Reagan E. Dahlgren
DHM 1101 Wicked Problems of Industrial Practice
April 18, 2019
The Tragedy of Easter Island:
Are We Moving Towards the Same Disaster?
Originally, I thought sustainability was making better environmental choices in the fashion industry. Little did I know that it is only one small part of sustainability, and that there are three portions. Sustainability is improving and making better choices on environmental impacts, social conditions, and the economic cost. A wicked problem is an issue or problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often challenging to recognize. A wicked problem is different than a tame problem because a tame problem can be solved unlike a wicked problem. Andrew Dent, is an expert on sustainable materials and has created a generation of new sustainable products. In his TED talk he addresses the issues of throwing something away that can could be taken apart to make something else or completely reuse something in a different way. Instead of just throwing something away in this forever growing landfill. Paul Gilding is an independent writer, activists, and adviser on an sustainable economy. Instead of telling his audience the science behind everything he evoked fear on what we all are going to have face in our lifetime. Which is fighting for civilization. The earth is full. It is going to take all of us to make a change. His message was terrifying but also a little bit hopeful. Wicked problems are challenging to solve because of vague problem definitions, variable solutions, solutions have no end point, solutions pose irreversible effects, solutions require unique approaches, and urgency. Native Americans have a long line of history of being sustainable. When native american had were hunters and gathers when they would kill an animal they would every single part of the family, that is being sustainable. Unlike Native Americans the people of Easter Island were not as sustainable. The people on the Easter Island had very little resources, but they still turned the island into a highly developed civilization. There was a number of clans that competed with each other especially with there statue building. Moving the statues was there biggest issue because they relied on human power. They started to cut down trees to use tree trunks as rollers to move the heavy statues. They ended up completely deforesting the island, which caused a number of problems. It forced people to abandon their houses and started to live in caves and other flimsy homes. They couldn’t build canoes wich made fishing more challenging, and food was very limited. People even resulted to cannibalism. Today we are a very sophisticated technology based society. Yet we have killed so many trees in forests, and we have forever growing landfills. We have one issue and try to fix it by causing a bigger issue, as of now it is a wicked problem. We should be learning from the pass yet we are moving towards a monster of a problem just like Easter Island. Today we are eating up all are resources while destroying our planet. Everyone has a carbon footprint. But we should all be doing are part to try and decrease our carbon footprint. I have personally taken a carbon footprint quiz in high school out of curiosity. I myself have always recycled because that’s what my family has done growing up. But what I learned was that recycling still isn’t enough. It’s actually barely scratching the surface to this major problem. I learned that if everyone on the planet had the exact same carbon footprint as me that there would need to be seven planets to be able to handle the stress that is being put on earth!! We have to do better than that. I didn’t realize at first how the fashion industry doesn’t practice sustainability as well as it should. Although companies are moving towards more sustainable ways, there still is lots of room for improvement. I would like to explore textile waste because not only is it wasteful and hard on the environment but it is also losing companies money. Figuring out a better solution would only be a gain to the environment and the company. So what can companies do to not have as much textile waste?
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Some things that I’m learning about my wicked problem is that there are many different articles about how interior designers should start getting sustainable materials and telling how the issue of waste is getting bigger.
One takeaway that I got from the poverty reading was that if people are in poverty and struggling to find jobs and keep themselves and their family’s fed, being sustainable and doing your part to be eco friendly would not be a big priority for them because They’re just trying to survive. So I think that in order to get everyone involved, issues like poverty being helped would make a great impact on environmental issues.
I thought the ted talk with Leyla was really interesting. One of the things I thought was interesting was the fact that fridges are getting bigger which makes it easier to over consume food and over buy food and waste it. She was talking about crispers in fridges and how it makes lettuce soggy and wasted because it goes bad before you can even eat it. That was an issue I had dealt with before and I didn’t think about the fact that there was so much time that came with the one head of lettuce that was now wasted. It was eye opening to realize that I’m wasting as well.
One thing I really enjoyed in this class were the ted talks. Before I took the problem solving class, I didn’t know what they were but I watch them all the time. When I’m cleaning the house or driving to class. I think they’re really interesting and I’m so glad your class has involves different things like that.
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For Activity 3, I decided to do the wicked problem of
textile waste. I chose textile waste because it directly effects my major. This
wicked problem extremely impacts our environment. Everyone in our society partakes
in this wicked problem. Over-consumerism, fast-fashion, and not reusing old
clothing all adds to this horrible problem of textile waste.
Poverty remains a root cause for many environmental
problems. The poor are often forced into unsustainable by farming on marginal
lands; clearing tracts of rainforests for its timber value; and putting at risk
fragile ecosystems for their basic survival. We should not blame the poor but
instead be educated of the circle of poverty and environmental degradation.
In Leyla Acaroglu’s TED Talk she speaks about the environmental
folklore. She explains that everything we use or do impacts the environment. Environmental
Folklore is based on what others say instead of scientific facts. The choices
we make as an individuals impact all the different systems. She says we need to
do “more with less”. The importance of being innovative is key in todays
society. Something that really stood out to me was Leyla explaining that
biodegradable products do not decompose naturally in landfills which also adds
to climate change.
A term I learned in Wick Problems is Biophilia. Biophilia is
the love of live and living systems. It urges us to facilitate with other forms
of life and creates us to live a more sustainable life. I think this is an
important practice. Merchandising is not just about a storefront. It is also
reduction of money, increasing supplier reliability, reputational risk, and
Last week I got to tour the OSU Sustainability Office +
Recycling Center + Upholstery Shop. It was an amazing experience. I loved
touring the center and learning about all the sustainable practices OSU partakes
in. I learned that OSU collects leaves and branches all year to go to a
compost. OSU upcycling all their furniture and has couches dating back to the 1800s.
OSU saves $50 million through their sustainable practices.
As this class is soon coming to a close, it is becoming easier to find the practicality in making sustainability an everyday practice. Seeing different components of sustainability throughout various readings and assignments has been very beneficial because there is so much more to being attentive to the environment than just the famous “reduce, reuse, recycle” slogan that gets tossed around so often. In Activity 3, for instance, I am learning that when it comes to fast fashion, companies aren’t completely blind to the issue at hand. Some companies are taking leaps forward in order to slow down fast fashion. Progress with this can be seen in stores taking in old clothes and recycling them, using more eco-friendly materials in the clothes that they do produce and giving back to communities with extra products that they have. Tying into communities that need help, the article that we read over poverty brought light to the fact that us Americans don’t do as good of a job dealing with poverty as we could. Since we don’t see the worst of what poverty can bring, like other countries do, we don’t think about what or who our actions effect. For us as Americans, our waste typically gets dumped in these poverty-filled countries which really hurts the poor that live there. These people can’t grow resources that they need to because of the waste and can’t have the cleanest air possible. Countries that are developed, like the U.S., should become more mindful of our waste when it comes to how much of it there is and where all it goes, because waste has to go somewhere and you never know how big of an impact it could be making. The issue of not being mindful could stem from practices we all learned from the generations before us, at least that is what a TED talk from a lady named Leyla claims. She feels that the people before us really hurt the environment, so now it is up to us to save it. I believe she definitely has some truth to that because we learn from those who raise us and if those people aren’t mindful of the environment then it is more than likely that we won’t be either. On the contrary of this viewpoint of the environment, in class we learned about biophilia. Biophilia is the love of life or living systems. With this mindset, we can all do our part to be mindful of how we are being sustainable and bettering the environment around us. This would help counteract the harm that generations in the past have created towards the environment. Finally, last week as a class we went and visited the OSU sustainability office, recycling center and embroidery shop. It was so fascinating getting to see how mindfulness was being reached just throughout our campus alone. I never knew that by taking in waste and paper from campus that we can make profit off of it after sorting through things and making them useful again. It was also neat to see how furniture throughout campus can be replenished even after it has been around for decades and decades.
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This activity has been the most eye opening of all the
activities we have done before. The topic I chose was textile waste in
landfills. Going through the research process has been a hassle, its not a “wicked
problem” that is as prominent or talked about like climate change or
deforestation. But, the problem to me has a lot of solutions you could try, so
that will help in explaining some options. What I took away from the poverty
reading is I can see how people can think that poverty can lead to
unsustainability. Yes, people who are in poverty are not worried about environment
because they are more worried about surviving the day. But, I also do not think
it is their fault, I believe the people who are better off in this world should
step up for those who can not do their part. The TED talk by Leyla was okay to
me. The topic of switching paper bags with plastic bags is something all people
should do because it is just smart. Plastic bags don’t biodegrade like paper
bags and lowering the number of plastic bags in the world will help the ecosystem.
They would not be floating around in the ocean for fish and other aquatic life
to eat and die from it. As well it eliminates those being in landfills.
Biophilia is an interesting word in sustainability. If
you break the word down and explain each part, you can basically have the
definition of the word. First, bio is life and philia is the opposite of phobia,
which is the love for. So, combine them makes the love for life. When I think
about biophilia I first think about the love for wildlife I have. I also think
the word could be interpreted as being aware of life and having empathy and
compassion. Tying it all back to the start of the year, just being mindful of
your surroundings. The small little field trip we had was very interesting to
me. The office visit we had before we walked through all the different shops
was probably the most information given to me. To hear all the awards that OSU
has for sustainability and all the millions of dollars we have saved. For
instance, one little money saver they do is they can tell which rooms aren’t being
used in certain parts of the day and they can specifically control the
temperature in that room where they don’t use power towards that room. They
also encourage people to turn lights off in rooms no one is using. Also, they
have roughly 75% of the energy we use on campus is from the OSU wind farm. I
also learned that all the furniture on campus that can be fixed by us, the
upholstery shop is the one to fix it. There are also furniture on campus that
is over one hundred-year-old. One question I want to leave off with is whether
you consider yourself a lover of nature and life?
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