Throughout this semester sustainability has meant a lot of different things to me. It could mean to be mindful of the people and world around us. If we are compassionate to the story of the world and people in it, then we are more likely to try and create and live in a way that doesn’t further impact them. It could also mean living and creating with the future in mind. This could be taking in mind where the bottle in your hand will be in 10 years, or if the emissions from your car or bus are contributing to a polluted future. Even further, it could be creating something that is not only beautiful but functional, so that the item is used for years rather than weeks or days. But in actuality, it is all of these things interconnected. It is mindfulness, empathy, and forward thinking. It is taking into account not only our own life and the things we do, but how others live as well. It is all connected, whether these lives are living in a linear or cyclic motion. Because really, nothing is linear. Everything that is created will still exist in some form, and those forms will always be able to be in motion or put to rest at any point in time.
In the beginning of the year, I had stated that sustainability is the “constant improvement of our social, economic, and environmental habits in order to lesson our impact on the earth and the organisms around us”. I understood that everything was connected, but couldn’t quite pinpoint what role I played in this interconnection. Was I improving our social wellbeing by informing myself, so that I could inform others? Was I going become an activist and try and change government laws? Was I going to stop using paper to save the trees in the environment? I wanted to do something, but didn’t really know how. It was as the weeks went on that I saw the fine details and tools that a designer such as myself could use and implement into my own life.
I quickly learned in the first two months of class that I would never be an activist in the way that society perceives such a role. I would never stand in protests or give speeches. I would never want to be a leader of a movement. However, I still wanted to play my part. The more I learned in the first few weeks, the more I wanted to implement ideas of sustainability into both my life and design. So I got a recycling bin for the outside and one for the inside, so that I could separate my trash. I didn’t want to try and change others minds and habits, just my own. Little did I know, I was doing both without speaking a word. Soon my father started sorting trash into the recycling bin too, and we found that the recycling bin had to be emptied twice as much as our regular trash. I never told him to start, he just saw what I was doing and told me “that’s a good idea”.
When the Euphoria fashion show started to arrive, I began to do a lot of sewing. We had already talked about Cradle to Cradle and how things could be reused, reduced and recycled in to a cyclic motion, so I decided I would try and implement those concepts into my line named “Murakami”. I first started with using recycled cotton muslin for all of my muslin test garments, which I took in bags to the recycling center once I was done with them. I also tried to utilize as much fabric as possible to reduce unused scraps by laying out my patterns in advance and placing them at the optimal spot. I was sure to by all cellulose materials so that they could be recycled, and was careful to recycle every piece not used. It was a longer process than carelessly placing pieces and trashing the rest, but I found that I was more satisfied with my overall design aesthetic and result when I had everything finished. I had not only created something beautiful, but I had done it in the best way I could. I think this made my sense of accomplishment even more substantial in the end.
It was in the way that I realized that I realized that I didn’t need to make speeches or protest or try and change the way people live. People are changing all the time, always looking for something better. The best way I could do that was just to show them with my own life as an example. I think the great thing about design is that you can create something completely new, and someone can see it and realize that they want that design in their lives. They want it to represent them, who they are, and what they believe. I truly believe free will is an important thing, so giving someone the example or design and letting it choose if it is right for them is essential. I feel that I can accomplish this with clothing and lifestyle. By choosing to do things in the most sustainable way you possibly can, others will take note. Whether they do something is totally up to what they feel is right for them.
Because of this, I had decided to implement sustainable design into my research project that I am conducting in Japan. My focus of research is on traditional Japanese Kimono design, construction, and usage. From here, I wish to take old, stained, and unused kimonos and re-purpose them into new and beautiful garments. I think in this way I can not only show how someone can be sustainable, but how you can choose to do so in any shape or form. I want to implement biophilic design elements that will give my garments similar elements of nature as well. I hope in this way I will learn even more about how I want to show and live sustainability, though I have already gained so much knowledge from class to incorporate already. By living in this way, I can show sustainability rather than speak it. In this way, my designs are sustainability. Or rather, in this way, I am sustainability.