Remembering to Solve Wicked Problems

The Easter Island story is one of the most mysterious yet intriguing stories of our time. The advanced society that had once lived there had destroyed all of its resources, and caused the entire island to descend into madness. They were so focused on building more statues than the other clans that they forgot to look at what they were doing to their forests. Once the forests were gone, they could not survive the way they had once been able to and their history was forgotten. Now we can only guess at what happened there, as no one on the island could even remember its history. Our society is heading in the same direction though. But will we stop to look at what is happening before it’s too late? Or will we end up in the same place as the people of Easter Island, who can’t even remember how their world came to be the way it was?

I have already learned so much about wicked problems this semester, and there is one in particular that I want to learn more about. Fast Fashion is taking an extreme toll on our environment; however, consumers don’t seem to see the problem since they can now get new clothing at inexpensive prices. But what consumers aren’t seeing is having a huge effect on our planet. These inexpensive pieces they are buying are created using chemicals that eventually get dumped into our land and water, thus polluting our environment. Plus, fast fashion items do not last as long as other clothing, and most end up in a landfill in a short amount of time, and these items take hundreds of years to decompose. We did a responsibility mapping ability in class one day, and I found it very interesting to see who was responsible and who could do something about it. There isn’t just one person to blame in these situations, so mapping it out just shows us that this is a much bigger and deeper problem than we had originally thought. We also did a dreams and gripes activity in class. Our group had the dream of keeping textile products out of landfills. Most textiles can be recycled into new fabrics; however, they are getting thrown into landfills where they will not decompose within our lifetime. Another dream we had was to make all fabrics biodegradable. If all fabrics were biodegradable, then if some were thrown into landfills they would take much less time to decompose, and would help save our environment from further pollution.

I have been able to identify wicked problems much more easily in my everyday life now, and often think about ways to solve them, but I have not voiced these thoughts to others. I notice things on the way to class and think about how these things could possibly be solved, but usually forget about them later in the day. And maybe this is the problem with our society. Not identifying the problem, but actually remembering to solve it.

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