Uniting art and science in favor of zero waste
On the initiative of Virginie Francoeur, and with the aim of raising wider public awareness, we were inspired by the approach described in her book Sciences et arts to integrate an artistic component into our research. We chose to bring science and art together in an exhibition designed to expand the public’s knowledge about zero waste and to create original interactions. Which was how we came to mobilize ten artists and collectives from different backgrounds. Their challenge: turn the data from the study on zero waste into a work of art.
In an unprecedented way, all artists were allowed total autonomy in interpreting the theme of zero waste according to their artistic practices. They were responsible for the ethical choice of their materials, most of which were recovered. In this exhibit we come across a broad range of types of work: cartoon, poetry, sculpture, painting, photography, video and theatre.
Residual materials inspired a variety of creations. For example, irrecoverable plastics come to life as they consolidate an immense sculptural urban tree. A little further along, materials from the mining industry are integrated into an open-air museum, and recovered keyboard keys are transformed into poems. These very powerful works of renewed beauty inspire us, and urge us to think and to act.
Measuring the impact of the exhibition on the modification of eco-responsible behavior
The primary goal of our research project is to explore, in an innovative way, the use of art as a vector for ecological change. The richness of art depends on our ability to experience fresh sensations, to transcend borders and to imagine a new world, thus contributing to the development of a heightened sensitivity towards environmental issues and an incitement to action. Our exhibition, designed with all that in mind, presupposes that raising awareness through art allows for the democratization of research results and brings about changes in ecological behavior. Therefore we anticipate that a visit will give rise to an eco-responsible commitment. If our hypothesis is confirmed, the co-construction of knowledge (among scientists, artists and citizens) will become a tool for transforming, in sustainable fashion, our way of producing, consuming and throwing away.
To that end, every person who visits the exhibition Zér0 is called on to divulge certain environmental habits and beliefs to accelerate the ecological transition by responding to a survey. This proactive approach aims to measure visitors’ commitment and get them to think about the impacts of the actions they might take.
A digital application allows the public to view the results of the survey in real time and compare them with their target group. The literature on social norms describes how people tend to behave in a similar way to that of the groups they associate with. Moreover, empirical studies demonstrate that to raise the awareness of and mobilize citizens, we need direct action that will involve them in a scientific process.
We hope that this viewing of data in real time will allow visitors to position themselves instantly in relation to others to accelerate their commitment to zero waste. We also intend following up with survey respondents three to six months after their experience at the Biosphère to measure the changes in their behavior.
Do you hope to make a difference right now in the conservation of our planet and to adopt eco-responsible behavior? Here are some tips for moving towards zero waste:
- buy food in bulk
- use reusable containers
- avoid single-serving containers
- reuse commercial jars (jam, and so on)
- avoid plastic film on food or single-use re-sealable bags
- carry and reuse a water bottle
- find out where your food comes from
- buy local
Other examples of eco-responsible behavior: turning out lights when a room is unoccupied or when there’s sufficient natural light; printing on both sides or using a digital version; maintaining electronic devices to prolong their lifespan; choosing alternatives to the car like public transportation, walking and cycling; doing training, attending seminars and lectures to contribute to reducing our ecological footprint.
Want to learn more about zero waste? Here are a couple of references:
Zero waste means reducing the squandering of resources and the amount of trash we create to prevent the release of toxic substances into the soil, water and air.