For this week’s two class periods, instead of being in class, I spent my time on the NYC Study Tour in New York City with 19 of my classmates. It was such an amazing and exciting learning experience. I thought it was especially interesting to compare the sustainability practices in the big city to our town in Stillwater. As most know, NYC is one of the dirtiest cities in America. There were countless trash bags piled up along the streets, cardboard boxes stacked everywhere, and tons of people simply throwing their trash on the ground like it was nothing. On top of that, the excessive energy used in the city makes it extremely unsustainable and unhealthy for our environment. While I did notice an uncountable amount of unsustainable practices, I also noticed quite a few sustainable practices as well while there. For instance, the hotel I stayed in had a sign hanging up in the bathroom discussing their efforts to be sustainable. It read, “Help us support our planet’s well-being by hanging your towels so they can be used again.” I thought this was a neat and simple way to ask guests to try and be sustainable as they are as a company. Our hotel also had a rewards program for hotel guests that chose to forgo housekeeping for a day. I thought this was a very special incentive and a great way to encourage others to help our planet. Another example I noticed was while taking a tour of Central Park. I was actually very pleased to see the amount of trashcans and recycling bins placed around the park; along with other signs and posters that were aimed to promote recycling as well. There were facts on signs around the area discussing the amount of trash in NYC and what the harmful things it does to the area, to raise awareness. There was also an advertisement in the park where you could purchase a tree in memory of a loved one to keep the area surrounding it clean and maintained.
While in New York, we also discussed the topic of sustainability in quite a few of our company visits. One company that had a main goal to be sustainable was Mara Hoffman. Although, the company did not start out as a sustainable company, it quickly became a main goal that they aimed to achieve. Over the years, the company has reached the point where they will not use a manufacturer if there processes do not meet Mara Hoffman’s standards of quality and performance. The main reason the owner decided to change her ways was because of her young son. She realized how damaged our world was becoming, and did not want him to grow up in a place like that. She decided she wanted to make a change to the environment her precious son was going to grow up in. She plans to continue her sustainable practices, think of new ones, and even inspire other companies to board the sustainable train as well. The company’s practices tie into the reading and lecture that was discussed in class while I was away in NYC. After reviewing the PowerPoint and readings, I realized that they had more relation. Due to Mara Hoffman’s sustainable practices, they reduce consumer’s concerns and also make more satisfying products. They also reduce their reputational risk and ensure resiliency to materials as discussed in the PowerPoint. I believe the company’s sustainable and green practices easily revoke an emotional response from the customer. It creates a special bond between the company and those consumers who also aim to be sustainable. Mara Hoffman supports the main goal of helping out the environment, which will in turn make the customers buy more and become more loyal to the brand.
I thought it was cool to see the New York Times Building used in the PowerPoint as an example considering that is where I was away studying. Although, I did not have the opportunity to go to the building and see the moss garden, I know it would be a great sight to see. One monument that I did get to go see was the 9-11 Tribute Museum. This was an especially touching experience for me. While there, I was able to read different post cards from people that had viewed the museum. There was one that stuck out in particular to me, which also reminded me of our environment and our very own world. Someone had written, “One country…the world!” with a drawing of the Twin Towers and a circle of people holding hands and surrounding the towers. This really touched me. It reminded me of the fact that at the end of the day, we are all one and connected in some way. I thought this could be looked at in a sustainable aspect as well. In order to help our planet, we all need to change our ways; we need to change our world and work together to make a more healthy and sustainable environment.
Overall, I definitely saw myself noticing many things while traveling that affected our Earth, positively and negatively. Some of us girls on the trip even joked that our class was following us around in NYC, and we were still constantly learning even while we were not sitting in the classroom in Stillwater. I am glad I had the opportunity to extend my knowledge on sustainability in a larger city and still learn while being away from the classroom.