Designing a Sustainable World

Wicked Problems class has taught me many things about mindfulness and sustainability, which has benefitted my outside work. I’ve learned about overproduction and overconsumption in the fashion industry, which was an issue I was previously familiar with. Still, I didn’t understand how much it is a growing problem in today’s culture. This is also an issue in the interior design world, as many sample pieces and broken furniture pieces are thrown away when they could be refurbished or recycled somehow. There is also an overconsumption issue with interior design, as newer, faster-flowing trends cause consumers to buy too many trendy pieces and not use them once the trend has ended. This is an ongoing problem that contributes to the significant sustainability issues in our modern world, and I want to be able to do my part in the industry to reduce overconsumption.

Sustainability is something that we as a human species have struggled to maintain for all of our existence. There is an extreme disconnection between how much people care about the earth and its resources compared to how they care about making money and growing businesses. Although I understood this to be an issue before this year, I never quite realized the effect it will soon have on our population. Previously, I understood that there’s a large amount of pollution on the earth affecting our natural resources. Still, I did not understand how critical overpopulation has become in the past few decades. The human population grows exponentially, which has inevitably led us to where we are now, struggling to find resources and space for the rapidly increasing number of people.

Before joining Wicked Problems, I had no understanding of what a wicked problem was or what kind of impact it had on me. I also didn’t understand how it related to my career, as I’m an interior design major. I’d never really thought about the wastefulness of interior design and its’ other wicked problems. When I first started the class, I was hesitant that I wouldn’t find it interesting or appealing, as it’s pretty different than the other classes I’m currently taking. During the first few classes, I was pleased to realize that most of the information shown was very interesting and surprising but also appalling at times. The class constantly made me wonder how we as a human race have allowed problems of that capacity to go unnoticed in everyday society, as I would’ve never known that information if my career path wasn’t directly involved in it. There should be more done regarding informing the general public of these horrible issues. Even though many people know that things like pollution and deforestation are problems, they don’t understand their true nature and how urgent they are. As much as people try to deny it, this class has made me firmly believe that humans may not survive for many more generations. I’ve learned that by 2050, the human effects on nature and its’ resources will be irreversible. I understand that significant sustainability issues are complicated to improve, let alone solve, making them wicked problems. We were asked in a class assignment if we felt like humans could someday create a more sustainable culture and survive. At first, I contemplated whether it could be possible, but with more knowledge, I now believe that it would be almost impossible for that to happen. We have been living and wiring our culture a certain way for our entire existence, and for us to somehow make a change and contribute all of our energy and efforts to sustainability would most likely not be possible. The main ways we can make change are by educating those around us and making small efforts to minimalize waste and overproduction. I can also bring the knowledge I’ve gained from this class into the professional world to contribute to sustainability in the interior design industry. I’m glad that I can now see the world through a lens that benefits my human clients and the world around me, and the resources it supplies.

When I first started learning about wicked problems, it would sometimes frustrate me that the human population has almost allowed these issues to continue and contributed minimal efforts towards improvement. I have now learned that this isn’t necessarily the case, as wicked problems are considered wicked. These issues are highly controversial throughout different demographics and industries, making it difficult to fix them. Typically, if a large change is made to a part of our culture to motivate sustainability, it will most likely negatively affect another part of our culture. For example, if electric cars become the most popular form of car, gasoline industries will experience fewer sales, and gas stations may have to close. I’ve learned not to jump to a conclusion with any problem throughout this class, as there’s almost always another perspective worth attention and equally valuable. Although these sustainability issues are highly frustrating, there is not much the entire world population can do to stop it, as all humans disagree.

Along with this sense of mindfulness towards wicked problems, I’ve gained more mindfulness towards other aspects of my life. I’ve become more mindful of my body and mind regarding stress and coping with it. I’ve taken the advice given in class to breathe and take a few minutes of your day just to sit and be one with yourself and silence. This has allowed me to be more mindful of how my body is truly feeling and what I need to do to feel my best. This mindset helps me get more work done and not feel so overwhelmed while doing it, which has benefitted my mental health overall. I’ve also become more mindful when specific issues around me that I can’t control. If something is causing a problem that I can’t necessarily change, I don’t get as upset as I used to, and I realize that there is most likely a reason for things to turn out that way, so I have a sense of peace with it. This class has overall allowed me to be more mindful of myself and the things that happen around me, which was something that I didn’t even know I needed.

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