Continuing my sustainability journey

I would define sustainability very differently now as I would have previous to this course. Upon taking this course, I would have said that sustainability is recycling and being supportive of the environment. I would have said that sustainable design is simply completing these tasks. I now know that there is much more to sustainability and sustainable design. After spending a semester learning about sustainability and exposing myself to sustainable practices, I realize that the definitions of these two words go much deeper. I would now define sustainability as completing environmentally friendly tasks while not completing any harm to the environment and completing these tasks efficiently, ensuring that they will sustain for a long period of time. The most important part to me in this new definition of mine is “efficiently”. I have learned that in order to something to truly be sustainable, it must be durable, reliable, and long lasting. It must not only be reliable to the consumer and us as people, but it must be reliable to the environment. I would now define sustainable design as designing anything with the environment and the good of humanity in mind. I have learned that there is more to sustainability and sustainable design than just “caring for the environment”. In order for a product or a business to be truly sustainable, they must value humanity as well. As you can see, the way that I conceptualize these concepts now is very different than I did before.I think that the most important epiphany that I have had during this course regarding sustainability is that a little bit can go a very long way. I have always viewed sustainability as something that was not at all attainable for me. I now know that I was very naive to have thought this way.  It sounds silly to say, but before this course, I even thought that recycling would be too hard for me. I have learned that taking the small amount of effort to buy a recycling bin and taking time out of my week to take the items to the recycling place can really pay off. I never thought that I could make much of a difference in the world of sustainability but have realized that even something as small as not using Styrofoam or paper cups can make a huge difference. This is something that I started doing at the sorority house that I live at. We go through Styrofoam cups so quickly, and 96 girls live in the house. I realized that 100+ people using at LEAST one Styrofoam cup a day for a week would lead to almost 1,000 cups a week. This was devastating to me as I realized how ignorant I had been before taking this course. I was causing so much harm to the environment simply by using a cup. After I stopped using these cups, it sort of created a movement in the house. Many people began to see the harm that these cups could do to our world. From the halted use of Styrofoam, a sustainability committee formed throughout the house. We now all think of ideas on how to make our sorority and our house more sustainable. I will never forget this lesson, as it has impacted the way that I do many things in my life. I now remember that one small act a day will eventually add up and make a huge difference. We must not be so naïve to think that because we are one little person, we cannot make a difference in our environment. It was also very refreshing to learn about sustainability specific to my field of merchandise. I enjoyed learning how I can truly be sustainable while working in the future. I enjoyed this because I feel like many people believe that merchandising will never make a difference because it is only “fashion”. People do not realize that being sustainable in the fashion industry will be a huge game changer for our earth. I was very relieved to learn this. As I have stated, I have learned many valuable lessons this semester in this course. In the future, I would like to learn more about how we can make recycling clothing easier. I have learned how to recycle clothing and that there are many options on how to do this. But I would like to learn how to make it easier and educate the public on this. I think that if more people knew about clothing recycling and the concept of upcycling, they would take advantage of it. In a class activity that we did, when we talked about our strengths and weaknesses, I discussed with the class that I do not think I am in the position to teach about sustainability yet. Although I have learned plenty about sustainability, I am not ready to teach about it. I would like to learn how to approach teaching and educating on this subject that way I can make others more aware on recycling clothing and how it can be done sustainably. My favorite concept that I learned this semester was “Cradle2Cradle”. Once we learned this concept, my eyes were truly opened. It seemed that I had finally learned the secret to sustainability. If something is created for the sole purpose of being returned sustainably to its natural state, it is fulfilling its true need. I cannot imagine how sustainable our earth would be if everything was designed using the C2C concept. It is my hope that we eventually get to this point. I am so thankful for the lessons that I have learned this semester regarding sustainability and sustainable design. I feel that I have truly grown as a person learning about this topic. I am humbled and blessed to have been in this class. I will only continue my education on sustainability through research, news, and TED Talks. I am excited to have taken this new interest in sustainability and remain loyal to the earth.

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