It is our duty, as humans, to take care of the Earth. Using nature’s models and principles can increase stability and capital. As consumers, we often don’t think about the waste in our atmosphere or what we contribute. Industrial Ecology products and processes their waste to create new products – resulting in a closed loop in commerce. In Michael Pawlyn’s Ted Talk, he talks about changing linear process to a closed loop by generating the cardboard waste. This is one example that takes a lot of thought and something I would never think of. Thinking about all the cardboard and Styrofoam waste generated in the packaging world is just insane because it’s so hard to break it all down.
One way we can implicate industrial ecology is to use waste as a resource – after I graduated high school, I took my favorite t-shirts that I either grew out of or were irrelevant to wear like my state competition shirts or ones that were part of special moments in my life and had them all cut and made into a t-shirt quilt! I definitely would say it was a part of upcycling because now I can have this quilt forever and have it to show my kids and grandkids and to remember all of my memories as a kid. Another way is to gather & use energy efficiently – an example I heard in class was to only wash our clothes or run our dishwasher once or twice a week. Set certain times and days dedicated to just that, so we don’t overuse it or only when it’s absolutely necessary. The third way is to shop locally. Being from a small town, I have always been supportive of utilizing talent and reflecting personalities of the area and there’s not a lot of businesses but my friend’s mom just opened a craft/junk store where she refurbishes furniture and uses old wood to create games for people to buy like cornhole, jenga, and yard Yahtzee. With social media, she’s really been successful in selling the things she’s making which is great for our small town and she even attracted our local fair board and they had her come in and redo and repaint some of our old games at our fairgrounds. She’s increasing the connection and respect of our town by her creativity.
My current “recycle” or reuse related practices are small but relevant. I used to buy 24 or 32 packs of plastic water bottles to take to class and the empties would all end up in the backseat of my car it seemed like. Since moving in with my new roommates this semester, I have learned that they have a purified water system so it has cut back on my plastic water bottle usage because when I am at home, instead of drinking one of those, I just get a cup and ice and drink from that – as I should have been doing all along. Just from that small change, I feel better about my decisions. At work, I also reuse by recycling all paper we use that is printed out. Being resource efficient is taking advantage or resources and opportunities and I know in both of my situations, at home and work, where I make small changes like that can be accounted for and these patterns can evolve to something bigger eventually. Maybe there will be a time where I can take my waste and make it the food for something in my home or maybe into something that I can wear, like Pharell did with his jean line. During our activity as a learning community, we were to think of a store layout and we toyed with the idea of having actual trees or plants in our window display so that the sun would beat in everyday and also maybe have some mirrored solar panels to attract the eye of the consumer and serve as the lights at night so the display would be seen. We could even put the jeans we make from my plastic bottles on our mannequins and the mannequins could be made from recycled materials as well! It’s critical that we optimize and use what we have and not always buy new!