Carbon Footprint + Biomimicry+ Industrial Ecology

By calculating my carbon footprint, it has made me aware of just how much I consume on a daily basis. The average in the US is 27 tons of CO2 per year. Although my score is lower than the national average at 19 tons of CO2 per year, it is still much higher than the world average of 5.5 tons. The thing that stood out to me the most in this survey is that they asked me what kind of foods I ate. I have never made the connection between the foods we eat and sustainability before. When I checked the box that I ate meat at almost every meal, my score jumped by 1.8 tons per year. I thought this number was really high. If I ate meat at just one meal a day, I could cut that number drastically. It just goes to show how the small changes make a huge impact in the long-term.

When we started talking about the subject of Biomimicry, I thought the idea was very fascinating. As a designer, it is intriguing to be able to look at nature, and apply some of the things that we see in nature to our clothing. Whenever you think of things through this point of view, the possibilities are limitless. Clothing that can completely repel water. Backpacks that are both functional and protective. Even velcro is a product of Biomimicry; when George de Mestral removed burrs from his dogs paws, he was struck with the idea of velcro. Can you imagine a world without velcro?? What would we do!

It’s no secret that the apparel industry is one of the largest industries in the world. That being so, we all know how bad the apparel industry can be on the environment. After reading about the industrial ecology of the apparel industry, what I found fascinating is that the “primary carbon hotspot” in the product’s lifecycle was in the use phase. So many changes have to occur in order to take a garment from a fiber to a fully finished, piece of clothing. In my mind, the most energy would be consumed when producing the product. However, I was wrong. The largest amount of energy is used by us, the consumers of the garment. This helped me realize just how much energy I’m consuming when washing and drying my clothes. Maybe I’ll wear my jeans a few more days than I usually do before washing them again.

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