Seeing week four now come to its end, I can confidently say I now am more conscious of my habits and the carbon footprint that I put on this earth. We have learned about biomimcry, industrial ecology, C2C, and reflected on our own sustainable or unsustainable habits the past four weeks expanding our knowledge about what sustainability really is. Michael Pawlyn in a nutshell said that sustainability isn’t really something we have to create; it is already all around us we just need to take the time to learn it from nature. He spoke about how architecture, or pretty much everything in the man made world in some way relates to the environment and its organisms. For example a spider creates a fiber that is stronger than any man made material, its web. Yet we have not been able to mimic anything as strong as it. This makes me consider how nature relates to me as a merchandiser and designer.
I, as a merchandiser in the apparel field and as a consumer, have very conflicting thoughts when it comes to sustainability. As a merchandiser and designer I see the bad side of fast fashion, chemical dyes and wastes, and fabric wastes. But as a consumer I see the new trends and just want to buy the affordable fast fashion to stay fashionable. The chemical dye side as a merchandiser automatically ties into Don’t Foul Their Nests in Jane Benyus’ industrial ecology article, which states that really the best way to keep from polluting our air or in a chemical dye case, water, is by practicing precycling. Precycling would have us as merchandisers or designers to stop harsh chemical dyes altogether. When I think about C2C it makes me realize maybe I can be a little bit of my merchandiser/designer side and my consumer side at the same time. My learning community this week spoke about how we could refurbish old dress forms with materials from up cycled fast fashion which reminds me of Jane Benyus’ industrial ecology article where she states that we must optimize rather maximize and how in my example even though the world is so into fast fashion, it doesn’t mean we can’t optimize the waste from the materials and refurbish them into other products that go back to the apparel industry. If there were more programs like this in the world that were affordable and cost efficient I really believe others would consider options like this instead of our current state of most clothing and apparel products that are sadly C2G!
Thinking about the C2C versus the C2G made me think about my carbon footprint relating to the Life’s Principles we learned in class this past week. The one that I thought I could learn the most from and use the most would be: Be resource efficient. For example when my learning community taught in class this week we spoke about how vodka can be used to make potatoes but in return potatoes can make vodka. This concept and having a design and production minor has made me see how easy it can be to recycle materials and turn existing garments into new ones such as jeans into a skirt or shorts. I thought about the multi functional design and it made me think of Michael Pawlyn’s cardboard to caviar project and how food = waste or in this case the cardboard the food comes in. So in this area they collected cardboard from restaurants, shredded it, and the sold it to be used as horse bedding. From there they collected it again and put it into worm recomposting systems which produced worms that Siberian Sturgeon ate, that made the caviar that is sold back to the restaurant. My creating shorts out of jeans and then a skirt out of the shorts is not nearly as complex, but perhaps after the skirt I could use the denim to make a clutch. It would still not be a closed loop as he described but it would prolong the C2C life of my clothing consumption. But I realize this is also okay because of what Jane Benyus says in her article under her section titles Gather and Use Energy Efficiently. She says that not everything can be recycled, even in nature. I know denim does not necessarily apply to this example but it does show we must try the best we can to be sustainable, but we will still always have our shortcomings as the human race.