This week in sustainability we had the opportunity to take a field trip yet again and explore the world of sustainability away from the note-taking and the lectures. This week we were taken to OSU’s recycling center and got to learn about the actualities that go into the daily grind of recycling materials. I learned a lot on this visit on Tuesday – I’ve always believed that some things just can’t be taught and understood fully in a classroom. We’ve learned in lectures that being sustainable is currently not always what’s most convenient; part of the tried-for solution is making it so. I know for me, recycling is difficult because I have to go out of my way to do it.
The main thing I learned on that visit is that once you throw a piece of paper in a recycling bin, it’s not any easier from there for that piece of paper to continue being sustainable. There are a small number of people that work out at that recycling plant and they work for hours on end to produce a small number of “barrels” that are ready to be transported away to the people who are going to give those barrels new life. They even spend a large portion of their time doing tedious tasks such as sorting the white printer paper from the cardboard paper. Recycling is not easy during any stage of the cycle – but there are people who care enough to dedicate their whole lives to it and make their living doing it, like the people working at the recycling plant and Rita Hershey who came and facilitated the lecture.
Even though they have all those big fancy machines at the recycling plant, there’s still so much room for growth and innovation in the way recycling is processed – there’s got to be a quicker and less grueling way for this world to recycle basic materials. I had never given much thought to what happens after the plastic bottle I recycle goes in the bin. At my house back home in Kansas City, we’re big recycling people and have different bins for paper, plastic, and cardboard, but once the city picks that up every month, I never cared where it went. Now I’ll be giving more thought to it. What machines are being used? How many hours are spent by human beings separating MY recyclables?
The readings this week were very interesting as usual. The article on smart skin was definitely a familiar concept – we had previously learned shortly in class about clothing that mimics human organs, and even watched a TED talk about that lady who grows her own clothing with tea that mimics human skin (minus dissolving in water). This article went in to more depth about how smart skin works and is created. I think it’s amazing and so interesting to think about where apparel is heading. Bio-Inspiring design in the next reading is a topic I’ve been intrigued about since being introduced to Janine Benyus’ studies during Problem Solving several semesters ago. This article was interesting because it touched on the health impacts in connection to nature – that’s something that hasn’t been discussed in all of our of our biomimicry studies. Predators, poisonous foods, dynamic hazards – all things to consider about nature that we don’t necessarily want to mimic into design. Lastly, the article about greenery in shopping spaces and the impact on customers – it urged me to think about how I personally feel surrounded by greenery. I feel calmed and as silly as it sounds, healthier. I feel like it’s a break from constantly being surrounded by man-made materials. I also think about the shopping places where there is greenery inside while I’m shopping, and it’s hardly ever if at all. It’s something to be considered by retailers.
Of the 14 patterns, the 2 that stick out to me are complexity & order and risk. The two images provided for those patterns are obviously incredible, but I think of other times I’ve seen such architecture and design in the world. I think complexity & order is so contradicting that it almost flows together and creates something beautiful. Risk is intriguing and innovative. I think of buildings with glass floors on top floor like the Sears Tower in Chicago, or the St. Louis City Museum with literal airplanes and busses hanging off the top of the building. Each pattern is equally incredible and in all this man-made mess of a world, it reminds people than mankind can create beautiful and wonderful things. The health benefits include stress-relief, overall attitude and performance – for me it kind of gives me hope and peace.
Lastly but not least, this week’s TED talk was my absolute favorite of them all. This lady creates the most beautiful and organic looking homes I’ve ever seen in my entire life – and it’s all completely made of sustainable bamboo. I did more research when I got home, I wanted to know more, see more pictures, etc. I am almost convinced that I want to live in the tropics and have her build me a home like this because it’s so incredible. People are so amazing and this TED talk also gives me hope that when sustainability and design come together, innovative beauty is created and it’s very exciting.