I thought that Michael Pawlyn’s TedTalk was interesting. When he said that he and his group found a substitute for glass called ETFE it really caught my interest. Apparently, they welded the material together and found it was much lighter in weight and this made it so they did not have to use a lot of steel to keep it up. The lack of steel meant more light was able to come into the structure and with all the extra lighting they did not have to spend much money to heat it. During his lecture he also spoke about this new project they wanted to build in the middle of a round-about. The structure would practice a closed loop system, housing an assortment of activities that would benefit the other activities in the building. He made it sound like there would basically be no waste left unused from this building. Ultimately, from what I gained from his TedTalk was that in biomimicry you do not think how you can get rid of waste, you think how you can use waste to benefit from it.
Three tenets I learned about as I read the Closing the Loops in Commerce article were to use waste as a resource, optimize rather than maximize, and use materials sparingly. Using waste as a resource is the optimum path to creating a closed loop system. Pawlyn spoke of using waste as a resource in his TedTalk I just reflected on and I feel even surer of this because the author of this article put this as their first way in creating a loop system. A way that I could apply this as a part of my daily life would probably be as simple as installing a composting toilet in my house. I’ve heard about houses in the Tiny House Movement often installing composting toilets in order to save money and how convenient they seem to be. I would definitely be willing to look into researching about it.
The next tenet is to optimize rather than maximize. While I was reading this part of the article the business thinking side of me could not help but think back to an article I read in one of my classes that I took for my International Business minor about In-N-Out versus McDonald’s. The article spoke about the reason why In-N-Out would never globalize like McDonald’s. The California-based fast food joint prides itself for its quality food and customer service. The beef is all local from farms they own or have contracts with and they are known to pay their employees well above minimum wage. In-N-Out is able to keep this quality because they focus on optimizing their company rather than maximizing it like McDonald’s. If they were to ever expand across the United States or to other countries like McDonald’s then they would be sacrificing quality. They would no longer be able to offer locally fresh beef and pay their employees so well if they were to expand. Considering the fact that In-N-Out is highly sought after by people when they are near one of its locations and that many of these same people stray away from McDonald’s—seeing it as a place with questionable food and lowly-paid employees—then the tenet to optimize rather than maximize holds even truer to my ears as a business minor.
It is the last tenet to use material sparingly that I feel I can more easily incorporate into my life. When I move out at the end of 2017 I can live without a TV in my apartment. The electronics I mainly use are my laptops, phone, and Bluetooth speakers. I also plan on switching over to regular dishware rather than disposable plates and utensils. It helps that I was raised to never trust the dishwasher to clean my dishes for me. I will continue doing this when I have my own place in order to not use as much resources. Choosing not to buy clothes that have strict washing guidelines would also help. There have been times where I have used the washing machine for only one or two items because I could not risk washing it with regular clothes.
Many of my current recycle/reuse/energy/waste/buying practices came from how I was brought up. It is very common in my household to turn old t-shirts into rags to clean the house. From this past lecture on Thursday I found out that this was a form of downcycling. We also tend to reuse plastic containers that we originally bought with food already in them. It is very common to see a I Can’t Believe it’s not Butter container and find that it has beans in it in our fridge. When I buy shoes and I don’t recycle the box I usually keep it for storage. I found that shoe boxes are a good way to store anything that doesn’t have a place in any of my drawers. I admit, I am guilty of using paper plates in my house but if the plate is hardly dirty after I use it the first time I do use it again.
Out of the five principles we learned in class I found that I like the fifth principle: Make nature visible through design. I know that in my LOLA presentation coming up I will be talking about skin building involving biomimicry. Through my research so far I have realized that biomimicry is all about becoming inspired by nature and design with nature as its muse. Making nature visible through design is key according to biomimicry in order to build a better way of life. Earth is the best example of living sustainably and the human race must learn from it on how to create a closed loop system for our way of living. I also learned during the lecture that Cradle to Cradle is a concept that says an efficient design that eliminates waste must be able to ultimately break down and be repurposed or upcycled once it is done serving its original purpose.