Small Town Sustainability

Week four entertained many new perspectives for me to observe and take in. The main topic of the week focused on Industrial ecology which has to do with the understanding of the lifecycle for products we use daily. For example, the cotton t-shirt that I am wearing now had to first be grown, harvested, cleaned and worked to become simply the thread knit into place to create the shape. It is then dyed and priced to be sold to me, and I will wear the shirt until it is worn out and gets cut up into rags to be used for cleaning. The down cycled shirt will then be thrown into the trash and taken to the landfill to decompose with the other trash items that may outlast the lifespan on my shredded shirt. With industrial ecology, the shirt could have instead been ground down to the fibrous state once more and knitted into a new clothing piece or it could be mixed into a compost mix to help plants hold more water in dryer climates. I really enjoyed how Michael Pawlyn’s talk related to this describing how the waste of one organism is a nutrient for another. Hearing that quote reminds me disgustingly of the image of flys that use the cow patties in the pasture to lay their eggs so that the larvae can get nutrients from an animals waste to provide nutrients. Its gross but it makes sense that naturally in any scenario, nature finds a way to produce a means to an end.

This takes me to the discussions and presentations we shared in class together. My favorite example given from the readings and mentioned in class was the description of the plant in a pot with roots having outgrown the pot. Instead of maximizing the use of our resources, we need to figure out how to use what we have without taking more than we need. One way I can do this is by instead of buying a case of water so that I can carry bottled water with me every day, I need to instead buy a water filter and a refillable water bottle instead. I then optimize the resource of water that is already available to me and minimize the use of plastic. My group discussed during the group exercise about what materials needed to be used sparingly if possible like packaging plastics and cardboard. We also discussed how technology is helping decrease the volume of material used to make things. Third, the same message of using waste as resource or source of energy. We need to use the waste that we already create in our own individual lives to create less waste that will fill landfills. The biggest goal to do this is by creating a closed loop that doesn’t allow nearly any waste. My future recycling goal that can be an example to a closed loop is my plan to keep chickens. My chickens will provide eggs for me to eat, and instead of throwing away the shells I will use them as seed starters for different garden foods. The shells will decompose in the ground and the chickens poop will act as a fertilizer for the garden foods. I can also feed the chickens some of the produce and seeds that come from the garden while they also help to keep other pests like bugs from eating my garden foods. I don’t have anything more current than this future plan of mine.

From the list of life principles, I have been able to experience the locally attuned and responsive category in small town Tonkawa. Tonkawa has a restaurant named TS Fork that serves four course meals using all resources grown in Tonkawa and the surrounding towns. They grow their own spices and herbs, while buying fresh butchered meat from local ranchers and garden produce from local farmers. The meals were rich in flavor from the freshness of the ingredients used. I thought it was a great idea for a profitable turn out for the town of Tonkawa. I believe that this town has it right on track for the cradle to cradle strategy since they aren’t having to use shipping and extra packaging materials and costs for their food. Although cradle to cradle is more in place for products, this town is doing something right by supporting each other and using what they have rather than creating waste of extra material. The waste of extra material leads me into the group activity that we ended on with the bed frame group discussion. My group discussed how it’s a waste altogether to use a metal bedframe. We discussed how instead bedframes could be made from wood pallets stacked on top of one another. This would get the bed off of the ground and can be built to have multiple looks.


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