Integrating sustainable concepts with many actors

The biggest difficulty in making the world sustainable is teamwork, communication, integration.

For example biodegradable plastic packaging, this is already used for many products. It is a great idea, not harmful for the environment and even economically feasible. Nevertheless there is a huge problem with this. To start, many people do not recognize the difference between biodegradable plastic and normal plastic, they put it in the garbage bin with all the normal plastic, what happens then is that the ecological plastic is burned anyway. If people do put the degradable plastic in the bin with green garbage, the plastic will be burned also, because it is not degrading as quick as plants and peels so it will be filtered out and burned.

This is a good example of a sustainable idea that is not working out because not all actors are pointing the same direction. In the described chain, the waste processers are clearly not aware or not willing to pay attention to the trend of biodegradable packaging.

Technologies for living sustainable are at hand, the biggest challenge might be integrating it in the world and the most important factor hereby is communication and agreement between different actors. After the TiSD week on Texel one thing really surprised me happily. We started on Monday with eight groups consisting of three members, having eight completely different, sometimes conflicting ideas for a sustainable Texel. Still we managed in five days to integrate all those ideas into one coherent concept. I think this success is the result of a few factors. First direct leadership of one person, not involving too much in the concept itself but more coordinating the process very strictly. Providing structure during the sessions, when we had to work on what part, in which groups, providing advice in some later stages to not discuss longer than ten minutes. In my opinion the first stage in integrating the eight plans was really well organized, it was a great idea to take one person out of each group and make three different groups out of those, one person representing every subdomain. This way there developed within half an hour three interpretations of how the eight plans could work together. It is also interesting to see that the final design resembles a lot with one of the first proposals on Monday. Besides the communication being very well organized, I have to say that an important part of the success is also thanks to the devotion of all the participants. It also helps a lot that we were together for five days, constantly talking about the concept and about other topics, you really get to know each other very well and it helps leveling and talking on the same ‘wavelength’.

For integrating sustainable concepts in chains with many actors it is important to have devoted representatives from every subdomain, knowing each other’s personalities, desires and having a certain relationship. There should be one devoted leader coordinating the process and not influencing the concept itself.