I swear I had my sights set on a career that involved sustainability. Something like LEED gave me all the credibility to be an expert in sustainable design and anything green. Ha ha was I completely thrown for a curve. I actually never believed that sustainability could be built upon so many concepts. Who knew sustainability expanded across all walks of life and areas of design? So, you can only imagine what my face looked like when I sat down in my desk located in the row second from the left of the room and two seats back from the front. I had my course roadmap in hand and ready to excel. I never conceptualized anything to be so broad, yet sometimes specific. It seems that at times sustainability is a foreign concept that is so broadly defined, but others it pinpoints only the most specific topics. Was that confusing? Oh, good. So, as we advanced throughout the course, I slowly began putting things together like puzzle pieces. Though the entire class it took more than reading, studying, or just listening to understand the foundations of sustainability. Being put into discussion groups, or learning communities, at first was hard to get used to actually having to form thoughts to share and input opinions. That was the biggest challenge that I learned to overcome; actually having a stance on an issue and not having only one answer. Being able to converse with more than my friends or the usual, same people I always talked with, and learn new perspectives and ideas. Then, toward the middle of the semester, we changed groups and, again, I got even more depth in the different way people view sustainability. It is not just a word or recycling, there are many ways to achieve it, making it a bigger issue than I walked in thinking. In my mind, sustainability is not just being greener, or reducing carbon footprint, it is getting as close as one can to a natural state and doing it in the most raw way possible. This does not even mean that materials have to be a close to dirt as possible, they can be synthetic that uses a sustainable process or can be used in a cradle-to-cradle cycle. There are so many ways to be sustainable that it amazed me how quickly I overestimated my ability to understand sustainable design, when I didn’t even know the half of it. You feel me? Good.
Moving on…I started the course off with the most pronounced epiphany. So…what, who, where, when, why sustainability? The film that kicked off the class by Di Caprio left me like a puppy who had been told to not eat the couch cushions. Just picture that face…okay, focus now. I had the biggest thirst for the “now what” portion. So, we had gotten this information about how we are destroying our earth, who is responsible, how we are doing this, what is going on, and why this is happening. So…now what? My anxiety got the best of me when I someone told me that the future was a large part of the process. I can’t even handle my own future let alone a bigger future than my own. Wait a minute here…please tell me we can break this down, talk about it, maybe over coffee, be friends first, see where this goes. Sustainability calls for first, empathy. That was another huge realization. I can’t just expect to know how to be sustainable by studying a few materials and all of a sudden sustainability isn’t an issue. It takes understanding the other side and doing things based on that in order to improve. Empathy it is called. Okay. Step one? Next, we have to design with the empathetic part in mind, but we have to put two sides into it. Consumers are hungry and companies have the food. We just have to realize that we know what consumer’s need and the consumers only know what they want. It is like feeding a starving human. They want all the food that they can get their hands on, but if you do that, they will overeat and end up getting sick off of it. You have to feed them slowly, one at a time, in order to fill them up in a healthy way. Wow. I’m getting this now. So, next we have to decide what to use to design. Synthetic? Natural? Well, the beautiful part is you can use both. This made me jump for joy. I am not one for all natural products because I am spoiled by the easy, synthetic way of life. Luckily, there’s an app for that. Okay, not really, but there are ways to get around the chemicals of synthetic processes and products. One can use nature as an inspiration. So, not only can you use nature to create products, but you can also use nature to mimic the way it does things. These things can be cleaning, renewing, creating, etc. It is an amazing world, where nature is such an inspiration. The closer we get to the natural forms of doing things, the closer we get to a sustainable state. This is where I began to emphanize (ha ha that word again) the thought that maybe LEED was not the end all to sustainability. *Jaw hits floor, mind blows* Full cycle? Maybe, just maybe. The previous points that I touched on where the ones that stood out to me most. I realized that my take away was that sustainability cannot be limited to only one process or one form, it comes in many different ways and can be achieved in different places and even different occupations. Every one comes into contact with something that can, in fact, be changed in order to get to a greener state. I hope to take away that mindset in order to better myself in my career and even in my daily activities.
With that said, I quickly realized that I have no sustainable efforts, whatsoever. Being LEED certified does not automatically make me an expert in sustainability. I am only considered knowledgeable at this point. Sad face. But, knowing that, I only want to expand my knowledge for my future career. There are so many ways to educate others and even improve my own actions that can benefit my future and make me a better designer. I would especially love to know how to mimic nature, though it may be difficult, it is so fascinating to me that nature is almost more advanced that it teaches us instead of us teaching nature. It is so incredible that we have a world with such an advanced natural life. I also want to learn to be more empathetic. I am not very good at being empathetic. I love to think about what I want to say next and what I think someone would be interested in, instead of truly listening and trying to understand the other side. Something I need to work on, and also something that could be beneficial in my future endeavors. This course satisfied every inch of my curiosity and left me with a full mind and a drive and passion to be in a more sustainable state. I only hope our generation shares the same thirst and hunger and can help me in making the world a better, greener place.