What if, instead of paying millions of dollars to export trash from cities to festering dumps in other parts of the country, we could export our garbage bags to virtual realities instead? And what if, instead of buying a new smartphone every few years before chucking it, we held onto indestructible ones for the duration of our lives?
These are just a couple of ideas generated by some 270 schoolchildren over the last three years. Massachusetts-based creative research firm and marketing company Latitude teamed up with schools in France, Germany, the Czech Republic, and the United States to ask the kids how they might deal with one of today’s most intractable issues: waste.
Their answers, as one might expect, waver between brilliance and silliness. And for a generation in which some are raised on iPads before they learn how to use a toilet, many of the solutions are technology-oriented. But that also offers a valuable reflection on how technology is being deployed today. Some answers, like the trash-filled VR worlds, show us the limits of technological solutionism. Others, like recycling junk metal in order to make bridges, seem pretty useful. And maybe if they can’t all be executed, there’s still value to the more creative suggestions. What if we did fill up a virtual reality with the trash we generate in the real world? Would it make the digitally-preoccupied more aware of global consumption patterns?
Check out 10 of our favorites in the slide show above.