. When used on the skin it forms a lipid film. Due to their oily nature, however, products containing paraffin prevent adequate transpiration.
  • Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate (also known as octinoxate) is considered an environmental hazard in many locations and is one of 10 chemicals listed on the European watch list of substances that may pose a significant risk to the aquatic environment. Depending on the topical vehicle used, relatively little chemical is absorbed into the skin, leaving 94% – 99% on the skin that can be washed off into various water sources.

In 2010 I interviewed the eco-dermatologist Riccarda Serri who founded the non profit organization SkinEco, with the desire to shed light on the environmental impact and the interaction with our skin of commonly used cosmetic products. The current European legislation does not yet consider the biodegradability of substances used in cosmetics, and only in Europe, every day, 5,100 tons of cosmetic products are consumed. Unfortunately Riccarda is no longer with us but her precious teaching remain, which I reviewed, discovering that when I finish the products I purchased, I will search again for creams without the chemicals indicated by Riccarda.

Here is an excerpt from my book Occhio allo Spreco

Dr. Serri, what are the most common ingredients that deserve our attention?

“Petrolatum and paraffin are derived from oil, nature is unable to digest them and for the skin there is better. Vaseline, used a lot in childhood products, is occlusive and disturbs the skin microbiology; silicone, and all the ingredients that end in –one and –ani, do not nourish the skin but give texture to the product. ”
A drop of foundation thickened with silicone on the sink is very difficult to clean. This is the case with our face too, and due to the increasing use of substances that mimic in the product the characteristics that one would like to transfer to the skin – a smooth, velvety effect, the use of exfoliating masks and scrubs also increases.
“The last layer of our skin is composed of corneolites, or cells without a nucleus. They are called dead cells, but they are not dead, as they play an important metabolic function and, concludes Serri, “they advise us to clean our skin as if it were Capodimonte ceramic, then we need the scrub for thorough cleaning. At that point the skin becomes irritated and a restoring cream is needed. This triggers a vicious cycle “.

What should we prefer?

“A delicate, natural detergent, to be removed with a pure cotton cloth soaked in warm water. There are also microfiber face cloths that clean without detergents. “

And what to avoid?

“Disinfectants such as Triclosan, very harmful for the environment, which penetrate into the deeper layers of the epidermis and have even been found in breast milk. The motto of cosmetics that are healthy for our skin and the environment is: QB, which in Italian means quanto basta – the right amount of a quality product. “

In researching products that use less plastic (or don’t use it at all) I found greater consistency with the content. For example, I’m trying toothpaste in tablets, packaged in glass and the experience is very interesting. And another in a paste made from coconut oil. Instead, another brand to which I am faithful, which produces a toothpaste without threatening ingredients such as dyes, preservatives, disinfectants and SLS fluoride, is distributed in a plastic tube but I would like to know what polymer it is to understand if it is recyclable.

If we look for natural products we can’t trust the slogans on the packaging – but are there any alternatives to a fantastic cream in a plastic container?

For more information on the chemicals to be avoided, it is useful to consult the website of the REACH directive. It is not necessary to become environmentally paranoid but it is important to be informed. In June 2007, the European Parliament approved the REACH directive (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) with the aim of studying highly suspicious materials and regulating their use. It is estimated that there are around 900 of these which are highly concerning and REACH is identifying other 600 dangerous ones. On the basis of studies and samples, it is estimated that, on average, we all have several hundred harmful chemicals in our bodies.
Currently it is very expensive to introduce new substances on the market, for this reason industries prefer to use existing ones which have never been adequately tested. We are the guinea pigs.

In 1981 there were 100,106 chemicals in use and since then only 4,300 have been introduced, of which 70% are suspected to contain at least one unhealthy ingredient.

Listed in categories 1 and 2 of the REACH index are substances abbreviated as CMR: carcinogenic, mutagenic (they damage genes) and toxic to the reproductive system.
“Highly dangerous” are also “persistent”, “bio-accumulative” (PBT) “very persistent” and “very bio-accumulative” (vPvBs) substances.
Hormonal inhibitors (endocrine disruptors) are also concerning, considered responsible for various hormonal alterations such as hormone-dependent tumors (breast, prostate, uterus), infertility, precocious puberty or menopause, fetal malformations and hermaphroditism (both in men and in animals ).
To learn more about the effects of products on our body: e
There is a new app called Thinkdirty that I will try.