Arcosanti was founded by Paulo Soleri to “Reduce urban sprawl while promoting density.” As an urban laboratory for sustainable city planning, its infrastructure is rooted in arcology, where architecture and ecology live in harmony. Arcosanti is a cross-disciplinary sandbox for professionals across industries to explore innovative, alternative ways of work and play. Sustainability proves to be a critical element to the Arcosanti mission, “To seek an equitable and sustainable relationship between human activities and Earth’s ecology,” which initiated its collaboration with Greenlight Solutions Foundation ASU Student Chapter- putting the circular economy to the test.
In the Fall of 2017, the project began with GreenLight students auditing Arcosanti’s waste receptacles and their spare-materials yard. The project team then moved on to a more challenging mission: to accomplish zero waste at Arcosanti’s renowned festival, Convergence. They installed the ‘Golden Trash Can’ to reduce the festival’s collective waste to only one bin of trash for the entirety of the three-day festival. Through this gamified experience, ~300 attendees left behind less than one 20 gallon trash bin of waste- a huge feat! The team also collaborated with the Resource Innovation and Solutions Network (RISN), who urged them to participate in the Disruption Innovation Festival hosted by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation. GreenLight Project Co-Lead, Tanvi Patel, collaborated with Arcosanti’s Rob Jameson and Devron Lovick to host a webinar about the circular economy to be featured at the festival.
During the Spring semester of 2018, the focus of the project shifted to Arcosanti’s largest annual event, FORM Festival. The team conducted a collective consciousness and self-expression survey and rewarded sustainable behaviors, such as using reusable bottles and picking up trash, with prizes. The project team was also awarded the Civic Engagement Grant from ASU’s Changemaker Central, which they used to purchase a plastic shredder and injection molder. These technologies were used to divert dilapidated plastic items from the landfill, shredding the plastic into tiny pieces to create the filament for 3D printers. Creating new resources out of what was once seen as waste is the circular economy at work.
For the Fall 2018 project with Arcosanti, Rob gave a demonstration of the plastic shredder and injection molder at the Convergence Festival. The machines were set up in the Arcosanti ‘Vaults’ during the festival to raise awareness about how technology can power the circular economy by transforming waste into resources. GreenLight Project Co-Lead, Connor Damaschi, also upcycled textile waste from the FORM Festival, such as forgotten parachutes and tents, to create jackets, pants, and bags. This project demonstrated how creative sustainability engagement strategies can decrease waste generation and create behavior change not only within the Arcosanti community, but among its festival goers, advancing the circular economy well past the festival gates.
To learn more about the project, visit the project portfolio.
Author: Jennifer Min