Strategies for a Sustainable Future

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Recycling and sustainability have become, for many countries, a priority, and several European countries have taken the lead when it comes to policies that support recycling and the transformation of waste, according to the Confederation of European Waste-to-Energy Plants. Nonetheless, recycling and the reuse of recycled materials are strategies that need more consideration and environment protection authorities to call for reinforcing efforts to limit waste generation. Despite the increase in environmental protection policies, researchers agree that more needs to be done. Designer educators can play a key role in raising awareness on sustainable practices for generations to come. Research-driven design is at the center of this work that is looking for sustainable design solutions and that raises awareness about waste reduction, waste avoidance, or the reuse of recycled materials. This article describes a design approach that explored strategic uses of recycled materials in the context of a research program conducted in collaboration with the University of Sherbrooke and Éco-entreprises Québec (ÉEQ), a non-profit organization that promotes a circular economy. It presents the different stages of the design process and explains the results obtained, thus revealing how the creative process led to an innovative design proposal, which offers an innovative solution and paves the way for novel applications for recovered materials and cutting-edge technologies. The described project attempts to rethink sidewalks and to address problems such as accessibility to underground utilities and premature obsolescence