A proposal for improving information and awareness about waste
Posted on 22.11.2021
In April 2020, Amsterdam City Council adopted a five-year circular economy strategy. The strategy relies on the ‘doughnut model’ created by the British economist Kate Raworth. Raworth’s Doughnut illustrates a model of how societies and businesses can contribute to economic development while still respecting the limits of the planet and society. Amsterdam was the first city in the world to make such a commitment, and it is hoped it can mend the post-coronavirus economy in a holistic way.
During autumn 2021, Studio Multi director Emma Lynn joined a group organised by Scholars United for a Sustainable Amsterdam (SUSA) exploring interdisciplinary and bottom-up solutions for making Amsterdam doughnut-proof. The group members came from a range of backgrounds including; chemistry, law, IT and architecture. Our mission was to explore the theme of the garbage problem in Amsterdam. We had six weeks to investigate the issue and after a few discussions we collectively formed the title, ‘Rethinking Garbage: A proposal for improving information and awareness about waste.’
We all need to collectively make lots of changes to become a 100% circular city by the ambitious target of 2050, but how are we going to get there? The Rethinking Garbage proposal focused on raising awareness with consumers on their habits relating to consumption and waste.
‘Waste’ is destabilising our ecological balance. Every year, the world generates more than two billion tonnes of trash – and World Bank estimates that one-third of the waste generated is not safely managed. Furthermore, dump sites produce methane as organic waste decomposes. Dump sites are the third-largest source of human-generated methane – which consequently is a major accelerator of climate change.
The team developed a series of posters to be displayed on refuse bins. By using humour and anthropomorphising waste we hoped to make an emotional connection with consumers. The messages are deliberately provocative to engage people, not to make them feel guilty but to make them think, question their choices and adapt their habits relating to consumption.
When we throw things away, we need to remember there is no ‘away’. Shockingly the average Dutch person throws ‘away’ 500kg of trash a year. Furthermore, half of Dutch waste is incinerated or shipped overseas. The best way to deal with waste is not to make it.