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IDEAStudio: 2019-2020 Plastic Planet Remix Challenge

Information Resources for IDEAStudio Design Challenges

Rethink, Reimagine, Remake

Challenge Design Brief


Humans produce over 2 BILLION tons of waste a year. For Americans, this adds up to about 4.5 pounds of waste per person a day. Everyone wants to live like us, but if they did, we’d be in big trouble because it would take at least three more Earths to support us all.

Since the mid-twentieth century, our consumer culture has given us a standard of living that is the envy of the rest of the world. Plastic made this possible by providing goods and services that were cheaper to produce so more people could afford them. But it has also led to a throwaway lifestyle where 99% of what we buy ends up in the trash within six months.

Many people think recycling has helped, but our current system is not working. China was the main buyer of the world’s plastic until they stopped taking it last year. This break in the pipeline revealed that only a fraction of what we recycle actually makes it back into the economy. As recycling piles up in communities across the country and communities look for answers to a problem many thought had been solved, it is time to rethink and reimagine the life cycle of the things we create and remake our Plastic Planet.


This Fall, the West Houston Institute invites HCC students, faculty, and staff to create innovative solutions to address the complex problems that are caused by single use plastic and the throwaway lifestyle it has helped create. Students are challenged to use the latest scientific research, cutting edge technologies, and insights across fields and industries to remix the way we live, work, and play to make it more sustainable for all of us today and for future generations


We need ideas at all levels of society to create real change–it will take everyone, including artists, entrepreneurs, engineers, designers, scientists, writers, and policymakers. Check out the categories below and some examples to help you get started:



Participants will work on a real-world problem with local and global consequences. In the process, you will learn valuable mindsets and skillsets around innovation, design, and entrepreneurship. You will be introduced to future mentors who are working to make an impact in Houston and beyond through special networking events. And you will have opportunities to learn how to use digital design tools like 3D printing to help you realize your creative potential in whatever you may choose to do next on your journey.

Plastic Planet Events

Additional Curated Research Resources

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Background Information

In the Media


About IDEAS Academy

IDEAS Academy at HCC's West Houston Institute offers a program that integrate Innovation, Design, and Entrepreneurship with the Arts and Sciences. The curriculum is about teaching the interdisciplinary mindsets and skillsets that will lead to success in the 21st century. It offers opportunities for students to engage in real-world, experiential learning that promotes creativity and innovation in all fields of study across the institution.

Jordan Carswell, Program Director
( 713) 718-5769

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