Selfless Sustainability

I think the Wicked problems video and article on the wicked problems website did a fantastic job of explaining what a wicked problem is and how we should approach them. All wicked problems are intertwined in a way that if you pull on one string, all of the other stings will also be affected. Every wicked problem is a symptom of another wicked problem. This is a big reason that makes wicked problems almost impossible to solve. Poverty is linked with education, nutrition is liked with poverty, and these are also linked with the economy, and so on. These issues affect every city and every human being in the world, in one way or another. This should give each and every one of us a reason to care, and a reason to seek change. 

I read the YES reading on environmental degradation. From this reading I learned that poverty is an agent of environmental degradation and as well as a cause of deepened poverty. The poor are often forced into unsustainable practices. Lack of resources, education, and opportunity are all contributors to how the poor are forced to live. If people slaved to poverty are constantly worrying about their next meal, their main focus is not going to be about the environment or sustainability. Those who are born into poverty will only continue unsustainable practices for it is all they will know. 

There are those who seek change in the most humble, selfless, and creative ways. Social entrepreneurs are those whos mission is to find solutions to social, cultural, or environmental problems through business techniques. A social entrepreneur who stand out to me is Blake Mycoskie. Mycoskie is the founder of TOMS Shoes. He developed an original business model implementing a “one for one” concept. Ever pair of TOMS shoes that is bought, a pair is donated. This organization has provided people in developing countries with 70 million pairs of shoes. The thing I Admire the most about Mycoskie is that he had absolutely no intention in making money from this business. He was actually on vacation in a developing country when he noticed children going without shoes. Their feet were in horrible condition with sores and cuts. His only intention in the creation of this business was to seek change and help those in need.

The wicked problem that I am working on is sweatshops. When I first decided to study this wicked problem and come up with possible solutions, I had no idea that it would be as difficult to dissect as it has been. With every article that I have read and every solution proposed, there is always an additional side that will create a negative effect. For example, if we got rid of sweatshops completely, the workers will still be subjected to poverty, more than likely in a worse way. If we put rules and regulations in place, and increased wages (which would be very difficult to do in the first place), the cost of these factories would increase tremendously, causing an economic change worldwide. Also, any sort of change wouldn’t happen overnight. The process of change would take a very very long time. But, I believe that there are ways to implement solutions that would at least alleviate the problem. The first step is to raise awareness. The more people who care, the easier it will be to implement change.

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