My definition of sustainability would be something along the lines of using methods and processes that do not destroy natural, nonrenewable resources. In addition to that, sustainability should be about cleaning up the earth and improving our environment, not simply maintaining its current condition. As for sustainable design, I think it has to do with all aspects of the design process, like using ecofriendly materials, fabrics, and dyes, not using large amounts of water and energy, not having large amounts of waste, and making products that can be recycled or reused. When first going into this course, I already had a general idea of these things, but I don’t realize how many aspects there were to it. In the past, when I thought of sustainability, I mainly thought about recycling cans and using certain types of light bulbs. This course really opened my eyes to the other facets that make up sustainability, especially in the fashion world. Now, I think about many of these things when I’m out shopping or just looking around at shops. I’m much more willing to pay more money on a product if I know the company strives to be as sustainable as possible. Whether that’s using ecofriendly materials, not using harmful chemicals, etc.
There are many important things that I will take away from this course. The ones that really stuck out to me the most were our lectures on biomimicry and empathic design, and the trips we took around campus and to the Oakcreek community.
Biomimicry is a concept I had never heard of before this class. I think it’s not only extremely interesting, but clever as well. Nature has figured out how to solve countless problems using whatever tools it has, nothing artificial. So why not study their solutions for our own personal gain? It’s such a simple idea that I honestly can’t believe I had never thought of this before. It is a theory that supports a win-win from both our side and nature’s side. Nature was here long before us and it will continue to be here long after we are gone, so might as well learn from it. It does not make sense for us to constantly work against nature and fight it, like society is now. We are using up nature and treating it horribly, which is starting to backfire on us. Nature is a living, breathing entity and it will fight back against anything trying to hurt it. It only makes sense for us to work together if we both want to live in harmony on the planet. I believe biomimicry is a fantastic concept to use to achieve this and hopefully it will be more widespread in the future.
Empathic design is another concept I found fascinating in this course. Although I had never heard the term empathic design before, I knew basically what it consisted of. Without realizing it, empathic design is something I have applied to multiple things throughout my life, especially when I’ve had to create/design things for other classes. Thinking about others and their needs when designing seems like a no brainer to me, but it is not always an important aspect to designers. Whenever I design, I try to put myself in other people’s shoes and figure out what they would want the most in a product. I try to imagine what it would be like to use my product and whether or not it would be useful or simply a hassle. I believe when something is designed well, it fits seamlessly into your life, no bumps. That is ultimately what I believe empathic design seeks to do and it is also why I believe it is so important.
Our trip around campus was quite interesting and unexpected. I knew we were interested in sustainability here on campus, but I was pleasantly surprised to see how involved OSU truly is with actually BEING sustainable. There are wind farm that campus gets a lot of its energy from, we collect rainwater on top of the student union and use that to water the grounds, and OSU is currently working on being LEED certified. There was also an area dedicated to upholstery and repairing any furniture that can be reused anywhere on campus. That alone can make a huge impact on a campus this big. There are countless numbers of furniture and various items spread out around campus and it would be a major expense to buy new items whenever one became a bit worn or broke down. On top of all this, OSU also has a recycling plant. Seeing the plant and how beneficial it is for things to be recycled really opened my eyes and reminded me that I need to start recycling myself. All of these things showed me that it really is possible to convert at least some parts of your life into being more sustainable. Even if the changes are small at first, it is better than not trying at all. I personally have bought more efficient light bulbs for my home and instead of throwing things out when they get worn out or broken; I try to fix them first. If that does not work or if I simply do not want something anymore, I then try to give it away. We are really trying to reduce how much we throw away and after we move next week, we are going to start recycling! I cannot wait!
The trip we took to Oakcreek was quite possible my favorite we did this entire semester. At first I was a bit weary because I get nervous meeting new people, but it ended up being a blast. Everyone was so nice and friendly that it was hard not to enjoy yourself! I love that even though we did not have a lot of time to interview our person, we were still able to get to know her really well in a short amount of time. I really felt like I learned a lot about her and was able to capture her personality and needs in the interview we conducted. I find it incredibly interesting sitting down with someone and simply listening to their life story; everything they have gone through over the years. Everyone’s story is different which is what makes a project like this so fascinating. Everyone has different wants, needs, problems, hopes, dreams, etc. We are all unique in our own ways and being able to understand that and remember that when designing is forever ingrained in me. And I also intend to spread this concept to other people whenever possible. Empathic design is simply a concept that I think can apply to anything in life and is a great theory to live and work by.
Although it does not have anything to do with my major, I would love to learn more about sustainable practices in interior design. Not necessarily for a job, but just for my everyday life. I want to learn about things I can do or change in my own home to be more sustainable and hopefully lower my carbon footprint. It is a lifelong dream of mine to someday have solar panels on my house, and I intend on doing more research on that until I can achieve that goal someday. I am also interested in other aspects such as the way the layout of a house flows, how to use less/conserve energy, what kind of paint to use, what type of flooring is best, what door and window types are best, ways of catching and using rainwater, and many more ideas. I just want to have all aspects of my life working together to be as sustainable as possible, not just the apparel part. I also want to have a garden where I can grow a good amount of my food, then have a composter so I can put whatever waste I have leftover in there, and I can have a cycle going. I feel like if all aspects of my life are working toward a goal of being more sustainable, it will be easier to stay on track. If I just pick and choose what areas I want to be sustainable in, it would be easier to make up excuses on why I can’t do something. If I just make it an overall rule that applies to everything, I would have standards that I could pass everything by. This is what I plan on working my way up to in the future, all thanks to this course. I hope I will be able to apply everything I have learned someday not only to my personal life, but to any job I may have. My knowledge on this subject has expanding exponentially but I know there is much more to learn out there. I will continue to keep an eye out for anything relating to sustainability and I will also continue to look for a job that values it. Thank you for teaching us so much on this subject and thank you for a great semester!