Marketing Sustainability

This past week, poverty stood out to me with significance. For some people, poverty is just this really sad thing you think about but never really experience yourself. You picture underdeveloped countries. A distant land. But the reality is, there a lot of people around us that could be consistently struggling to keep their lights on or struggling to eat. I know what it feels like to pinch pennies just to survive long enough to see the next paycheck. When I say “I”, I mean when I lived with my family and also living by myself. It’s not fun to struggle to the point where you’re sleeping under several blankets because your family couldn’t afford to pay the electric bill or relying on free food because you absolutely cannot afford it. Now it hasn’t always been this way for me and oddly enough, I appreciate how I grew up. I feel like it has shaped me into the person I am. I am able to relate and empathize with all different kinds of people. However, that doesn’t mean you have to go through the same exact experience to empathize with someone else’s situation.

A good example of this is Jessica Jackley, cofounder of Kiva. She had not faced poverty herself but she had a heart for the poor since she was a young girl. Once she took the time to actually talk to people facing these problems, she was able to see that what they felt they needed to succeed, wasn’t much at all. I really liked the part where she mentioned that the best way for people to change their lives is to have control and do what is best for them rather than having an outsider that is out-of-touch step in and try to change what is perceived as the best thing.

In class, we also read an article over poverty and how that effects environmental degradation. I completely agree that poverty contributes to the degradation of the environment because those who are struggling to pay basic bills aren’t necessarily worried about making the best eco-friendly choices, especially when eco-friendly options are typically more expensive. Living on my own has taught me the value of money more than my parents ever could have. Most times, I buy the absolute cheapest version of everything. Even toilet paper. One day, I was talking to my friend about sustainability as I was in the process of moving. I was in need of more trash bags and toilet paper so I went to go buy some with full intentions of seeking out the cheapest of the cheap. However, while I was at the store, I saw both trash bags and tissue that screamed “sustainable” (it actually said sustainable on the packaging) and I recalled the conversation I had earlier that day, so I bought them. The price difference between the sustainable items and the cheap items that I usually get, was significant. This makes it very difficult for people to make the better choice despite how much they want to because it is currently cheaper to ruin the environment, than it is to save it.

I took some time to look at the Story of Stuff’s official website and I saw some interesting topics that I would like to watch in the future. As I was watching the video on YouTube, the part deforestation saddened me but also overlapped with my sociology class. This past week, we watched a news story from 1999 about a woman in her 20s that lived in a tree for almost two years to protect/protest the cutting down of trees in California’s Redwood Forest. As mentioned in The Story of Stuff, corporations run everything and their only concern is to take natural resources for their own economic gain despite who gets hurt in the process. For Friday’s class reading, I was assigned the “yes” side of the issue. The article was intended to explain how the market is better at pushing consumers towards sustainability than the government. The author suggested a cap-and-trade method which I believe could be beneficial for limiting the use of fossil fuels. I found that article interesting because I had not heard of cap-and-trade before. This also deals with the topic of my final report so I plan to incorporate information learned from both the “no” and “yes” articles because they both contain information that is new to me, as well as possible solutions to my wicked problem.

Given my personality, I believe that I would best serve as a communicator-educator in aiding the environment. I feel that I am a “safe” source of information to go to for my friends and family. I can educate without passing judgment and enlighten them of the issues we are facing without attacking them. I can see myself in that role more than the others. Since being in this class, I have learned a lot about the state that our earth is currently in. I knew it was getting bad but I didn’t realize the extent of it, as I’m sure many people don’t. I am constantly thinking about being environmentally conscious every time I see a plastic bag or something that is plugged in but not in use. It is going to be a journey to get to the point that I would like to be at, which is zero-waste, but it’s not impossible and hopefully it won’t be too late.

In the TED talk by Yann, I found his film to be a lovely representation of the beauty of earth and the beauty of people. Although, human beings act superior in relation to the rest of the earth, we should be coexisting. The earth provides us with so much and we need to find a way to pay it back. We are all here together, it’s time to start acting like it.

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Looking Forward

This week, I learned a lot about turning ideas into actions and change, and the multiple, multi-faceted ways that can be done in many different societies. There are so many unique problems, and then multiple possible solutions for each problem, and then each solution can be implemented in many different ways. In other words, wicked problems are incredibly complex, and this holds beauty and distress at the same time. I learned about many specific problems, and possible solutions to those problem as well as how to implement them, specifically through our Poverty/Environmental Degradation reading, our Green Construction/Government vs. Free Market reading, the TED Talk on Poverty, Money & Love by Jessica Jackley, and my research about my wicked problem that I am writing about in my investigate report. While these assignments gave me specific, detailed accounts of certain problems, our other assignments, such as the Story on Stuff video by Annie Leonard and A Wide Angle View of Fragile Earth by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, opened my eyes to more of the damage we are doing  not only to the earth but to ourselves, and general ways on how to address these things.

In The Story of Stuff video by Anne Leonard, Anne walks her viewers through the five steps of our economy, (extraction, production, distribution, consumption, and disposal) and how those steps, along with everything that is being hidden from us in them, is destroying us and the planet. While these ideas had been presented to us before, this video opened my eyes more to the true evils of those in control, and the evils of the way they have forced us to live. In my opinion, this video was the most eye-opening of all the accounts we have viewed to get our attention. While the other materials we have watched and read were convicting and eye-opening as well as to the way we live, this one was definitely designed to scare, and it accomplished its goal. For example, Leonard’s focus on the amount of chemicals that we use in our products and the amount we pollute the earth with is terrifying, and its results of cancer and disease in people is the scariest part of all. Sadly, I have personal experience with this, watching relatives of my close friends pass away from cancer, and hearing about cancer appearing in so many people i could be acquainted with. Even experiencing a cancer scare appear in my own mom—the danger is real. The results are unavoidable, and hearing someone address it directly was refreshing. After the cancer scare with my mom (who thankfully avoided the development of the disease and is now living healthier than ever) my family changed the way it lives completely. My mom dove into researching, and is many years later still continuing to, living in the cleanest way possible, and avoiding all the terrible pollutants of the industry. She has even gone onto implement those clean ways into her dental practice, and is staying away from harmful chemicals and medical procedures in her dentistry, hopefully saving others from cancer and other diseases in the future that those chemicals may have caused. Sadly, it took a life-threatening scare to change our ways, but we are thankful that it was only a scare. Hopefully, we can keep others from experiencing the same things in the future.

Leonard’s points about planned obsolescence and perceived obsolescence were extremely infuriating to me. It just shows how money-centered our world is, and how selfish those in charge are to trick the public into destroying themselves and the environment just so they can make money. I believe by pointing out the evil of their ways, Leonard was doing good by not only opening our eyes to it, but by making us angry about it, which can hopefully be fueled into more action for change and good. There are few things one hates more than being duped, and the anger created to turn that around can be a very useful energy.

The Poverty, Money, and Love talk by Jessica Jackley, however, created the opposite reaction. Her emotion and raw, genuine spirit and care for helping the poor by hearing their stories, and therefore, contributing to saving the earth, created compassionate emotion in the viewers that hopefully moved them deeply to take action. Seeing her tears over the impact we can make to help people, and her joy over the results over helping them, hopefully lit a fire to people to see what a full life serving others can bring. Sometimes, just knowing facts and being told to take action isn’t enough—one must visually experience the emotion and images of something to be moved to action, and that is why I believe this video was so important and influential to our learning.

Arthus-Bertrand’s display of the earth and its people became another visual, image emotion connected learning tool for this week. By showing us these beautiful images of the earth, and how we have the possibility to destroy it and images of what that looks like, should hopefully move something deep within people that they can’t explain. Listening to the people our consuming and disposing culture can affect as well should also make a difference. While hearing facts and studying problems is important and necessary, without images and emotional, heart-driven motivation, people are less likely to act.

However, learning more about details in specific wicked problems through our readings was fascinating. The complexity of the connection between climate change and environmental degradation and poverty was baffling, and frankly, it was difficult for me to grasp the multi-faceted issues and views. I believe it is frustrating, honestly, that people cannot even agree on the nature of the problem, because if people cannot even agree on what the problem is, it makes it a lot more difficult to take action and fix it. But i guess that is what contributes to it being a wicked problem in the first place. The opinions on the relationship between poverty and climate change just seemed very numerous, with many different sub-views for each opinion. Therefore, it seemed to me to be one of the most complex and difficult wicked problems to fix. The reading on Green Construction, however, was fascinating to me. The ideas that people have come up with to implement green living just into the way our buildings are built was beyond me, and I greatly enjoyed learning about the simple and complex ways we can save energy in our most energy-consuming sources. Maybe I particularly enjoyed it because I am studying interior design, so buildings are affiliated with my field of study. Hopefully, I can implement these green-building strategies into the way I design and maybe come up with some of my own, even though I am not the best at ingenuity. It is unfortunate, that it is significantly more expensive to build green, but hopefully over time, and with more incentives, that will change and it will become more popular. It was also encouraging to know that green standards have been applied to building codes in years past already. Improvements, however, still need to be made.

Throughout this week, all of our assignments have come together to hopefully accomplish one main goal—to implant in us a sense of social entrepreneurship: the fact that we can take action, come up with our own ideas, and make a difference in our own lives. By conducting research for ourselves, we have acquired a sense of what it’s like to take these problems onto our own shoulders, and contribute in our own ways. Hopefully this practice has also given us desire to continue to pursue these problems in our own lives. Personally, it has made me aware of all the opportunities for sustainable change in the interior design industry I am studying, and I am excited to one day make a difference and make my own contributions. I have learned that there are so may different ways one can design sustainably, either through the materials I pick for the floor and rugs, or how many windows and ceiling fans I put in each room.

Through all of these many readings, videos, and personal research, I have definitely learned the importance of living sustainably, and have been given many different options of ways I may implement it into my own life. As for now, I may contribute by being a communicator/educator. My activism may be limited considering I do not own any large companies or design buildings (yet), but hopefully one day I will be in more of a position to do such things. I may even be a facilitator, using my own sustainable design processes and passing them onto others. I am greatly excited about all that I have learned, because it gives me sort of a new purpose in the way I may design. Even though these possibilities are far in the future, I look forward to being able to use what I have learned on a larger-scaled level. As for now, I will do what I can and encourage others to do the same.

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Educator to Activist

From the ted talk by Jessica Jackley, I’ve reflected on how much I relate to her. Having grown up in a church I was told the same thing. I was supposed to go help the poor and homeless, but when growing up I’ve felt useless. She later heard Dr. Muhammad Yunus speak and tell stories of the poor she has never heard of before. She was given the opportunity to go out and help the less fortunate. With me, I have had the opportunity to talk to some homeless people and help them or just talk to them. This made me feel like I had helped them in the slightest bit but we all have to start somewhere.

 

With more research on my wicked problem, I am learning the struggles of finding the perfect education system for the world. With different backgrounds and culture, it’s hard to meet the needs of every student out there.

 

With my sustainability journey, I’ve discovered how much waste I produce and would like to slowly transition to a waste-free lifestyle so help save the planet on my part.

 

My role in sustainability would first to be a communicator and educator. With teaching my family and friends around me to the campus of OSU. With teaching people I’d like to become an activist and make a change in the world.

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Social Entrepreneurship for Sustainability

In The Story of Stuff, Annie Leonard discusses how production and consumption as humans is impacting the planet. Leonard mentions how environmental issues and social issues have a connection. If the planet is not functioning properly and is a healthy place for humans to grow, it results in social issues. If the planet is not well, then how can the human race be well? As the inhabitants of planet earth, we as humans need to come together to sustain the resources that we have. In Poverty, Money, and Love, Jessica Jackley discusses microcredit which the process of entrepreneurs who do not make enough money to be given loans by the bank, receiving loans. Jackley loved the idea so much that she quit her job and moved to Africa and founded Kiva. Through this organization, people can pledge money that goes to making up these loans for the entrepreneurs. Because of the overwhelming support it has received, many small companies dedicated to better communities have been given the chance to succeed. This is an example of social entrepreneurship, which is when small businesses develop ideas on how to combat social and environmental issues. This has played a role in enlightening me personally on wicked problems and just how serious they are because of what I have learned about social entrepreneurship. People dedicate their lives to making the world a better place through small businesses that make a big difference. This is inspiring because it shows that everyone can play a part and act to fight for what they are passionate about. This makes me want to educate people that I know about ways that they can better the world because if the world is well, then we as humans can also be well! In A Wide Angle View of Fragile Earth by Yann Arthus, he discusses the meaning behind landscape instead of only focusing on the physical aspect of it. Arthus explains that some landscapes can tell the story of trying times as well as wonderful times. Some landscapes show environments that are lacking nutrients and health while others can be overflowing with vegetation and beauty. The landscapes show the impact of human activity and what its result is. This is significant because in one of the readings, the author explains that when people are living in poverty, the whole environment around them begins to become worse and worse. Not all environments are flourishing which can be easy to not be aware of whenever everything in the environment surrounding you seems to be fine. This explains the importance of sustainability because if resources are not sustained, the environment will digress and not meet the needs of the people living in it. Without sustainability, a society will have trouble developing economically or socially. Sustainability is what ultimately makes or breaks a society, which is why it is so important that we are aware of it. Another reading compares market and the government. The author discusses that the increase of carbon to the environment is dangerous therefore doing things like adding a tax to anything containing carbon, such as gasoline, would be beneficial because it would lessen the amount that is being used. It is important that we keep it at a minimum because of its negative effects on the environment. Making it harder to get would be a good start to making carbon less abundant in our atmosphere. From my wicked problem, I have learned that climate change is something that most every human has an impact on. From waste to pollution to over production of goods, everything impacts the planet and that is something that people should be more aware of. Solutions will take time to reach their full potential but it is important that we as a society work towards these solutions as soon as possible because if we wait too long, it will be too late. 

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The Ending Trilogy of Wicked Blog about Wicked Problems by a Wicked Dude

Starting my blog off by talking about the Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard. In a brief video, she talks about making Acrylic Polyester Synthetic Blend clothing out of recycled plastic bottles. Wow, a great idea. Another way to recycle and eliminate waste from our planet…or so we thought. The problem with these new inventive ways to recycle is that the long-term solution causes new problems that we must deal with later. Such as these APS Blends, years after being used and washed multiple times, the fibers start to break off and while in the washer they go into the drainage system, which leads out into the ocean. Once this happens, they start to absorb all the toxins in the oceans. This seems like a good thing. The problem is that these fibers absorb the toxins, and the fish in the ocean consume these fibers which then we humans consume these fish absorbing the toxins as well. We are poisoning themselves. We need to stop plastic pollution!

Jessica Jackley poured her heart out in her TED Talk labeled Poverty, Money, and Love. She starts off talking about learning in Sunday school about how we should help homeless people and other people in need and in poverty. Help by giving money, food, clothing, and shelter. She was told it was her responsibility to help these people out. Jessica was a child who was eager to serve and help. But felt it was impossibly hard, she in her own words, “I felt like I had been just given a homework assignment that I had to do, and was excited to do, but no matter what I do, I would fail.” Years so by and she started to fear and feel negative emotions towards this group of people, started distancing herself and stopped listening to their stories, for they all ended the same way, never any hope. Jackley talks about how on the outside it still seemed like she was very involved, but she only gave when it was cheap or if she was cornered. The giving she was doing was out of a bad place, not out of hope and a generosity. Things changed when she heard Dr. Muhammad Yunus speak and tell stories of the poor that she had never heard before. This helped Jessica see that she needed to give herself (and this goes for all of us) “an opportunity to engage that validates their dignity, validates a partnership relationship, not a relationship that’s based on the traditional sort of donor beneficiary that can happen.” We should stop looking at the poor as a different sort of people, they are just like is and we need to take every opportunity we have to help them out. As the reading talks about we cannot blame them in their situations. But in some parts of the world, they are causing lots of harm to the environment because they literally do not recycle. Environmental degradation and poverty go hand and hand as said by the Yes reading of Environmental degradation. The first reading was about marking vs government regulation.  We need to put a price on causing harm to the environment. We can make money, and put a stop to pollution.

I think all the TED talks we have talked about this year have been very informational and really put in perspective of how much we waste, and how we could be helping our world but don’t. I know my journey is just starting when it should have started a long time ago. I have known about these problems that are plaguing our world and I have not been doing my part. I will start communicating more to my family and friends about how we can help the world, maybe become an activist one day when I learn. Our world is not as strong and healthy as it seems. As Yann Arthurs- Bertrand captures fragile Earth in wide-angle. With a series of aerial photographs, he shows just how bad in shape Earth is. From oil spills to landfills full of waste and deforestation.

Activity three was about us doing our investigative report. There is so much information on climate change. If I put the time and effort into it, I should get a decent grade. I am learning a lot about climate change. All the ways I can help, and help other people learn how to help. My social entrepreneurship would be developing seeds and plants that needed less water so that way countries with low water could still grow food and get themselves out of poverty and then they could recycle, and one thing leads to another and that would be a step forward to sustainability.

Thank you,

XOXO

Wicked Dude

 

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Making a change!

There are many environmental and global issues that we face nowadays. High level of consumption and environmental degradation are major problems that contribute to global warming. In the market vs. government regulation reading, buildings are largest contributor to electricity consumption, and they impact harmfully on the environment, which contribute to pollution and climate change. Buildings use about one-third of energy use and raw materials, produce one-third greenhouse gas emission and waste output, and 12% water consumption. These large amounts of consumption contribute to pollution and climate change. In the TED talk of Annie Leonard, our stuff moves along different stages from extraction to production to distribution to consumption to disposal. We are running out of resources because of extracting too much natural resources to create stuff and trashing our planet. In addition, toxic chemicals are put in the stuff, which impact human health and environment. Especially, we have become a nation of consumers; advertisement and media play a big role in this. The only part of material economy that we see is shopping. As the result, we have more stuff than ever before, and it then will be trashed and dumped in a landfill. These pollute the air, land, and water. In addition, causes of environmental degradation are globalization, the move to manufacturing and the increased demand for energy urbanization. Population growth and inadequate resources also lead to the migration of the poor and force them overuse environmental resources.

For the solutions, Annie Leonard mentioned that recycling can help reducing the garbage pressure to mine and harvest new stuff at this end; however, it is not enough. We need to see the connection and the big picture of the entire system. Sustainability and equity are also solutions to solve this problem such as green chemistry, zero waste, closed loop production, renewable energy, and local living economies. Furthermore, effective public policy can increase environmental quality in developing countries and improve the lives of the poor while protecting the environment as mentioned in the article. Improving asset base of the poor is important; these include natural, social, human, physical, and financial capital. Poverty concept is very complex and a set of relationship. Location of poverty influences policy options. By developing effective community – based institution for the collective management of resources is a key factor to aid the poor. Implementing better policy requires both conceptual and operational shifts. Policies support both enhanced livehoods for the poor and more sustainable management of environmental resources. Co-managing and co-investing with the poor, supporting infrastructure development, developing technologies, employing and compensation the poor are some options to solve the problem. Poverty and weak governing institutions can lead to corruption, which can cause environmental degradation. Therefore, creative policy plays an important role. Through this policy, natural sources can be used as source of income and a means to protect the environment. Next, green building is one of solutions that can help reducing greenhouse gas emission and fighting global warming. Green building can help with energy efficiency, use of recycled materials, water conservation, and improve indoor air quality. These buildings have a significant impact on the environment and people health. However, there are barriers and challenges to green buildings due to cost, variety of US. green building programs, inability, building codes and regulation, zoning and land-use policies to implement green building programs. Therefore, the purpose of incentive regulations is to offset some financial barriers to green building like tax incentives, expedited permitting, reduced development fee, and density bonuses. Without national regulations, the greenhouse gas emissions cannot be managed successfully. Therefore, regulation at local state and national levels are needed in construction industry. Regulations can be built into zoning and planning laws; they can also encourage energy conservation and sustainability by reducing global greenhouse gases. Buildings have along life cycle. By developing stronger regulations at all government levels, energy demand will be significantly reduced.

Through the activity 3, I learned that construction and demolition waste is really a wick problem that we need to have more concern and consideration. Depending on the professionals’ views, locations, and countries, they have different views and distinct cases of problems. Although some solutions work for some places but not work for the others due to unique situations and context to implement effectively. Because construction and demolition waste are 30% waste in landfill, we have to come up with solution and implement it to solve the problem. These wastes affect a lot to our environment. Therefore, as a future interior designer, I need to consider and apply sustainable design to help reducing the construction and demolition waste. Understanding life cycle stages  and entire system are important to reduce the waste and contribute to green building. Since I had this class, my sustainability journey has been improved significantly. I pay more attention to recycled materials and think about life cycle stages of products when buying stuff. I think that I can contribute to make a change for our environment by changing my habit and daily activities into sustainable way. I believe that each person is a member of our planet, so we need to work together to protect our environment. As a role of communicator and educator, I would love to talk to my family, friends, and people know and understand more about what the wicked problem and how our activities can impact and change our environment. For social entrepreneurs, the drive is toward helping people and creating the non-economic wealth within a community. They seek to solve many pressing problems that often include inequality, education, access to food and water, and sustainability. Social entrepreneurship is important and helpful to develop, fund, and implement solutions to solve social, cultural, or environmental issues.

 

 

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Our Voice Matters.

Consumerism is the main reason for many of today’s social issues. The story on stuff breaks down each step of the material economy. It is based on the life cycle of products from extraction, production, distribution, consumption, and disposal. But it is not as simple as that. There are many factors that are apart of each step and they are detrimental to the environment, humans, and animals. Every day we see thousands of advertisements trying to persuade us that we need to buy a company’s product so that we will feel fulfilled. Products are made to be replaced or go out of style quickly. With how much humans are consuming and throwing out right now it is causing deforestation, climate change, sweatshops among a list of many other unethical problems. The more I learn about this topic the more I realize materialistic items are the root of many of today’s problems.

Many people argue that poor people are causing environmental degradation. There is no doubt that when someone is living poverty they will be subjected to try to make a living in a way that is bad for the environment such as agriculture, mining, and forestry. When people are living in such poor condition they do not have the resources to be environmentally conscious. Incentives are a good way to help provide the poor with ways to make an income in a clean way. This also goes for the green building. Buildings account for 65% of energy consumption and 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. Providing incentives for green building would a huge step in the right direction since they account for a big portion of greenhouse gas emissions. When people blame the poor for environmental degradation is it not fair. Big corporations and consumers are just as responsible. The difference is that we have the choice to stop purchasing unethical items and not participate in actions that will further destroy the environment.

As I continue learning about the wicked problem I have chosen to explore it has made me become more aware of how much of say consumers have on how the way companies are run. Sweatshops have been going on far too long. The number of conscious consumers has risen quite a bit in the last few years. This change in perspective has forced companies to cut down on their carbon footprint and become Fairtrade certified. If the number of people that are concerned with the way their clothing is being manufactured more and more companies will change the way they do business. The bottom line is that consumers are the reason for sweatshops and if they start making ethical choices they can help create good working conditions. Sweatshop workers are forced to make a certain quota for the day before they can even leave the factory. These demands are made by corporations because people continue to buy way more than they need. It is important that manufacturers start designing products for emotional attachment unlike how they are manufacturing for products to be quickly replaced.

Currently, I have switched over to reusable shopping bags and water bottles. Along with that, I have made the decision to stop shopping at fast fashion retailers. For someone like me who loves shopping and is a fashion merchandise major cutting down on the amount of clothing I buy will be tough, but the outcome is by far more important. Instead, I will shop second hand or buy from ethical clothing companies. I have a long way to go on my sustainability journey, but I plan on being an activist. Next semester I want to join the environmental science club at OSU. This course has really opened my eyes to how each person plays a role in the environment.

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