I was part of a panel discussion at Western Washington University yesterday for Design Green Now, a series of talks about sustainable design taking place on the West Coast. Together with my fellow panelists Sophia Wang Traweek, Marc Stoiber and Arunas Oslapas I think we covered a pretty good range of topics with our short presentations, but the real heart of it was Q&A with the 70 or so students attending and some questions submitted via a website. It was also good to see a presentation about the various sustainability efforts going on at the WWU campus.
As often seems to happen in these discussions the daunting complexity of the challenge became an over-arching theme. The moderator, Sean Schmidt (who did a great job) asked a question submitted on the website about what should a company’s priorities be — recycling, looking at materials usage, energy reduction, take-back schemes, etc. The answer? “All of the above” and “It depends.” These are not the neat and tidy answers one would like to move things forward quickly, but unfortunately that’s the way things are right now. As I seemed to keep saying at the talk, “it’s complicated.”
It was an enjoyable evening that brought out a lot of good discussion, many thanks to the crew at Ecosystems for inviting me and putting it on. If you are in San Francisco, Portland or San Diego, check out the upcoming ones (my fellow frog and leader of frog’s green initiative Sara Todd will be speaking in San Diego).