The past two weeks of lectures have already impacted the way that I view sustainability. To start, I now have a clearer definition of sustainability. Coming into class on the first day I had thought of sustainability as being “green” by recycling and acting in a way that reduces use of non-renewable resources. I also enjoyed the discussion and hearing many people’s definitions that allowed me to think deeper and shape my own. In particular, I enjoyed Taylor’s in particular when she explained that sustainability to her is leaving the world better as you begin to use resources. I now understand that it has three fundamental pieces that all influence sustainability in today’s world. These are the “triple bottom line” which is created by people, the planet, and prosperity. The definition can also be summarized in this phrase “development that meets the needs of the present without prohibiting generations to meet their own.”
The 11th Hour movie was very interesting and opened my eyes to ways that sustainability has been pushed to the back burner in recent times. The industrial revolution sped up the process of humans damaging the Earth and her resources. A particularly interesting part of the movie stated that humans have a view that resources match the limitless growth of the economy and limitless progress of technology. The problem with this philosophy is that resources are not limitless. And this has created the ignorant consumer in all of us. Humans consistently take what we want without recognizing the repercussions of doing so. Now that resources have begun to dwindle and the climate has been significantly affected, people are realizing our misuse. However, it is difficult to reverse this use after so long. Another thing I learned from the video was the vast amount of damage that is occurring do to unsustainable practices. I did not realize that acid rain, soil erosion, deserts, global warming and much more are all effects of the cause of humans living with a take only mentality. Lastly, the fact that the media has played a role in our unsustainable ways never occurred to me before this video. The media encourages comparison in a world that wants bigger and better. The attention should shift to those using cradle-to-cradle methods rather than whatever is the newest or shiniest.
The Fashion and Sustainability article we read, written by Stuart Walker, raised some fascinating points on how fashion has influenced sustainable practices. One of the points Walker makes that has stayed present in my mind is that fashion in design allows people to create and explore the new, while being inspired by the old. Walker calls fashion and design a material world that is “alive” which I found to be inspiring and accurate. This is one of the many pros that Walker brings up to discuss in his article. Among the cons are how fashion damages the environment and has shifted the economy toward a consumerist mind-set world. Walker states that there needs to be a change in the way people view and use fashion when dealing with sustainability. Therefore designers and people need to explore the new in order to change the present, and they can do so by gaining knowledge of our past. The design of longer lasting products can be important, but an interesting idea Walker brings into his discussion is that designers should design assuming that their designs will not be appropriate for the future. This means that we should be consistently modifying and changing our designs to incorporate sustainable design to protect the future.
During the Wild Thing exercise the part I most enjoyed was creating solutions and the final product to do so. While thinking of dreams of what I would want the future to look like, I began to look at things I never thought of before. This includes the amount of food I waste each week, how many plastic bags I use when shopping, and the accessibility of recycling for myself. My group discussed ideas on how to make recycling an easier and more accessible process. We ended up creating a product for another group with similar thoughts. It was a three in one recycle bin that separates each kind of recycling from another so that people would not need to do so. Limiting the time it takes a person to recycle as well as making it easier will encourage people today to participate in recycling their materials. I also enjoyed the idea that we could create anything we wanted to fix the problem. Starting with the crazy ideas can be beneficial to narrow down to realistic ones.
While interacting with my learning community I have enjoyed hearing the difference in ideas for creating solutions and discussing problems that others see in how people live today when discussing sustainability. Rachel and Jessica allow me to outwardly discuss inner ideas and develop my thoughts as we talk about the topics at hand. We all have encouraged one and other to be open and feel comfortable sharing any ideas we each have.
My carbon footprint value is 6.7 tonnes. The biggest struggles in sustainability I have are through lights, washing and drying clothing, and home energy. I was surprised to find that I was not as far off from the ideal habbit of 2 tonnes as I had thought I would be. However, I have a long way to go in order to begin living life in the ideal range to allow myself to live a sustainable lifestyle. Some of the things I do well include always turning off my lights if I am not using them, never letting my tv “sleep”, and consistently recycling items that I use. Overall I hope to improve my score throughout my life by taking into account how many clothing cycles I am doing as well as how I can save home energy.
The Easter Island and Dust Bowl lessons that I have found revolve around the idea mentioned in the 11thHour movie summary. These people on Easter Island lived thinking that their resources were limitless. Which is a mirror image of our society today. These people drove themselves into extinction because of their selfish idea of the world. I think that a major lesson we all need to take from this is that life is not a guarantee. We cannot constantly take resources without replanting or replenishing them. Our human life form currently lives by a take what we need and then a bit more in order to live the lavish lifestyles we are all accustomed to. However, if we look at this story we need to learn the serious impacts of our living decisions.
Fashion sustainability of Environmentally Healthy Design and Historic Interiors brought up the idea that interiors should be “created in order to be environmentally sustainable and healthy for their occupants” as stated by Bingelli. A major portion of the article discusses the LEED program, which provides people, involved in building with information on how to build with green techniques. The strategies also follow a sustainable way of building. The energy and water use is mentioned in order to give examples of how to sustain both. An example for the energy use sustainable idea is to use a thermostat that allows a sensor to affect temperature and save energy while providing the homeowners with comfort.
Overall the last few weeks have started the conversation in my mind on sustainability. While shopping I contemplate whether or not having a plastic bag is necessary for my purchase. Lately I have been coming to the conclusion that it is not necessary to use a plastic bag very often. I also have focused largely on lights and other energy users that are in my home. I try to save energy and money by keeping all lights and electronics off while not in use. I feel that I need to learn more on ways to implement sustainable lifestyles into my everyday life. The sustainable designs others have done are inspiring, however not always relatable to how I can make my carbon footprint lower. So far in this course I have felt that it has taught me the varying affects of living without sustainability in mind. I also see the effects of using non-renewable resources whenever we want. I am excited to learn more in this course and to further explore the new in my time in this class.