This semester, I slowly found my thoughts and actions being shifted by the plethora of information learned from sustainability. Before diving into gaining knowledge on sustainability, my thoughts surrounding it mostly clung to ideas similar to hippies trying to save the earth. However, I quickly realized how inaccurate my perception was. Another word for this, which I learned throughout my time in class, is my paradigm that shifted once attending several of these courses.
The definition of sustainability, in my own words, is using resources in a way that leaves the world a better place. There are three fundamental pieces that all influence sustainability in today’s world. These are the “triple bottom line” which is created by people, the planet, and prosperity. In my own words this triple bottom line is the foundation of maintaining a healthy planet and family for the long ride. Overall sustainability is the advancement of society that meets the needs of the people of today while preserving the needs of the people of tomorrow. My definition of sustainability clearly shifted from being vague and ignorant to becoming a well-aware, informative statement. I have actually gotten into many conversations about sustainability since taking this class and have found that my explanations are logical and clear to those I speak to.
One of the largest epiphanies that I have found during this course is how different, different people think. In my learning community it has been a joy working with everyone. During each class discussion I have been amazed to hear the parts of each article, TED Talk, and activities. In the words of my father, “like finds like.” I know this is not always true, however I do find that I become more similar to those that I hang out with. This being said, I have found it refreshing to hear many different points of view as well as very eye opening.
Another epiphany I have had throughout my time in this course is through the biomimicry presentations. The TED talk by Janine Benyus inspired this epiphany by presenting the question, “how does life make things?” when thinking abut designing. I appreciate the different ways that creatures live and the ways that each performs different functions. The biggest contradiction in design is the processes that humans go through to create fabric and material in comparison to animals. We use nonrenewable resources and discard them into waste without truly thinking through the damage it does to the planet. Through chemicals and metals we release countless amounts of pollution into the environment that is impacting the earth negatively. When we take the time to look at the ways that animals and insects create, we can learn how to and have the result be kaizen, not the production of waste. To summarize, the learning outcome that I will take with me in the future is to look toward natural processes and companies that follow sustainable processes before relying on those that do not.
One of the last major epiphanies that I had has to do with conscious and unconscious perceptions. In the lecture we learned that these influence our paradigms in a major way. An example discussed was the topic of where baby products go after use. Baby diapers and cribs end up in landfills after being used. Along with that many of these materials have chemicals that the babies will breathe in. Many parents may not be aware of these when purchasing different products for their children and may be ignorant of the ways that these materials are made. In this way, the parents may be facing the subconscious perception that baby product companies also want the best for their children. However, many companies are looking to make money. With new sustainability movements many companies are beginning to turn toward goals to be sustainable by 2020. I recall Dr. Jayadas telling us to email the companies if this does not happen. By emailing and responding to their claims, I feel that we can change the company perceptions that people are not holding them accountable. This would also demonstrate my conscious perceptions that hold my expectations of companies to keep true to their promises to the public.
The last epiphany that I had is that of my own actions and perceptions. I did not realize how ignorant I have been about the topic of sustainability. I realized through the “changing habbits” website that I do not always pay much attention to how my actions as an individual affect the environment. Before taking this class I assumed that changing my actions would not have any impact on the sustainability of the earth. However, now I recognize that I can make a larger impact by becoming a facilitator (as stated in one of the previous articles) as well as an educator. I can help educate those around me on sustainability and have already begun to do so. I have lectured many of my friends on their wasteful behaviors using many plastic bags when they didn’t need any at all. Now I feel that I have knowledge needed to facilitate people taking action to save the environment from unsustainable actions. Dr. Jayadas has facilitated a clothing swap, something that I feel I would like to do with my friends. This way we can do something minimal to decrease the waste we create in the fast fashion world. In the time period of this course I have shifted from being agnostic to knowledgeable on sustainability and how I can have an impact on the world.
Knowing this, and much more, I feel that this class has opened my eyes to fascinating information surrounding sustainability. One of the lessons I particularly enjoyed was the lesson on biophilic design and the 14 patterns. I would like to learn more about each pattern and discover how many designs feature several characteristics. An example is visual connection with nature being projected on screens I watch while laying down at the dentist. The presence of water is something that I truly enjoy because I find that it brings peace and creates a pleasant atmosphere. The 14 patterns of biophilic design is a pathway of knowledge that I want to walk further down.
Another topic in class that I want to learn more on is empathetic design. We learned a large sum of information on this topic, however something that I would like to learn from is placing myself into the shoes of others. Doing this I can continuously change and shift by discovering how other people and animals behave and why. In the TED talk shown in one of the Lola Shows, Temple Grandin puts herself into the eyes of the cattle to understand how they think and why they react the way they do. I feel that I want to learn more about this topic by allowing myself to think outside the box when trying to problem solve for others.
This class has given me a number of valuable sources and examples on how sustainability is important for the people, planet, and prosperity of all. I am looking forward to watch how the world grows aware and how companies begin to shift toward sustainable practices. I also am excited to put my understanding to use by presenting ideas and designs that are sustainable, empathetic, and understanding. I believe now that I, an individual student, can make a major impact on the environment and it is my duty, as well as yours, to act to protect the life and beauty of this planet.