Sustainability: Hands On

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit the botanical gardens in order to draw inspiration from nature in order to create something for everyday use. First, my group and I made connections between a tree and a jacket, describing what each needs to have in order to be a functional object. A jacket needs to be durable, keep us dry, have a hood, etc. In a similar way, a tree needs to be strong, keep animals living inside it safe, and have a full set of leaves. With these connections, we can continue to create something using biomimicry, a tool that makes a huge impact in the fight for sustainability. Like I have mentioned before, I have a really hard time looking at nature and thinking about what I can create for humans to use. I am a very logical person therefore making comparisons like this is really difficult but I definitely understand the importance of it. Another activity we did was rely on our senses. We closed our eyes and were led to a plant where we continued to smell, feel, and listen to the object we were led to. Once done with this, we were walked, spun, etc. away ultimately required to find our back based on our experience moments before. Once we found the plant, we were instructed to reflect on how we are blinded by our actions. These actions we conveniently disregard like deforestation, producing GMOs, overworking land, etc. are the reasons are environment is the way it is. We think that if we ignore what’s going on around us, that the problems will end. This however is not the case, but rather the exact thing that continues to cause our ecosystems to deteriorate. This leads me to my next topic which is the Design Slam we did in class on Thursday. A Design Slam is an activity where my group and I were given a scenario, and we had only moments to come up with a lasting sustainable business idea in order to solve the problem. My groups’ scenario was that elderly were tired of the boring, blocky, modern design aesthetic most companies go for. We were required to create a store front that would attract the elderly using our knowledge of sustainable options. My group and I decided to create a store that not only looked nice, but whose moral standards were top of the line. Since older individuals enjoy buying goods made locally, we wanted to create a store that sells products from local artists. In addition, we took advantage of the human part of sustainability and decided to include merchandise made by men and women in third world countries. So many people are struggling to survive overseas due to a plethora of reasons and we know people, especially the elderly would be interested in helping make a better life for them, one product at a time. In terms of store design, we wanted to use mainly recycled materials like reclaimed wood floors, old mirrors hung randomly around the store, and lots of greenery placed on walls and tables. We thought the rustic randomness would be more pleasing to older adults.

A group that stood out to me was Bl!nk. Their idea was creating motion censored lighting that would ultimately help save energy and lower costs while also making those who sit for a good amount of their days, get up and move. I liked this idea because such a large percentage of people work in offices, sitting at their desks day in and day out, resulting in a huge obesity problem in our country. This motion sensor would not only help create a healthier, more sustainable environment, but would require individuals to get up out from behind their desks and move around. Another group I really like was the group that chose to use old aluminum cans for stairs. Since aluminum stairs have been created before, it makes sense to use soda cans already packed together, saving time and money. Using compressed cans would also create an interesting design that a lot of companies would go for.

This week in sustainability was very different from previous. Being that everything was so hands on, I had the amazing opportunity to think about what is important to me and come up with a way that I could truly make a difference in the world.

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