A New Outlook on Life

When first starting this course I felt like I was pretty knowledgeable about sustainability. I thought this class was going to be geared more towards an answer, what we should do and how to incorporate LEED design. But instead this class took a whole different outlook. Instead we went further into design teaching us principles and theories of sustainable design. When first asked to define sustainability I would have said sustainability is knowing ways to recycle so we don’t use up all the natural resources and run out of places to put our trash. I now realize sustainability is much more than that. I now would say sustainability is understanding how humans impact the earth and is making a conscious effort to leave as little impact as possible on the earth hoping to restore natures natural balance. Before my view of sustainability was more about how we humans live on Earth rather than live with Earth like I do now.

I have learned quite a few things in this class. Some things that changed my view of sustainability and I will definitely remember are the topics related to nature. One thing I had never considered was that nature creates FREE & RENEWABLE energy for us everyday. We need to use this to our advantage. From our reading Waste=Food I learned that nature alone does not create any waste. The fact that humans came and interrupted the balance shows that it is strictly our fault and our mistake to fix. However, Erin Leitch taught us that there is not one right answer. We are not moving towards a perfect point but instead we are looking to adapt to the ever changing environment. As the reading about the Material Maze pointed out, some practices come at a cost of another environmental issue. I am now much more aware of the impact of everything I do. I feel the “out of sight out of mind” mindset is crippling us in that we like to be naive about the environmental situation and ignore the impact of our choices. It is up to us, the designers, to try and change that mindset.

Another important lesson I learned was that sustainable design starts with the creator, we designers have to steer consumers in the right way by designing things that will change human behavior to a more sustainable way of life. This is where empathic design comes into play. By using empathic design in our creations, we can better understand what is making or not making people live a sustainable life! I know now to put myself in the consumers shoes and design with purpose and needs in mind rather than just aesthetics and this can help gear consumers by making them want to use sustainable practices. We can also use the idea of industrial ecology and the closed loop system to come up with ways that disposal of products can “close the loop” making it easier for consumers to participate in sustainable choices.

What excited me most and would like to learn more about is about biomimcry. It is exciting to me that it is somewhat a new concept in that they are just beginning to make it a program in universities.

Since I feel one of the important things we take away from this class is that nature is balanced already, I think looking to nature to solve some of our problems is a great step.

I have learned the power of collaboration. When it comes to brainstorming this class showed me the power in numbers. I am impressed with how many unique ideas our class was able to come up with in a short amount of time. It was interesting to see during the design slams how bouncing off ideas with one another evolved into a great sustainable idea. Even though this aspect does not directly relate to sustainability I believe this lesson will be good for us to understand as we will often have to collaborate with others in our design field. When studying biomimicry Erin Leitch said she works closely with biologists. That is something I never thought I would do, interact with many people outside the design field. I now realize what great things can come from such collaborations!

I thought we were going to learn about what to do sustainable design like what materials to use etc. but instead learned a different lesson. I now know that there is not one right answer, you can’t simply tell someone what is right and wrong in sustainable design. Instead I feel empowered with knowledge in how to go the right direction. I don’t know what specifically to do but I know how to implement design principles into my ideas and believe that that is a greater lesson.

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