I have had a really great time this semester educating myself on what sustainability really is and how it affects me and my future career. This class has helped me realize the extent of wicked problems. They surround our everyday lives, and their existence is validated by every little decision we make. I’ve learned, in this course, that to make an impact in any wicked problem we first need to change our behavior. We have to be more critical of what products we’re buying, how much we’re buying, and how we dispose of products that we don’t/can’t use anymore. I also know now that what it really comes down to is the actions of big companies. Regardless of how much individuals try we can’t stop pollution or deforestation or harmful greenhouse gas emissions or any number of wicked problems until we stop companies and manufacturers from using harmful and unethical practices.
This was the subject of our last reading. We were given an argument over whether the market should be in charge of curbing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions or if the responsibility should be given to policy makers. When reading the YES side of the argument, which was in favor of the market, it made a lot of sense; cap and trade seemed like a really efficient way of handling the issue for now. But in class when we discussed the reading and I heard the other side of the argument it started to look more and more like a scam. Businesses are always going to do what will make the most money for them regardless of what the effects may be for the environment, the workers etc. so putting these greedy companies, who are most likely going to do whatever they can to exploit whatever system they’re under, control over how they control their waste starts to make less and less sense the more you think about it. This is, however, a perfect example of a wicked problem. There’s no clear solution, no clear definition, and no end in sight.
On a lighter note there are some companies who are trying their best to do the right thing. One company that I’ve noticed that’s doing this is H&M. H&M is fighting wicked problems in a few different ways. One is that they have become increasingly transparent in how they design and produce their clothes. They have also found innovative ways to create textiles from recycled clothes. I think what they’re working towards is really amazing and I hope to see more fashion brands follow suit.
I’m really going to miss this class and the discussions that have come out of it. I’m looking forward to doing more research regarding what I can do to change my behaviors, starting conversations and making a difference in the fashion community.