Sustainable Toolkit (Proposal, Final, & Policy)

Proposal (First Iteration):

I am creating this toolkit to change the way people look at their furniture and it’s lifecycle. Every year tons and tons of furniture is disposed of because of the fact that it was not manufactured to last. Companies like Ikea, Target and Walmart are great for getting affordable furniture, but on average, this furniture is not designed to last a lifetime. Things aren’t made like they used to be made 100, or even 50 years ago. This fast turnover and planned obsolescence is hard on natural resources and contributes to overconsumption.

The system that will be impacted by this tool kit is the furniture industry, and the consumers of this kind of furniture. It will help to improve the waste that is put in landfills and shipped off to other countries, help spreading a general awareness of how unsustainable this one industry can be. Theoretically more of these kits could be made for different industries like agriculture and fashion.

This toolkit will live in a box made of up-cycled cardboard, covered with muslin. I chose cardboard because I think it fits with the theme of sustainability, and I want to cover it with muslin to give it a more polished look and a soft feel. I will also add batting underneath the muslin and fold the corners of this covering to look like a small piece of furniture. It will be about half the size of a standard board for chess. Users will read the manual describing how to play the game, and then participate in a game that illustrates how much our consumption of furniture has increased through the years. The box will also include a book of how-to’s, describing tips and tricks for refurbishing old furniture and finding free furniture.

My hope is that this toolkit will be able to teach with a hands on learning experience that we are damaging our environment by the waste we produce, and to be careful how you consume.

I would like the experience of my toolkit to be a pleasant one, with moments of realization for the users. Physically speaking I would like the box to be beautiful, as to entice users to discover what’s inside, and keep them engaged with the object.

However, there is at least one obvious challenge. I would really like this game to be engaging. And as of right now it doesn’t feel challenging enough to be fun or interesting. I haven’t studied game design before either, so I think making a good game will be challenging. Also, I’m not completely in love with this idea right now. I feel like I need some other exciting component to add.

I was thinking I could maybe have some sort of ad campaign with stickers and a hashtag to help remind people to reuse old furniture. Something like “old is beautiful” but more catchy. Maybe even create a movement around it or revitalize an old trend that values old looking design. I could even set up like a facebook group for a particular residential building like Stuy (my dorm) as a model for more small, online communities sharing if they are getting rid of a piece of furniture. Or maybe I could even set up an app, one like craigslist but rebranded in a more sleek way. Or design the app so that once a piece of furniture is posted, it’s really hard for it to not find a new home. A good model for this would be the Hynge dating app… I’ve been trying it out and they really make it hard for you to not talk to the people you meet on the app.

Some similar projects (or apps in these examples) are Letgo, an app to buy and sell used goods, or Depop which is specifically for clothing. The exhibition that we went to in Harlem – NYC at It’s Core is similar to my project in that it is a hands on learning experience to get people thinking about sustainability. (NYC at It’s Core was also about city identity and community but it did talk a bit about a sustainable future for the city.) I liked how you could interact with the screens and decide which story you viewed as opposed to having just a screening of multiple videos.


Second Iteration of Toolkit:




I am creating this toolkit to change the way people think about eating healthy. There is no one way to eat healthy. Trying to make a change can be difficult, and it’s easy to fall into the crash-dieting trap. We are really hard on ourselves! From my experience of being a human with a body and a gut, I have learned a little bit. I know that:

  • I feel better when I eat certain probiotic foods
  • People have been eating cultured foods for tens of thousands of years.
  • People have only started to pasteurize foods in the last 150 years
  • Food is so integral to our lives that looking at what we eat in context serves us better
  • Seeing and experiencing nature is important in our day to day lives
  • Trying to change any habit quickly and all at once usually fails


Every year POC communities are plagued with higher rates of depression, chronic fatigue, generational PTSD, lack of food and housing security, underfunded public schools, polluted air, lack of access to greenery. This toolkit builds on the principle that if you and your body are not in good condition, you are lacking a foundation to get ahead in life. This toolkit intended to educate and in a literal sense create that (microbiotic) foundation for people who wouldn’t normally have access to it.


How does drinking alcohol affect the cultures in your gut? If you’re going to drink, which alcoholic drink is the best for you/ interacts most positively with your microbiome?

Discuss plants in your home for air quality

User – Anyone, but particularly people who live in cities, and people who might not have access to education on food.

Possible outcome: This toolkit has evolved into a probiotic-oriented food box subscription service for low income families in the NYC area.

Related projects:


  • Edible Schoolyard


  • Hello Fresh, Blue Apron


  • The Incredible Microbiome – Book by Sean Fnp-C Davies and Tori Davies


  • How to Grow Fresh Air : 50 House Plants that Purify Your Home or Office by B.C. Wolverton






The New School

Effective Date: June 1st 2019

Policy Title: Affordable Microbiotic Support Subscription Box


Every year poor and underserved individuals struggle with the same issues their families have for generations – food insecurity, housing insecurity, and generational PTSD. When these individuals within our communities are struggling over and over again, it proves that everything and anything that can be done to help them should be done. In the last 20 years, a link between mental health and the gut has been increasingly explored. This policy will reduce taxes for consumers participating in this program, and create tax incentives for investment at a corporate (and possibly national) level in order to help programs like these grow, and to proliferate as a model by encouraging others to start their own.


This policy will apply to all consumers in the NYC metropolitan area. This is just a starting point, and will hopefully will continue to spread throughout the nation when consumers and policy makers view the importance of giving tax breaks to such causes. New York City is a strong candidate to start with as it has a cross section of demographics and incomes, as well as the potential to influence and set trends across the country.


  1. As a means to encourage such programs, and help this first program (Affordable Microbiotic Support Subscription Box) thrive, tax breaks for the subscribers of this “one to one” program are necessary. The New York City Human Resources administration and Internal Revenue Service are responsible for keeping this tax break of at least 90% of sales tax in place.

Responsible Party:

SNAP Centers NYC  – (718) 722-8013

NYC Human Resources Administration – 718-557-1399

Internal Revenue Service (718) 834-6559

(In person locations:


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