Un-Sustainability

Sustainability. What does it mean to you? To some people, it means minimalism or tiny houses. To others, it means conserving natural resources. To me, it means reducing, reusing, and recycling. Sustainability is being more mindful of the types of products each of us are consuming as well as what we are putting into the trash can that ends up in landfills and eventually into our oceans. Over time, sustainability has become a norm for being implemented into business plans. Not only is this beneficial to the environment, but to the business as well. When a business is practicing sustainability, they are saving money and in turn raising their profits. Aside from business, sustainability is evolving in the home as well. Many families including mine are utilizing products that can be washed rather than tossed. For example, because I love to sew, I am making reusable water-resistant cloth zip lock baggies that can be tossed in the washer. Communities have evolved as well by offering and teaching homeowners about recycling as well as providing bins and pick up services. These examples could be solutions to tame a wicked problem.

               Wicked problems are issues that do not currently have solutions or a way to break the problem.  In contrast, tame problems have a solution or a way to subdue them. Another way to think about wicked and tame problems is tame problems can move from point A to point B but wicked problems have no point B. What are some wicked problems that we face today? According to the film, The 11th Hour, they are population growth, deforestation, nonrenewable resource use, and climate change to name a few. These are broad spectrum problems. If we were to place population growth under a microscope, we would find that humans continue to use too many resources to fast. Think about how many resources you utilize daily or weekly. It is as if we are competing with nature when we are supposed to be one with nature. We are not superior to nature and therefore should stop behaving as if we are. I highly recommend everyone to watch this film as it is very insightful and will leave a person disgusted at what humanity has become, negligent. It is educational in that it teaches about the characteristics of wicked problems which is exactly what needs to be being taught in communities and schools everywhere.

               There are six characteristics to wicked problems. They are vague problem definition, undefined solution, no endpoint, irreversible, unique, and urgent. Take plastic for an example. Can you absolutely and simplistically define the problem or is it to complex? In my opinion, I can give a vague definition, but the problem is to vast. There are measures that each of us as individuals can take to help decrease the issue but there is not a clear fix for it, making it an undefined solution. We also cannot see an endpoint. OSU Museum of Art shows a film where children were being taught that plastic is a kingdom scientifically speaking. It was a major breakthrough discovery in technology. This advancement in technology has created eight million tons of pollution being dumped into the world’s oceans every year. In the last ten years, we have made more plastic than in the century before that. This is mind blowing to me. After thinking about this, I immediately called the city to obtain a recycle bin. The damage has already been done, it is irreversible. I do not know what your thoughts on this are, but I would say we have an urgent issue on our hands.

               What really set the urgency of the issue in my mind was the exhibit hosted by OSU Museum of Art. Prior to visiting, I sew things like cloth napkins and unpaper towels that snap together to form a roll in order to save money. After visiting the exhibit, I was astonished. Astonished to the point of getting on amazon and ordering reusable shopping bags, mesh produce bags, and some books on a sustainable home. I have been telling everyone I know about the three r’s and the plastic problem. The exhibit itself is not very big so it would not take very long to go through, but it is the impact it leaves behind that lasts a long time. The photo art on the floor creating a river is what impacted me the most. It was interactive in that you had to walk around it and see things that would typically be on the ground. The display went from being blues and greens filled with nature to being browns and blacks filled with trash. A powerful statement amongst the trash was a tender little nest of bird’s eggs. How would you interpret this little nest being in a pile of trash? There are many interpretations but for me it meant that our young are being born into a way of life that they are growing up accustom to wastefulness and trash. They are not being appropriately taught. There is so much ignorance to wastefulness that if communities began implementing educational practices, we could tame the problem at hand.

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