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Transcript: Designing for Circular Economy and Systems Thinking with Leyla Acaroglu

Transcript: Designing for Circular Economy and Systems Thinking with Leyla Acaroglu

SEE THE SHOW NOTES AND LISTEN AT: Designing for Circular Economy and Systems Thinking with Leyla Acaroglu

Katie Whalen [00:00:05] Hi, I'm Katie Whalen and join me each week as I talk with experts around the globe about Circular economy. You'll find out what's being done to make it a reality and if it can really solve the problems it promises, it's time for Getting in the Loop.

[00:00:25] Hi, it's Katie, and welcome back to the Getting in the Loop podcast. I hope you enjoyed my recap from the World Circular Economy Forum last week. And this week we have a new guest and I'm thrilled to welcome Dr. Leyla Acaroglu to the show. But first, if you're giving presentations related to Circular Economy or if you just want to learn a little bit more about Circular Economy basics, head over to slidedeck.gettinginthelooppodcast.com to grab a free presentation that I've created based off of presentations that I've given over the course of the last couple of years. And what it is is you can use it as a starting point for your own presentation. So it's PowerPoint presentation. You can add or adapt your own slides into it, or you can just go through the presentation and learn a little bit more about the basics behind Circular Economy. So it's 20 slides. It starts off with why we need a circular economy, what is the concept and how can we implement this in practice, and then at the end it finishes with some links to different reports and other resources so you can learn a little bit more on your own. Okay, so now onto today's podcast.

[00:01:35] I am thrilled to welcome Dr. Leyla Acaroglu to the show today. Dr. Leyla Acaroglu  is a designer and sociologist who embodies the innovation that ignites positive social change. Named Champion of the Earth by the United Nations, her pioneering at the intersection of design systems and sustainability has awarded her international recognition as a leading voice in positively disruptive change for a more sustainable and regenerative future. Leyla is founder of the UnSchool, the creative agency Disrupt Design and the Code Project Farm, which we'll talk more about in this episode. She travels around the world helping people to think differently about the role of design and how we can all design a future that works better for everyone. So without further ado, Dr. Leyla Acaroglu.

[00:02:31] Thank you so much, Leyla, for coming on the podcast. I am really excited to talk to you today. To start us off, could you tell where you're calling from?

Dr. Leyla Acaroglu [00:02:42] Sure. I am currently on my crazy sustainable farm project in rural central Portugal. It's called the Project Farm and it is an experiment into regenerative and sustainable agriculture.

Katie Whalen [00:02:55] Wow. I was watching some videos about it and it seems impressive and I want to go. If I'm not mistaken, you're leading some series of workshops there. You do work with the UnSchools there.

Dr. Leyla Acaroglu [00:03:11] Yes. So we run programs. So the COproject is all about creative optimism and we give people like the mercy of nature based experiences around systems and sustainability. So the COproject is very much like hands on sustainable lifestyle in a kind of contemporary way. So we give food workshops on how to prepare and grow amazing food, nutritional food obviously that's vegetarian and vegan but in a really kind of cool and sexy and not icky way. We just give people every practical skills, tools to have bringing zero waste opportunities into their lifestyle and just kind of to think differently about the things they buy and how they could integrate more sustainable living practices into the day to day life through these kinds of short form and long form workshops.

[00:03:59] We just have like a creativity camp where it's a hybrid between the UnSchool where we teach more cerebral systems thinking, life cycle thinking, sustainability stuff along with the hands on practical lifestyle things. So whereas the UnSchool, we help people learn the tools to change the world.

[00:04:15] At the COprojects finally give people the tools to help change their lives, so day to day lifestyle stuff because we got to live and we have an impact in everything we do. So my own personal quest to figure out how to live in a more sustainable way kind of inspired the crazy project, yeah.

Katie Whalen [00:04:35] How to grow back.

Dr. Leyla Acaroglu [00:04:37] That was the quest to learn about soil, all the things that make food possible. Yeah, the thing is, is we forget how important food is. I mean, obviously, we all like food and literally like the whole of humanity has been based on our acquisition of food.

[00:04:50] How we can transition society through being able to grow enough food and have enough leisure time as a result of industrial agricultural practices. And none of this stuff was at the forefront of my mind to any of my previous sustainability work. And it became more and more obvious to me that it was a really critical intervention point and also kind of point of communication and collaboration like we all need to eat. We all sit down for meals together and a lot of our personal impacts on the planet comes through our food choices. So whether we can reduce our reliance on factory farms and industrial food products or whether we could also help rebuild so quality and sequester carbon through that. So there's a lot of sustainability solutions that are embedded in how we get food and how we feed the growing population of the planet. So yeah, super interested in it.

Katie Whalen [00:05:40] Yeah.

Dr. Leyla Acaroglu [00:05:41] I never told anything before I started this project. So I'm very much a novice learner. And then I turn my learning into programs and my team run really fun and engaging workshops, all things like fermentation and different really fun, cool things that I never knew about myself until I started the project. And we have donkeys.

Katie Whalen [00:06:00] You got- You're all set there. Yeah. It sounds brilliant. And I love how you, yeah, you focus sort of on this food and what you said about the commute, the communal aspect of it. Like my my family is originally from Italy and so food, like the first thing my grandma asks whenever I go visit her is like we're sitting at the breakfast table and she's like, what do you want for dinner, you know? She's so focused on providing for the family and that's, so I think that's a great way to bring people together. Who comes to the farm?

Dr. Leyla Acaroglu [00:06:32] Lots of different people. So obviously we run more in-depth than advance trainings on schools. So we often get career changes or people working as designers or engineers on the products that are interested in secular rising those products or services. And then we also get a lot of people who are entrepreneurs looking to start. They were initiatives. So people working in the general social change making space, other educators. We have an educator program where we teach the pedagogy that we have at the UnSchool, which is very immersive and hands on and has its own kind of style. So we have people from all over the world. Last summer when we ran programs, we had over 500 people, local and international. Obviously, we want to reduce people's traveling. So we try to encourage them to go slow and to enjoy the experience that contribute to the local economy as much as possible. But we did get a lot of people who are already traveling to Portugal. It's quite a popular destination right now, especially within the European market. We encourage people to spend a few extra days, get out of the major cities, come to beautiful rural central Portugal. Enjoyed. The amazing food and experiences that this region has to offer is many of these areas, in Italy, in Spain and Portugal and many places of the world, obviously not just Europe, is all the traditional small scale agricultural holdings are being abandoned and we're losing a lot of fertile, productive land and we're losing a lot of community because of that service as we have more people move to the city. So this rural regeneration is a very interesting concept for young people like to get involved in. I really into this idea that you can have a have a have a country experience as well as a city experience to be an urban country urbanite. So I had I myself kind of don't really understand it because I have to travel a lot for my work. But this is why I plant so many bloody trees on the farm. But I also really find that the regeneration that I get from just like growing food and experiencing natural systems and staring at green is so phenomenally powerful. And there's so much science now that's reinforcing that that three days spent in nature doubles your immune fighting cells, whereas if you spend three days in the city, you don't get that health benefit. This like so many proofs of of environmental impacts on our health and well-being, whether it be exposure to air pollution and the connection to Alzheimer's. So I'm very interested in like how we can help disrupt these normative practice of everybody moving to cities and living in polluted and highly dense places, which, of course, in some cases has environmental benefits because we can centralize services. I have to travel as far, but a lot of our cities are designed to be concrete jungles that trap heat reinforced climate change through the use of air conditioners and whatnot and also create really unhappy people. So I'm very interested in this. I don't have a solution to it. I'm experimenting, and the COprojects all about that and I want other people to copy the COproject. It's definitely a proposition that people should copy. So we've got a lot more a lot of interesting people to kind of explain in detail all of the things that happened here. You just have to come and see it for yourself.

Katie Whalen [00:09:50] Yeah, well, I would love to. Portugal is actually on my list of places to go to next. So who knows.

Dr. Leyla Acaroglu [00:09:58] Well, we have a co-creativity camp, which is a hybrid, looks like five days. It's like adult summer camp and it's five days and half of the time is really kind of most  cerebral system thinking and sustainability and circular economy stuff. And then the other half is like really hands on, like making a computer from scratch and doing some tropic farming and all sorts of really fun things. That's like a nice hybrid to get a bit of the brain and also the kind of practical life skills.

Katie Whalen [00:10:25] I want to dive a little bit into some of the things that you've been doing related to Circular Economy, because I know you've been dealing with, you know, design and environmental and social issues for a while. I first came across you through your TED talk Paper Beats Plastic and if listeners haven't watched this TED talk, they definitely should. I will link to it in the show notes. I have all my students actually watch it as part of their course when we're talking about circular economy. And you were a keynote at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation summit a couple of years ago, and I was just curious how- I think you've always been interested in systems thinking and change, how did you become interested in and hear about this topic of Circular economy?

Dr. Leyla Acaroglu [00:11:17] Wow. Well, I mean, I started studying design, product design because I wanted to have an interesting job. I was always interested in social issues, humanitarian issues when I was younger. And have I kind of tossed up between studying social science or studying design and decided that my career choices would be much more interesting if I did design. And also like everyday products, annoyed me like remote controls. I was like, I think I could do a better job at things. But it was during the design program that I realized that I was gonna have these really far reaching and powerful impact on the world if I ended up as a designer and that I really had no idea how the world worked and this kind of created these really strong catalysts. So I started researching sustainable design or eco design, and those days it was just before that being kind of the resurgence of the 2000's. So I was kind of reading books from the 70s and 80s and 90s and kind of coming across all these amazing ideas of the impact of design, the power that it has to create both unintentional, positive and negative outcomes for the world and for people. So I was extremely motivated to learn more and to really dove into a practice as a sustainable designer. But that required me to kind of switch gears and actually jump back into my original ideas, studying social science and majoring in sustainability so I could really understand the human and behavioral side of things and also the practical kind of sustainable sustainability side of things.

[00:12:41] So I ended up doing that and then going back and finishing my PhD in industrial design through sustainability. And as a result of that, I started the UnSchool and disrupt design and do all of my work around propagating for a really significant systems change.

[00:12:56] And it was through all of that research and work and my creative practice that I dived into some really nerdy topics like my background is actually in the technical application of sustainability through lifecycle assessment. So I spent a few years doing that and learning about material flows through the economy and the environmental impact associated with different materials, which is obviously what I synthesized in the TED talk and a lot of my early work like The Secret Life of Things, which is an animation series on understanding the impacts of design decisions, which was encouraged as a curriculum support tool for high school and university students in Australia, which ended up helping change the curriculum and is now on display in the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Milan, which is pretty funny to talking cell phone who has an existential crisis. You get past life regression therapy. It's a really funny little. Yeah. So using it and design and the skills that I'd learned and kind of thinking differently about things and applying that to the otherwise what is quite boring, I'm not necessarily promoted extremely well field of caring about the planet and the life support systems that sustain us, otherwise known as sustainability was like a kind of life goal from a young age.

[00:14:07] And so my career has really looked at multiple ways of intervening in that and the narrative around sustainability too, because for so long. And suddenly when I first got involved in it, it was extremely depressing. And of course, yes, we have many, many problems in the world. But if we just focus on the problems cognitively limits our ability to look at the possibility of something completely different and to open up the neuro space, to think about imagining and designing entirely new products and services and system. So that's really been my major agenda. And so for the last like like 18 years now, I've been working at trying to make sustainable design and sustainable thinking like sexy and cool and accessible and relevant and desirable and all of the positive things rather than boring and inaccessible.

[00:14:54] And so when the rise of the kind of umbrella term of the Circular economy occurred around five years ago. It was great because Circular economy essentially as a concept has been around since the 70's. The the way the recent play is, it really brought it together. It's been excellent at branding and unifying a lot of different fields of thought and practice. So from product service system models that were very popular in the late 90's, early 2000's through to the old sustainable design strategies of which I'm a massive proponent of, through the more contemporary ideas such as cradle to cradle life cycle assessment. And of course, now some of the other strategies and approaches that we have coming out of the work that's being done around the circular economy. So it's a really great evolution of a lot of work for the last 30 years, ever since we've kind of figured out that human activity has the possibility to have really significant negative impacts on the environment and thus on us as a human species relies on the environment. So for me, it's really interesting to see this transition and to be involved in it. Obviously, my deep passion in my area of expertise is around the intersection between the design of everyday consumer goods and the impact that that has on consumers or customers or people. I hate all of this was but how people would get their needs met essentially in desirable, aesthetically pleasing and sustainable way. So that's why a lot of my work focuses on sustainable production, consumption and sustainable lifestyles as much as the hardcore kind of design material. Supply chain side of things. To unify them in order to really get the solutions that a fully circular and do have a regenerative and positive impact on the planet as a result. Because there's a lot of green washing that still unintentionally happens and a lot of kind of looking for a simple solution to a complex problem. And that's one big issue. I think the whole circular economy faces right now is making sure that there is the robustness and the integrity around the decisions and the practices, because it isn't that easy. We haven't got all the solutions that we need, a lot more people doing a lot more work to figure out how to truly overcome some of the hurdles that changing the entire economy presents us.

Katie Whalen [00:17:04] Definitely. I was talking to Ken Webster recently on the podcast and he was discussing- he was discussing how he doesn't like when people use circular economy business examples and things like that, because he's like it's not that easy and we can't just say here, put it in a box and wrap it up in and send it off into the world and be able to replicate it around the globe. There's a lot still left to be done. And it's not a straightforward kind of straightforward aspect, as you mentioned.

Dr. Leyla Acaroglu [00:17:37] Other than business models, you have the kind of base premises of the secularization of the economy is looking at material flows. And essentially you have two types of material flows as presented and kind of communicated biological and technical, in which she uses that to completely decouple biological and technical, which creates a lot of the environmental problems, is literally reconfiguring the entire economy and redesigning nearly everything. So that in itself is a massive challenge. And then when you add on top of that the fact that recycling is broken and that it reinforces the problem that we've created waste by society and actually by design from the 1950's onwards as a way to fuel the economy to increase GDP. And GDP is a measurement that incentivizes all environmental impacts and we kind of do the rest. And it's not as simple as just creating products and services that consumers buy, which of course, is really important because that sends price signals to the providers, to the government is to incur addition. But there are multiple points of intervention that need to occur.

[00:18:40] And one of them fundamentally restructure the economic measurement of our countries and the planet as a whole, because GDP gross domestic product is a fundamentally flawed system.

[00:18:49] And that as long as we use a metrics that gives us false data on the impact of our actions, we're not going to be able to figure out how to solve those impacts. So the Circular economy is a really fantastic idea, but that an idea and practice are two different things. So there's multiple forms of transitions that need to occur and all completely achievable. I have full faith that we will solve these problems. I just think that the issue that we have is there is still a tendency for people to want simple solutions to complex problems because we are socialized to get rewards for solving problems rather than for being being okay with the ambiguity of not having the solution.

[00:19:29] And that's a very big fundamental cognitive shift, right? We have more people who are OK with being in a longer period of not knowing the answer as if they can really think through the problems. Then we can come up with some really incredible solutions to these issues. But yes, a lot of the mess is like 50, 60, 70 years old, you know, like that's what we have to do. The whole history of humanity, that's a very small timescale. So this plus lots of potential.

Katie Whalen [00:19:56] Yeah, I'm curious, what kind of stakeholders, actors are you working with? Is it mainly designers who are then feeling, you know, using your tools, going in and replicating that around the world, or are you also engaging with governments and businesses all of the above?

Dr. Leyla Acaroglu [00:20:16] So being slightly insane person, having too much creative energy for my own good, I run three enterprises in three countries. Obviously we talk about the COproject there and much more about everyday sustainable lifestyle choices and that connects to the initiative that I've actually been doing with the United Nations.

[00:20:33] I'm a program which is soon to be launched in the next couple months. That's called The Anatomy of Action. It's basically the everyday actions you take to help change the economy. So the food you buy, the food you eat, the stuff you buy, the way you move around a city, how you spend your money and of course, the fun you have. We have a whole series of kind of actions validated lifestyle swaps that we bring about significant environmental change. If more people contribute to making those changes. So that's a big initiative that we've been doing for the last year that helps build a huge knowledge base around everyday lifestyle choices and connects to sustainable development goal twelve around sustainable production and consumption. So that's kind of like the everyday people level. Myself included being an everyday person as well, having to make choices. I get my food and how I move around. And then of course, we have the government, as are the business sectors, and working more with designers, producers and of course, entrepreneurs. So to disrupt design, my creative agency, we take commissions to do projects. So we do a lot of training and capacity development. I can obviously rattle off the names of the companies that I've that I've engaged with. But really interesting actually beverage companies and technology companies as like a lot of different companies are trying to solve this problem right now. And I don't I'm not a consultant. I don't like to come in and try and solve other people's problems. I like to collaborate around helping to shift the way an internal team can build their own capacity to do that. So using the different tools we've created to help bring that knowledge bank inside an organization and then of course, we work with individuals through the UN school. So we run programmes that designers, engineers, creatives, I mean, the alumni base of the school is like several thousand strong now. And people from all over the world, from all different backgrounds, all different ages, people who work inside massive corporations or to individuals just starting out in their career. The unifying factor is that they're dissatisfied with a what they've been taught and B, the tools that are available to them and how they can apply their agency to effect positive change in the world around them. So what I find fascinating is that there's the synergies across all of those things. Right. How people can change their lifestyle through to a CEO of a company helping to be the leader for the future and making these changes. But then I also get to do some really fun projects around education. So I've been commissioned to design a whole lending system for the Circular economy for Finland.

[00:23:11] It's called the second the classroom. It's completely free. It's available. Anyone can grab it online. It's a beautiful, beautifully designed web books for high school students in multiple languages and videos explaining a lot of these core concepts. And I'm actually designing a much more advanced version of that for the whole of Southeast Asia at the moment. So we're going to have a large system that will be available in Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore, which is fantastic because so many of these resources get flooded into Western or developed countries rather than some of the emerging economies where we see so many of the environmental impacts being concentrated right now. So a lot of a lot of incredible change happening and really exciting to be a part of that. But I would say I guess I'm a Jill of all trades. I work across all the sectors wherever there's an opportunity to make change and someone willing to be a pioneer.

[00:23:59] I'm happy to work with them unless they like a really, really, really unnecessary evil company, in which case no. I have a blacklist that I try to work with.

Katie Whalen [00:24:11] Yeah. Oh, cool. Yeah. No, that's really great too. That's nice to hear. And you have the common unifying theme is change. So, yeah, I'm thinking I was intrigued with this education because education like the circular classroom that you did for Finland and now what you did for Southeast Asia.

[00:24:31] And I asked listeners if they had a question for you and Deborah Sumpter wrote in, she she wanted to ask, how do you think we can best prepare future generations to come up with more sustainable solutions and move mindsets from short-term gains to long-term thinking? So do you have a idea for Deborah?

Dr. Leyla Acaroglu [00:24:57] Yep, yep. So, Deborah, the best way to change young people is to change yourself. All change starts with yourself. You have to lead by example. So I think what I find fascinating about working in education and the reason I studied the UnSchool for adults and not for kids is because when I started working in sustainability and teaching kids, they got it. They got it so quickly. Now, like butterflies and climate change, as a result of us using fossil fuels as the adults are the ones who are like, wow, I'm so disconnected from this, had to pay my mortgage and I just have to keep my life afloat, let alone think about all these complex problems. So for me, it was a really striking reality that the majority of the power and the potential to make change is embedded in those who already have power. Right. So the decision makers and people who already are in their careers. Does it matter what level of an organization you work? We think have the ability to impact those that are around you through the choices you make in the lifestyles, the lifestyle actions you live, but also through the way you engage with your colleagues and community. These are all potential points of intervention. So young people get this stuff. In fact, we already have seen that with the millions of kids who strikes recently. And what what annoys me, what pisses me off is that you have a bunch of older people, whether it be in their 20s or 30s or even 60s or 70s, sitting around complaining about the problems or not taking action and then then looking at the kids will get quitting school and going and standing on the street demanding action and going how inspiring it is. Like that's completely upside down. Like, you know, we should be inspiring young people by taking action to help solve the problem so that the future that they're going to live in is better than today. Otherwise, don't have kids. Don't put them through the potential disaster of a climate extreme planet with no resources, no biodiversity, and God knows what else because you're not willing to make changes today. So the way we make change for the future is by changing ourselves, changing our communities, changing our societies and expanding that out. And it takes time and energy and it takes some failure and some hard work. And to reconfigure our own thinking before we try to change others is really important. And to be willing to be wrong and we actually have this toolkit. That's great. The everyday superpower kit and we made it after I was named Champion of the Earth by the United Nations, which is obviously an amazing title, which I wear with pride.

[00:27:19] But also I was like, do I get superpowers now? Like, do I can I literally fly? And I became like this jacket, my my team that well, we already have superpowers changed a lot. We all have the power of bias recognition, the power of being able to think in systems, the power of admitting when we're wrong. My favorite is the power of getting shit done. I have that in spades. So I think that is super important that we all take responsibility for the actions that that we have agency over in our lives, how we communicate our decision to be advocates for positive change and just really engaging with those around us in a respectful way and a respectful way that helps us change their minds. So yeah, it takes time and energy and resources, but kids will change. Kids don't need to change. Most kids get these hyper hyper addicted to consume consumer technology, that's for sure. But again, so will the adults. So, you know, it's like I exist. So it's a vicious cycle and somewhere it needs to break and it all comes down to consumerism, too. And how much we value the things in our lives and whether we prepare them, whether we try them out, because that's again, can communicating a lack of value to younger generations. So, you know, change starts with us and then it multiplies out.

Katie Whalen [00:28:34] And I'm thinking, is there something that you feel is maybe missing from the discussion within Circular economy considering your your your background in environmental and social change?

Dr. Leyla Acaroglu [00:28:48] Well, I think that the technical side of things is often glossed over. So it's difficult to understand some of the technical aspects, whether it be understanding life cycle impacts or some of the other biological flows.

[00:29:02] Some of these more detailed with the greedy dirty things people like to play with the fun stuff, right, rather than the hotter stuff that prospect, because I do think it's really important that, yes, we inspire action and yes, we motivate people to be interested in change. But if you don't give them the tools to know how to do that effectively, then that is going to keep creating the same problems over and over again. So death is really important to me. I think the other missing piece of the puzzle is complexity. It's a super complicated.

[00:29:30] It's not like it's more like a Rubik's Cube than say like Sudoku. It's the game analogy. How do we them? It requires a lot of kind of like trial and error. I'm experimenting. And that's something that I think larger organizations are really investor because they're so protective of their their brand or whatnot and. A lot of huge players right now are trying to do interesting things and it's very exciting, but then we also have a lot of players who are completely absconding from their responsibility and not seeing the opportunity that secularize in the economy will have. So fear is a major disabling, which is frustrating. We need to get over that. The way we get over that is by we change the narrative. The conversation needs to not be about us. A small group of people interested in sustaining the life support systems on the earth, but fundamentally, people understanding that all humans on nature, they put nature in their body every single second of every single day and interact in an interdependent way with all natural systems. This isn't like something that we can just conserve our way out.

[00:30:38] We need to fundamentally, dramatically change the way we perceive what it means to be a human alive on the planet today. And with all of the incredible knowledge and capacity that we've made happen and the circular economy is one element of the transition that needs to occur if humanity is going to be progressive and successful into the future. So I think the circular economy as a concept is incredible. It's powerful, but it's not the only kind of mechanism of change that we need to be working at evolving and developing and implementing. So that means a really exciting initiative. It's got a lot of energy behind it. I think that the missing element that I'd like to see expanded on more is the technical in depth and making it more accessible for people to know when and how to get the right technical support. And also being able to see that it's one element of an otherwise beautiful, big complex system that we need to all be looking at helping to evolve.

Katie Whalen [00:31:32] And we we were talking a little bit about systems change and you were talking about your upcoming workshop. That's about systems thinking design. So maybe part of this first step for thinking about rethinking the system and more towards the circular economy. I'm just a little bit curious. Maybe some of our listeners might be interested in attending. I think it's this summer. Could you tell when it is and what we can expect from from attending?

Dr. Leyla Acaroglu [00:32:00] So actually, we have a couple programs happening at the farm this summer that are focused on the secular systems design. So it's a combination of the core tools of the secular economy and of course the creative design and systems thinking we have actually that will be happening on the 10th to the 14th of July, and then again in August. I think that starts around the 12th of August, and they're a three-day programs. They're face to face programs. But we also do have advanced online training as well.

[00:32:27] We now have these certification tracks with the UnSchool. If somebody who is listening is really interested in leveling up a career in skill in that space, we have an on master's program which is very much focused on advancing secular thinking, but across all of the factors. Right. So understanding the nitty gritty through which of the kind of more conceptual, but the face to face program is a really great entry point. And then later in the year you haven't announced it yet, but we will be having a fellowship program coaching in Malaysia for the UN school in November. The applications for that will be opening by the end of June. So there's a few opportunities for people to get involved and to really take on the role that they want to play out in the sustainability change space through the school. But if you can't make it to a space program you want to save the carbon, then please feel free to join any of the online programs, because that's our hope to try to make it more accessible. And we have equity access placements for all of our programs as well. We give away a lot of scholarships to make sure that people from all walks of life can join us. So please, if you can't afford it, please be sure to read the opportunities that we have, the scholarships and apply for all our programs so that we can have lots of different diverse students coming and learning how to make positive impact on the future.

Katie Whalen [00:33:40] Wow. So I'll link to that to that in the show notes so listeners can find out more about that. And I have the final question that I ask all of the guests that come on the show is about the event that they would create for the In the Loop game, which is the game that I've had on kick starter a couple of years. And you actually, you were one of the backers for which I really greatly appreciate. But for listeners who haven't played the game, it's about inspiring people to rethink how we use resources. And so in the game you take on a manufacturing company, you have to obtain materials and make products. And then there's event parts that happen every so often and they're the most memorable because they change the conditions. They're inspired by real world happenings, sometimes positive, sometimes negative. And I know, Leyla, you're a fan of gamification because part of your top step disruptive design method is about gamification. I have your game changer's game. You have a lot of these creative works where you use gamification. So I was thinking what kind of event card would you be curious to add to that In the Loop game?

Dr. Leyla Acaroglu [00:34:51] Well, I'd have to be like some sort of like systems thinking one because I love the curly systems changes. They're like, oh, that's a good question because like 20, this is putting me on the spot here. What about like suddenly we start teaching. If we started teaching systems, like we teach reductive thinking in education, everyone goes through the same type of education system around the world. So what if we stopped teaching reductive education and we started teaching systems so that like immediately people started understanding the secret to life on earth, which is that everything's interconnected. That would dramatically change the entire way people did things in the economy, don't you think?

Katie Whalen [00:35:39] Yeah.

[00:35:42] Very utopian. A random card for you there. But it could happen. You know, like thing about education is it's such a powerful and also debilitating element of our society because it conditions us to be consumers for the working industrial economy. So the industrial education system grades industrial thing and we don't read the industrial age anymore. So it's fundamentally one of the key things that needs to change. So maybe something like we redesign the education system, then what happens?

Katie Whalen [00:36:13] Yeah. Yeah. That would be a complete disruption. And who knows what would happen. But I think, I think only I think good things to be more creative.

Dr. Leyla Acaroglu [00:36:23] That's right. And hopefully more connected to the things that keep us alive. Kids, that's the fundamental one of all of it, right? Sustainability, the economy. It's to not mess up the things that we all need, like oxygen, food and water. And that's only one thing that being so deeply connected with nature has taught me, is that nature of nature obviously doesn't need us, but is an incredible, incredibly resource efficient. It's us as fundamentally inefficient in all of the things we do, including our own use of time, you know, so I think there's a lot to learn.

[00:37:00] I'd love to be reminded of when we're making decisions about how to secularize products or services or companies or whatever we're doing so that we can be more and more like nature. Even though that sounds really cheesy, that sounds super cheesy. And to find a better way of saying that because it sounds cheesy.

Katie Whalen [00:37:20] Yeah, but I mean- Yeah, there's a lot to be learned from nature. And, you know, it does things in very smart ways already. So we can take some of that and see let's see how to-

Dr. Leyla Acaroglu [00:37:33] Well, it created us.

Katie Whalen [00:37:34] Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Well, this has been so much fun to have you on the show. And I really appreciate you coming on to share about everything that you're doing. It's super inspiring. Where can the listeners go to learn more about you and the topics that we discussed?

Dr. Leyla Acaroglu [00:37:54] Well, obviously, you can find me on the social media things that we have to do these days at Leyla Acaroglu across all of them. But for the UnSchool, we have UnSchools.co, so that's with an S. And we have the Coproject.co, that one's easy to remember. And, of course, if you're interested in some of the high-level stuff that we do, we have DisruptDesign.co as well. They're of the inter-web platforms you can find us on.

Katie Whalen [00:38:26] Thank you for listening. I hope you enjoyed this episode. For show notes and links, go to our web site at gettinginthelooppodcast.com. And while you're there, subscribe to our mailing list to have new episodes delivered to your inbox every Monday. See you next week.


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About the Show

Getting In the Loop is a weekly podcast dedicated to exploring how to transform to a more circular society. Join host Katie Whalen as she examines the challenges facing our current resource use and discovers alternatives to the ‘take, make, dispose’ way of doing things. Each week she interviews circular economy experts about what they’re doing and learning. Together we'll uncover what circular economy means in practice and find out what's being done to keep our resources in a loop rather than sent to waste.

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