Truly Wicked

Over the duration of the course we have been discussing wicked problems and their characteristics. Throughout my sustainability journey, I have become increasingly interested in the premature disposal of furniture. I was unaware of the impact our world has on the environment and the truth of the matter is that consumers are not the endpoint. The things that we consume must go somewhere, which in this case, furniture has an overwhelming contribution to landfills creating a lasting and potentially unsolvable problem for the environment. Some things that I have found while completing Activity 3 is that organizations and large corporations that utilize office chairs, cubicles, and desks contribute a large portion of the furniture waste and there are many solutions. One solution that I found interesting because of its uniqueness is that Kathey Pear made a online recycling network for new or struggling businesses to buy old office furniture. Other solutions to this wicked problem that is similar to the previous solution is the IRN matching the surplus of furniture that schools, corporations, and other organizations have with the needs of nonprofit organizations that utilize those products in disaster relief or economic development projects. I notably found this one to be one of the best shots we have at decreasing substantial amounts of wastes in landfills and on the streets. The problem is getting others on board, in households, corporations, and authority figures within the government that could truly launch this movement.

When I read the ‘No’ reading on the correlation between environment and poverty there were a few takeaways that increased my understanding of the capability the government has on the issue of sustainability in changing social relationships and development strategy implementation rather than the markets influence. Firstly, before this class I never put the two together as cause and effect, however, poverty may be directly related to environmental degradation and vice versa. Although I don’t believe that these are directly related they definitely contribute to one another significantly. This makes sense because environmental conservation is considered a ‘luxury’ that those with low income can not afford leading them into a vicious cycle that is hard to solve, they are forced into unsustainable practices because their lives are at stake. But one solution that may be the best would be globalization. Since those in poverty are having to heavily depend on the natural resources, decision making and politics are widely considering this because in addition their living conditions are being threatened by pollution. From the documentary that we watched in this class it almost seems unsolvable because we are heavily focused on the growth of our economy, sharing the wealth and our resources may be a hard pill to swallow for those large corporations and organizations doing well in the economy but we need to realize as a society that our time is running out.

From the TED Talk by Leyla Acaroglu, she discusses a type of thinking called life cycle thinking in which products or resources that we consume go through processes that lead to the end point of their use typically within a landfill and that throughout these processes the natural environment is effected. Through this discussion she also discusses biodegradability and the myth behind what many companies are trying to sell to consumers. If you were to choose between paper or plastic, which do you think would be better for the environment? You would think it would be paper right? Wrong if we do not dispose of these products correctly, the truth is not everyone in society is mindful of their individual impact. These things end up in landfills and instead of degrading like they would in a natural environment they actually degrade differently and produce methane because of the anaerobic atmosphere which consists of little to no air, compact, and hot. This contributes to climate change 25% more than the release of carbon dioxide gas emissions, essentially creating a double negative. So are we really doing anything about climate change? We must create a more unique solution to these problems which she reveals that we have in place some facilities that use this methane instead of fossil fuels to generate power, but without proper disposal we are worsening our condition rather than fixing them as we believe. I honestly didn’t know about this until this TED Talk and it will make a difference in my sustainability journey and what I choose to believe is right for the environment.

I believe that biophilia is something I wish the entire world would partake in. Biophilia is the affinity of human beings and other forms of life or also known as a love of life. This practice, similar to mindfulness, could create an opportunity for a more sustainable world through design and many other forms.

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