Not a sprint, but a marathon

From the beginning to the end of this semester my definition of sustainability and sustainable design has radically changed. Stepping into the classroom at the beginning of the semester I considered sustainability and sustainable design to be just simply giving back to the environment or designing with the environment in mind . Through this course I have learned that sustainability isn’t an action but it is a lifestyle. Sustainability is a complicated concept with many facets and theories. It is so much more than recycling or changing a particular process. To truly be sustainable one must vastly alter their way of living. Needless to say being sustainable is a marathon and not a sprint.     After the completion of this course my definition of sustainability/ sustainable design is leaving the world better than when one entered it. I hope that in my professional career and over my lifetime I can live out this definition, and truly leave the world in a better state than I found it.

Looking back upon this course my mind always goes to the importance and impending doom that was the eleventh hour documentary where my first epiphany began. The documentary was terrifying and eye opening to say the least. It left me feeling so small, so helpless. In a weird way it was exactly what I needed it to be. I needed to be slapped in the face with our impending doom to understand the importance of this course and the seriousness of the subject matter. From this moment on I knew that sustainability was no joke. It made all of the theories we learned in the course so much more important because we already knew the terrible state our world was in.

The biomimicry portion of this course was a theory that really hit me. I was fascinated by it’s simplicity. The idea that we learn from nature instead of take from it was one that I had never considered. As a human I have always selfishly considered myself to be superior in this world. After learning from biomimicry I realized we have so much we can learn from nature and animals. There is so much information and inspiration there that we consistently take for granted. This idea isn’t just helpful for design but for almost all occupations. It’s unbelievable the amount we can learn from nature and frankly a little overwhelming. This idea also proved to me that creativity could be sparked from the simplest things such as a feather from a bird, or the texture of a flower. Learning from nature and implementing its process could completely change our world… what a thought.

My world was rocked again when we learned about cradle-to-cradle designs. Why are we consistently fowling our nests? We take so much from our earth and rarely give back to it. As a consumer I feel so selfish. This concept goes way beyond using our leftovers as compost, but it could completely change our materials, and the way we make products. At first I had a difficult time understanding our all of our products could give back to the environment and I still struggle to see how we can have all of our products give back to the earth. It is clear to see we have such a long way to go until this idea can become a reality, but there are so many designers bringing these concepts to life.

I think I enjoyed this course so much because it challenged me. Sustainability frustrated me. There were several times when I felt well this idea will never work in our society, and there are still a lot of instances where I feel this is true. For our generation to save our world drastic measures need to be taken both buy designers and consumers. As a society are we ready for this change? In some ways I think not, I felt that people are too caught up in consumption and living a luxury lifestyle to go back. Only time will tell. No single person our group of people is responsible for sustainability we all are. And we need to change our way of living to save our environment and give hope to the future. We have taken so much away from our world without giving any thing back to it. We cannot go on like this forever. This course is far from your typical college course; it isn’t about memorizing a set of information to completely forget it next semester, but about changing our life styles. I know that my personal thought process has been altered because of this course and I hope my peers have had a similar experience.

Leaving this course I feel a little bit like a piñata. A strange analogy I know, but I have been filled with all of these great concepts and stuffed with information. Now I just need something to give me an opportunity to share my knowledge or for the purpose of my analogy to burst open. Through out this course I found myself wondering how can I get involved or how can I help. I wish we had learned more about ways to get involved in these processes or ways to make a difference in our community beyond simply recycling. I feel that I am equipped to begin make sustainable decisions, but I wish I had more of an outlet to do so. I am leaving this course with so much knowledge and so much information, but little understanding of how I can make a difference right now in Stillwater, Oklahoma as a senior in college.

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