Before I took this course I honestly had very little knowledge of the terms “sustainability” and “sustainable design.” I thought being sustainable was strictly just a fad where people jumped on the bandwagon in order to be cool and pretend that they actually cared about the environment to impress their peers. I thought the coined phrase “being green” was simply a fashion trend that would quickly burn out after a year or two because people didn’t really care. And as far as sustainable design went, before I took the class, it never even crossed my mind. I never really thought that people would design something with anything else in mind, except for the consumer. I had no knowledge that there were people out there that actually designed for the benefit of our planet and not just strictly for fashion trends and appearances.
So now after taking the course my opinions on both terms have changed drastically. I think that the phrase “sustainability,” really more than anything, means to not waste our limited resources that we have been given on our planet. Sustainability is about thinking of the ‘big picture’ and choosing not to be ignorant and selfish with the little time we have left to make a difference on our earth. Sustainability is about being aware of the impact our everyday lives have on the environment and thinking ahead to the future of what can happen if we do not change our ways. Sustainability is more than a phrase or even a lifestyle. It is a way of life that is applicable to every human being on earth and if we do not adopt it, we are headed for the downfall of our planet. I am also no longer ignorant on the concept of sustainable design. Sustainable design is also more than just a fad. It encompasses everything that sustainability stands for. It is once again thinking of the ‘big picture’ of how our designs today will effect our tomorrow. Sustainable designs are innovative ideas that strive to create a better future, not just a quick fix or a profit. Sustainable design is about designing with a driven purpose for the greater good of our planet.
I had many epiphanies through my experience in this course. However, I think my most profound epiphany I had this semester would have to be the realization that in order for sustainability to be successful in life, that there has to be a call to action. It is called sustain-ABILITY for a reason. I think we can talk about how we are all very sad about how our planet is being mistreated and know hundreds of facts about how much materials and water are wasted every year, but this knowledge is useless unless you do something with it. I have learned that being aware of what is happening in our world and the potential impact we can leave isn’t enough anymore. We have to make the next step in order for it to mean something.
Another epiphany that will stick with me for life was the article Thinking Ahead. I think the concepts from the author not only apply to sustainability but also to life in general. The article inspired me to be a little more courageous by forcing yourself to think about the future, which is terrifying to me. The fear of the unknown has always been an extremely uncomfortable topic for me, but I have come to the conclusion that is absolutely necessary to break out of your comfort zone and think ahead. The world is not going to just stop moving because you decide you’re not ready to face the next major transition and your problems just wont go away if you pretend they will never come. The future is scary to think about, but by facing it front on and planning ahead you have a better chance of be prepared for anything.
And the last epiphany that really interested me, is the fact that whatever occupation or degree you have, sustainable practices apply to everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do everyone can help and play a part in making our world a more sustainable place. I think in a way it definitely brings us together as a whole, all working for a common cause for the greater good. I really enjoyed learning about how my specific major with fashion can actually play a positive role in our world where it is usually known for being shallow and strictly profit driven. I liked learning about utilizing biomimicry and empathic designs in fashion. It was a pleasant turn of events learning that their other options within our line of business to encourage a positive change in behavior.
I think the usefulness and relevance of the information I learned this semester are irreplaceable. I learned so much information about things happening around me with our environmental impact and sustainability that I had never heard or known about before. And what I loved about the course was that it actually gives you ways and inspirations to actually apply what you learned. It shines hope on what is usually a more depressing topic, especially being in the industry of never ending wants and material consumption. I think sustainability courses should be required for not only all majors, but should start being taught when kids are in elementary school. I find it shocking that I didn’t study sustainability until my senior year of college. That was 21 years of being in the dark! If we started teaching sustainable approaches to the next generation now instead of waiting until those kids are about to graduate, the environmental impact could be huge!
So knowing what I know now, I want to learn more about businesses that I can get involved with after I graduate who promote sustainability. After taking this course I really want to do something that evokes a positive change in our society and not a negative one. I think my next step is taking it to the next level. I feel like this course was a very good start to a new journey and there is still much more for me to learn as I continue on. 🙂