Got a Little More Wicked

So far I have learned that living a sustainable lifestyle is harder than it looks. With me I catch myself one a daily basis doing things that aren’t sustainable. For instance, with a meal plan here at OSU it’s very easy to just buy plastic water bottles then just throw them away whenever you’re done instead of reusing them or simply just carrying around an actual water bottle. I hope to take a stand on this idea and make sure to instead of buying a water bottle, just bring one with me that I can have all day or if I end up buying a plastic water bottle, reuse it for as long as I can before throwing it away. Not only will I be taking this initiative I hope to influence others around me on doing the same. Every little thing helps for a brighter tomorrow. However, going off of that, sustainability is a hard task to do, there are many problems that arent substainable but there’s no valid solution. During one of the assignments, we had to write about a wicked problem, the wicked problem I’ve decided to write about was the fast fashion that is happening within the fashion industry. With the fast fashion of too much waste being produced it is harming the world we live in. I connected this very well with the idea of the current state that the world is in. We’re heading towards a more sustainable planet with hope of slowing down the rate at which the clothes that are being produced which would leads to less waste being gathered from that. There is hope that many will start to thrift their clothing instead of spending money on cheaply made clothing as well as sell their clothing to thrift stores or donating them rather than throwing them away. With that it takes more than 80 years for clothing to be broken down in landfills, we hope we can lead a more sustainable, greener world. We got there by reusing clothing, using greener products while producing the clothes and slowing down the need for fast fashion. 

Continuing on with that, while reading the wicked problems website, I learned more on the true meaning of wicked problems and the social entrepreneurial side of how companies aren’t trying to fix a wicked problem, but help taking a negative consequence and stirring it in a more positive direction. For instance, there is one company in mind that I feel that does this, Glossier. This cosmetic company creates all natural, cruelty free products with a range of 19 vegan free products. Their packaging is minimalistic with the idea of when finished with the product, throwing it away it won’t harm the earth as bad. They even give out reusable makeup bags when given the product in the mail that are recyclable. I truly love how this company thought not just about what’s inside of the products but also through how people were getting the products. 

However, tying it back to the marketing reading. There’s one quote that stands out to me it states that, “Actions will have costs, and these must be compared with the costs of not acting”. I really liked this quote because it speaks volume to the idea that every action, dealing with more extreme wicked problems, will be more costly, but not doing anything at all will have a greater cost to the planet. We need to push forward and think of the future that our planet is in. For instance, with the fast fashion, there is so much waste being produced that could harm our planet, but not taking action and slowing down the development of these garments it will lead to a much greater cost of not acting on it when we were given the chance. The way the world is in 10 years from now starts with a simple act today that leads to a greater change in the future. 

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A time for change

When reading about the market-based vs. government-regulated approach theories and their outcomes so far, I became very interested. While both approaches seem to be accompanied by some drawbacks, upon completing the excerpt I reached the conclusion that I was in support of the yes selection, presented by economist Paul Krugman. What I gathered from this market-based approach is that it provides incentives, or rewards, to those in the industry successfully reducing the amount of pollution, specifically the levels of carbon dioxide. Power plants are stationed across the world and many operate by using coal, which leads to an astronomical amount of pollution, for instance, acid rain. Some view it as costly and believe that it is simply granting individuals permission to pollute, whereas the opposing side sees it as an opportunity to experiment with new and innovative forms of technology, working to determine the best possible solution to reducing emissions in a cost-efficient manner. Cap-and-trade strategies are being further employed in various parts of the world, seeing notable results, for instance, stabilizing the price of carbon permits. It sets rules in place attempting to eliminate, or at least reduce behaviors that will result in consequences for all of those around, such as those relating to the issue of pollution and encourages countries to work together in order to achieve decreased amounts of contaminants being released into the environment.

            When coming across the Wicked problems website to, I found it to be very informative. When considering the different ways in which we are going about the environmental crisis and weighing if they are truly the best approaches to the problem or not, it proved to be a very helpful resource. It also helped me to better grasp what makes a problem wicked, and how to go about beginning to form possible solutions to these problems. It helped to clarify the difference between a wicked problem and one that is just hard to solve; prior to coming across the website, I would not have known that the two things were any different. It opened my eyes to the emphasis being placed on innovation rather than attempting to solve these wicked problems, such as pollution. The site also helped me to consider the ways in which we are going about the environmental crisis and if they are truly the best approaches to the problem.             The Skoll Foundation serves as a great example of a company based around social entrepreneurship, which I believe is a way in which more companies should operate. They recognize those who contribute to solving some of the world’s most complex problems by investing in, connecting with and celebrating them. Their focus lies in innovation and change throughout the world. Featured on their website are companies or programs that have received awards for the outstanding work they do, among these companies are Villagereach and This, in combination with the market reading and much other research, leaves me with so many unanswered questions I wish to further explore. How did pollution ever amount to this magnitude? How were there not serious measures put into place to prevent such a crisis from occurring? It’s as if it just snuck up on us and before we even knew it, we were facing this monumental crisis, but that simply cannot be the case. Certain people had to be aware of the extent to which overconsumption would affect the state of the earth and the human population. I plan on diving into this problem headfirst and hopefully finding some more precise answers

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Are We Going to Make Change Happen?

For class I read an intriguing article called, Does the Market Work Better Than Government at Transitioning to Sustainability? Some takeaways I got from the “Yes” section was how individual countries don’t want to jeopardize their economy by raising the cost of energy. 40 years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency was established to help lower pollution. It was successful statically, but many industries challenged the governments approach. The auto industry was the main culprit for not wanting to cooperate. They fought legislation, but in the end, they realized it didn’t cost as much as expected. I think it’s bold that activists think pollution should be treated as a crime. It says a lot about their beliefs on the issue and I admire that.

On the wicked problems website, they talk about how he was assigned to work with stopping the spread of AIDS. He goes on explaining how this disease can spread because people are too embarrassed to go to a doctor for help. They then realized that 80%-90% of people in South Africa can access a cellphone, which could be the solution. The new system allows people to call or text a professional behind the privacy of a screen. I know there are various problems like Project M are out there but often overlooked by the issues that may make a company more money. I also learned about social entrepreneurship and what they do. Instead of trying to make products more advanced they take social issues and research ways to fix them. The website also goes through 10 wicked problem characteristics of social issues. They were very interesting and one that stuck out explained that humans invented wicked problems, so how can we undo that?

Current state analysis has six steps which include, defining the system where the problem is, to classify direct and indirect drivers, conducting casual chain analysis, assessing impact extent and trends of relevant drivers, pinpointing factors influencing human activities, and identifying indicators. I think it’s good to use current state, so you can organize your gained information. When I read about these steps I relate them back to my own wicked problem research. If more people were to think through these steps and to attempt to veer away from detrimental issues occurring, then we would be more advanced as humans coexisting with our environment. For future problems, I’m so thankful I’m being educated because I can now define, classify, conduct, assess and potentially solve these big issues humans have developed. If more people learn we could alleviate wicked problems and save our earth.

In the article, 22 Awesome Social Enterprise Ideas and Examples, I thought number 14, Beauty Products, was fitting for the class and my wicked problem topic of textile waste. The company is called Bottle 4 Bottle, they “Partner with major beauty brands to sell their products as an online retailer. Convince them to provide their products to you at a favorable wholesale rate and divert the profits to purchasing milk and baby bottles for distribution in the developing world.” They are a nonprofit and they are making a difference for people in need.

Since I plan to peruse a career that involves the usage of fabric and other physical materials, I am very interested in solving textile waste issues. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes of production and design that we are not aware of. Becoming more educated on ways we can reuse and recycle materials effectively would be ideal. I would like to start a group that all has the same goal of alleviating waste issues. With my group, I would like to brainstorm ways we can help. One idea would be to set up bins or trashcan-like containers with labels on them in any design related classroom to put extra paper, textiles or materials we did not use, nor do we need, so that they can be reused. I would also want to do extra research and make posts online to get peoples attention. We need to be bold!

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There is hope!

For the market reading, I read the “Yes” article that was correlated to Fashion Merchandising. To be honest, I did not get much out of it. In many of these readings we do, it is extremely hard for me to pull out the main concepts because there is just so much information in one little reading. But from the little information I did gather, the article talked about con and trade. Con and trade deals with permits for trading items and regulating items. I also gathered the fact that people cannot afford environmental conservation. I wasn’t exactly sure what this actually meant. To put it in simple terms,  it is basically the practice of us humans to save the environment from collapsing, such as loss of species, ecosystems due to pollution and human activities. This is seen as a wicked problem. Why are the “more environmentally-friendly” products more expensive than the items that destroy our earth? Of course, consumers are more willing to buy the cheaper products no matter if it “saves the planet” or not. The article also talked about how the government has legal restrictions on new technology for us, the people. Imagine how much technology is behind the curtain that we don’t even know about yet! Will we ever know about these devices?

When it comes to deforestation, my wicked problem I’m focusing on during this course, I tried to look for companies that are helping to stop it. One that I stumbled across was named Rainforest Trust. Rainforest Trust is a company that purchases and protects the most threatened tropical forests, saving endangered wildlife through partnerships and community engagement. They give a step by step guide on how they exactly do this:

1.”We establish strategic partnerships with the world’s most experienced and committed conservationists”

2.”Together, we identify critical sites that provide a permanent refuge for endangered species.”

3.”Protection requires swift action, and we work with our partners to develop scientifically based conservation plans that are not only timely, but also resilient and sustainable.”

4. “Our partners work closely with their national governments and local communities to formally establish reserves protecting the land.”

I think this company is so great because on the website, it shows that a lot of their projects are through generous donations. This makes it so easy for people to help out this company because you can donate when you hang out at home on the couch. It is so easy for donators and at their fingertips. 

The article that I clicked on through the Rainforest Trust website, showed that Rainforest Trust worked with its local partner Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia (SCNL) to help establish the 219,609-acre Gola Forest National Park, which is only the second national park in the country. It is located in Gbarpolu and Grand Cape Mount counties, along the border with Sierra Leone, where the park creates a transboundary complex of protection with Sierra Leone’s Gola Rainforest National Park. Together, these two parks safeguard one of largest remaining tracks of Upper Guinea Forest and form one of the largest protected area complexes in West Africa at nearly 400,000 acres. How cool is that! Just by donations and the help of other partnering companies, they were able to establish this national park! 

Throughout this course, I have learned that the United States is not the only country that needs help with stopping deforestation, it is all countries. No matter how big or small. This article and company gave me hope that there are people who are willing to help stop deforestation or at least slow it down. 

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Wow That's Wicked!

The problem I am attempting to address in my investigative report is waste water from the textile process, specifically from the dying and finishing processes. The market reading showed me some ways that this problem could be better regulated by the government and the free market. One method that sounds very promising is the cap and trade method. If I understand this theory correctly, if it is implemented, then government regulations can put a “cap” on the amount of waste that a company can produce and they can also trade licenses to be allowed to produce certain amounts of waste. This could be one solution along with the treatment of the waste water that is produced that could have a positive impact on the industry. Using current state is also a way to alleviate my problem from my investigative report, but also most problems. Using current state requires us to envision where our habits will lead us to. Sometimes it can be difficult to estimate the future affects of our mistakes, but after researching my topic I have a more clear understanding of the future that will come from textile production.

After reviewing the wicked problems website, I learned what exactly social entrepreneurship entails. Social entrepreneurship means working in the context of a humanitarian problem, while assuming the risks associated with entrepreneurship. One company that I personally purchase from is Thrive Causemetics. Here’s what makes Thrive Causemetics so great and socially responsible. Their products are all vegan and cruelty free. These two facts are enough to make me want to purchase from them, as I am always a fan of products that are vegan and cruelty free. But, the big part of Thrive Causemetics mission is that for every purchase, the donate to women to help them thrive. For every product purchased, they donate one product and also financial contributions as needed. Sometimes they will donate all profits from certain days to organizations, like in 2018 when they donated to help wildfire relief in California. Their causes include donating to women fighting cancer, women surviving domestic abuse, women emerging from homelessness and also women military veterans. I love this company because they don’t only make sure that their customers are receiving high-quality products, they work to make sure that women in need can do the same.

One thing I have learned in the past week is that people want to be more sustainable than I give them credit for. I am the sustainability chair for my sorority, and the sustainability committee has worked in the past year to boost our amount of recycling in our house. We also just recently got out house to switch from Styrofoam cups to reusable cups do reduce our waste of Styrofoam. I was at first worried when we brought up this solution to Styrofoam waste because I was worried the rest of my sorority house would not be happy with the change because they think Styrofoam cups are so much easier because they can just be thrown away after one use. This was not the case though. We have gotten very positive feedback from everyone in my sorority on the reusable cups, and this gives me hope that by working together, we can all encourage each other and learn from others to work towards more sustainable lifestyles.

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How Can We Solve A Problem With No Solution?

The market reading began by saying that “air pollution does not respect international boundaries.”  That statement caught me off guard because it really is something that people do not think about.  Certain countries are far ahead of others in their sustainability laws and habits, with some not even knowing the first thing to do about it.  That statement, though, very plainly states that every country is suffering from the same general problems, and we should all be working together to fix it.  One of the greatest causes of waste and pollution worldwide is construction, and fortunately, businesses are beginning to see that.  Many countries are now following the certification standards of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design campaign, spreading the same qualifications to build green.

The Wicked Problems website describes each phase of diagnosing a wicked problem and the stages of designing things to stop them.  There are specific ways to entertain an audience with ideas of sustainability and build interest and empathy to make people comfortable with the idea.  One company that caught my attention for its sustainability efforts is Adidas.  They are one of the most popular athletic brands in the world with a huge consumer body.  A few years ago, Adidas began their campaign to end plastic waste, and have announced that with their innovations they will completely stop using virgin polyester by 2024.  With their eco-friendly partnerships, they have made it their focus to change the way industries view sustainability as a whole.

I feel that it is most important to being attention to the landfill space that our planet is running out of and the pollution all the waste is causing because people will likely be more inclined to make a difference in their daily habits if they are aware.  Consumers also need to realize that while building sustainably and producing renewable energy sources does cost more upfront, it saves money in the future due to the lack of utility expenses.  Another important factor in eliminating waste is developing ways to reduce dangerous emissions when burning trash so that we will be able to get rid of it permanently and safely.  In general, people simply becoming aware of using nonrenewable sources and putting more emphasis on recycling could make a significant difference in the amount of trash in the environment and pollution in the air.

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Starship UK (And Human Resiliency)

I always assumed that mindfulness would mean learning things I didn’t want to know about myself. I didn’t want to think that hard about it, just in case. Too much time to think equals time to worry about things that very often worth worrying about. 

So I’ve actually been thinking about it a lot. This week has been particularly difficult, and I’ve been averaging about four hours of sleep a night – if I went to bed at all. There was this big project due this morning, and it was extraordinary in that most of it was essentially working blind. We were not given all of the information we needed to make it a success, and while my previous education gave me some advantage, it was an extremely frustrating situation both for me and my classmates. And the body needs some sleep, no matter how determined the mind is. 

Anyway, the breathing exercises have been a really useful tool recently, and I’m just surprised by how effective it really was. I’m still (probably ignorantly) suspicious of the usual sort of person that advocates breathing as a solution to life’s problems, but I gave it a try. It works. 

I suppose that was basically Marc Cohen’s point about being happy unless he’s well. He can’t be happy unless his environment (including the people in it) is well. He says it’s important to be present ‘in the moment’, being mentally involved in whatever one is currently doing. That’s Not My Thing. I’m a multi-tasker, and struggle with the idea of One Thing At A Time. Mindfulness is actually really difficult. I can see how it would lead to enhanced health. Not just ‘good enough’. The world is not a relaxing place, and the ability to cope with it relies heavily on mindfulness. If a person can’t achieve a state above average, then they don’t have the mental space to be more. And if one’s environment isn’t healthy, it’s an additional stress.

(I really like the First Law of Thermodynamics. I once heard it referred to as faith.)

There’s a documentary on Netflix called The Minimalists. It’s a rather judgmental take on the sheer amount of things that people will collect. I wonder if that’s an evolutionary thing, the desire to accumulate. The film goes to an extreme – very few people are truly happy owning two outfits and a sleeping bag. We like to have things, and many of those things enrich our lives, even though they may not be strictly necessary. Things like extra clothing and books and jewellery. In another category, things like umbrellas and and a second pair of shoes for when the first ones get wet – they’re useful, and they don’t have to be utilitarian. They can increase happiness and be serviceable at the same time – that’s the extra soft blanket on the sofa that means you can turn the heat down a little more to save money and energy. (I’m not quite ready to think about the real cost of that blanket yet.)

We talked about a sort of moral responsibility for anyone that can afford it. If it’s possible, spend more money for better quality. Not just longer-lasting and beautiful, not just because it’s an improvement on the carbon footprint, but also because of other people. Quakers in the 19th century often refused to wear blue because of its ties to indigo and slavery – a small sacrifice that was nothing in comparison to the infinitesimal impact it may have had on a single person’s life. We can still do that, if only in small ways. I can’t afford not to buy fast fashion, or to know where my food comes from. But I can keep my phone for another year or two, and I can mend most of my clothes (and do). I can take time and a little bit of extra gas to take old electronics to be recycled properly instead of going the easy route and throwing them away. It’s not always obvious what can be done, but I’m working on it. It’s important not to give up, neither because it’s difficult or because it has become overwhelming. Marc Cohen says that pronoia is a delusion – logically, it is – but maybe that mindset will inspire more people. The human race isn’t going to kill itself off. I don’t even think we’ll make the planet permanently uninhabitable. Humans are resilient, innovative, and brilliant. They’ll figure it out eventually.

(This is the Starship UK from a Doctor Who episode – the Scots wanted their own ship.)

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