On the first day of classes, I had no idea what this class, Wicked Problems of the Industrial Practice, would be like or even about because I had never heard of a wicked problem. I assumed we would mainly be discussing things like climate change and how we can fix them, or how the fashion industry is creating so much waste. And though I wasn’t completely wrong, I learned so much more than what I expected to. I remember watching part of the 11th Hour in class on the first day and thinking that I am going to not like this class because all I was going to learn was how the earth is dying and how there’s not much we can do because we’re too late. While that is partially true, this class has taught me that just because we haven’t found a reason yet doesn’t mean that we can’t help to find one. But before I learned this, I was amazed by how badly things really could be. It has expanded my mind and shown me that most things are worse than what I knew. So many things are kept well-hidden and for good reason, at least good reason for the companies. For example, I knew that there is a problem with sweatshops, but I never knew how bad it truly is. But this class has also showed me things that I didn’t even know were a problem. Another example, I didn’t know that building materials left so much waste and tearing down a building took even more. They keep things hidden because if everyone knew how badly their employees were treated or how much sacred land that new building killed now one would shop at that store or live in that new apartment complex in Hawaii. They keep things hidden so that when it is brought to light, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal because if it was everyone would already know about it and the company wouldn’t be doing it. Right?
I think that one of the biggest problems that isn’t talked about enough is the last one I just mentioned, the amount of waste produced by buildings and the deconstruction of buildings. There have been so many studies and signs of how badly the construction deconstruction is for the earth. Not only from the left-over concrete material not being recyclable or reusable in anyway but also when in the construction process the effect it has on the earth by harming the native environment around it. The deconstruction process is so bad, and the buildings don’t even need to be taken down most of the time. Instead of getting rid of the building it can be reused for a different purpose like a homeless shelter or community center. Depending on the size it can be upgraded or even not changed to be used as housing though that one could be hard to do because the more people, the more waste, and there will never be enough room for everyone. There are different ways to help with the amount of waste from the deconstruction process though. In Japan, they are starting to use more natural raw materials instead of concrete because they can be recycled. Many people aren’t doing this because it is more expensive and more time consuming. In the long run, I’m not sure what the differences are for quality between the new natural raw materials and concrete. I think that more companies should look into this alternative because even though it is more time consuming and more expensive, being sustainable is the new big trend and it could make the company look good in turn causing more people being interested in using their supplies rather than competing companies. I also want to talk more about the sweatshops that I talked about earlier because I never knew how big of a problem it really was until I took this class. The workers are taken advantage of because there are very loose laws that allow big companies to pay their workers little to none, to mass produce their products. These people get paid almost nothing and they can’t even survive with the amount of money they do get paid. On top of barely having enough money to live, they must work insane and intense hours just to get paid very little. I think main problem with all of this is that companies feel like they don’t have to respect the workers because they don’t care about them. It’s purely a moral problem. So many big companies are willing to risk the lives of their workers just because they don’t care and just want their products to be produced. They go so far as having children work in the sweatshops too because the only thing on the company’s mind is getting that number of product and fast. They do not care and only want to do what will make them richer.
This class, Wicked Problems for Industrial Practice, has been one of my favorites so far this semester and though I am changing transferring colleges and changing my major next semester, I will never forget this class. It has changed my view on the world and how I go about things. I’ve changed where I shop, from fast fashion to places that are more sustainable for the earth and thrift stores. This class has been making me want to become more and making me think about the things I do and if they are sustainable even just a little bit. But doing this it became hard to go about life and not curse myself for having that one snack that came in way too much plastic and not finishing my food because others are starving. Thinking like this is not healthy and really ruins how you think. I think this class ended up helping me with this problem that I, myself, caused. It showed me that even though I had become slightly obsessed with being all around sustainable and learning and talking about that how what we do even if it’s small can influence the earth. Another thing that really helped was the mindfulness practices. Not only the ones that we do in class but also when I do them on my own. I often come to class stressed or anxious and doing those first thing really helps me calm down and center all my thoughts. I really like doing them on my own because I can do them for as long as I like and the way I want. If I’m feeling stressed, I like to just sit and try not to think, I like to catch a thought and not think about it but rather just have that one thought. Sometimes it’s hard but when I keep pushing myself and stick with it, it gets better every time, helps with stress and even my sleep. I’m definitely one to tell people to try out meditation. This class has not only made me think in a more sustainable way but also in a more compassionate way. I have learned to not think of what would be best for me in an outcome but rather what would be best for more people.