Blog 3

Blog Post 3

I enjoyed the lectures this week because they taught me more of the science and logic behind sustainability. A major thing that I struggle with on the topic of sustainability is the reality of it. We often discuss scenarios that are more abstract and then brainstorm on any kind of solution without regards to the ability of the solution to be actually followed through. For me at least, this can be a little hard to wrap my mind around. I naturally just like to take action and solve problems and it can be a little challenging for me to understand the gravity of situations when we take such a rhetorical approach. With that being said, I really appreciated the definitions and logic behind the subject—it made sustainability a little more real to me. For the same reason, I enjoyed the TED talk that Michael Pawlin gave. He discussed certain issues that his team had been faced with and described how they utilized Biomimicry to brainstorm effective solutions that made sense and that were often already solved by nature. I realized this week that after having discussed Biomimicry, I find it a little more difficult to grasp. Although it sounds easy to understand, there are so many applications and implications that it can have. I had a very simple first impression of the topic, but our discussions only broadened my mind as to the complexity that Biomimicry can have. I am not sure that I am the best candidate for designing garments by utilizing Biomimicry, but I think that it is intriguing and is a significant way of thinking. I thought the industrial ecology example in Denmark was fascinating—it kind of had hints of utopian society to me. I wanted to find an example of industrial ecology within my respective field and mainly wanted to look at ways that the fast fashion trend could be altered for the better.
In the reading, “Closing the Loop on Commerce”, my learning community gave a brief presentation on the first lesson which was using waste as a resource. I thought this was a really interesting concept because the whole idea and definition of waste implies something that has no use or significance to the user anymore, so is therefore discarded and replaced with another item. The solution, or answer, to this problem is the closed loop system ( a system that shows the progression of an item through its lifecycle that can be used for another purpose until it progresses in the system back to it’s original state or purpose). An example given in the reading was this town in Denmark that has an interconnected system of companies that starts with industrial plants and goes all the way to the animals in the town. The second lesson was to diversify and cooperate to fully use the habitat. This just means that all people have certain talents within a society to protect the environment and that the most progress to maintain the environment will occur when working together. The third lesson is to gather an use energy efficiently. A big point that the speakers on the 11th hour made was that we as a people needed to use the energy that was free and renewable like sun and wind energy instead of the costly and no renewable energy like in gas and oil.

One industrial ecology example I found in regards to apparel is Goodwill’s “Worn, Torn, Donate it all” program. This program is part of the company’s green initiative and efforts for a more sustainable company. In the past, the company’s business model was based solely on the amount of donations that were in good enough condition to sell in their retail stores. Now, the company urges consumers to donate not only clothing items that are in good enough condition to resell, but to also donate things that could previously be thrown away so that the can be recycled as well. Workers sort through the the donations and separate into categories. The groups of clothing go either back into the store to be sold to the customer, to textile fiber converters, and to companies that reuse the fabrics to make wiping cloths. Although this is not a completely closed system because of the amount of contaminated clothing that gets disposed of in the sorting process, there is a definite cycle to the flow of clothing.
The life Principles were presented in a graphic showing the relation of how design can be solely based on life on earth. I found the graphic a little difficult to read, but from what I gathered, one would take a design issue and go through the prompts on the diagram and answer the questions to solve the design problem.
My learning community was made up of apparel designers, she we had to design a raincoat out of sustainable materials. Because the garment in question was a raincoat, we knew that the material had to have some wicking properties so that the wearer would stay dry. We chose to take used plastic water bottles and plastic shopping bags to make the fabric for the rain coat. We then realized that the plastic fabrication could not only be used for the raincoat, but also for umbrellas and rain hats. We decided that they could even be marketed and sold as a set to completely outfit the wearer for rainy conditions.
In regards to my personal sustainable practices, I mostly practice recycling, reusing, and repurposing items that I consume or use in my daily life. I grew up always recycling containers from food and items that my family used and consumed back at my home in Allen, TX. Moving to Stillwater was a little different because they have a less advanced recycling program put in place. Here, I have a designated recycling bin that my roommate and I use to separate recyclables, but the city is more limited in the types of items that they will actually recycle. I never read the specifications when I moved into my apartment, and just assumed that they were similar conditions as I had back home. I recently came to find out that the city does not recycle glass unless is it packaged separately and placed in a separate container next to you blue recycle bin. Other small steps I take to be a more sustainable person within my home is to try and use plastic Tupperware containers whenever possible for storing food or other items around the house. When shopping at the grocery store or any other stores, I either bring my own reusable bag or refuse to take a bag for my items (I usually just carry them with my receipt out of the store). This may look odd the general public, but to me it is just silly to collect plastic bags that are not recyclable every time you shop. Other less drastic things that. My roommate and I do include turning off the AC and opening the windows to let the breeze in when we can, installing some LED light bulbs in our fixtures, and turning off lights and fans when we can.
I got a score of 26 when I took the carbon footprint test. Although it was below the US average, I still felt that it was high. I was not expecting such a score because I did not think I was affecting the environment in such a way. I don’t really pay attention to my carbon emissions when it comes to the car I drive because I don’t have a choice to drive anything else. I have been walking more to school on a daily basis instead of driving, but I feel like in this town, it is a lot easier to drive to places because things are so spread out. In New York, I could have just hopped on the train to get anywhere, but in Oklahoma, the same amenities do not exist.


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