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NEXT - SUS: Design For Impact


It is estimated that as much as 7 million tons of plastic are added to waterways each year

As the amount of disposable packaging and products continues to increase, controlling litter through public education and cleanup of streets and waterways requires significant and sustained attention.

As part of the community, we want to make impacts in line with RISD sustainable principles. Our project aims to investigate effective engagement strategies to raise the awareness of reducing and eliminating unnecessary single-use plastic products for better marine conservation.


METHOD 1: Clean-Up

  • Temporary

  • Ineffective

  • Engineering problem

METHOD 2: Prevention

  • Social awareness

  • Reduce Usage

  • Prevention of waste at the source

GOAL: Reduce & Eliminate

  • Incentives

  • Punishment

  • Behavioral Change


How much plastic is there GLOBALLY & LOCALLY?

  • Global context


Based on measurements from 24 expeditions a recent study estimates a total mass of floating plastic debris of about 268,000 tonnes.

  • Local context

Based on the 2018 Annual Report from Rhode Island Resource Recovery Center, in Providence area:

1.09 tons of trash was sent to landfill per household.

Resource Recovery’s Materials Recycling Facility(MRF) recycling rate is 13.5%.


"You are standing on the top of a landfill.

This landfill is one of the 10 tallest mountains in RI.

We are running out of the space within 15 years."


What are the impacts & What does SCIENCE say?


“Get educated, build your own curriculum.”

“Write a letter to presidential candidate.”

Reduce consumption of single-use plastic products.”

“Stop by yourself. Give the value to the material by yourself.”

“Better understanding of recycling process.”

Engage local community.”

(during the scientific panel at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: Microplastics in the Ocean: Emergency or Exaggeration? )

What will be the condition of  the same place after 1 MONTH?

In order to better understand and visualize the situation, we conducted a monthly beach clean-up & trash collecting during Semptember and October, 2019 at a wild beach on East Side Bike Path, 2 miles away from campus. We re-catalogued the same location, collecting, sorting and analysing collected trash. Over 2 months, we saw microplastic particles stuck in roots, worsely layers and layers of plastics covered underneath the sand.

trash collection min.jpg



future fossil collection 2.0(compressed)



What is the situation at RISD?

  • RISD shop and studio working space

  • RISD dining and catering space

RISD on campus food services, such as RISD Dining, RISD Catering, Carr Haus Cafe, Jolly Roger Cafe, and Cafe Pearl in the RISD Museum, all use hundreds of disposable plastic cups and utensils every single day. This amounts to an estimated 5,000 single-use plastic items thrown away daily by RISD students. At an average .93 lbs per item, that is 4,650 pounds of plastic waste generated daily by RISD, only from on campus food services. 

engagement & impact

Reusable Mug Discount Coffee Mapping


Carr Haus Cafe, a RISD student-led coffee shop, has 50c discounts for each reusable coffee mug, which is the highest among all the coffee shops in around campus area, including Downtown Providence, Fox Point and College Hill.

‘Zero Waste’ Opening Night
ID 2019 Triennial Show

What are stakeholders and participants' attitudes?


RISD Dining + Catering

“We charge a $150 fee per event for reusable tableware.”

Students coming to the event

“Finally we have it here.”


Mark Moscone
Director, Campus Exhibitions

“This is the first time we have such a no-waste show opening night.”

Ayako Takase
Assistant Professor, ID

Show Curator

“Thank you for making this happen.”


Peter Yeadon
Department Head, ID

“It’s certainly one that aligns with RISD’s stated ambitions to contribute to change on sustainability and environmental issues, if not lead some day.”

“The ID Department would like to have a strategy from you two as to what can be done to shift the perspective so that this is seen as a RISD problem, not just an ID problem.”

final outcome
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