Week 4 was all about nature. We discussed industrial ecology, nature centered design, and life principles. We watched a TED Talk, by Michael Pawlyn, discussing Biomimicry and using nature’s genius in architecture. In order to be successful in the sustainable revolution, he believes we should radically increase recourse efficiency, shift from a linear way of using resources to a closed loop, and change from a fossil fuel economy to a solar economy. He thinks nature and Biomimicry could easily help resolve these things. Michael thinks if we are to use nature as a design tool, we will find a world of beauty. There are loads of examples in nature that develop things. He discussed different projects and how they altered nature and how they reacted. Michael talked about a company that transformed a linear process into a closed loop and it created more value. We should aim to turn waste streams into natural value. The idea of bringing cycles of food, water, energy, and waste into the same building was proposed. This reminded me of what we discussed in previous classes and the living building project. Overall, he discussed how we could turn waste into big opportunities and how we could benefit our Earth from doing things such as the ones he discussed. This tied into us discussing industrial ecology because of the fact that we talked about closing the loops in commerce as well.
I learned that industrial ecology is the means by which humanity can deliberately and rationally approach and maintain a desirable carrying capacity. We talked about looking for the root of the problem and fixing it. I believe this relates back to Biomimicry as well. Benyus always preaches the fact that we should turn to nature to solve problems. Froot Loops and the Future of the Human Race was one section of the reading that I found interesting. It discussed how researchers found a new way to clean circuit boards. They used froot loops, yes the ones we eat for breakfast, to clean electronic circuit boards. The researcher stated that we should try to work with substances that nature would recognize. So why haven’t we always worked with substances/resources that are nature compatible? I feel as if this is a big discussion in our class and our world today. Another topic that I enjoyed reading and learning about was using waste as a resource, considering this is one of the biggest topics of our class.
Industrial ecologists are attempting to build a no waste economy. We would develop closed loops where we use natural resources lightly, and let little waste escape. There is no waste in the forest. Everything is reincarnated. We should work and live more this way as humans. We should aim to have no holes in our organizational chart, like nature does, so our systems can run smoothly. Another tenet that we discussed that I believe related to my thoughts, as a whole was “Optimize Rather Than Maximize.” Investing in quality is something that I take interest in and try to do myself. Instead of buying something cheap, and having to buy it again, I usually just spend more money to invest in nice quality. Going off that, if we were to use what we already had not only in the fashion industry, but just any industry in general, we would greatly cut down on the amount of resources we used. Finally, if we adapt to different materials (use nature) and learn how to produce/reuse materials on our own we will greatly improve our environment. These readings all tied into each other in some way. I definitely learned from my peers and their presentations as well. I plan on using what they discussed to implement into my daily life. I am going to aim to use waste as a resource and practice tying nature into my daily activities to solve problems.
Now, since I have moved into my own house, I have begun to recycle more often. I aim to really reuse water bottles, or avoid using them at all. We also have cut down on using paper and styrofoam plates in our house, and just use real dishes instead. One thing I grew up doing was using a washcloth as a napkin instead of paper. We are able to wash them and reuse them instead of wasting paper and throwing them away. I am working on these practices and currently trying to better myself.
After reading about the different life principles, I think the one that stuck out to me the most was evolve to survive; this being because if we do not change our ways as humans, we might not survive as long as we hope to. Neither will our Earth. I believe we need to incorporate strategies into our daily lives that will help us to be more sustainable. We need to integrate the unexpected and try our best to change our ways for the better. If each person was to do so, our world would be a much happier, healthier, and sustainable place.
C2C is the concept that a product is designed to function efficiently while at the same time designed in such a way that it can be broken down at the end of it’s lifecycle and that EVERY part can be upcycled on repurposed. The 3 tenets of this protocol are using current solar income, celebrate diversity, and that waste = food. I learned that these three tenets are all tied into industrial ecology. We need to gather and use energy efficiently, shop locally, and use waste as a resource, which is the biggest feature of C2C. For the activity, we aimed to create a store display from all recycled materials. We decided to use recycled clothing, update it to make it more like styles today, and make it appealing to our target market to create the mannequin display. This will represent our research and use of “upcycling.” We will use scraps of old fabric that cannot be worn anymore to create an appealing background visual display. Finally, for production methods, since we are only reusing materials we already have we are not really producing anything. We want to add old furniture to the physical design to make it more appealing and incorporate an overall theme. Our display will represent our goal of being sustainable and repurposing materials.
Overall, this past week lectures all tied in together more than I realized. I enjoyed looking at the week as a whole, and how it all relates to each other. I believe it will make it easier to apply to my life.