This week there was a lot of focus on using nature as a prime example of how to make the world a better and more sustainable place.
I did not know what to expect with the outdoor activity at the OSU Botanical Gardens. I thoroughly enjoy spending time in nature, but I didn’t realize how much more there is to discover that I just hadn’t taken the time to look for! The activity that made the biggest impression on me was Activity 4, which we were prompted to find things that met different characteristics, such as things that were alive, dead, had holes, were wet, or dry, etc. We found soil that was eroding away from man-made brick path, and a Hardy Hibiscus plant was wilted, along with a trumpet honeysuckle had holes from caterpillars. Our learning community found a Coleus plant that we thought was interesting. The Coleus was flowered and had a purple leopard print on the green leaves. Finding this plant was inspiring because it showed an area of nature that combines unlikely things, as leaves do not normally have purple organic designs in them. This combination of unlike things helped us realize that there are more ways to combine recycled items and unlike materials to create something beautiful.
Something we found that we didn’t like was the webbed masses on some of the trees. After some research, I discovered that these webs were developed by “fall webworms” which are nests for the webworms, their partially eaten leaves, homes and droppings. This to me symbolized how we as humans, make our homes throughout the earth and possibly without noticing, we create our homes, food, and waste irresponsibly, slowly killing our resources and ruining our place to live.
I also enjoyed Activity #1, where we compared the function of buildings to the functions of trees. I was surprised as to how many of these functions we found were similar. We found that there were many things trees provided directly for animals that buildings provided directly for humans. Examples of this include shelter, shade, place to live and the opportunity for community. I had never considered these connections before! Activity #1 translated quite nicely into Activity #5 because it was analyzing greater depth into the function of the tree compared to what the building and industrial world produces. Our learning community discussed how trees shed their dead parts, and uses them for good. We talked about how the leaves naturally decompose and can act as compost or how fruit rots away so the seeds can be planted. What a productive way to reuse what could have been considered waste! Trees produce resources for themselves and for others, but are also self sustaining. Within interiors, we need to aim to produce buildings that reuse the parts that are considered “broken” and find a function for the building to live up to and fulfill.
As Learning Community 4, we were proposed with the problem of energy waste in a building, and the fact that the residents and users of this energy are completely unaware of the effects their wasteful habits have on the environment. As a group, my learning community and I decided that creating a way to turn off unused lights would be beneficial.
Our invention was called Bl!nk, which in short is a occupancy sensor that is placed on the ceiling. This provides greater motion detection. We also decided that after one hour without movement, the light would turn off. Every time that the occupant moved, the timer would reset an hour. This constant reminder that you need to move to keep your lights on would encourage healthier living habits and would remind occupants to turn of lights when they are not needed! There would of course be an override system for inhabitants that were unable to move every hour, or the system could be turned off when the residents were gone so that pets could not trigger the lights to turn on.
Other groups that I found interesting was the Bampoo bathroom door made out of bamboo. I think this invention was a cool way to incorporate nature and windows into a bathroom. It would be interesting to see if bugs became an issue or if the natural plants would help with smells from the bathroom! The other group idea that I found interesting was the stairs made out of recycled aluminum cans. There is an abundance of aluminum cans and especially stairs of egress require such a great amount of materials, that using recycled elements seem like a great idea!
Overall this week in sustainability required me to stretch my mind and made me think differently!