Shop Locally

My learning community had the task of discussing the “Shop Locally” part of the article”Closing the Loops” for our reading assignments this week. This particular part of the article talked in depth about the amount of travel our food takes to get from the ground to our tables, when these are foods we could be growing in our own backyards and we could completely illuminate the middle man. We discussed personal examples about this, such as grandparents having a garden and growing their own foods, but us finding it more convenient to buy them from WalMart because we have to make a trip there anyways.

Tuesday’s lecture largely discussed Industrial Ecology. I found IE and Biomimicry to be very similar in definition because they both seemed to be based on modeling our current lifestyles/choices/practices on the examples of nature. We also discussed waste and the ways waste can be turned around and used again rather than letting it become something that floods the Earth with no reuse. We actually touched more on waste in Thursdays lecture “Waste = Food”. This was also our introduction to the Cradle 2 Cradle method. We also discussed the difference between reusing and recycling. Reusing is when you are able to use again an item as it is at that current moment while recycling is the ability to break the item down and then use it again in a brand new product. Before this lecture, I hadn’t known there was a difference between the two!

The C2C activity was an interesting way to relate sustainability to our majors. For example, we were a group of merchandisers, and though you wouldn’t think there were many ways we could incorporate sustainability, analyzing the store front really broadened my view of our role within sustainable design. We thought there could be easy fixes, such as making sure the lighting was energy efficient or using recycled materials to create the scene, but we also talked about solar panels to generate power to the storefront and windows that could let in a lot of natural light.

The TED Talk by Michael Pawlyn really tied together what we have been talking about using our resources efficiently and the “closed loop” system where we can keep reusing waste to fuel other aspects of our lifestyles. He of course touched on biomimicry as well and ways we can look at nature and model innovative design and ideas on nature. The closed loop example Michael gave in his talk was the Caviar example, how cardboard makes its way around the loop to end with caviar on our tables.

I myself have had the opportunity to recycle at my work. We also serve Gatorade at my job which we purchase with the plastic carriers on them and I make it a point to cut those into smaller pieces because of a particularly sad video I watched about turtles ending up with these stuck around their necks. Lastly, my carbon footprint was somewhat what I expected it to be. I know that I am not near sustainable enough in my lifestyle to warrant a better score. I flew for a vacation recently, which I know had to alter my score somewhat, and I drive everywhere so that couldn’t have been much help. By the end of the class, though, maybe I will be able to alter my score even if by just a small amount!

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