Upon calculating my carbon footprint, my estimated greenhouse gas emissions per year was approximately 17 tons of CO2. Even though this was well below the average, it seems like so much CO2 to be emitted by just one person. The majority of my emissions come from home and travel, so there is definite room for improvement there. As far as traveling goes, I drive a hybrid vehicle and love seeing how much gas I save. I’ve learned to drive more efficiently, too, in order to get better MPG. The hardest thing about travel right now is that I go back and forth to Dallas weekly so that’s about 8-9 of driving roundtrip, and that cuts into my emissions. After I graduate and move, my travel will be cut down. I try to not go overboard with laundry and consolidate as much as I can to utilize as much water as possible, and we use energy efficient machines and detergent. I do catch myself from time to time running the faucet when I don’t need to….like when I brush my teeth or rinsing dishes and forget to shut it off instantly. It’s the little things here and there that add up really quick – when we don’t think we’re doing much damage.
Biomimicry was an interesting topic to learn about and it seems funny that, at least for me, this topic has not been introduced early on in education – and not starting in a major-related college course. I’m not so sure of the academics in elementary, middle, and high school these days, but I think that in order for the beauty and ideology behind biomimicry to take place, we need to start teaching, learning, and embracing it at a younger age. The answers to many of our daily problems can be resolved with biomimicry solutions – big and small. I think a huge setback for the population as a whole is that we are much too ‘on-the-go’ and we don’t stop to take the time and uncover solutions right in front of us. We have become impatient and time is wasted on the frivolous and temporary. Turning to nature to study the organisms that have survived without ‘heat, beat, and treat’ for almost 4 billion years only seems like a natural thing to do. Carefully understanding the natural form, process, and ecosystem of natural solutions will not only help us resolve our problems but, also, give back to nature.
In the Graedel and Allen article, the key point that stuck out to me is that Industrial Ecology rejects the concept of waste. Industrial Ecology is taking biomimicry to the next level as it strives to use natural solutions while gaining a competitive advantage in the market. Since infrastructure takes up so much of our land space, it is vital to utilize resources that will also be giving back to the Earth while occupying its land. You don’t hear much about uniquely-designed buildings that adapt to the Earth while catering to the consumers, and they seem more like a ‘World Wonder’ that people come and visit. While it is about the competitive advantage, it is also about serving the Earth and the population – and building with a more local approach could help industrial ecology to have a greater impact. Maybe I’m not aware of it, but I’d love to see communities – especially on campus – take part in new buildings and expansions while implementing natural solutions. After all, isn’t this concept about creating advantages, and what better way to create them than by building and learning together.