This paper argues that a first step in finding a sustainable solution for the pressing global issue of ‘waste’, is to consider waste a value attribution rather than a material condition. Doing so means a shift in focus from finding more efficient ways to ‘clean up the mess’ to changing the way in which value is attributed to things. The paper looks at a selection of recent literature on value systems to identify useful concepts and theory for a value-based solution to waste and proposes to probe such potential solutions through art and design.
While the notion of autarky is often contested in terms of feasibility and desirability, art and design projects that deal with autarky seem moreover to suggest positive socio-cultural and ecological effects of autarkic living. A social network model of autarky is introduced to unify these seemingly opposing views.