Futuristic Decisions

The discussions in the third week of my sustainability class mainly focused on Thinking Ahead, fashion and sustainability, Biomimicry, Self-narratives, TED talks, and The living product challenge.

Working towards achieving a sustainable future is a notion that is trending in the textile and fashion industry after players realizing how much harm has been done to the environment. The responsibility mapping discussion in my learning community brought forth many problems that may have caused the industry to realize there should be a revolution towards sustainability. One problem that stood out for me was the enormous use of synthetic materials and chemicals that are both dangerous to the consumer and the environment. The underlying facts are higher costs involved in growing and processing natural materials. The catalyst for this problem is that governments should put in place policies and incentives like tax holidays that attract farmers and manufacturers to invest in these materials otherwise use of synthetic materials could be cost effective. Consumers too need sensitization about the benefits of acquiring natural and biodegradable products and the benefits that has on the environment towards sustainability.

In the article “Thinking Ahead: The Value of Future Consciousness”, the author Tom Lombardo described how people’s experiences influence their view of the future. He states that people first become aware of their future by reflecting on the past and present through their perception of time and expand future consciousness by building mental framework of images, concepts, and principles. Minimal abilities to imagine the future by focusing on one goal limits what one can possibly do towards their future and keeps them in depression with no hope of having a prosperous future. Expanding our capacity for foresight by creating a broad optimistic future gives one the chance to think positively with a variety of alternatives enabling the person to work hard to a great future. Relation should be made to decisions that governments, manufacturers, and designers make today which will greatly affect the future for the next generation.

Self-narratives integrate the reconstructed past and imagined future of significant events and themes that summarize our journey up to the present to explain where we are going. Repeated every day actions and decisions collectively define our paradigm. A paradigm refers to the values, beliefs, and assumptions of thought in a society that are widely acceptable and held of value at a particular time. These paradigms are underlying reasons why events happen the way they do in our societies and they can be explained using the tip of the iceberg. I relate the tip of the iceberg to everyday events in our communities and the personal decisions made by the all the players in the industry like the manufacturers, designers, and consumers. It is sad to know that sustainability issues are not in agreement with the status quo of our societies and usually contradict the paradigm as most people refer to nature as income rather than an asset to be nurtured. Sustainable problems faced by the textile and fashion industry can be eliminated by radical change in our society and political decisions to create a favorable environment to embrace actions towards sustainability.

The in-class meditation reflection in to my future was mainly focused on two major aspects: my family and my career. Thinking about the two things that are dear to me was very critical in reflecting on how every day decisions impact the environment. The meditation allowed me to envision how much impact I would create by conducting the banana fibers research that are organic, biodegradable, and highly sustainable. I would have this knowledge available for the industry and in my teaching career and how people’s lives would be positively impacted. This energy is all geared towards ensuring that the environment is a safe place for the people I care about now and the future generation.

Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to solve human challenges by emulating nature. Humans have come to understand that we are in a long line of organisms that are widely spread out on earth each trying to figure out how to stay here. As an ADP major student, I would intentionally use biomimicry in all my design models and principles to ensure that the processes and products work in line with nature. I will aspire to turn to nature for inspiration in my design ideation through implementation and evaluation to fit in the three levels of biomimicry: natural form, natural process, and natural ecosystems so that I create products that are conducive to life. Mentorship from animals, plants, and birds that use common materials and energy generated by their body temperature and pressure will be pivotal.

My takeaways from the Janine TED talk was the clear understanding that we are surrounded by genius. Humans have realized that they are not the first ones to build, to process cellulose, heat and cool houses and are remembering that organisms are doing things so gracefully to be able to stay on earth for billions of years similar to what we should be doing. Biomimicry focuses on function by asking what if, before designing something by looking to nature. The design challenge seeks to device means of what humans can do to make conditions conducive for life.

Helen Storey’s realization that she needed to create her own label was a futurist attitude. This influenced her decision to move from Bellville Sassoon to commit to the new venture where she implemented her sustainable designs. She created clothing that can purify the air we breathe whose surfaces become catalytic and make toxic gases and pollutants in the air less dangerous. She designed wonderland clothing that were made of textiles that dissolved in hot water which were referred to as disappearing dresses and a dress that made use of a refugee tent donated by UNHCR with the need to nurture and protect all people. Many of her work mainly helped to change how people’s attitude and geared discussions in climate change.

The Living product challenge is one designed to raise the bar on sustainability where doing less harm to the environment is not enough but encourages all persons to give more than they take from it. The challenge targets manufacturing teams, their designers, and consumers to make informed decisions appropriate to the product and its manufacturing facility’s relationship with the environment. The author encourages manufacturers to create products that require less water and energy than they consume to achieve sustainability. The author wished that everything we used in our daily life were designed to create value and abundance through life, for manufacturers to walk the talk of sustainability in operations and supply chain and for designers to use human creativity and ecological aspirations to design products that create positive handprints. The challenge wishes that system barriers to change be removed in order to align incentives and markets that protect the health, safety, and welfare of all people and beings.

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