These recent weeks are the beginning of a new semester, where I teach – among others – a Design & Sustainability class for Master students. As usual, after the introduction session, I ask each student to present a slide that relays his/her own understanding about design and sustainability. How design might affects the balance of our ecological,social and economic systems, both negatively and positively. One student came up with an interesting data of paper waste we created after an election period.
100 tons of paper waste was created within one voting period, and this was only in Gunung Kidul (a region in Central Java) only(!). Imagine how many tons we gathered from all over the archipelago!
There is also a rule that every piece of paper from the voting activity should be destroyed. In this case, by burning. Imagine burning tons of papers. Imagine the amount of carbon dioxide it releases into the air. Not a pretty sight. I’m just wondering… may the destruction of this ‘voting evidence’ involve paper shredding, instead of burning? Turned into pulps and made into card boards?
And, just in case you didn’t vote in Indonesia at that time, or have never seen the actual paper: it’s huge, due to the ridiculous amount of political parties to choose from.
This slide shows one piece of voting paper that, instead of being legally stabbed on the party of the voter’s choice, was written: “The most foolish election since the Soeharto regime”. Look at the size of the paper. Our next presidential election will be in 2014. Now is 2011 and more than 500,000 candidates are already registered. Imagine the size of the voting papers, times the number of Indonesian population who can legally vote. How many trees would be destroyed? Then the printing ink. How many more rivers would be polluted? Then the budget needed to destroy everything, afterward. And so on.
Designers, what can we do? What contributions can we make? Smaller, but still clear, voting papers? Different voting materials, different systems? There should be a smarter way to conduct an election, the one that doesn’t destruct our natural resources, nor polluting our water and air. Electronic voting comes to mind, along with its complexities and potential faults within our Indonesian contexts as well, but should be seriously considered.