Sustainability is a wicked problem. We know this, as students in DHM 1101, but the general public does not know this for what it truly is. The thing that makes an issue ‘wicked’ is that it can not be solved in just one way. The solutions for these issues will look different everywhere, possibly because of economic stability or public opinion. They are open ended and what seems best in one area may be virtually impossible in another.
Through my wicked problems course this semester, I have become extremely interested in sustainability. I have always been one to care about the planet. In high school I took environmental science as an elective, and I did my best to live in a more sustainable way. Since starting college, I admit, I have not been living in an environmentally friendly way. Through this course, my mind was opened to a whole new way of thinking about sustainability and caring for the environment. I learned that we need change. This first came back into my mind during our first week of class when we watched the film “the 11th Hour.” This was a documentary type of film that took a deep dive into the environment. It explains how humans are affecting the environment as we live in a way we have become accustomed to for our survival. But what we think we are doing to survive, to remain societally and economically health, is killing us. This movie explained to me what I have already known, but needed a reminder and an emphasis on, that through our industrialization and technological growth, we are ruining our environment. As “The 11th Hour” says, we are running out of time. We may have done too much damage to fix what we have done. We need to start caring for the environment and seeing climate change for what it is. A climate disaster.
This brings me to my next point. We are in the middle of a climate disaster. I have some strong opinions about this, and it takes a toll on my mental health. I am aware of the crisis. I want to do my part to help heal the planet and continue to live on our beautiful earth. It saddens me when I hear people claim climate change is not real or that we are not harming the planet in a colossal way. The truth is that we are. It depresses me to know the state of emergency our wonderful planet is trying to impose on us. The earth is talking to us through the disasters it is facing, and as a whole we are refusing to listen. As said before, this is a wicked problem. Some groups of people may be aware of the crisis, but not everyone has the ability to listen and respond to the earth. We have talked of the depressing truths of under developed countries in this course, and the fact that they cannot respond in the same was developed countries like the United States can. On the other hand, it depresses me to know that the United States is not doing their part in sustainability. Specifically, the government and people in power. In some ways, the under developed is more sustainable that we are just because they do not have the technology that we have that is destroying the planet. In other ways, the United States should be conducting more research and implementing more money into discovering and practicing sustainable practices. The sad truth is that money and economy will always overpower radical movements such as sustainability in developed countries.
Taking a course which focuses on the teachings of sustainability has done good for me as well. The teachings of sustainability, and specifically the unsustainability of the current world, has brought me closer to my own body. I have become more mindful through the duration of the semester. I feel more in touch with myself and my mind, body, and soul. This may be because of the practice of meditation we have started each class with, but I also believe it is because we have been taught more about the earth as a whole, not just the earth from an American point of view. As an American, who grew up attending American public schools, most of what I have ever been taught has been from an American point of view. Whether this is because of ease of teachings or personal biases of the American education system, I am not sure. All I know is that through this course I have felt more empowered to make change than ever before. Through this course I have realized something very important to me, my body has never felt more connected with itself and connected with the earth that it feels right now. This is extremely powerful for me. This is something I will think of and carry with me wherever I go for a very long time. Learning about sustainability has changed my way of thinking through changing my body’s connectiveness with the environment I am living in.
Through my Wicked Problems course this semester I have learned that I do not want to be a bystander anymore. I do not want to sit back and ignore the harm we are doing to our planet. I want to do what I can to save the earth. The earth is our mother, and we must strive to protect her.
There are a few ways I want to pursue this goal. For starters, I want to continue to study sustainability. I have been looking for ways to do this throughout this semester so far. I have done a lot of research as it pertains to the way I can continue to study, and I have decided I want to look into declaring a minor in sustainable design along with my study’s as an interior design major. If I am going to be producing designs as a part of my future career, I want to do so in the most environmentally friendly way I can.
Another way I have decided I want to continue in sustainability is through things I can do now. I work at a tea shop, and we are not the most sustainable. We do not currently sell reusable cups and we give our products in plastic. I want to come up with a way to pitch to the owners of the store a biodegradable product to give our loose-leaf teas in that does not have harmful plastic in the back. Of course, I have a lot of research to do before I can even consider pitching this, but I am determined to continue studying in order to pitch something more sustainable and just as easy as the product we are currently using.
All in all, we have a lot of work to do. Whether it is on a public level, protesting against the rich and powerful who chose to continue harming the planet, or on a personal level, pitching new low-level products and practicing personal sustainability. We can all do better. We must all do better. For the sake of our home planet, our lovely planet earth, we need to do better. We need to protect it. We need to find solutions to these wicked problems that will aid in sustainability for everyone. Right now, we have a wicked problem with very little solutions implemented.