At the beginning of this course, I honestly had no idea what sustainability OR sustainable design actually meant. I believed that sustainability was recycling and using “green” products, I had no idea what those ideas even truly meant and those ideas were barely scratching the surface of sustainability. Sustainability is so much more than recycling; it is a frame of mind. Sustainability and sustainable design are looking at the big picture. Sustainable design is designing a product thinking of the long-term effects that that product will have on the environment and on the livelihood of the people who will be purchasing that product. Sustainability is taking action in not being wasteful and thinking of the life cycle of the products you are purchasing.
I cannot say that I had “epiphanies” this semester, but I can definitely say that I learned a lot. I think that the most important thing I will take away has to do with empathic design. I never thought of designing something specifically for someone. I loved this idea because who wouldn’t want something designed with only them in mind, instead of the mass-producing that is prominent in society today. I loved the design probes package where we really took a dive into someone’s daily routine and designed a product specifically for her!
Another topic I really enjoyed was biomimicry. The environment is such a useful source for design inspiration that I do not believe is utilized to its full capacity. It is so important when designing products to look around us at the environment that so beautifully works in cooperation within itself. Each part of the environment creates a closed loop so that there is no waste! Can we even imagine a world with no waste?! Biomimicry was such a fascinating and educational topic that really changed my outlook on designing with the environment in mind in a different way.
Designing with empathy is extremely useful and relevant to the fashion industry. Maybe we cannot eliminate waste entirely, but we can increase the life cycle of products by designing with the consumer in mind. If we take the first step and begin to design products more for longevity, we can truly decrease waste and impact the environment in a positive way.
Biomimicry is equally relevant because by designing products with the closed loop system of the environment in mind, we can find ways to continue a products life cycle after use and thus decrease the landfill waste that is ever increasing in the apparel sector. It can also be useful to take properties found in the environment and implement those into useful products. For example, we could take an environmentally found organism that is built for warmth or protection and use some of those environmentally found properties to create apparel products with warmth or protection. The environment can be such a useful tool if utilized properly.
After the abundance of knowledge I have acquired this semester about sustainability, I know there is so much more out there. I feel that what I would love to learn more about is how individuals can make an impact. We learned a lot about principles and how they can be applied on a larger scale, but I feel that in order to start the cycle, we have to start small. How do I begin my sustainable life? What can I impact with these principles? I feel like I definitely would like to learn more about how these principles can be achieved on a small scale. I know that the impact of one only makes a dent, but we have to start somewhere. I would love to start with me. Let’s make an IMPACT!