This week I read about how the market is better than the government in preventing greenhouse gas emissions. I understood the points of the article, but like always I was skeptical. I think I’m just a person that fundamentally believes in the government getting involved when people are doing bad things. I think we should stop these bad things from happening, and I guess what might seem fair from another view point doesn’t really get past me. To me, these industries consciously and continuously polluting the earth isn’t fair. So, in my perfect world the government would say something along the lines of “you’re not allowed to do this, so figure out how to do it differently or you’ll be shut down.” Obviously this is unrealistic and extreme, but that’s how I just feel about a lot of things that make me upset. In the article they talked about being taxed as a consequence of polluting, but everyone will always still pay it. What I have learned from this class is that this problem is urgent, so I think urgent measures should be taken.

On Friday we did a mindfulness meditation with a recording playing during it. At first I thought I would hate it and it would do nothing. However, when she said to imagine you 5 or 10 years from now, I immediately felt something. She instructed me to tell my older and more mature self about what was bothering me. That day I was very upset about the most insignificant boy issue that I will probably ever deal with. A boy I know that I will struggle to remember his name probably past graduation. This problem is so trivial, along with so many other things I find myself worrying about all day. She said to envision my older self telling me today that everything is ok and to give me advice on the matter. I felt so foolish. I felt such relief. I actually started crying. Granted, I am an incredibly over-emotional person. I felt at peace and the worry I was feeling was lifted. Something I have already been telling myself a lot lately is that “in 5 years, this, he, and everything right now will only be a funny memory,” and it is so helpful in easing my anxiety.

The 11th hour has been a very interesting and eye opening movie for me. It has seriously made me stop and think about how my actions and everyone else’s directly affect the environment and the world around us. I think it might make a difference if everyone was required to take a course like this, not for our professions but for our duty as citizens of this planet. Maybe it might make everyone care just a little bit more. I was talking to this guy on a first date one time and he expressed how he wanted a big family. I said I only wanted maybe one kid, and added how the world is already overpopulated enough. He said, “yeah I know, but I don’t care enough to change what I’m doing.” That got to me so much. Not everyone knows. Some people are in denial, but more people know we have problems. The problem is that people don’t care enough. It needs to be said so much they are forced to care. In class we discussed who would be the group to start making these changes. We pretty much agreed it would be the people. I think the people have the power to make a change, as we have in history before. The common factor was everyone unified over the same cause. We must ALL care.

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On Our Own

As this class has come to a close I have learned so much about the environment and how our every day decisions impact the earth. After reading and arguing for the yes side on the taking sides article over whether the market works better than the government at transitioning to sustainability, it made a lot of sense. Ideas like charging for carbon and raising prices on toxic material will make a difference. The government making regulations would be highly affective as well, however it is a good start for the market to step in. If they spoke and acted upon what they believe in, they would be standing up for their beliefs. I think this is a positive step, if more companies stood up for the environment and forced the population to have no other choice but to buy alternative products that are better for the environment and cheaper, it would work. It is scary the amount of toxic sludge is dumped and leaked into communities drinking water. It may be more helpful for the government to make more regulations because even if the market increased their prices, the industry and large companies would be able to afford it. With regulations banning these toxic materials then it would really make a huge difference.

After taking this class I am going to continue to be aware and learn more about the environment. This is our planet, and the planet will survive after all but the human race may not. It is nerve wracking to know how toxic the world is growing to become just in a short amount of time. With the population growing at an extremely exponential rate, and nonrenewable resources going low, now is the time to act. This class has really changed my opinion on a great number of things and I’m very thankful. Hopefully as an interior design student and my fellow classmates we can make a difference in the future and change not only our carbon footprints but the worlds as well.

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My Sustainability Journey

After taking this course the past few weeks my perspective of wicked problems in the environment has changed. I was never fully aware of all of the sustainability problems that have been going on. This course has taught me so much about what is going on and how I can start taking action in my own life, and educating those around me. At the end of this course we learned about efforts that individuals can take to make changes and how the government can help or hurt the environment.

At the beginning of the week started the class out with a new practice of mindful meditation. We sat silently and listened as someone guided us through the meditation. I feel like I meditate better when I am being guided through it because I can get distracted easily and my mind can wonder if I do not have some sort of guidance. We also did a reading on how individuals and the government can make changes within the environment. This reading was one of my favorite reading thus far because this was the most relevant. I personally feel like if the government were to get more involved then citizens would be less involved. I think the government would make regulations and keep things from the citizens. However, I do agree with making incentives for people. For instance, making tax incentives will make people want to make a change. This reading not only gave me insight on how the government can help but how I personally can make a change moving forward. At the end of the week we finished the movie the 11thhour. In the last part of the movie the filmmakers went into detail about solutions that can help moving forward. They never stated specific solutions to these problems, but they gave examples of what people can do to make changes and how if changes are made how it would better effect the environment and human population as a whole.

In my opinion it all comes down to the consumer and how much effort we put in to make changes. I have really enjoyed taking this class and learning more about sustainability and meditation. I plan on implementing meditation into my weekly routine and make sure I stop and focus on what is going around me and how I can make a difference. I also am going to be more aware of different ways that I can help the environment one step at a time.

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Ending to Beginning

In such a short time being in this class, it has really impacted the way I look at design and the world around me. It has really opened my eyes to so many issues that I wasn’t aware of before and has given me a good foundation for beginning a journey of sustainable living and design. Through mindfulness practices and all the articles and videos we discussed throughout the course, I have really been able to reexamine my life and how it impacts the world around me.
After watching the end of The 11th Hour, I have really been thinking of ways to change the way I do things in order to have more of a positive impact on the environment. I have really been more aware of how all the little things I’m doing every day can add up and actually have a big impact. Things like turning off the water while brushing my teeth, taking shorter showers, and turning of lights when I’m not using them are just a few things that I am really trying to be aware of in my everyday life. I’ve also been trying to be more aware of my spending habits. It was really eye opening when the movie talked about voting with your purchases. I have never thought much about how my purchases can reflect what I am consenting to. I have really been working on trying to be more aware of where the things I’m buying are coming from and who is making them. One of the quotes from the movie that really stuck with me was “things are thieves of time”. I have been thinking about this quote a lot and have really been trying to remember it and hope to start living a simpler lifestyle.
This course has been such a worthwhile experience and I have enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would. It has inspired me to be more aware of myself and my surroundings, and also to research different issues in the world, and in my field especially, that I can play a part in changing. I can’t wait to take what I’ve learned here and apply it to my future classes and career.

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Moving Forward to Sustainability

Practicing sustainability is something that not every person understands is important to do. Helping people understand the problem and get the word out is the first step in making a change in the world. The environment is slowly declining in resources and quality and it is the human race that is at fault. The way to move forward is to suggest to congress that a law needs to be passed to get the big industry leaders to be more environmentally friendly. This could be by only releasing a certain amount of toxic gasses into the air or making sustainable items that are decomposable, etc.

The government is the way to bring about change because people will not willingly change on their own. It costs a lot of money and it is not easy to switch cold turkey. If the government could implement this law, change would come quickly and more easily. It is a way to increase sustainability in a way where many people will change in a short amount of time. The environment would benefit greatly from this. However, the industries may not be happy with these changes and move their industries overseas so there is no government control. This could be a downside to the solution. This is the reason that there are so many wicked problems because there are many solutions with many different possible effects.  This is just one idea of moving to sustainability that people have been thinking about applying. There are many more options to consider of course and should be explored as the environment continually runs out of resources.

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The broad horizon of sustainability and the wicked problems within

My 4 weeks in the wicked problems class really helped broaden my knowledge on the problems in the environment and how to be more sustainable in my own daily life. I never realized how hard it was to solve the problems like pollution and waste before this class. All these problems have no clear path to lead back to for whose responsible for it. Most wicked problems we have in our society branch out too many different industries, corporations, and even political and economic causes. So, I don’t think we can have a clear solution for making one group responsible for sustainable practices and designs.

The government has a role in implementing new policies that can help with sustainable practice and should work as a backbone for other groups to use. Not that the policies that they implement will work for everyone but having a set of rules or a foundation for sustainability will help enforce it more in the industries. The reason this hasn’t been done yet, I believe is because of the cost of making the practices global might cause the economy to increase in debt that the United States has. But this shouldn’t be a factor because of how the government already spends more money than they have. Not only should the government play a small role, but us as a society should put the practices into effect in our everyday life. Industries should also implement practices in their production process to prevent waste and pollution of water sources and air. Everyone has an impact on society and by playing our part will benefit the environment.

The wicked problems course not only increased my knowledge but made me more interested on the subject. I plan to take more courses like this in the future, not only for my curiosity with the subject but for my career after college. The more innovative our society becomes I feel like learning about wicked problems and acts to be more sustainable will benefit me going into the fashion industry. Even though this class was short I would recommend this class to someone. Gaining this knowledge will help me put it into practice in my own home.

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All Hands on Deck

Imagine the world in 20 years. What state is it in, in your mind? Good? Bad? Futuristic? Depleted? Nonexistent? It’s hard to imagine what the world will be like in 20 years based on its current state and how it will be if we continue to brush off the fact that we are basically setting up our world to fail. Some people believe that we will pollute our world so much that it will not be livable in the next 10-15 years. Others believe that we can work together to create solutions to the world’s wicked problems like climate change and overpopulation and that we can create the best future for our world. These people have hope. Hope is having an optimistic state of mind and a positive outlook on life. If all people were to have hope for our future, do you think creating solutions would be easier? I think that if all people—the government, industry and citizens—were all on the same page and had hope for the future, we would easily resolve all wicked problems.

There have been multiple solutions proposed for certain wicked problems. Some believe that one solution is putting government policies in place that will help with environmental degradation. They think that the poor and environmental degradation are directly correlated but others disagree. One of the proposed policies is to give the poor, lower classes control over key environmental resources. In the article “Is Poverty Responsible for Global Environmental Degradation,” John Ambler discusses how giving the poor complete control over environmental resources like water or forests will decrease environmental degradation. Some feel that by doing this, the poor, lower classes will take better care of the resources. I agree with this because I know that whenever I have control/ownership of something, I want to take good care of it because it is something that is connected with my name. I want it to stay in the best condition because it is a part of me in a sense. If the poor, lower classes have a key resource “to their name,” they will want to take care of it because others will view it as a representation of those who control it. On the other hand, can I trust them to care for the resources? What if their standard of care is not the same as mine? Am I truly okay with putting others in charge of resources that are so important to our future? Not every policy is feasible or able to support every part of the world either. There are 195 countries in the world, and the location and resource base for each one can be very different. The same type of water control needed for the desert is not what is needed in the rainforest. And preserving trees in the Amazon may not need the same type of policy for preserving trees in the Middle East. This makes it hard to make just one policy/solution for environmental degradation when there are so many facets to it.

Another proposed solution to a wicked problem in the industry is LEED. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED was created to help buildings become green, which is the practice of creating buildings that are environmentally accountable and resource-effective throughout its life-cycle, from design to operation to deconstruction and everything in between. The article “Does the Market Work Better than Government at Transitioning to Sustainability” talks about how buildings account for about 60% of electricity consumption and that they contribute to pollution extensively. This is the reason it is important for buildings to go green. I think LEED is a great way to become more sustainable. If all buildings were green, we could possibly cut energy consumption and other problems in half. Buildings becoming green could even have first-hand effects on humans, such as better health. I wonder if many of our health problems today stem from unsustainable materials that we are unaware of the effects that they have? If so, going green could have a greater impact that we even know or understand.

In contrast to the positive effects, there are unfortunately also some negative aspects to it. LEED has become so expensive that it is hard for buildings to become certified, making the idea a moot point because very few may be able to afford it. Incentives such as reduced fees or other financial enticements could be offered, but with the incentives there could be perceived costs and builders could under-budget how much it will cost to make buildings green. This could result in building construction coming to a halt and creating more pollution and environmental degradation by having an unfinished building taking up space. If some of those buildings took the place of a former forest or ecosystem, it would lead to more wicked problems like deforestation. With LEED there are both positive and negative aspects, so it is hard to decide if it would be beneficial.

Another solution that has been proposed that we as citizens can do to move forward in a sustainable way is to disengage from consumerism. Much of our society centers their lives around the “stuff” we have. We, myself included, think the things we have defines who we are as a person. Many of us have grown up thinking that it is normal to go out and buy things just for the fun of it, even when we don’t really need it. Truthfully, we can survive with much less than what we think we need. Our habit of over-consumerism is negatively impacting the environment, like air pollution and overpopulating landfills. If we were to disengage in consumerism, it would decrease the pollution from production, shipment, usage and the disposal of products. I have never taken into account that not only do I really not need whatever it is that I am about to buy, but even the act of getting to the store to purchase it causes problems for the environment.

On the other hand, if we were to disengage for consumerism, would it cause more negative effects than positive ones? A society where people did not over-consumer could cause us to end up not being able to function properly. Many people have grown up thinking that it is normal to consume tremendously. If we were to stop over-consuming cold turkey, people would not know what to do and the normal functions of life might be messed up. Large numbers of employees might lose their jobs because they would no longer be needed. Adding to the unemployment rate could cause stress on our economy. I think it’s possible that we are unable to dig ourselves out of over-consumerism. We have built a world that relies on consumerism and if we were to stop, our society and everything in it would just not work.

There are a lot of proposed solutions to help our world move forward with sustainable practices, but there are both positive and negative aspects to each one. This makes it difficult to discover the perfect solution to each problem, resulting in them becoming wicked problems. Although it won’t be easy or quick, in my opinion, once the government, industry and citizens all become one with their ideas and have an “all hands on deck” mindset, we will be able to solve our world’s wicked problems.


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