As our civilization becomes more technologically advanced and produces more material goods, it is essential for us to take a closer look at how we are impacting the planet that hosts our species. The reading by McDonough and Braungart emphasized the importance of understanding the cycles of nature and determining how our current industrial processes are damaging the equilibrium of the natural world. Before we established a highly industrialized society, humans functioned in a way that echoed the earth’s cradle-to-cradle system in which there is no waste. Nowadays, our manufacturing and consumption practices have thrown us out of balance with the environment and altered its natural cycles in a drastic way.
The material we studied this week made me realize that we are all living in a system that needs to be overhauled. In order to imitate nature’s cradle-to-cradle processes and improve our planet’s health, we need to consider more than just making closed-loop products – one of the fundamental things we need to change is our own consumption patterns. Most of us probably don’t give much thought to what happens when we throw our material possessions away and buy new ones, but it is critical for us to recognize how those products are being made and where they will go when we’re done with them.
Our guest speaker made a particularly salient point about this topic during her presentation. She said that buying materials that are biodegradable really isn’t enough to make a positive impact considering how we get rid of them. Using biodegradable products won’t do any good if we continue to put them in plastic sacks that get tossed into a landfill and won’t decompose. I think this is evidence that our whole way of thinking needs to be transformed in order to create a system in which our waste can be food for other parts of the environment. If we examine our individual habits and figure out which ones need to be changed, we can take that first step toward a more balanced and sustainable future. This knowledge has made me take a closer look at my own behaviors and identify some practices that are contributing to our society’s current unsustainable framework. Just analyzing my personal habits for a few minutes has given me ideas about what I could do differently to help generate a healthier system of production and consumption.