My presentation focused on the idea of waste as a social crime and proposed that everyone needs to take responsibility and show leadership to significantly accelerate the rate of required behavioural change. I put forward the case that we should move away immediately from using the term waste and instead view everything as resource. I also suggested we need to ‘use’ instead of ‘consume’ resource and transform rather than destroy. I reminded everyone that we should not use the excuse of ‘that’s the way it is’.
I presented 3 case studies; our work with Harman International on ecodesigning car speakers which emphasised the importance of material selection and true system impacts and costing; our ongoing work with Orangebox on ecodesigning office furniture which emphasised the importance of being transparent and viewing all materials as resource; and an example from the John Lewis Partnership of a unimaginably over-packaged shoe rack, imported from China, that did not assemble, which was delivered to my home the previous week. I brought the packaging with me to maximise the impact and will write a separate post on this, as I also want to contact John Lewis to get their side of the story.
I really enjoyed the day, with its mix of talks, workshops and exhibition, and as I always find with these type of events I met some really inspiring, knowledgeable and committed people. Thankfully the theme of ‘no more waste only resource’ carried through the day, and became a key outcome of the conference.
I ended with the following quote from Thich Nhat Hanh to emphasise our interconnectedness.
“To be” is inter-be. We cannot just be by ourselves alone. We have to inter-be with every other thing.
Recently I did a presentation titled ‘joined up thinking and ecodesign require empathy’ at an event organized by the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) and Cylch, the Wales Community Recycling Network. The title was inspired by a TEDx video. As suggested in a previous post, in today’s environment I feel that improving our ability to empathise is even more significant as we try to move towards a societal culture of trust, openness, interdependence and co-creation. In ecodesign this shift requires designing for and with people and the environment. Where there is no waste only resource.
11 participants attended the workshop, which was spread over two slots. I had hoped for more but may have scared them off with my impassioned plea for greater understanding between people, and people and planet! The premise of the earlier talk was there is a disconnect between people and people and planet and we need more societal empathy. The slides will be here eventually.
The workshop was to get participants thinking of how they could get involved in the ecodesign agenda. They were made up of representatives from community/social enterprises, environmental consultants, industry associations, recyclers and academics. We had 25 minutes per session which meant some serious time constraints keeping in mind our recent lunch-time experience with Lawrence Hallett on skills. I had devised the following flexible, evolving format to test out some ideas.
Recently I came across a TEDx video on empathy which really struck a personal chord, bringing me back to a subject that particularly intrigues me – empathy. During the talk Sam Richards asked the audience to take themselves out of their shoes and put themselves in the shoes of someone else. I found it quite powerful – have a look and see what you think.
While I admit I can be impatient and I do struggle with my listening skills, empathy is something that has intrigued me for a long while. I would argue that a true understanding of each other and nature is key to ecodesign. This is not the norm at the moment.
In the age when we frequently hear ‘collaboration is the new competition’ moving towards this behaviour of greater societal empathy becomes more pertinent. Without empathy I would argue that co-operation is possible, but effective ecodesign through co-creation, the new collaboration, is not.
Empathy is key to building trust, something that I have long argued is crucial for ecodesign.
Hence I jumped at the opportunity to submit a title for my talk with the word empathy, so I’d make the time to give this some further thought. I chose ‘joined up thinking and ecodesign require empathy’!
Now the time has come to prepare the talk, the event is on this Thursday 19th, and I’m undecided on how to approach this. Any ideas are very welcome.