Reduce and Reuse before you Recycle

The 11th Hour Movie really opened my eyes on how bad we’ve been treating the planet. So many things rely on fossil fuels including supermarkets and transportation and using fossil fuels causes global warming. It’s causing artic icebergs to melt which is causing hurricanes to change rotations and also affects rainfall patterns, floods, droughts, and river flow. Fertilizer and pesticides are also in the rivers and water causing headaches, asthma, and lethargy. Overfishing kills billions of animals and most don’t ever become food. Pollution like pesticides and mercury are contaminating the fish as well. Oceans should not be a dumping ground. To fix this we’re going to have to reimagine everything we do, using sustainable energy, making sure our water is clean and healthy. We have to look at design as mass civilization rather than mass production.

I had an epiphany this week at the OSU vs. TU football game Thursday night. When I was walking from tailgates to the stadium I had to step over littered aluminum cans. Every trashcan I walked by was overflowing with trash and some had even had a full bag next to the full trashcan. I didn’t see any recycling bins either. When I bought a bottle of water while I was at the game I had to take it home to recycle it. If there were more recycling bins around the stadium all the aluminum beer cans could have been recycled. I have friends are trying to live a trash free lifestyle and that made me think how differently the football game would have been if we all put in a little effort to use less trash. For people who make food at their tailgates they could use reusable plates and cutlery instead of paper plates and plastic forks and knives. Also a lot of waste is food scraps, a compost pile could fix that.

To conserve energy in a building the designers and architects need to make sure the building site, construction methods, use and control of daylight, selection of finishes and colors and the design of artificial light. For new construction it’s much easier to design the building to be sustainable rather than remodel. Sustainable buildings adapt to changed use, prolonging the uses of the building preventing demolition. The U. S. Green Building Council created a comprehensive system to make sustainable buildings using LEED. LEED certifies buildings that meet the highest standers of economic and environmental performance. An individual can also take the LEED exam and be qualified in sustainable buildings. We get our water from ground water and the hydrologic cycle, which circulates water through evaporation and precipitation. A large amount of rainwater leaks into sewer pipes mixing with sewage and this is processed at a treatment plant. The cleanest water we have is potable water which is carried through water mains. Unfortunately this water is used for flushing toilets when it should be used for drinking and preparing food. Recycling is an important factor we need consider in future designs, especially in larger buildings. The first stage of recycling includes white paper, recyclables, compostable, and garbage are deposited in separate compartments near the employees’ desk for convenience. Designers need to make the recycling system workable, thinking about the multiple bins and how they’re connected. Reusing materials from a salvaged project in a new design can provide useful building components and add some architectural interest. Items that can be reused include roof boards, framing lumber, tongue-and-groove wood flooring, doors, windows, bathroom fixtures, plywood, siding, and bricks can be reused. In some cases furniture, equipment, and appliances can be reused. Reusing is something I learned this week. While I was looking into the no trash lifestyle they mentioned reusing is more important than recycling, which makes sense, prevent the use to recycle when you can reuse it. Interior designers need to work with contractors to make sure that materials removed are given a second life because if not 65% to 85% of construction debris ends up in landfills.

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