Waste Stream System Awareness + Action

Our team of experts includes leaders from government, science, business and communications.

Our team of experts includes leaders from government, science, business and communications.


Our systems challenge: realizing the value of all materials highest and best use. Because our individual choices impact our air, land, water and climate.

So we all throw stuff out. And we assume that people know what should happen to our waste products that magically disappear once per week. But we also know that, for the first time in human history, people are understanding that resources are limited, and that the culture of consumption for which the United States has set a global example is literally killing us, our planet and our future. Why do we behave this way?

Some of the core elements of the system map we continue to refine as we move forward

Of course there are myriad numbers of organizations working on all sides of this issue. In our conversations thus far, we’ve identified many interrelated themes that may help us create the narrative helping our group to get to some of the root causes of this issue, which is one of the objectives of a Systems Practice curriculum.

Here’s a preview of our thinking:

Our Guiding Star: A world where material waste is eliminated due to behavioral, social and systemic design: encouraging people to realize materials highest and best use.

Near Star: Local economies, cultures and policies realize the value in all materials. By 2023, every community in Northern Michigan will:

  • Have access to curbside recycling and compost

  • Have access to new markets created to replace current assumptions about material use, which in turn fund education efforts

  • Engage in efforts to educate residents, businesses and governments about the value of making choices which honor the highest and best use of materials

  • Divert at least 50% of all waste from landfills

Efforts to educate co-workers in the kitchen where we hold our workshop sessions

Our systems practice group is pursuing the following question: What are the factors which enhance or inhibit the realization of the highest and best use of materials in our region?

We will continue to engage in conversations around this issue until the curriculum ends in December, 2018. After that point, we’ll post our findings and the system map as we’ve done with other Systems Practice initiatives on this site.