Networked Urbanism

design thinking initiatives for a better urban life

Design critics: Belinda Tato and Jose Luis Vallejo, principals of Ecosistema Urbano

Think Big: The cost of waste, both financial and environmental, on our cities is enormous. While the market has produced some solutions in terms of automated sorting for single stream recycling and composting farms, the largest challenge still exists at the moment of disposal. When you or I decide to throw something away where do we throw it? Do we litter? Do we properly compost or recycle? More often than not, even when we want to do the right thing we often carelessly dispose of our waste. I believe that a combination of poor design, entrenched habits, and a lack of awareness contribute to these individual behaviors. I am seeking to change what appear to be small moments in our everyday life in a way that can scale up to significantly impact our urban environments.

Start Small: My initial target is Chauhaus, the dining room at Gund Hall. After experiencing my own fits of misunderstanding every time I threw something away I began talking to other members of the GSD community and found that nearly everyone finds this setup confusing. I plan to change this through one (or more) design and behavior interventions. I am currently assessing a handful of options but plan to implement them as soon as is feasible.

Act Now: I have met with a combination of “trash” people and “behavior” people so far, including Trevor O’Brien of GSD Building Services and Erin Frey (PhD candidate) and Professor Todd Rogers at the Kennedy School. I have a meeting scheduled for Friday morning with Rob Gogan, the department head for Recycling and Waste Services at Harvard. I have also begun filming the trash area from above during lunch times to determine the scope of the problem and establish a baseline to compare to after my intervention.

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