Before I started to choose the problem field, I started to list down things that I value and issues that can be related to CMU.
- Sustainability – Mental, Workspace, Environmental
- Stress Culture
Because I personally saw a lot of people (including myself) are not being sustainable and I see a lot of potential that there are a lot of chances to fix the current environmental problem and become more sustainable on campus.
I know that all the restaurants on our campus offers plastic silverwares, and students are able to get those plastic silverwares as much as they can. Since freshmen year, I saw a lot of students taking more utensils as much as they can. And I think this phenomenon leads students to have a habit of using disposable utensils because it is easy to access.
I think the biggest reason why students prefer to use disposable utensil is because of its easy access. Students easily can get disposable utensils easily through utensil dispenser. Even though our school considers to be more sustainable, I feel that some of the factors might have chance to have better solutions to be more sustainable.
Students at school of design tend to spend quite a long time at the studio. So design students are frequently having either lunch or dinner at the studio. There are some people who brings food on their own, but most of the students normally buy food on campus and bring food to the studio. It is quite often to see students using disposable utensils that school provides. However from 4 years of life at here MM as an undergrad student, I saw a lot of unused disposable utensils were placed everywhere and end up thrown away.
So I wondered why this happens and what this circumstance means:
Lack of necessary infrastructure in order to have sustainable eating habits
And because the facilities are scattered this demotivates students to have sustainable eating habits
Disputes the values of the school’s belief and instruction in sustainability
I had a conversation with 7 different people to see if mini kitchen actually motivates people to have sustainable eating habits.
These are the questions that I asked:
- How often do you use the kitchen?
- When do you use the kitchen?
- What facilities do you normally use?
- Did the kitchen actually changed your eating habits?
One master student mentioned that the kitchen itself did not motivate him enough to change his eating habits, however once he had other motivation such as diet, it allows him and helps him to keep that motivation through using the mini kitchen.
I also asked one ph.D student who’s office is located in FMS building about his usage of kitchen, and since he became a ph.D student where he had a kitchen in his office, he said he started to bring his own mug cup to make his own coffee with coffee machine that school provided.
Undergraduate students mentioned it would make their eating habits to be more sustainable if these things are located:
Coffee machine, distrack, and kitchen supplies such as paper towel and dish soap.
These are the current kitchen supplies from senior studio, and the fridge is always filled and they are not clean enough and it looks unorganized so some of the undergrad students mentioned this discourages them from bring their own food. And the sink did not have any kitchen supplies and because it was too small majority of the students ended up going to the bathroom and wash them and throughly wash it again when they get home.
I categorized how Design classes are located and as you can see most of the studios are located on a second floor and most of the studios are fro undergrads.
There are 2 mini kitchens in School of Design department one is located in the design office and the other one is located in MDes studio. And both places are not accessible for undergrad students. They are only accessible for faculties and MDes students only.
Even though the undergrad population is composed as the highest population, undergrad student do not have access to any of those facilities.
I created two different scenarios:
University buys disposable utensils from companies -> Disposable utensils are located in each restaurants -> University let students to take utensils without any restrictions -> Students taking disposable utensils too much (for their later use or they just end up throwing away) -> Students use disposable utensils while they are eating -> Students either keep extra utensils or they just throw away -> Use disposable utensils
School of Design (with kitchen)
School of Design (without kitchen)
Brainstorm – Possible solutions
- Employees can hand out disposable utensils to customers directly
- School can encourage students to bring their own utensils. (Rewarding system)
- Educate students about sustainability.
- Make the dispenser machine more complex. (Requires longer time, more interaction)
- Put a sign near utensil dispenser.
- Purchase disposable utensils that are eco-friendly.
- School providing reusable utensils (however will increase water usage)
- Have a supervisor that restrict students from overusing utensils
- Charge the utensils for extra use (through DineX, Plaid cash)
- School of Design offers a mini kitchen for each studio with minimum facilities.
- Have a open mini kitchen for all undergrad schools
- Conduct a fundraising for the kitchen construction
- Give an access to MDes studio for undergraduate students
- Share the contents of how to have a sustainable eating habits (why it is important, how to have sustainable eating habits)
- Create a cafeteria inside a design department
- Provide a mug cup/ utensils that identify each Design students
- Create a competition that suggests creative ideas asking how to gain a sustainable eating habits
- Have a guest lecture that is about sustainability
- Give a reward if students use reusable kitchen supplies. (Credit, prize etc.)
Possible places for an open kitchen
1st floor vs. 2nd floor
I compared between first and second floor to find out which floor would be better to have a opening kitchen space. Through my observation, 1st floor was too opened to other people such as people from other places and a lot of people are even using first floor to pass by, so it gives chaotic atmosphere.
On the other hand, second floor gives calm and quiet atmosphere so it gives the people to have comfortable feeling and can spend decent amount of time. Moreover because most of the studios where undergrad students spend most of their time are located on the second floor I thought having a open kitchen space on the second floor would be more appropriate.
Click this link for the presentation slide
Choosing an issue was not a hard part for me, however the process of finding a problem field and analyzing them was a challenge for me. Because I chose the issue based on my own thought and things that I’ve been watching for the past few years at CMU design school, In order to understand the issue properly I had to ask people if this problem is a real problem. Through having a conversation with others, it was quite interesting that people were actually having and knowing about the same issue. Like myself, people knew that this was a problem, however people it happens to others, so people do not thought this was a problem until I mentioned about this problem. The mapping exercise really did help me to understand the problem and helped me to understand who is impacted by this problem statement (real stakeholders for this problem). I think the steps I tried to face the problem really worked well to show how my suggested solution might work (having sustainable eating habits) and also can cause extra benefits (helps to communicate with others). However I would spend more time on more detailed solutions. Through other colleagues’ presentations it was interesting that most of the topics and problems were happening because of lack of communication, and most of the solutions were able to be applied to other departments.