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De-influencing Excessive Consumption

This semester we decided to embark in the journey of exploring excessive consumption. As this is a broad topic representing a wicked problem, our team needed to explore in depth the challenges in the system of consumption. Thus, we started the semester with the Explore phase in which we had the time to do an extensive desk research and talk to professionals in a plethora of different organizations and sectors. We talked with marketing specialists, owners of small businesses and representatives of big companies, we had meetings with environmental activists as well as consumers, we met with representatives of the Tweete Kamer, as well as we talked with activists and minimalists. During this phase we had the opportunity to understand the depths of our chosen topic and see the future challenges lying for us.

In the Engaging phase of our journey, we managed to scope down on our topic. along the way of meeting people our team realized the importance of big companies and how much influence they have over the individual. We moved away form the consumers’ perspective and decided to have a top-down approach in tackling such a complex system. In this phase we decided to design an intervention which is going to influence the higher authorities to make sustainable changes in their supply chain.

Exploring this idea, we moved to the Elaborating phase, during which we figured out what our intervention would be. We decided to create a policy proposal for the government as well as the regional municipalities in the Netherlands. Through our policy proposal we introduced two points to the authorities: to create spaces, called by us Hubs, in which small and value-driven companies can meet the bigger profit-driven companies and have the opportunity to share ideas, values and technologies; and to introduce the goal of committing to making changes in the supply chain of these companies on a voluntary basis in which the companies would commit to achieving goals created by themselves. In the document we also made recommendations for further research on what changes the companies must do in order to reduce the negative effects of consumption. Moreover, we introduced the idea of providing financial incentives through subsidies for the companies participating in the Hubs and committing to changing their supply chain towards more sustainable practices.

And finally, in the Evaluation phase of our journey we wrote the policy proposal while we also had the chance to talk to many policy makers and politicians who helped us in the process of creating the policy. Moreover, we created a success measurement plan in which we indicated that if our policy is recognized by even one representative of a municipality or the Tweete Kamer, we would count our work as successful. In this final phase we send our product to the municipalities and the Dutch government in hoping that our work would get passed on and recognized as valuable.

Overall, our journey was an exciting rush through a difficult system in which we were trying not to get lost. Our final contribution may be small on the short term scale but we believe that on the long term we would make a valuable impact on the system. We learned a lot not only about the world we live in, but also about ourselves and our own values. Through our work we hope we have managed to bring up the issue of excessive consumption to the eyes of the authorities and that our small contribution would start a wave of change in the Netherlands.

Floor Disseldorp -

Hrisiyana Nikolaeva -

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