2021 Design Week: Designing Waste Out Recap

The Design Lab at the NYU MakerSpace recently held its Design Week, a week of events focused on a critical aspect of design. For the second year in a row, the team decided to focus on sustainability. Design Week 2021: Designing Waste Out was all about taking action and reducing waste. All of this year’s events were virtual and the week was packed with talks, workshops, and a panel. NYU students working on sustainability focused projects were also showcased throughout the week.

We began Design week by showcasing some of the sustainability initiatives happening at the MakerSpace. We’re committed to fostering initiatives and projects around sustainability with a focus on circular design and support projects such as Urban Food Lab, a hydroponic farm, the NYU FREEdge, a community fridge addressing food insecurity, and a Plastic Shredder to recycle failed 3D prints. You can learn more about these projects and hear from the students involved on our Sustainability Page.

Aside from the initiatives happening at the MakerSpace, we highlighted several students and their projects that spoke to some aspect of sustainability either through the use of reclaimed materials like Isabela “Isay” Acenas did with her Upcycled Longboards, by making environmentally sustainable foods more accessible like the system Fishel Aquaponics is developing, or through researching new alternative regenerative biofutures through bacterial pigmentation as Annick Saralegui is doing in her BioDesign projects.

Sustainable Packaging

The next event of Design Week, Sustainable Packaging, featured a talk from Kelsey Moffitt, Industrial Designer at Loop and Terracycle. She spoke about her work at TerraCycle and their mission to combat single-use waste by developing circular solutions to the current linear systems of recycling for hard-to-recycle materials.

The Loop initiative, started by Terracycle, sought to make sustainability more accessible to consumers by granting them the opportunity to receive their favorite products from trusted brands like Häagen-Dazs, Crest, and The Body Shop in reusable packaging. Her passion about sustainability and experiences enlightened the participants on how the design process can be utilized in reducing packaging waste. 

More about Kelsey Moffit, Industrial Designer, Durable Packaging Designer at Loop Global

Kelsey Moffitt is an Industrial Designer based out of Philadelphia, working on products and services in the sustainability realm. She started her design career with a BS in Industrial Design from James Madison University, and has since focused on recycled and upcycled product design at TerraCycle and reusable packaging design at Loop. Her experiences at both TerraCycle and Loop have centered around analyzing the consequences of, and designing ways out of single use design and packaging.

To learn more about Terracycle and the Loop initiative, please visit their website here.

Taking Action, Making Change

The main event of our Design Week was the Taking Action, Making Change panel. Our four panelists work in sustainability either at the local or organizational level, making positive change in our communities. These passionate changemakers and innovators have taken on the challenge of “designing waste out” through their work with community fridges, youth programming, development of recycling pipelines, zero waste education, and community organizing in order to create a more sustainable, equitable, and inclusive future for all.

They spoke about taking on the challenges of “designing waste out” and initiating change from a local to society level – more specifically that the complexity of issues such as climate change, the immensity of our waste problem, and the prevalence of systemic environmental injustices happening on a local, national, and global scale often prevents people from acting, so action is more effective than awareness. They sparked excitement and drive into the participants and explained different ways you can utilize the resources around you to help the environment.

More about the Panelists

Zenat Begum, Founder, Playground Coffee Shop, Playground Youth

Zenat Begum is a native New Yorker, owner of Playground Coffee Shop, founder of Playground Youth, and an alumni of The New School. Zenat intentionally seeks to center BIPOC, marginalized bodies, the arts, and community engagement in order to foster change in a shapeshifting and gentrifying BedStuy. You can learn more about Playground Coffee Shop and the community initiatives they provide here: playgroundcoffeeshop.com/youth

Brigitte Vicenty, Founder, Inner City Green Team

Brigitte Vicenty, a lifelong New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) resident, is the founder of the Inner City Green Team. She has led the fight for herself and fellow residents in their “Right to Recycle” for a decade. She created Inner City Green Team when she learned that NYCHA’s recycling program was nonexistent and there were no other options. In 2018, she won the NYCx Co-Lab Challenge and was honored at the Zero Waste in Shared Space Recognition Ceremony. The project was recently featured on New York’s PIX11 and News12 as well as by Politico. Brigitte is a 2020 Echoing Green Fellow.

Monalisa Prasad, Director of Sustainability, NYU Eats, Chartwells Higher Education

Monalisa has been with Chartwells for 5+ years demonstrating her passion, knowledge, skills, and adaptability. While in the UK she was struck by the sheer amount of edible food that would be wasted at her local supermarket and it sparked her interest in learning about the nexus of food, waste, energy, and the all-important climate! Her work is demonstrated through her spearheading efforts of certifying 5 dining halls at NYU as Green Restaurant Certified and tracking and implementing all things sustainability in the foodservice industry. Monalisa holds an MSc in Sustainability Management from Columbia University, NY and an MBA specializing in Sustainable Operations and Supply Chains from University of Exeter, UK.

Daneille Foster-Russell, Emergency Fresh Food Box Program Manager, Grow NYC

Daneille Foster-Russell is an engagement and operations professional with a focus on building and managing program and stakeholder development. Daneille is passionate about community capacity building and partnerships for creative problem solving. All her work stems from a focus on equity, cultural responsiveness, and community engagement. Daneille manages the Emergency Fresh Food Box Program at GrowNYC, a New York City-based non-profit focused on protecting the environment, creating green spaces, and helping people stay healthy. Daneille has worked as an outreach associate with the New York City Department of Sanitation and spent 4 years working with New York City public schools to develop and implement their sustainability and waste management programming with the aim of achieving New York City’s 0x30 sustainability goals. Daneille holds a BS in Journalism from The City University of New York and a MS degree in Environmental Policy & Sustainability Management from The New School.

Anne-Laure Fayard, Associate Professor in Department of Technology Management and Innovation and an Affiliate Faculty member in the Department of Technology, Culture and Society at NYU facilitated the panel.

Getting Involved

The last event of Design Week, Getting Involved, allowed participants to learn about practical yet effective steps you can take to make a sustainable difference. Design Lab Coordinator Som was accompanied by MakerSpace TA’s Masuma, Florentina, and Angy in discussing simple yet effective ways you can make an impact on systemic environmental injustices. During this workshop, they went over different areas, groups, and projects where people can start their journey to being a positive impact on the environment such as social media, NYU clubs and projects, the local NYC community, or national organizations.

No matter which area you chose to start making a difference in the current trajectory of our environment, understanding the immediate actions that may be taken to achieve a more sustainable future is the best first step.

That’s a wrap on Design Week for this year, but the NYU MakerSpace continues to be committed to fostering initiatives and projects around sustainability with a focus on circular design and designing waste out. We embrace the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and support them through the sustainability projects at the space, training, workshops and mentoring of entrepreneurial ventures (such as RISE, We Are the New Farmers). Sustainability, Circular Design and systems-thinking are principles underlying all the programming and mentoring that we do here. Keep an eye on our Events Pages for future sustainability themed programming.