Sustainability From a Premature Mind

As of right now, I have a premature vision of what sustainability is.  If you were to ask me today to define sustainability, I would say something completely different than I would at the end of the semester.  To me, sustainability is the recycling and conservation of nonrenewable resources.  In class, we worked on an exercise called Wild Things.  This activity consisted of listing issues and dreams we have about sustainability in our majors.  My learning community wrote about how samples used for design projects need to be disposed of in a more sustainable way.  We also added that interiors should not be allowed to have VOCs in their paint since it is harmful to occupants.  We passed our paper on and received another group’s paper and wrote a solution for their problem, which was reducing the use of plastic bags in grocery stores by making reusable bags free.  This would save money in the long run because plastic bags would not need to be purchased or produced.  On Tuesday, we watched the 11th Hour movie.  This movie was quite eye opening to me, personally.  It made me more aware of the importance of being sustainable and the consequences we face if we are not.  Throughout the movie, there were various examples of issues all around the world where sustainability could be used to conserve what little resources we have left.  The assigned article for the week also related to this.  It was about Easter Island in Chile and how the inhabitants used up all the resources and had to leave eventually because there was nothing left.  My learning community discussed that the inhabitants did not know how to make the most of their resources and, therefore, used them all up.  If they had known, however, there would have likely been alternatives for different uses.  We also touched base on an article on Environmentally Healthy Interiors.  This article stressed how crucial it is to preserve existing buildings in a sustainable manner and building new buildings sustainably, as well.  It is important to make sure that the indoor air quality (IAQ) is clean, as well as conserving energy in the best way possible.  During class on Thursday, a graduate student from Germany, Carolin Becker, came to speak to the class about her research project.  She is currently promoting sewing cafés in Germany that will sew and repair clothing for people who do not know how to.  I find this very encouraging and would like to see more of these cafes in United States communities.  While working with my learning community, I find it helpful to have three other sets of eyes to pick up on things I may miss. It is convenient sitting together so we can ask questions we may have about what we are studying, also.

I am looking forward to learning more about sustainability and how I, as a citizen, can contribute to, not only my community but the world as well! I know after this semester my outlook on sustainability will not be as premature as it is now.

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