The past two weeks in Sustainable Design we have been starting to see ways that people around the world have been finding sustainable practices for every day living. Growing up in rural Oklahoma, sustainability is not a word that I heard often before starting my college journey at Oklahoma State. Where I grew up there was not a recycling center within even 30 miles in any direction, so we never practiced this. I was taught to turn off the lights when you leave a room and to not leave the water running while brushing your teeth, but that was about as advanced as my knowledge of sustainability went. Now that I am more aware of what sustainability actually is, I can see that a gesture as simple as turning off a light when leaving the room really does contribute to sustainability. To me, sustainability means to conserve. Weather it be energy, materials, or even water it doesn’t matter, just be thoughtful instead of wasteful. Sustainability is to simply be mindful of the resources we have and to not use or take more than you need as well as with keeping in mind how everything we use in the world has an effect on the environment.
The 11th hour video was very enlightening to me. One of the first things that I heard that stood out to me was how focusing so much on the economy keeps us from being clued into nature. It spoke about how nature was converted into a resource after the industrial revolution instead of continuing to be living alongside us. The way that we have treated nature has caused us to start using up all of our fossil fuels, which is causing the climate change crisis of global warming. It was simply put that there are too many of us using too many resources all at one time. We are continually adding in more greenhouse gasses into the environment that are not natural. In turn, it spoke about how these aspects of the speed of natural changes are being dwarfed by the speed of human changes. We believe that we are separated from nature when truly; we could not survive without nature. My favorite thing that was said in the video was that all of earth is a design project; we are just now set with the task to maintain and improve it.
The Fashion and Sustainability article spoke about how fashion is actually perceived as the opposite of sustainability. New trends and fads come about and make our industry rather wasteful with the way that we constantly create new clothing pieces and feel the need to distribute and purchase the newest clothing in fashion. It spoke about how fashion is a term that implies change, and the rate of change is now greater than it has ever been. Fashion is used to stimulate the market and create competitive advantage because it constantly demands new solutions. However, if fashion was not as important then it could lead to an economic decline, which would trickle down to damage our environment. The article talked about how if we want to move fashion and the world towards sustainability then we need to do it in small shifts in a timely manner. It stated that we haven’t really correctly figured out how fashion can be sustainable because even long lasting designs can be less sustainable than we think. One of my favorite takeaways was that in order to make fashion sustainable we should design with humility. It basically all boils down to the fact that to be sustainable we really need to be innovative, because our current practices and the way that we are moving is just not going to cut it if we do not come up with more thoughtful and innovative ways to make fashion sustainable. We will always need to continue to be innovative and evolve as fashion changes; our sustainable practices must grow and change with it.
The Wildest Things exercise was really interesting to me how each group had to contribute to the worksheet. It was interesting to see what dream and gripe that a group would pick to create a problem statement for each from the previous groups dreams and gripes. I think my favorite part though was the next section where we could choose a problem statement and write down a list of solutions to the problem. The list could be as crazy as we wanted it to be and didn’t have to be realistic at all; to me this was a fun and interesting way to brainstorm without limiting ourselves. I also liked in the next section how we had to draw the solution, my group ended up drawing some kind of recycling bin that was remote controllable by an app. If brainstorming were always this easy with this many minds interacting together we would all be pros!
Interacting with my learning community this week made me reflect on how we all think of sustainability in a different way. There is really no one answer with a mainstream definition that can truly encompass all that it is. I have welcomed our discussions with open arms and am excited to see how much we learn and how our conversations change through the year as we gain more knowledge while our ideas and perceptions of sustainability change.
I was excited to take the My Habbit survey and see what my carbon footprint value was. The Ideal Habbit is at 2 tonnes and my habbit was at 8.9. A few of my personalized recommendations for reducing my carbon footprint that contributed to my score included tumble drying less, changing my dishwasher settings, and filling up my dishwasher. It said that I would save approximately .8kg of CO2 each time I don’t tumble dry, I would save 1.44kg if I used the dishwasher on economy setting, and if I would use my dishwasher less than one time per week then I would save 470g CO2/year. These are all simple tasks that I will now be more conscious of!
Easter Island is a very remote small island. It is described in the first paragraph as a grim warning to the rest of the world. It is interesting to me how it talks about when the Polynesians first settled there, that there were already few resources available. The climate there was not conducive to their natural crops from before settling and the Polynesians had to survive on a diet of chicken and sweet potatoes. Eventually the population grew so much that it exceeded the amount of resources available on the island. Degradation and deforestation brought down the entire island and the people had to result to cannibalism to stay alive. The ending of the article speaks about how the world also has limited resources just like Easter Island, and if we do not take care of it then we will die out as well. The Dust Bowl was a man made natural disaster that took over part of the United States. The residents did not realize that they should rotate crops and give their land a break instead of always harvesting in the same place with the same crops over and over again. This made the land all turn into dust and dirt and to become infertile. We could easily have another dust bowl if farmers did not think about their crops.
The article Fashioning Sustainability talks about the impacts of the clothing industry on sustainability. It spoke about how much like the previous article we read about fashion and sustainability did, that fashion is locked into a cycle of unsustainability. It says that in every stage whether it be materials, fabric and garment production, retail, usage, transportation, or disposal that the impact can be reduced at every stage. The main issues to do with materials are pesticides growing the cotton, GM, water use, and fair conditions and prices for growers. It talks about how pesticides can cause serious health problems and how inefficiently we use water in cotton production. It also talks about how animal welfare is not always considered when we use animals for their wool or fur. We need to continue to raise awareness so that our animals can be treated correctly. If we reduce our use of toxic chemicals such as bleaches and dyes, that will already significantly help. We also have issues with human rights in fashion how people are put in sweatshops in certain countries to produce these garments. We need to change our habits and be more mindful of the things we use and put into the earth because they will all eventually come full circle back to us.
I predict that I will become far more knowledgeable about sustainability and sustainable practices over the next few months in this class. I hope that it will help me to be more conscious of ways that I can improve my footprint and to contribute to keeping our environment healthy.