I would define sustainability as the process of understanding the surrounding environment and being aware of the usage of products and things that pertain to the environment. Sustainable design can be defined as designing products with the environment in mind and making them environmentally friendly while still creating an interesting item for the consumer. These definitions are not that far off from my original ideation of sustainability at the beginning of the semester after I learned the basics of what sustainability meant. Before this semester I did not have an idea of this subject and had little to no knowledge about what sustainability was or what it entailed. As the semester comes to a close and I get ready to graduate, I am excited to take the lessons I learned about sustainability into my career field and to help create a more sustainable world in my career.
At the beginning of the semester I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into by taking this course. I did not have an understanding of what the semester would entail when it came to sustainability. I was extremely uneducated on the subject and was curious as to what the semester would hold. To my surprise, the semester was extremely informative and I learned more than I ever thought I could about the subject. Every week I was mesmerized by the amount of new information there was to learn and the new aspects of sustainability. Over the course of the semester, I learned how important sustainability is in my career as well as my personal life.
Two of the large epiphanies I had this semester were over the topics of overconsumption and biomimicry. When it comes to the fashion industry, fast fashion and constantly buying new products has been something that has become the norm. Being guilty as well, people want the newest items in fashion and quickly buy it when they can get their hands on it. By continuing to buy new products, there are products that are already owned that are discarded by either taking up space in the closet, or not being recycled of properly. Continuously buying new products leads to overconsumption. I have never given much thought to the clothes in my closet or continuing to buy new things, its’ what I’ve always done, and it’s what the fashion industry has always encouraged me to do. Overconsumption has become a huge problem when it comes to sustainability and through this course I realized how I need to be aware of this growing problem. When it comes to my personal life, I need to be more aware of the purchases I make. I need to research products before I buy them and invest in pieces that I will own for a substantial amount of time to reduce overconsumption and cut down on product waste. In my field, I need to be aware of the products I am creating/designing and making sure that they are products that will last and have good quality. This will ensure that consumers will own these products for a longer period of time and cut down on consumption and waste as well. The second epiphany I had was over the topic of biomimicry. I had no idea what biomimicry was, let alone how to pronounce it. Who knew it would be the coolest concept I learned about all semester. The basic idea that nature did it first is astonishing. Biomimicry is aiding in sustainability by mimicking things that nature has already created. This concept blew my mind. I never thought about how amazing nature is and how nature can be used as a tool to help create new products. I learned to be more aware of the things happening in nature and how using nature as an inspiration can help produce a new and interesting product that is sustainable and still functional and cool.
One of my favorite activities this semester was the Design Probe. Design probes are a research method that enable designers to look into the daily life of consumers and evaluate and infer about their lives and the things that they do. This is useful to designers so that they can create products that specifically cater to their consumer’s needs. This reflects sustainability through empathic design and creating products that consumers have a specific attachment to. This assures that consumers have a product they are satisfied with and will use the product wisely. I used this method of research in another course this semester while creating a new brand to ensure that we knew our target market. The design probe helped me form a better idea of the daily life of my target market and helped me find products that better catered to their needs. This made my brand stand out among competitors and ultimately helped me achieve first place in the course competition.
Knowing what I know now, the subject I would like to explore more in the future is biomimicry. Although we focused on this subject a lot this semester, I would like to further research on this subject and look deeper into the amazing ways that nature can inspire new designs. I hope to look to nature for my own inspiration and continue to come up with sustainable designs inspired by the beauty of nature.