Root Cause

Digital illustration as part of the  ‘Fashion Ecologies’  research project 2018.

Digital illustration as part of the ‘Fashion Ecologies’ research project 2018.

Over a month ago I rolled my ankle, and within the same day developed two infections, and found a cyst, all on the right side of my body. Our medical system tends to treat the symptoms of our ailments, barely treating the cause. I began looking deeper into these very inconvenient happenings upon my body, wondering what the root cause of these could be. 

I managed to come to some conclusions with the help of Louise Hay, but this got me thinking as to how we approach and attempt to ‘solve’ other problems in our world. 

As our world faces extreme environmental devastation, extinction of species, pollution of our oceans, poverty and everything else that comes with it, are we addressing the root cause of these issues, or are we merely applying more ‘band-aid’ fixes that will see these issues occurring time and time again? 

I see this particularly pertinent within the march towards sustainability. We can apply all the technological and process fixes we deem fit, but are these actually addressing the root cause, or are we simply ignoring the real issues at hand? 

Renowned kick-ass environmentalist and scientist Donella Meadows, calls this the ‘mop-and-bucket’ solution. 

“We invade every wilderness looking for oil, we spend a fortune on armies to defend oil, we change the chemistry of the atmosphere with the wastes from burning oil, meanwhile refusing to examine why we need so much oil.  We mop up large and small oil spills, assuming they’re a necessary cost of doing business.  People tell us, indeed show us, how to accomplish everything we want to do with much less oil, even with no oil.  We go on mopping.

Because they make us think we’re doing something, I suppose. Working up a sweat, mopping away, we can feel heroic while avoiding the real problems.

One of our worst human copouts (it is certainly one of my own worst) is to go on doing what we’ve always done, because it seems so much easier than trying something new — even though the something new might actually work.  It seems so hard to go to the root of our most intransigent problems.  But it’s even harder to mop and mop and mop.”

(Meadows, 1995).

This isn’t to demean contemporary initiatives in any way, as these are important too. I’m just asking for us to dig deeper, to ask ourselves the harder questions, and make inward reflection a normal part of everyday decision making, business, design and life.

What is the root cause of this situation? (And when you think you have it, dig deeper and deeper…).

What am I been asked to look at here?

What am I been asked to pay more attention to?

What am I been asked to release?


(Meadows, D. 1995. Mop-and-Bucket Solutions Keep Us Forever Cleaning Up. Accessed: