Press release source here.

Earlier this month, scientists at the University of California and NASA assessed that climate change has caused irreversible damage to part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet—a trend which, if continued, could raise sea levels significantly and endanger coastal cities. With threats such as these looming large, Latitude, an insight and innovation firm, took a creative approach to solving the world’s growing waste and pollution problem; they asked 270 children, ages 8-13, in the Czech Republic, France, Germany and the United States to imagine and illustrate their own solutions. Researchers at Latitude then analyzed the children’s submissions to identify common themes and to extrapolate realistic possibilities for how to address these environmental issues.

“In our work with children, we always find them open-minded, happy to take risks, and able to use their imaginations in both fanciful and practical ways,” says Steve Mushkin, Latitude’s founder and president. “Best of all, kids give us a snapshot of the here and now, as well as a bright, clear window to see what’s ahead.”

Key insights include:

  • Change Myself, Change the World
    Kids today feel a surprising sense of personal accountability when it comes to the environment. When asked how they could personally help, 66% of children mentioned reducing waste and pollution—by reusing plastic bags and bottles, giving away unwanted items to others, limiting food waste, recycling, and using bikes instead of cars to get around.
  • Teach Good Habits with Playful Technology
    When asked how technology could help reduce waste, 15% of children offered ideas that involved tech-assisted learning, such as playing video games about recycling or being offered virtual rewards for eco-friendly behaviors.
  • Intelligent Production = Prevention
    A number of children suggested more ecofriendly product design—a clear opportunity for brands and product developers. Kids’ ideas included using solar power instead of batteries and building higher-quality products that last longer and don’t require frequent replacing (e.g., mobile phones, etc.).
  • There Should be an App for Trash
    When asked how technology could tackle the trash problem, 86% of children had an answer at the ready. Many kids focused on the “transformative” power of technology: converting trash into something useful, whether that be fuel for cars or electronic devices, a bridge, or a new desirable object. The idea of “smart” or self-updating products was also mentioned.
  • Automate Sustainable Practices
    12% of children dreamt up tech-driven solutions focused on automating certain behaviors, such as robots that sort trash and recyclables. The Internet of Things presents significant opportunities for automation; in reality, this might mean self-driving cars that maximize fuel efficiency or homes whose sensors adjust the temperature at the right times to avoid unnecessary energy use.

“These kids’ ideas, while fantastical at times, suggest real possibilities for innovative companies and organizations, academic institutions, and governments to invent smarter products and technologies, educate people, and redesign the consumption-waste experience,” says Mushkin. “As kids remind us, working together we can make visible progress on solving these issues and create economic value in doing so.”

To continue exploring with Latitude:

About Latitude

Latitude provides knowledge and software for innovative organizations worldwide. Its research and consulting group transforms data and information of all kinds into visually-rich insights and opportunities for clients. Latitude’s online platform, Lumière, allows people to provide open feedback and new ideas for video-based content.

Latitude helps companies better understand and engage their audiences across the following areas:

  • Content & programming strategy
  • Digital & mobile usability & UX
  • Digital product development for children & adults
  • Innovation in learning, games & entertainment