Blog 4

Week 5 was all about exploring different design opportunities when it comes to the Cradle to Cradle Concept and our first Design Slam. This week was all about applying what we have learned the 4 weeks before.

The concept of waste=food is all about the cradle to cradle concept. Instead of just discarding items and leaving them in the landfill, this concept explores the idea that things can be redesigned to become something new. It argues that manufacturer’s products should either be completely recyclable or are biodegradable. The “food” in waste=food references food for the earth by being biodegradable. This concept is all about using waste as a resource instead of just leaving all the waste to pollute the earth.

There are two metabolisms when it comes to the waste=food concept: biological & technological. The biological metabolism references the Biosphere, the sphere of natural processes. The technological metabolism references the Technosphere, the sphere of technical processes. The waste=food concept is all about balancing between the two metabolisms. Really the technical metabolism mirrors the biological metabolism to design “safe and productive [manufacturing] processes”.

When it comes to recycling, I know that I and a lot of other people think that recycling is just putting plastic bottles, paper, and aluminum cans into separated bins and then reusing them in a different way than what they were intended. But really, recycling and reusing items are not the same thing. Recycling is really the collection, separation, and reprocessing of an item at the polymer level. It’s melting down a product and then developing it into something that it couldn’t be in its original state. Reusing products is what we do when we think of “reduce, reuse, recycle”. When reusing a product, we use it as is. It’s like creating a chandelier out of water bottles, the state of the plastic never changes, but maybe its shape does.

The Cradle to Cradle activity really just helped us as a learning community integrate the waste=food concept into our design process. Since I am a merchandising major, I worked on the merchandising activity. It was a little difficult for me to come up with a storefront display for a store with an intended target market predominantly of women that earn $81,000 or more a year. When you think of the traditional, upper-middle class woman, elegance and grandeur probably come to mind, not sustainability. But times are changing and so is the modern woman–people are beginning to care more and more about sustainability. I guess what I learned was that anything really can be “reused” and redesigned to create an aesthetically pleasing storefront display.

My learning community’s design prompt was to come up with a social media campaign that would promote sustainable retail practices. Coming up with a solution that could easily and realistically be implemented was a little difficult–when it comes to social media it feels like everything’s already been done. It took us the whole 20 minutes that we were given to brainstorm to think of a solution to our prompt. I feel like if it had been later in the day, coming up with a solution wouldn’t have taken so long. The solution that we did eventually come up with was #OSUClothingSwap. Our social media campaign would promote an OSU on-campus event where students could bring their unwanted clothing items to trade with other students. Shopping doesn’t have to necessarily involve brand new clothing, but clothing that is just new to us. This is our way of creating a fast-fashion experience without the fast-fashion waste.

Two other learning communities design slam solutions that impressed me were groups 5 and 7. Group 5 combined retail with serving the community, specifically the elderly community. They designed a storefront that is a green house and the elderly in the community are the ones who volunteer to keep it up. It kills 2 birds with 1 stone–the store features greenery that could be calming to consumers and also provides a purpose for the elderly who otherwise might not have much to do. Group 7 designed a mannequin that would fluctuate to copy an accurate human body form. The mannequins would become more realistic and actually reflect all the different body types that people have. I know that the plastic mannequins that most stores have in their store displays are kind of freaky and are very unrealistic, so this is a way to better relate to the actual customer.

Adidas is a company that has always interested me when it comes to sustainable practices. Since 1989, Adidas has cared for the environment beginning with the ban of carbons used to manufacture their products that negatively effect the environment. In 2015, the company was ranked among the top three of most sustainable companies in the world. In April of 2015, Adidas partnered with Parley for the Oceans, an initiative that brings awareness to plastic waste in the ocean. The company also designed an innovative footwear concept that was made with plastic from the ocean. They also are innovating to “close the loop”, a concept we have discussed in class. They have a goal and are conducting a research project to develop a material that can be “endlessly recycled using a waste-free, adhesive-free process”.

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