Nature-Made vs. Man-Made

The word “natural” in and of itself gives the connotation that it would be beneficial to the environment and yes this is true, if it is left in its “natural” state. An example of this in the interior design industry is cotton. Cotton is a functional member of nature’s cycle; however, when tampered by humans in processing, it almost becomes a man-made product rather than a natural material. Thus, the natural vs. synthetic debate gets tricky. Although our natural materials can be cycled back into the environment, it is the chemical processes or the water consumption that is something that must be taken into consideration when determining which one offers more sustainable opportunities.

As mentioned in the reading, synthetic products also have their toxicity issues as well as far as the hash chemicals that are used that not only cause harm to the environment, but they also cause harm to human beings as well. So the question that designers have to ask themselves is which type of product (natural or synthetic) provides the environment with less waste and less harm. Will there be a definite yes to natural materials or yes to synthetic materials? No. We must find the balance between both of them in order to succeed. We will always be surrounded by natural materials, so we must be able to use those materials wisely, but there are so many synthetic materials in circulation that we also must know how to properly use those as well without damaging the environment.

This week I had a mini epiphany. I, myself, became fool to the word “natural” assuming that just because it had the word “nature” in it that it was something that would be beneficial to the environment and easier to work with as far as sustainable options. This is something that will be highly important upon graduation because it will open my eyes to more sustainable opportunities in synthetic products as well. My only question is, how can we feed manmade products back into nature’s cycle after re-using them so many times and they no longer perform their function? Most of the synthetic materials are able to be re-made into what they were originally or something else beneficial, but what happens when those materials meet their maker?

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