This week on our Sustainable Journey, we transitioned from the social perspectives of sustainability to the environmental perspectives of sustainability in regards to the apparel and interior industries. With this, we were also introduced to the ideas of industrial ecology and biomimicry, as well as the Life Cycle Approach with our readings this week, Closing the Loops in Commerce: Running a Business Like a Redwood Forest and Apparel Industry Life Cycle Carbon Mapping. While reading both articles, I had a little trouble fully understanding the context of each reading, but I found them to be surprisingly interesting. Also while reading, I wanted to see if I could find some similarities between the discussion in the Closing the Loops in Commerce reading and the Life Cycle Approach in the Apparel Industry Life Cycle reading.
In the Closing the Loops in Commerce reading, one of the points that the author made that really stuck out to me was when he discussed the realization that author Braden Allenby made about pollution and the environmental problems that are striking our planet. Allenby had stated that pollution was not the root cause of our environmental crisis and that fantasy was the reason. Reading this helped me understand that Allenby is saying that our planet has become the way that it is because we truly believe that there will always be an abundance in our natural resources, even though there will not be. We want to believe that we will be able to have the access to all of the Earth’s resources and that there will not be any consequences for our actions in regards to wastefully consuming the natural resources that have been provided to us. This struck me as completely interesting and very eye-opening, but I fully agree with Allenby’s point of view. I believe that we will have to begin to understand the effects of our overconsumption and wastefulness of the Earth’s resources in order to preserve our planet. Each and every natural resource is precious and should be used with extreme care in order to preserve our planet for the sake of future generations.
Understanding Allenby’s point of view about the ways in which the concept of our fantasies and the way that we are think in response to how we over-consume our resources really made me think while reading about the Apparel Industry Life Cycle and Carbon Mapping. In the study done by the BSR and the University of Michigan, the results of their study showed that garment usage is the most important factor in determining how much greenhouse gas is emitted into the air as a result of the garment’s life cycle. This study also concluded that laundering garments is a large part of the greenhouse gas footprint. With this, I began to realize that when we wash, dry and even iron our garments, we may be doing so without realizing how much energy is being wasted and how much damage we could be doing to the well-being of our planet. We are not always conscious of the fact that when we over-wash and/or dry, we could potentially be doing more and more harm to our environment. I also think that we may not want to believe that could possibly be harming our planet, as well as the fact that we may not think that we could really causing be harm to the environment.
So when we asked to calculate our carbon footprint using the carbon footprint calculator, I was interested to see that the average person emits 27 tons of greenhouse gas per year. I believe that we are not always conscious of the impact that we have on our environment. We are not fully aware, at times, of how our actions and how we treat the resources provided on this Earth can be either helpful or detrimental to our environment. With all that I have learned this week about the environmental perspective of sustainability, I am interested to see how we as future merchandisers can make a difference in the industry through seeing first-hand by reading about industrial ecology and biomimicry. I am interested in learning more about carbon and greenhouse gases emissions influence the garment life cycle and to learn what the apparel industry can do to reduce these gas emissions.