Chapter 1

Screen grab from United By Blue’s Bison Fiber jacket video

I have now been living in New York City for three years. In that time I graduated with a Masters in Design for Social Innovation from the School of Visual Arts and I work for a Benefit Corporation at the Centre for Social Innovation NYC. As immersed as I am in this world, I’m still impressed with all of the socially minded start-ups that I find. Over the years I’ve been collecting my favorites and now I’d like to share them.

What is a social innovation? I think at some point you can classify anything as a social innovation. Except…


“I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something about that, then I realized I was somebody!” Lily Tomlin

Guys, it’s go time…

Here’s the deal. We are now facing a species-wide global problem: the atmosphere is warming at an unsustainable rate. If it warms more than 2 degrees celsius natural and biological systems will collapse. Warming is caused by greenhouse gasses which come from many sources like agriculture, burning of fossil fuels, and landfills. Here in New York City they come from three places:

  1. The electricity and fuel used to heat/power buildings
  2. Fuel that’s used in vehicles to drive around the city
  3. From the…


The integration of human and natural systems is occurring right before our eyes.

Presenting “compostal” our thesis project to create a bike-powered compost pickup service in NYC. One example of an emerging sustainable trend.

I graduated with a masters in Design for Social Innovation a few months ago. There, I gained a systemic perspective to life. Imagine an architect walking into a room. She would see angles, dimensions, and spaces; an interior designer walking into the same room would see colors, mood lighting, and feng shui; and a DJ would be like, yeah sick, I can set up over there, put the speakers over here, and the dance floor here… Now, when I go inside a grocery store, I see a huge systems map of product lifecycles and stakeholders. Where did those bananas come…


Originally published on September 2nd, 2016

I feel hypersensitive. Limiting my trash to 1 bags worth has caused me to remain super aware throughout each day.. I didn’t want to take anything that would set me over the line. I took any chance I could to dodge wrappers, straws, boxes, bags, and use my own cup, bottle, cutlery, container, napkin, tote bag. I bought my food from the farmers market, and bought other stuff from yard sales or second hand shops… And must have had over 100 conversations about waste and how it affects us.. …


Originally published on August 9, 2016

So I’ve been adopting a low waste lifestyle for a couple of years now. That just means being conscious about the moments before I create trash and opting out if possible. I cut out plastic bags, I don’t take plastic cutlery if going anywhere with a kitchen, and I refill my water bottle or jar instead of buying bottled drinks.


Originally published August 2nd, 2016

The first thing I did was choose ONE thing to cut out of my life. For me, the choice was easy- plastic bags.

I watched “bag-it”, a documentary about the life cycle of plastic bags. I couldn’t believe it. Here’s something that’s so harmful to the environment and to people, and before that moment I had never given them a second thought. I actually LIKED plastic bags. They’re convenient, light, durable, and free! But there’s a hidden cost attached to everything we use. They consume an immense amount of nonrenewable resources- 12 million barrels of…


Originally published on August 1, 2016

I’m committing to going the entire month of August producing no more trash than can fit into a ziplock bag.

Why do this?

Because now that we’re all used to recycling it’s time to step it up. I’m raising awareness for the three Rs that come before recycling: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, and then Recycle. If we all practiced that sequence more frequently our impacts would be huge!

So here’s the challenge: for one month all of my trash and recycling cannot exceed the ziplock bag. …

Amer Jandali

Environmental Futurist and Social Designer

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