The first day when I walked in my Wicked Problems of the Industrial Practice class, I was very unsure what it would be like because I have never heard of wicked problems before. I assumed that wicked problems would be some things that are a big deal in the fashion industry, such as clothes that are still useable getting thrown away or torn up for no reason. But since that first day of class, I have learned of some much worse things that are going on in the fashion industry. I never knew how bad clothing producers polluted the areas they are in, and I had heard about sweatshops and huge factories overseas that didn’t pay a living wage and had unreasonable hours, but I never knew how big of a problem it really was. And there are still other problems that have a big impact on the environment, some products and companies use so many animals for product testing or just to make their products. There are definitely more big problems that we are yet to discover in the fashion industry.
In my opinion, one of the biggest yet least talked about problems is the buildings and warehouses that companies build for production or storage. There have been so many cases where good land has been ruined for the use of companies, this is land that could be farmed and used to get more food in areas where the people struggle to get more than one or two meals a day. This land could also be the native environment of hundreds or even thousands of different species of plants and animals, when the land is destroyed for the buildings or warehouses, many of these animals will simply die because they can’t find another area that is good enough for them to live in, and the ones that do survive will struggle to eat and probably not last very long because all the other plants and animals that they eat have died out. The plants stand no chance in these situations, they will either be bulldozed or cemented over to make the foundation for these new buildings, and all of the trees will be cut down too. And most of the time these companies don’t just go in and build one building, they will build multiple so that they can have a few production sites and warehouses in the same area, this destroys so many excellent ecosystems. This happens all over the world all the time, so there have probably been thousands, maybe even close to millions of ecosystems that have been ruined, this also means that millions of animals and even more plants have been killed due to companies wanting more buildings than they need. One thing I learned in this course was that mindfulness practice can help relieve stress and bring new ideas to the surface to try solving these wicked problems. Being mindful can help everyone to truly understand the wicked problems in the fashion industry.
There is another big problem with the buildings and warehouses that companies use, when they build them in rural or urban areas, they are taking up so much space that could be used to turn into homes for those that don’t have anywhere to stay. They could also be turned into community shelters that can be used in case of emergency, for example, in some areas hurricanes or tsunamis are a really bad problem, in those areas they could use extra shelter space to be able to help more people get to safety. This isn’t as big of an issue as the housing though, these are more of emergency situations. Housing will always be an issue, as long as people continue to have children-which will presumably be a very long time-we will need more homes for them and then even their children will need homes. This is a long-term problem that needs a solution before it gets a lot worse, especially since there are more children being born than there are people dying. This is causing a slow but constant rise in the world population that we cannot handle with the amount of homes and places to live right now. There are already a lot of people who live in the streets or are forced to live in homeless shelters, if the population continues to increase, or even starts to increase faster, the number of people living in the streets will greatly increase. Another problem with this is that new businesses and companies are being created all the time, and they all need production sites or buildings to run from, and even long-running businesses are being expanded and growing all the time, and when companies grow, they then need more products, which makes them need more production sites to make their products and more warehouses or buildings to store their products. Considering all this, there isn’t a lot of space to build homes anymore, and the places that you can build homes are mostly bad places in areas that are not ideal for people to live in, and are especially not great for children to grow up in. These areas can be high in crime or just violence in general. These are the places that the people who can’t afford to live in houses end up most of the time too, this is causing a major problem in itself, people shouldn’t have to live like this, but they do because companies are buying more and more land to make more buildings, which is driving up the cost of land and making housing way more expensive than it needs to be. Therefore, people have to live in the streets or live in the areas that are looked at as the bad or rough sides of town.
Another big problem is the sweatshops overseas, big companies are taking advantage of the loose laws of other countries and paying people little to nothing to work in their factories to mass produce products for them. These people are not being paid enough to support their own lives, let alone being able to support a family of more than two or three. They are also working ridiculous hours too; they are working much more than the average person does. Most people in America will complain about their eight hour a week jobs, but eight hours a week is nothing compared to what some people in sweatshops are working, and they’re doing it for basically nothing at all. I believe this is a very moral problem, companies should not be taking advantage of these people the way that they are doing, and when it comes out that companies are doing this, they will either try to deny it or make sure it gets put down immediately because it is very unethical to be doing these kind of things. And there is a problem that is even more unethical, child labor. These big companies don’t care who is working in their factories if their products are being made at the speed and mass that they need. So many big companies will have children working in their sweatshops too because they don’t care about it, and if there isn’t laws that ban it in the countries they are in then they will work the children too, and sometimes even if there are laws they will still do it. These companies will do whatever it takes to make an extra dollar.
With there being so many wicked problems around the world something we can do is start actively using mindfulness practice. I learned in this course that mindfulness practice is very important because it can relieve stress and arise different ideas to try and solve wicked problems. While being in this class I have realized that wicked problems are wicked, and we all need to work together to try and understand and solve these problems. We can work together by getting in our daily mindfulness practice in and making better decisions for our world. Given my experience in this course, my outlook on things have changed a lot. While learning about wicked problems I realized my actions will have consequences on our world. Because of being in this course I am now going to start recycling more and with the help of the campus I will achieve this because there are several reminders around campus to recycle. There are also certain recyclable bins across campus that will remind me to recycle. Another thing I can help the world and environment that I learned while being in this course is to not throw away clothing because it piles up in landfill and destroys the environment. I learned many different ideas I could do with the clothing. I could give it away to secondhand stores or even repurpose it. Because of learning this I plan on doing this from now on because I realize things have more value and my actions have consequences.
While being in this course I truly think that I have come to understand wicked problems emotionally, somatically, and intellectually. I also think I have found a way to develop humble and compassionate responses to these wicked problems while being in this course.