This week we learned that C2C is the concept in which designers of various products take into consideration the breakdown process of their innovations. In other words, items are created in a way that after it is used it can be broken down easily by being repurposed or upcycled instead of just reused. The waste=food concept is based around C2C except it is a system where products can be “decomposed safely or reused infinitely”. This approach discusses two metabolisms, biological and technical, that are heavily considered when designing products. Both processes are as they sound, biological is creating products based on a circle of nature process while technical is around technology. One concept this week that opened my eyes in sustainability was what the definition of recycling actually is. In fact, recycling has to do with first collecting materials, of course, but then breaking down those materials, separating them, and then having the materials reprocessed at small levels. Reusing on the other hand is using materials in the form that it is already currently in. When I think about recycling in my own personal life, the materials we put in trash cans, such as water bottles, can easily be reused by being filled up instead of putting them in the recycling bin where they have to be broken down in order to remake new products, a process that takes time and resources. A good example of reusing, especially in the merchandising field (also previously discussed in class) is companies utilizing shipping containers that retailers can unpack merchandise, send containers to their warehouses through transportation trucks already there, then reused and repacked.
This week we completed a merchandising in class activity that demonstrated the fundamentals of the merchandising field in which sustainability can be applied through in-store window displays. My group utilized the use of mushroom plastic for decorations while considering the idea of virtual mannequins. By having virtual mannequins, retailers can change outfit designs, styles, etc. while not having to use new materials. If it were to be an outside mall store display, then the use of solar panels for lights will be utilized instead of other energy sources.
One of my favorite company’s in the fashion industry is Urban Outfitters. When researching their sustainability processes there were three main categories that they focus on: reuse and renewal, alternative energy, recycling. In the reuse and renewal category, Urban Outfitters talks about renewal and reuse process in store designs by combining old and existing structures into new store concepts correlating to their brand. Another is recycled by design that deals with their Philadelphia headquarters implementing materials and artifacts already found onsite into other functional uses such as doors into walls. The third category is reusable bags that are created for their storefronts in which consumers are given lightweight shopping bags made of polypropylene fabric that consumers potentially find pleasing to the eye for other uses. Urban Outfitters uses alternative energy through their solar panel system at their fulfillment center, bloom box energy system converting chemical energy from natural gas and water into electricity, in-store LED lighting, and paired with “The Smartway Program” that helps improve their transportation carbon footprint by being more fuel efficient reducing emissions such as greenhouse gases. The last category is recycling in which Urban strives to implement at all levels of the product cycle.
For group 6 our problem was the use of paper and plastic bags being used in store fronts. According to some statistics we found, the average American family will take 1,500 plastic shopping bags home each year (National Resources Defense Council). 100 Billion plastic grocery bags go to waste annually (Worldwatch Institute). Not only that but plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to break down which if an animal were to ingest plastic, when it dies its decay would allow plastic to re-enter the environment (Worldwatch Institute). There were more statistics showing how much hydrocarbon gas liquids are used and the amount of species effected by the waste from plastic bags. Our solution consisted of four different aspects:
- Stores would provide discounts to consumers whom bring their own bags such as reused bags or DIY t-shirt bags.
- Stores would provide recycling bins for used bags in which they would take them to the right place to be decomposed and reused.
- Stores would implement signs outside and around their retail store informing consumers of the needs and benefits to recycling.
- Creating a mall bag in which would have all of the retailers’ logo that consumers can use whatever store they go in. Retailers would have the opportunity to pay fees according to how big they want their logo etc.
I think about my own personal shopping experience especially in regards to grocery shopping and how if every week when I went to buy groceries, I could reuse shopping bags from previous purchases. Not only that but when going to buy only a few items, I can skip the bagging process all together.
Two other group ideas that stood out to me was “these boots were made for walking” and “hummanequins” The boots group discussed the lifecycle of boots through the leather process. They talked about how we can reuse the leather due to its durability and how the cost of boots would drop because the production would cost less. The second group talked about the implementation of hummanequins, which is the concept of eliminating the use of mannequins in stores. This idea is based around having a technological hologram that retailers can change outfits, settings etc. through. The only downfall is the technology has not been created yet.