As Alissa Walker so eloquently put it, conversations this morning at Compostmodern started with compostable underwear and ended with pee pots. As elementary as that sounds, maybe that's the point. A running theme heard again and again is that there is a place for all of us in this conversation, no matter how large or small, complex or simple, high-tech or lo-fi, vulgar or politically correct.
Yves Behar, Founder of fuseproject, reminded the audience of some key tenets in sustainable design: don't apologize, deliver more not less, design for good. As designers, we are in a unique position to change this conversation, but we must do so with products and innovations that create lasting, substantive experiences for consumers and meaningful, sustainable impacts on the people and planet around us.
Christopher Simmons, Creative Director at MINE, and Nathan Waterhouse of OpenIDEO, discussed how we all need to take a seat at the table. Christopher mentioned that as designers, we may be showing up a bit unprepared lacking appropriate business knowledge. That being said, for some of us the few small actions we can take (even if it is just "designing pretty things") are the best way we can influence change. As exemplified through OpenIDEO, Nathan showed how that celebration of diversity, participation and collaboration can generate solutions to some of our biggest problems.
Some of us may choose to contribute simply through the choices we make on a daily basis. Janine James, President of The Moderns, explained how an office flood became a tsunami of change allowing the organization the opportunity to make conscious choices about the daily experiences within the four walls of their office. Dara O'Rourke, Co-Founder of GoodGuide, is giving us all the tools necessary to learn more about products that we consume every day.
While the morning was somewhat overwhelming, running the gamut of the sustainability conversation before 11am, it left us with a real task. If you haven't already, it's time to find your individual place in this conversation. Because, as Nathan Waterhouse says, "No one person's is right or wrong."
Jessica Watson is completing her second semester of the innovative MBA in Design Strategy program at California College of the Arts' where she is focusing on sustainability and social entrepreneurship. This is her first Compostmodern conference, but she is sure it will not be her last.