The wave of change is here!
04 July 2020
Global Footprint Network is an international organisation that each year calculates the Earth Overshoot Day. This year, it falls on 22nd August. From then on, we’ll be living on borrowed time. Not that long ago, in the 1990s, that date fell around November. Factors influencing our growing ecological debt include, above all, eating meat, relying on fossil fuels, use of electricity, cutting down forests and emitting carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
Why do we mention water resources, pollution and overconsumption at a design festival? Because crucial decisions about how a given object will affect the environment are taken at the design stage. Will we be able to mend, regenerate or transform it? Or will it be disposable or at best recyclable after the end of its lifecycle? Similar decisions can be taken in the context of designing cities – in natural conditions, around 90% of rainwater infiltrates into the soil, but this figure unfortunately drops to 10% in cities made of concrete, with floods and droughts as a consequence. Appropriate water management, cultivating biodiversity, e.g. by sewing flower meadows and including vegetable and melliferous patches in urban planning helps alleviate the negative effects of climate change and improves people’s quality of life.
However, we cannot solve current problems with old methods. This is why we’d like to encourage you to look at such topics as circular economy, a concept inspired by nature, which knows no wastage. Circular economy necessitates a different approach to design: an emphasis on durability, reuse, regeneration and recycling in order to enhance the lifecycle of products, components and materials to the maximum.
If we keep calculating prosperity through economic growth based on the law of supply and demand, will that answer current social needs? According to Kate Raworth, author of the Doughnut Economy concept, the safety and prosperity of humankind depend on the condition and possibilities offered by our planet. She lists nine boundaries that cannot be crossed in order to avoid catastrophes, including climate change, air pollution, biodiversity loss and ocean acidification. What we can do is build happiness and a life of plenty without further raking up our debt with the Earth. This economic model is currently being introduced by the city of Amsterdam, which – faced with the pandemic, inevitable climate change and the upcoming crisis – intends to change its approach and treat the present moment as an ideal time to change previous paradigms.
We want to sensitise producers, designers, consumers and decision-makers to the fact that their decisions matter. Even small steps can make a big change. At this year’s Gdynia Design Days, we present a number of designs, solutions and attitudes that can help us achieve that. We can take care of our planet on a daily basis by limiting our carbon footprint. Let’s choose to cycle or use public transport, save water, and limit our production of waste. If everyone exchanged around 50% of their consumption of animal products with a vegetarian diet, we could move the Earth Overshoot Day back by 5 days, and limiting CO2 emissions by 50% would give us an extra 93 days.
You too can be the change!