This week we were introduced to the next layer of sustainability: biomimicry and industrial ecology. This has been my favorite week of discussions because we are going deeper into the ideas of design and what it really means to be sustainable. In the “Closing the Loops in Commerce” presents the idea of industrial ecology as our “modus operandi” which is Latin for “method of operation”. We ask ourselves questions like what if our economy were to deliberately look and function like the natural world in which it is embedded? Industrial ecology is not a new concept yet what is being done?
As James and Roberta Swan stated in “Closing the Loops in Commerce” that “Nature has evolved systems over billions of years that work in harmony with each other, that build from bare, rocky, this soil to lush green forests.” I believe this fully encompasses both readings this week because industrial ecology uses nature as a model or inspiration just like the weeds metaphor as well as the search for GHG solutions. The life cycle approach is just the beginning of gathering narrowly defined information that leads to collaboration goals set to recycle our energy. The most important thing I learned this week was the idea of industrial ecology is fully based on the lifecycle of nature. Just like plants come go using every natural resource to exist so do humans. It is interesting to watch how fashions change, coming and going, some stick around for a while and some are even repurposed into a new life. New design is what keeps our population inspired as we learned during the last segment through empathy. My mom is hosting an event called “Zero Landfill” in the fall along with other interior companies. This event is a place where designers bring their discontinued products such as soft goods, textiles and interior finishes to be picked up and repurposed by artists, teachers, crafters, and quilters. All of the materials are fee and they can take as much as they want! I am kind of obsessed with this idea and so I plan not only to attend this even as a crafter myself but be a helping hand at the event. They call the act of taking the goods “the harvest” because just like someone is going to their garden to pick vegetables, this is where people are coming to pick goods to nourish their lives through design as a profession or for fun. This is the coolest thing and I think is kind of like industrial ecology, the study and flow of materials. It is just like natures cycle that we experienced during the carbon activity this week, it is created, used then repurposed for another use.
Our learning community this week was assigned one of the ideas of surviving in place: diversify and cooperate to fully use the habitat. I think we get so caught up in our own lives and on what WE specifically need or want in our own lives to make OUR life the best it can be. To cooperate fully while using our habitat we must use all our resources while not letting any go to waste. Competition drives our world yet we have forgotten how to have common understanding with one another. After all we are all living on the same earth aren’t we? It doesn’t take a certain type of person to add to the mutual benefit of our world, just like it doesn’t take one certain kind of weed. All weeds are not created equal. I actually believe it takes very different human beings to bring diverse (natural) ideas to the table when designing for a broken world.
This week mainly focused on the role of a designer, producer and the consumer. Knowing what I know now I cannot wait to learn more about how a merchandiser can be a part of this incredible process!