High Fashion, Low Incomes…

Week 3 in Wicked Problems of Industrial Practices was by far the hardest week for me go through. This week I felt an immense amount of guilt when we covered heavy topics such as overconsumption, poverty, and environmental degradation. Becoming mindful of these types of problems was difficult, but it is one step closer to coming up with a solution.

Poverty was a really touchy subject for me because I have seen the effects poverty can have on a person. My grandfather was actually poverty stricken and homeless for many years because of poor decisions. I share this because even though I have not lived through poverty myself, I have seen how a life of poverty can impact someone and I really sympathize with anyone who is living through it. In class we discussed if government programs could help someone in poverty possibly get a job and a comment was made about how in poverty would not be capable of having a nice job. I disagree with this statement because there are plenty of people who are cable of having a nice job but end up in bad situations. My grandfather was a very intelligent man, he was an electrical engineer before he made some poor decisions that lead him to poverty. I use him as an example again to show that there are some people living in poverty that are extremely smart and capable of holding a job. I agree that the majority of people living in poverty may struggle, but it is not fair to generalize everyone in poverty as uneducated and incapable. I agree that is really risky to invest so much time and money into poverty stricken people, but I truly think think would be worth it. I also came into contact with poverty this weekend when I went to Arkansas. Soliciting is legal in Fayetteville so there are a lot of homeless people there. For the first time I was actually mindful of what there people are going through because of what I have learned in class so far and the experiences I’ve had from my grandfather. I felt really bad to see so many homeless people and I wish I could help them all!

Another topic we covered this week was over consumption, which I was had an experience with this week. I was out looking for a pair of shoes and the store was having a buy one get one 50% off sale. I went back and forth in my head if I should get two pairs or just one. I knew I only needed one pair of shoes but I wanted both pairs. I ended up getting the second pair of shoes and I’m having mixed feelings about it. I had the instant satisfaction of getting more pairs of shoes, but now I feel bad because I really didn’t need the second pair of shoes and there is probably someone out there who does. I have always been a “shopaholic” and bought way more than what I actually need, this was the first time I actually contemplated whether or not I should get the second pair of shoes and I still gave in to my materialistic ways. The shoes I bought are from a big company so I’m sure they aren’t good for the environment either. I have never felt so conflicted about a pair of shoes before, It’s a strange feeling to really want something but not wanting to cause harm to the environment. I really want to work on thinking about things before buying them and switching to brands that are more sustainable.

One more topic we talked about this week was environmental degradation. I was on the “Yes” team for the discussion “Is poverty Responsible for Global Environmental Degradation?” I really liked this article and I think it made some very good arguments, but I don’t think it is safe to say that poverty is responsible for environmental degradation. I think it is easy to point the finger at people in poverty because they are “valuable”, but I personally think it is us who should take the blame for environmental degradation. Our materialistic behaviors have caused so much damage already and we have the technology, power, and money to improve these problems, there is no excuse for us. I think it is safe to say poverty could be contributing to degradation but there is not a direct link between poverty and environmental degradation so it should not be held responsible.

Although there were a lot of hard lessons to take in this week, I did have a nice experience during meditation. I was examining a leaf during our mindful meditation and I had a break through moment. The shape of the leaf was round and there were lines going through it, and it reminded me so much of the palm of a hand. I thought this was a cool way to connect with nature because the leaf of a tree looked so similar to a human hand. This was a great reminder that we are one with nature. I was surprised I was able to have such a deep thought just from looking at a leaf. I really want to continue meditating so I can more moments of realization like this one.

Overall, I think this week has been the most eye-opening for me because I experienced things from class in my personal life. It’s was crazy to see how what I have learned in class is actually happening out in the real world.

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