When I began this course, I thought I had a pretty solid understanding of sustainability. I thought recycling, using renewable resources and just generally not over-exploiting anything or anyone was pretty much it. Of course all the eco-friendly tropes popped effortlessly into my head. Sustainability is really a much more complex concept than most give it credit for though. Really it’s too complex to break down in one short blog post, and sadly, sustainability remains a foreign and unrecognizable idea for far too many. I believe that this is because our lives have diverged too much from a natural existence. Our capabilities as a species are amazing, but we have been poor stewards of these talents. If we wish to preserve our planet and our livelihood, we must take action. A truly sustainable human existence will require an extensive restructuring of our behaviors, expectations and sources of happiness. To put it simply, I believe sustainability is about the cessation of the exploitation of resources (natural and human) and a relentless effort to meet human needs responsibly.
As humans, we have inherited a truly beautiful home and spectacular mental abilities. We’ve built pyramids, invented quantum physics, engaged in space exploration and even discovered many of life’s secrets. We are by far the highest achieving species that this planet has ever seen. It would take millions of years (and probably our disappearance) in order for an equally impressive species to take over. We can and have accomplished nearly everything we’ve set our sights on, but no matter how much I tout the human race’s horn, we will never be as incredible as nature itself. Nature did, after all, give birth to our entire existence. It is no secret that human beings feel an innate superiority to nature. We have gone to quite impressive lengths to ensure our separation from our creator, but has come with a heavy environmental cost. Learning about biomimicry made me feel remarkably humble, and it taught me that Man must not considered himself superior to nature. Man must instead realize he is a part of nature. Finding humility and respecting limitations is what I believe to be our greatest potential lesson in this life, and that is a lesson we can derive from the emulation of our gorgeous, almost magical habitat.
Time is arguably our most limited resource. We have countless ambitions and desires, and we can never quite find all the time we need or want. The time squeeze has been felt across history and cultures, and we’ve sought out new technology on a continual basis in order to fit more into less. We’ve improved our abilities so much that we hardly have to spend any time at all procuring the basic necessities of life. I will not argue that innovation is a bad thing, but it seems as though we lack any sense of time extending beyond the present. The apparel industry knows exactly how long it takes to make a pair of jeans, but most humans can’t tell you how long we have before our current lifestyle will leave a lasting mark on the earth. Scientists have proposed that the human race has less than 100 years to alter current behaviors, or we will suffer the environmental consequences of our actions. Still, many are too focused on the present to be able to make a change. Reading the tragic tale Easter Island really opened my eyes to the dangers of being shortsighted. I really hope the human race can begin working together to plan for the future.
A creative mind is our greatest resource as a species. When we use our creativity for the greater good, we can enact real change. Articles on empathic design and being a futurist really opened my eyes to this concept. Since we are in need of drastic changes to current behaviors, creativity is absolutely crucial to our innovation. No one on this planet can tell us how to be completely sustainable, because no one really knows. We must remain open to new ideas, but we must also cater to current ways of life. We are generally an adaptable bunch, but it will take some creative prodding to move our species into the right direction. If we as designers can creatively solve sustainability issues in ways that satisfy fundamental human needs, then human existence has the potential to become beneficial to this planet and its inhabitants.
I genuinely enjoyed this class and all that I learned in it. I have stubbornly stuck by my decision to be an entrepreneur from the tender age of five, and this course has sparked many new facets to this goal. I am so excited to translate my newfound knowledge and insights into real-world results. I honestly hope that I can create a 100% sustainable business, even if its only success is positive influence. Learning how to be a sustainable human and producer is of utmost importance to me and my future education. I have never been good at blindly following rules, and I hope to use this as an asset in the creation of new business models. The status quo is in desperate need of change, and I plan on spending my entire professional life with this in mind.