As the second week of this course comes to a close and I reflect on my experience thus far, I realize that I have become much more aware of the products I use and the services I partake in and the impact that those things have on the earth, and also other people around the world.
I can say with certainty that the way I view sustainability has expanded, and my concept of what sustainability means has taken a new form. It seems as though in the current state our nation is in, we view sustainability as something to implement rather than something to adjust to. From what I have seen in America and can comprehend with the knowledge I have only this far along in the course, implementing some sustainable processes or recycling some material is not going to bring the results that we need in order to flourish in the future. In order to be a self-sustaining world, we need to shift our entire perspective on what it means to thrive. In our current perspective, we see production and efficiency in the short-run as a goal to strive for, but if we had a better grasp on what we want for ourselves and for the generations to come after us, we might consider long-term goals, thus adapting to a process that sustains the earth for a longer period of time.
Sustainability seemed like a daunting topic before I was exposed to just the few topics we covered this week, but it’s really quite a simple concept: acknowledge the past, but live for the future. My suggestion of the simplicity of sustainability is not to underestimate the complex issues that derive from shifting the perspective of an entire humanity and many diverse societies. The challenge of making this shift in perspective is a reality, and it is a difficult one with many complexities, but that is the core idea behind the revelation on the concept of sustainability that I have had: that sustainability itself is actually very simple; the difficulty comes with shifting the way individuals and societies think in order to live for the future rather than living for profit and efficiency in the present.
On my own time, I have stumbled across a few documentaries unrelated to either interior design or apparel. The documentaries genre on Netflix is where I spend a good amount of my free time, and last week I watched two documentaries, “GMO OMG” and “Forks Over Knives,” and a few Ted Talks about our agricultural industry here in America. It was interesting to learn about food production in the U.S. and how unsustainable our farming practices are. With this new knowledge I had gained from these short documentaries combined with the revelation about sustainability I have had, I figured this was something I could take action on and make a lifestyle change. I am making my best efforts now to buy produce from the farmer’s market here in Stillwater, to support organic farmers who do not use GMOs that encourage excessive use of pesticides and roundup which are ultimately ruining our soil and allegedly causing many human diseases with long-term consumption, and to remove animal products from my diet because of the impact that the production of poultry has on our environment compared to the production of plant products, such as wheat. The changes I have made so far in my own lifestyle have been substantial, but I feel healthier and I feel proud to take ownership in playing a role in respecting the earth that I live on. I have been on a vegetarian diet before for a long period of time, so the most challenging change has been only purchasing organic produce because I am on the budget of a poor college student, but I am choosing to think in the long-term, not the short-term.
In regards to the readings from this past week, I found the article on Easter Island to be a fascinating parallel to the way we live today. Obviously, the circumstances are quite different, with Easter Island having very little biodiversity to begin with in contrast to the abundance of diverse plant and wildlife that we have (although that diversity is depleting due to modified and controlled farming practices). The parallel between Easter Island and our industrial modern world is the idea of prioritizing short-term production over long-term sustainability and efficiency. The people of Eastern Island found meaning and a sense of status through the massive stone statues they created, and so those feelings were placed at a higher value than maintaining security in the already few resources that they had on their island. The U.S. seems to be operating in the same fashion with its people (with the influence of advertisers and marketers) valuing short-term status, convenience, and comfort (because of course all of those things are fleeting and ever-evolving, and therefore, short-term) over long-term efficiency and sustainability. I can’t say with certainty that we share the fate of Easter Island, but I do believe that if we pursue these same goals at the same rate as the present, that our futures look like burnt out resources and people left with nowhere to turn. This article was one of those “acknowledge the past, but live for the future,” reads that contains pertinent information regarding the past failures of a society that we can learn from, but is not a certain prophesy of the fate of America.
I am anticipating the next few weeks of this course and excited to learn more ways in which I can actively participate in shifting my lifestyle to a more sustainable way of living: for the future.