I really enjoyed the Waste = Food concept that was covered this week, as it really emphasized the connection to Industrial Ecology and the start of the Cradle to Cradle design protocol rather than the Cradle to Grave protocol that is usually followed by many consumers and industries across the world. I’ll be honest to say that when I first heard the term I thought that it was referring to changing waste INTO food (which I suppose, in its purest form, it can be if you were taking food scraps and making compost). However, as we went over the concept in class I realized how much more in depth the process could be applied and distributed to almost anything in our society.
For a while I was having a hard time connecting the Waste=Food concept to the Biological and Technical Metabolism, but I think that is due to the fact that I previously didn’t understand what those metabolisms truly were. After reading and looking into the cycles a little bit more, I began to see both of their differences from each other, their connections, and how they are applied to the concept of Waste=Food. The Biological metabolism encompasses the natural cycle of nature and it’s process of resusing every aspect of itself in order to continue without waste. This in turn lives side by side with the Technical Metabolism, which in our society lives out a linear Cradle-to-Grave process instead of a cyclic Cradle-to-Cradle concept that is adapted by so few. With a regulated, cyclic, and thoughtful Technical Metabolism, we may be able to achieve a system that can imitate nature to be waste-free.
I think I could look at my life and creative process as a Technical Metabolism within itself. Every day I am constantly consuming, creating, and processing materials. Sometimes this is in a cyclic Cradle-to-Cradle fashion (such as recycling cardboard and plastic in our newly obtained recycle bin), while many times it is in a linear model. The latter always seems to apply to my classwork and energy usage. When designing clothing for class, there is a constant creation of waste from paper patterns, muslin mock ups, and failed attempts. When in school, trial and error is a process of learning, and I think this is huge origin of all the waste that is created on my part. But what do I do with all of my used fabric that ends up as a non-usable product? In my mind I just assumed that I would have to hang on to them forever. However, on Stillwater’s Recycling cite (http://stillwater.org/page/home/government/departments-divisions/customer-service/trash-recycling-services/convenience-collection-center), I found that I could in fact bring them all of my used fabric and textiles and they would recycle them for me. I honestly surprised to see that our recycling center even accepted things such as textiles, and I felt bad for all the years of wasteful scraps I had disposed of improperly. From now on I have the ability to change a part of my life into a cyclic motion rather than a linear one.
I was able to apply this scenario of recycling and Cradle-to-Cradle process with the C2C activity that we did in class on Monday, where we had to design a rain jacket from the construction of an idea to its physical existence. Since I wasn’t able to work with my group for this activity, I created a “rain scarf” created from fabric made from recycled plastic bottles. I wanted this fabric to be produced in a company sustained by solar energy while also keeping sales and transport on a local scale to decrease transportation pollution. The garment would be fairly low maintenance and could be put into a recycling bin any time that it is no longer of use. I think this is a great example of using the waste of the scare and cycling it back into society to be reused again.
This kind of process in design can really be seen in a company that I have written about in previous blogs called People Tree (http://www.peopletree.co.uk/about-us). This company truly is one of the biggest leaders in sustainable fashion, using things such as renewable energy, supporting small businesses who produce and live locally, and using biodegradable and recyclable materials where they can. All their materials they choose to grow and use are organic, and chemicals that are bad for the environment are avoided. The only thing that isn’t implemented by them (that is something I would personally like to pursue) is taking recycled materials (other than cotton and other organic materials) and making them into a usable fabric. However, I can see why this could be harder and less sustainable in the short term, since this market doesn’t have much of a presence and would have to be development more.
It was also interesting looking at this process when working on our Design Slam, where we had to tell a story of an item created in the fashion industry and then come up with solutions for how the item could be made more sustainably and in a more cyclic process where waste was reduced and the product had less of an impact on the environment as it was produced. We decided to tell the story of a leather boot, which requires a multitude of non-cyclic process and a potential of ending up in a landfill when it’s life had come to an end. We wanted to come up with a boot that not only used vegan leather rather than real leather, but also a sole made of plastic bottles rather than rubber. We also wanted these materials to be made with sustainable energy such as solar or wind, and to make the shoe easy for the consumer to recycle when it was no longer of use. We also discussed during our Q&A that the boot had a potential to be cheaper for the consumer to purchase as well. Overall, our group was in a consensus about our decisions and solutions and was able to convey them properly.
Unfortunately I had to leave early before I was able to hear more than one complete pitch during the Design slam, but I feel as though Group 2 had great ideas about implementing sustainability into a business and in particular the ability to inform employees about why they should be following sustainable practices and what impact it has to do so, in hopes that they would start implementing it into their own lives. I really believe this is a great way to spread knowledge about sustainability, while also allowing people to understand the act of being sustainable in action. I personally think that information is only temporary in the mind. The things that I truly understand and know are things that I have put into practice and tried out for myself.
I hope that I can continue to implement these sustainable practices that I am learning about so far, as it seems that each one that is introduce seems to directly connect to the other ones that I have encountered so far. With time we will see if this statement holds true!