Sustainability and OSU

This week in sustainability, I read an article describing greenery in stores and the affect it has on our desire to shop. What I thought was so interesting was how people subconsciously will choose to shop at a mall that has more greenery out front than one that has less greenery. This played a major role in the idea of adding greenery to stores in order to attract more customers and provide a better shopping experience. The study showed how adding greenery in “popular” and “active” can add a more calming affect whereas stores that are typically more “boring” become exciting. I thought this was a really good idea to incorporate greenery into stores because it not only creates a more pleasing shopping experience, but it was aesthetically pleasing which overall makes for a happier and exciting environment. People want to feel calm yet motivated to shop and the incorporation of plants within businesses will help with this. Next we watched a TED talk that discussed the importance of bamboo. A company based out of Bali has used bamboo to build a multitude of houses and other buildings. I had no idea that bamboo had so many incredible characteristics that make it a clear choice for future structures. For example, the strength of bamboo can hold the weight and pressure of over six tons! Bamboo also does not require a lot of time to grow, creating shorter wait times for replenishment. Another video we watched in class was the invention of edible utensils, created in India. Made from rice flour and other seasonings, these spoons have been created to reduce the amount of waste produced from plastic utensils. This is a great idea because once finished using the spoon, you can either eat it, or throw it out since it is biodegradable.  There are different flavors like garlic and herb, ginger, etc. in order to go with any dish you’re having.

Another major topic we learned about was biophillic design. Biophillic design is the creation of man-made objects to have strong relations with that of nature. There are different principles that make up biophillic design. The first is Visual Connection to nature. This stresses the importance of creating living spaces that allow us to not only see nature, but to feel connected to it. When putting dinner tables or work conference rooms near a large window, people have a sense of relaxation, making for a more pleasurable experience. Another pattern would be non-visual connection to nature. When in an interior space without windows, our other senses look at textures that relate to the outdoors. This could be found through literal examples like wood or more creative examples like the honeycomb design of a computer lab. Thermal air flow is another major way that can help connect us to the environment around us. Since people want to feel refreshed, creating a space with proper airflow through the use of adjustable windows is crucial. Allowing workers or guests to open the windows to let in a natural breeze is vitally important to creating a healthy work environment. Biophillia has so many incredible advantages but a major one would be the impact it has on office workers. Like the majority of examples given, when employees feel they ae connected with nature, they tend to work harder with a better attitude. The overall work environment is positive allowing for more business to get done.

On Thursday, our class went to the Oklahoma State sustainability office and learned how OSU is taking advantage of the many opportunities to create a greener campus. OSU’s main goal in terms of sustainability is to reduce the amount of toxins emitted. The student union is LEED certified which means Leader in Environmentally Engineered Design. This is important because with the amount of traffic that goes in and out of the SU each day, there needs to be some sort of way to lower the carbon footprint. Something else that stood out to me was that OSU is dabbling into the organic food industry. I think this is so cool because the food industry is one of the largest areas of concern amongst a large amount of the population. It would be nice to know that even as a college student, you can participate in healthy eating from companies you feel good about giving your money to. A way that I can incorporate information I learned from the plant visit into my everyday life would be to make use of everything “green” that OSU has to offer. I had no idea that we could rent bikes for only $30 per year, or that there were so many bottle refilling drinking fountains on campus. Oklahoma State has created these initiatives in order to cut back on waste and it will never make a difference if I continue to do what I am currently doing.

I love learning about everything I can do in order to create a healthier environment. Since I did not understand exactly what sustainability meant before the school year started, I recycled every once in a while and turned the lights off when I left my house, but that doesn’t even scratch the surface of what we can do. I enjoyed learning that the place I go to school is making an effort to create a better future sustainably.

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