We began class on Tuesday with a TEDtalk video by Michael Pawlyn. Pawlyn has 3 habits that he believes we should use to help sustain our environment. The first is radical resource efficiency. The second is through closed loop systems, and the third is using solar energy instead of fossil fuels. He also believes that through biomimicry, we can find ways to follow these habits. These habits can be seen in nature all of the time. There are no systems in nature that are open loop systems or those which produces waste. Nature also never uses more resources that it needs, and nature only uses natural energy to power everything it needs. As a society, we need to reconnect to nature and find out how to live off of only the things that we need. Biomimicry can be used as a roadmap to obtain these habits.
Industrial Ecology and closing the loops in commerce were things that I had never heard about before the lecture. The Industrial Revolution may have been a great point for our nation in terms of technological advances, but unfortunately, the progress has come at a price. We have come to a point where our energy consumption is not sustainable, the waste that we create is high, and our population is too great. The basic tenet of industrial ecology as defined by working with substances that nature would recognize and be able to assimilate. This means that no waste would be created ever because it would go back into the environment and be reused. The three tenets that I found most interesting were how to gather and use energy efficiently, using materials efficiently, and not “fouling” your nest. In design and construction materials are often not used efficiently. Since the population is ever growing new construction is inevitable, and steps need to be made in order to make the industry more efficient and less wasteful. When it comes to gathering and using energy efficiently this can also be done within the design industry. The use of solar energy, high efficiently appliances, and low VOC materials can help maintain our resources. To me, not fouling our nest, is maybe one of the most important tenets. If we were more worried about not contaminating our nest, we would make better environmental decisions overall. One member of my learning community was talking about reusing byproducts in order to close the loop instead of seeing it as waste. We found this article about a pharmaceutical company that has a high rate of calcium sulfate by-product in their manufacturing process. Instead of leaving it as a waste product, it is used to create gypsum wallboard that can be used in the construction industry, thus closing the loop. The article can be found by following the link: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/smallbusiness/documents/casestudies/industrialecologyinpractice.pdf
Cradle to Cradle is an important movement in the design industry. It focuses on how the product is created and disposed of after its end use. Instead of creating waste, cradle to cradle attempts to close the loop and create new purposes for products after their usability. It focuses on how the product is created and disposed of after its end use. Instead of creating waste, cradle to cradle attempts to close the loop and create new purposes for products after their usability. My learning community spoke about creating a crib/bed out of recycled plastics, recycled fishing nets, and creating a mattress that could extend from a crib size to a full size with the addition of extra stuffing that would come from recycled textile materials. This could not only close the loop for materials, it would be a way keep the same bed and mattress for a longer period of time. By the time a child is two years old, they are no longer sleeping in a crib, making the crib and crib mattress waste. Our design would ensure that the life of the bed was extended.
Since the class has started, I have begun to really think about my sustainable practices. I am expecting my first child, and the amount of “stuff” that society says you need for a baby is overwhelming. I have decided that I do not want to use disposable diapers, and instead, I want to use cloth diapers. I am also trying to decipher wants from needs, or waiting until the baby gets here to see what he actually likes instead of trying to make those decisions for him and creating waste. I am well aware that my sustainable journey is going to be bumpy, but I am excited to what sustainable decisions I can make in my home.