Last Friday, January 31st, the Times Center in New York hosted a special summit organized by Slow Factory, a non-profit design lab that according to their site “works with companies to research and implement sustainability-focused initiatives, from waste recovery to software to manufacturing.”
The 2020 Study Hall Summit focused specifically on an important and pressing issue in the face of climate change: the fashion industry. The day’s program of presentations and discussions included designers, manufacturing professionals as well as activists and scientists working to fight and correct for fashion’s contributions to climate change.
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As designers, we got a lot of out of the day’s panel discussion titled, “Waste Led Design: From Landfills as Museums to New Production Paradigms”. The talk was prefaced with a video produced by Slow Factory in collaboration with adidas that featured design students visiting Waste Management’s landfill in New York in order to “meditate on the end of life of products,” as noted by Slow Factory founder Céline Saaman in the film. Surprising discoveries about landfill management I had never considered until this video include the fact that some facilities collect methane gas generated in the landfill to use as energy to power cities. The video serves as all overall inquiry into how designers can rethink product form factors and materials in order to significantly reduce the buildup of harmful, non-recyclable products in landfills.
The discussion following the video features Jay Kaplan (Environmental Manager, Waste Management), Ayesha Martin (Director of Global Purpose, adidas), Céline Semaan, (Executive Director, Slow Factory Foundation) and Sophia Li (Journalist and Director) and the group digs deeper into how companies, public institutions, and designers might be able to work together to rethink waste in order to fight climate change. It’s a fascinating talk worth a watch.