Its week four of sustainability and while there are times I feel that there isn’t any more information about the subject I can possibly learn about, I end up showing up to class and becoming informed on something new every Tuesday and Thursday. This week’s lectures focused on the idea of industrial ecology, C2C, and closing the loop when it comes to use of resources and waste. Industrial ecology is the emulating of the process and lessons learned from nature to design a stable and competitive industrial system. Increasing industrial capital while also reducing any kind of environmental impact will stabilize everything including our economy. Michael Pawlyn’s TED talk describes this process as it relates to architecture, confessing the importance of using solar energy and other renewable resources as means of energy. He also described the idea of reusing and benefitting from our water, food, energy, and other forms of waste in order to benefit from a closed cycle.
In the Closing the Loops in Commerce reading, Benyus describes ways industries can be more successful by changing to sustainable practices. Out of the ten ideas, Diversify and Cooperate to fully use the Habitat stood out to me. In our current business practices, everything is a competition to simply make the most money in the shortest amount of time. However, from the beginning of time our environment never competed with itself. Our ecosystem runs on cooperation between everything, as one’s waste may be another’s treasure. Gather and use energy efficiently is also a tenant from the reading. This describes the importance of not only using renewable sources, but gathering them in the easiest and smartest way. The sun comes up every day yet instead of using solar energy, humans insist on drilling oil and mining coal. Plant roots only grow as deep as they need to reach a small amount of water, and this is a lesson we as individuals can set as an example when it comes to energy use. Not drawing down on resources is another tenant I took from the reading. Industries need to understand that using up all of the resources to make optimal sales is not sustainable. Rocks, minerals, trees, fossil fuels, etc. don’t just formicate overnight, if these things were used only when needed, then everyone will win in the end.
My sustainable practices are better now than they have been in years past. I take reusable shopping bags to the grocery store, I bike places whenever I can, I refuse to take separate cars to the same destination, I basically live off of LED Christmas lights inside my home, and I use a refillable water bottle. While these are small changes, in the long run, they really make a difference. This is especially true when it comes to our bills every month. Since my household has been better about turning lights off and keeping our thermostat set higher than usual, we’ve cut down energy costs tremendously. A life principle that stood out to me was the direct and indirect costs. There are many small costs that go into running a successful business, and by editing some of the energy costs, this can make a difference in the long run. Not to mention the smaller costs that go unnoticed with any unsustainable practice, such as destruction and clean up down the road.
In C2C I learned that it is indeed possible to turn waste into “food” just from means of reusing or recycling. I enjoyed the activity we did in class as it brought everyone’s attention in and allowed us to interact in a competitive way.