In 2013, American generated about 251 million tons of trash. Of the total, nearly 34.5% of it was recycled or composted. We’re getting better at this, but still the majority of the waste we create winds up in landfills and incinerators.
Just a few days ago, 15,000 scientists released a “letter to humanity,” in which they warned of the catastrophic fate of the world if we as a society do not change our wasteful behavior. This is the second letter of its kind, a followup to one written 25 years ago in 1992.
“By failing to adequately limit population growth, reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth, reduce greenhouse gases, incentivise renewable energy, protect habitat, restore ecosystems, curb pollution, halt defaunation, and constrain invasive alien species, humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperilled biosphere.”
If we don’t act fast, the resources that we and future generations need to live will be wiped out. And that is where designers can step in to help. Whether it’s creating sustainable design projects, working with eco-friendly brands, or simply speaking up and teaching those around you, everyone can find a way to keep our world green.
Reproject: A Sustainable Design Concept
One designer, Seunghee Yi in New York, created a concept to help encourage people, specifically those in large cities, to recycle as often as possible. The idea is called Reproject—a campaign that you would sign up for online or through the app. After joining, each person receives a starter package with three reusable recycling bags, each equipped with a scannable chip that holds the user’s information, and an informational brochure detailing what items can and cannot be recycled.
Each bag you fill would then be taken out, just like normal recycling, and scanned by a waste collector. You earn points every time one of your bags is scanned, and with those points you’re able to buy new recycled products from Reproject, or donate them back to your city.
Pretty smart, huh? Yi’s entire branding system for the concept is absolutely beautiful too. I hope someday we’ll see incentives like this popping up around the world.