I’m not really sure what it means to compare and contrast your thoughts… but I’ll certainly try! The two lectures this week really focused on the idea of zero waste. More specifically, mimicking the way nature repurposes waste to the point that it doesn’t exist. We learned about different types of recycling, upcycling vs. downcycling, and we learned about C2C vs C2G and how each affects the environment differently. Reflecting on the lectures, I personally believe that it’s unreasonable to aim for zero waste – it’s just not possible at this point in our society, but learning about that “cradle to cradle” town in Denmark where the factory waste provides energy for the homes, etc., I think it’s exciting to think minimal or zero waste is something we can come close to achieving.
We also watched Michael Pawlyn’s ted talk – he gave examples of nature solving earthly problems such as the spinneret glands on a spider to create a resilient web. Scientists are trying to create a similar strong fiber and cannot manage to do it without damaging the environment. Beetles can detect forest fires 10,000 times farther than human made detectors, proving once again that if we study and learn from nature, biomimicry has all the solutions we need. He talked about projects such as the Eden project, Cardboard to Caviar project, Mobius project (restaurant inside productive greenhouse, cycles of food, energy and waste all in one building), Sahara Forest project, and more ideas of using nature to eliminate waste in the environment. One of the most fascinating projects Pawlyn went into detail on was the Seawater Greenhouse. The idea is essentially utilizing the otherwise un-useable saltwater to create life inside these huge greenhouses. In the talk, he even said that these greenhouses are creating so much energy that excess water gets pushed out into the earth around the greenhouse, and even creates vegetation on the barren ground. To me, this is the thing that stuck out to me the most about what was said, yes the cradle to cradle projects are incredible, but the seawater greenhouse means vegetation and life in places where it didn’t exist before – every barren land is no more, and it even generates an excess amount of energy and creates additional vegetation instead of using up energy to create the vegetation. The seawater greenhouse project is something I’m very excited to keep learning more about!
Reflecting on three of the tenets, I think #5 is interesting – Use materials sparingly because it relates back to what we have learned in previous readings, such as the Easter Island learning. So not only am I reading this as scientifically backed advice from Benyus, but I can also picture specific examples in history backing up with fact of survival. #6 on the list also grabs my attention because it’s something that seems random, but applicable to life – Don’t foul your nests. A clean, happy place to go home to keeps the mind clear and happy, living in filth can literally lead to a society or individual’s demise and I’m OCD so I actually believe that. The last tenet I want to touch on is #10 – Shop locally. It too seems random and maybe not beneficial; my first thought is “why does it matter where I shop as long as I’m getting what I need?” But thinking about it, in order for a society, like a small town like Stillwater, to be sustainable over a long period of time, money/resources need to be poured into the community, not taken from inside the town and used elsewhere. Overall, these 10 tenets are very interesting and brilliant pieces of advice for survival and sustainability.
I think a systems perspective is a good thing – it’s important to be educated on all parts of the system before addressing how to use something or solve a problem. Like nature for example, if we can fully understand all the parts to a certain aspect, we may be better able to mimic it and be sustainable. Adding on to this, I also really liked the activity where we learned from our peers. I learned a lot and it gave us on opportunity to hear what other students took away from the lectures and learnings that possibly I didn’t catch or interpret in that way.
My current sustainability practices are definitely not as great as they could be – I take extremely long showers, always leave the lights on, and am usually one to throw away things that should be recycled if it’s too much of a hassle for me. Something that is actually very sustainable of me, is that I often prefer to shop at secondhand retailers and style the pieces with things already in my wardrobe, or completely repurpose them with my sewing machine! I do it for fun, but it is rather sustainable of me!
Of the 5 principles in the slideshow from Thursday’s lecture, I like the first principle about paying attention to unique qualities of site and place. I think about things of certain regions that offer exclusive resources – Oklahoma is known for its dirt, what about using red dirt to dye t-shirts and market that? Or even my family and I used to pick mulberries in Michigan all the time; a company can easily dye fabrics with plentiful berries in that region. I like the idea of paying attention to unique qualities of a place.
Lastly for this blog, reflecting on the C2C activity, I don’t think we got very far on this activity with our group because of the quiz we took on Thursday, but my group talked about creating a sustainable window display using a large green vine/vegetation wall with possibly garments made entirely out of flowers. I had idea of creating a real life butterfly habitat as the window display like the ones at botanical gardens – my group shot it down but I could see it being a thing especially at a retailer who is known for their over-the-top window displays such as Bergdorf Goodman. We’ll see how this idea develops!