Waste is created when we no longer value something we create, possess or use. Barriers to prematurely discarding goods and resources have steadily fallen in recent years. Easy credit, low prices, instant online access, and a 24 hour promotional media all reinforce an accelerating and expanding consumerism. It is clear that we need new systems-based approaches to reduce this excess consumption, including the excesses of our ‘waste-making’, to generate a more sustainable circular economy.
The Zero Waste SA Research Centre for Sustainable Design and Behaviour is a collaborative research centre based within the School of Art, Architecture and Design. It is a joint initiative of Zero Waste SA and the University of South Australia, the state’s premier institution for cross-disciplinary and applied research. Our innovative, collaborative research is focussed in two main areas:
- Engaging communities to generate behaviour change, reduce waste and resource and energy use, using social science and behavioural methods to lay the foundations for more sustainable consumption, and
- Material and scientific interventions, including the use of technical assessments and evaluative tools, to reduce material flows and waste, and create more sustainable cities, precincts and buildings.
Green Wall at the Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana, Mexico City, photo, courtesy Leigh Thelmadatter (CC)
We nurture a culture of innovation in which our researchers, including many PhD students, thrive. We have close working links to the CRC for Low Carbon Living which we are currently participating in, and the China Australia Centre for Sustainable Urban Development (CAC-SUD), a joint initiative with Tianjin University in China. We are also an active member of DESIS, an international association of leading design schools and researchers involved in social innovation and sustainable design. We welcome contact from interested researchers, from other institutions and from students interested in further study, either in our Masters of Sustainable Design or to study in our PhD program.
We would also like to invite scholars interested in sustainability, consumption and waste to visit us next year for a special conference, to be held in the University of South Australia, here in Adelaide, in May 2015. This promises to be a memorable event, combining scholarship from many disciplines to answer some of the most intractable questions undermining or limiting our quest for greater sustainability. Specifically, the conference will address consumption as the ‘engine-room’ of waste.