Greetings and welcome to our portfolio! It’s hard to believe, but 7 weeks have already passed since our exciting journey in the Product Development course began. We’re thrilled to finally present our very first blog entry, and we’ve got plenty to share with you.

Over the last month and a half, we’ve been diligently building both our team affinity and our understanding of the opportunity and technology cards. Along the way, we had the privilege of engaging in discussions led by Professors Andreea and Luke. These discussions were based on materials from the thought-provoking book “Discard Studies: Wasting, Systems, and Power” by Max Liboiron and Josh Lepawsky. These deep conversations centered around the exploration of different scenarios and actions where the insights from the book could be applied.

For instance, in our first week, we delved into the world of whiteboard marker pens. We crafted a detailed diagram illustrating the intricate pathways of production, consumption, and circulation within this seemingly simple tool. This exercise allowed us to peer into the inner workings of marker pen manufacturing, uncovering the various components and the chemicals involved. A fascinating discovery was that marker nibs are coated with a silicone polymer, enabling easy erasability on whiteboards. However, this convenience comes at an environmental cost because these nibs are non-recyclable, necessitating marker disassembly for efficient recycling. Following this enlightening exercise, we explored concepts from the first chapter of the book, which introduced ideas like defamiliarization, naturalization, and methods of decentering. These concepts widened our horizons within the field of discard studies.

In the fourth week of our journey, we embarked on a fascinating visit to “Sure We Can!” – a redemption center located in Brooklyn. This extraordinary place serves as a haven for individual can and bottle collectors, allowing them to redeem their recyclables for cash. It’s a far more efficient process compared to the slower roadside recycling kiosks. The center’s interior is a testament to creativity, as it’s beautifully adorned with upcycled waste materials and hats repurposed into lamps.

During our visit, we had the privilege of engaging with Christine Hegel, a cultural anthropologist, as well as other passionate individuals who work and volunteer there. We learned invaluable lessons about the redemption process, like the importance of preserving the label on each can or bottle, as it displays the item’s redeemable value. Crushing or damaging the label can render an item non-redeemable.

Our journey continued with a laser focus on developing our opportunity cards. Our team tackled a wide array of topics, from food waste to water & air pollution stemming from laundromat waste, sustainable tourism, rubber waste from tires, and even the recycling of solar panels to extract valuable materials. Engaging discussions and invaluable feedback from our instructors and our peer team, the DesignSeers, fueled our progress. Subsequently, we delved into creating our CERN and Attract Technology cards, which expanded our understanding of how specific technologies can be scaled to address various challenges.

Fast forward to today, and we’re just five days away from our journey to Geneva. The excitement is palpable as we eagerly anticipate the opportunity to work at CERN, connect with industry leaders and experts, and network with fellow students from diverse corners of the globe. Our next blog entry will chronicle our two-week experience at CERN Ideasquare, so stay tuned for more updates!