This past semester has really flown by. We have learned so many new concepts and covered a whole list of theories these past couple of months. It is hard to believe that at the beginning of it all I considered myself as a sustainable person, when it fact I hadn’t even scratched the service yet. Before, when I thought about sustainability all I really thought about was purchasing eco friendly products and recycling. To me, it was all about this so called thinking green or green movement, but in reality sustainability is so much more. Now I believe that sustainability is all about not taking more than you need from the environment and finding ways to give back. It means to not deplete the Earth of its natural resources and to help support or sustain it for future generations. Before this class I didn’t realize that sustainability and sustainable design were two very different concepts. I focused on the end use of the product, like if the fabric is biodegradable or if it could be recycled somehow. Now I know that sustainable design is all about designing in a way that not only will benefit the user, but it will also help the environment and the Earth. All aspects of the design process need to be taking into consideration, such as needs, materials, transportation, and end use. In order for a product to truly be sustainable it needs to be made in a way that it was sustainable during the whole process of making it, not just at the end or for parts throughout.
My sustainability journey throughout this semester was quite the ride. Each week something new was thrown at us and it was very exciting to get to explore the new ideas and concepts. Throughout my journey I had multiple learning epiphanies that really opened my eyes to what sustainability really means. The first learning epiphany that I had was the fact that I really didn’t know anything about sustainability. This concept is very complex and has a multitude of layers to comprehend. I found it very shocking that as a senior in apparel merchandising I didn’t know the first thing about what sustainable design really means. Each week I expanded my knowledge and have come to find that I now have a pretty decent grasp on the whole thing. The next learning epiphany that I had was that the fashion industry is having a very large and negative impact on our environment. I guess I just never realized how companies can be so wasteful and harmful to the environment, without any of us knowing. I’m sure that if everyone knew what some companies are doing to make a better profit they would stop shopping at those places. This is when I realized that it is not only up to the consumers to make a difference in our environment. This movement has to start at the top with the designers, producers, and manufactures. One person can only do so much good, which is why it is going to take a large amount of people to actually make an impact and do some good. Another learning epiphany that I had was how much waste there is in the world, and the fact that no one seems to care or notice. I know that like many people I once an avid believer of “ignorance is bliss”, but now I know how big of an issue this is. We live in a society today that is only concerned with the next big thing, the newest trend, and being better than the rest. This mindset really needs to change. The Earth and environment cannot keep living this way, otherwise there won’t be a place for future generations to live prosper. This all goes back to making better products inside and out. If designers would design products in a way that is considering where it will go after the person uses it, then we will actually be able to start making a difference. Consumers in turn need to start separating their wants from their needs. I’m not saying that the idea of “fashion” has to change, but we as consumers need to look into new ways of wearing what we already have and making them into something even better.
Knowing what I know now after this class, I would like to learn more about companies in our field that are actually taking on this movement of sustainable design. I know that throughout our journey this semester we were introduced to a few during our L.O.L.A. shows, but I would like to find out about local companies or ones that I actually shop at. This idea and this problem are being more and more relevant and I am sure that in the future we will start to see that more people are caring and wanting to do something to help. I think that it will be interesting to see how much our industry will change if more people join the bandwagon. There is definitely potential there will all of the resources we have, it is just all about using them for the “greater good” and making a difference with them. I now know that there is still a lot to learn about sustainability, but I am interested in finding out what. In the future I know now that I will shop more responsible and start asking the hard questions that not everyone does. I want to know where my products are coming from and how they are being made. This is something that we all have a right to know and I think it is time that we make companies more responsible for their actions. It all starts here!