The Start of My Sustainability Journey

Throughout my education and daily life, I have heard many things about sustainability. As a student member of USGBC, I am aware of many different efforts that can be made through LEED accreditation to help make buildings sustainable. In other areas of my life, ‘sustainability’ normally means looking towards the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Throughout these past two weeks, I have come to discover that sustainability is present in other areas of my life as well. In class we talked about how to be sustainable with our clothing and how companies sometimes do not meet environmental standards. I enjoyed watching the video about the Native American viewpoint on sustainability, and how they keep in mind that everything they do has side effects. Through the recent classes I have learned about how sustainability applies to interiors. Through combining the different aspects of my life, I would define sustainability as being conscious of personal actions and taking advantage of opportunities to recycle, re-use physical items, and live within our means to reduce the buildup of trash.

The most interesting component I discovered while working on the Wild Thing exercise was how many issues we can find in sustainability today. Also, there are numerous solutions to these problems, and developing these solutions without limitations was fun. It was a new way of thinking to imagine that anything was possible. I did not enjoy watching the 11th hour movie. I do believe that there are many pressing issues with sustainability that we need to address, but personally I am not “called to action” by threatening statements and video. I think there were many important points, but also many points that were stretched, which led me to be skeptical of their points. It was eye-opening, however, to consider what terrible shape our world might be in today.

Carolin’s research was extremely interesting. I had never heard of leasing clothes, and I was unaware that there were accessible ways to rent clothes either. As those points were found in the survey she provided, her presentation was interesting as well. I think she has a great idea of teaching others how to repair their clothes, because starting to teach others important sustainable practices can have an avalanche effect and may provide at least one solution to the clothing-waste problem!

The Easter Island and Okies stories highlighted people that neglected to tend to their environment and extinguished their resources. If society continues to ignore the need to sustain the earth, we might find ourselves lacking in the simple necessities. The Environmentally Healthy Interiors article was a nice parallel to the Easter Island conversation as after seeing what could happen if we wastefully use resources, we were able to address ways in our own careers that we can help. The majority of the information in the Interior’s article I personally had already learned throughout my education at Oklahoma State, but it was interesting to see how all of those standard practices were so closely tied to sustainability. Various things such as Indoor Air Quality and the resources it takes to keep buildings clean are very important factors.

While interacting with my learning community members, I learned that there are many different solutions to one problem. All of which are valuable and provide different benefits. I also learned that collaborating with my members led into very interesting discussion about the topics, and other members provided perspectives on sustainability that I had not considered before.

Over the past two weeks, I have learned that every little effort for promoting sustainability helps. My roommates and I recycle glass, plastic, and cardboard, but I am going to make an even greater effort to make sure I take the time to put my recyclable materials into the correct bin instead of simply tossing them in the trash. The bins are right next to each other in our kitchen, so I have no excuse not to take an extra second to help reduce the build-up of trash in our world!

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