This semester has flown by! I cannot believe that I am writing this final blog and wrapping up my last semester as an undergraduate student here at OSU. This semester presented me with challenges that I never expected and joys I could have never imagined.
As freshmen here at OSU, Interior Design Students are introduced to the concept of Sustainability and the importance of incorporating sustainable practices into our designs. So we would often select products that were durable or try to reuse things that were already in a space because it seemed like a sustainable choice, or specifying the ever sustainable generic Bamboo. We often didn’t know if our selections were sustainable or not, but it sounded good, so it worked. I am a little embarrassed to say that it wasn’t until this semester that I really was able to gain a concrete concept of what sustainability should mean to me as a designer and also what it should mean to me in my daily life.
My sustainable journey has been a little difficult for me. No one likes to hear that they have been making poor choices and they need to adjust, but that was exactly what the class showed me; I was making poor choices when it came to sustainability. This was not only true in my designs, but also in my home. In my defense, I truly did not realize that my choices were so poor. I specified ‘sustainable’ materials in projects, and I reused plastic Walmart Sacks and recycled aluminum cans at home. Good choices right? Yeah, except I did not really know what sustainable materials were, and what if I could just cut plastic sacks and aluminum cans out of my life altogether? And the fact that plastic bags and aluminum cans are the only two things that can come to mind when I think about life prior to this class is sad. I can think of a full gamut of things I was doing wrong, but they were somehow justified by the very few things I was doing right. Understanding how my choices both personally and professionally impact the world is eye-opening and a little disheartening, but mainly eye-opening. I can make a difference, and that is incredible, but will it be enough? Can my small changes or even the changes of everyone in this class be enough to turn around the destruction that mankind has created? Just thinking out loud here, I can’t even begin to act like I have those answers.
The concepts that I feel will impact my future as a designer the most is the Cradle to Cradle concept and Closed Loop Systems. With the knowledge of these biomimic concepts, I can be an educator and facilitator of sustainability in my field. Sustainability to me as a designer is how I can select materials and finishes with the least amount of impact on the environment, and also how I can educate clients on sustainable products to help reduce the impact on the environment and also their bottom dollar. In our world the economic impact of choices often (unfortunately) outweighs the environmental impact of choices. With a greater knowledge of C2C and closed-loop systems, I feel like we would be able to make them matter equally. I will be better prepared to explain to clients that the long-term impact of selecting materials that are sustainable.
I’ve talked about how sustainability impacts both my professional and personal life, but I feel like this class was design to address the issue of sustainability in the professional lives of Interior Designers, Fashion Designers, and Merchandisers. I expected to learn about issues of sustainability within our personal lives as well. Dr. Jayadas has said all year that his job is to present us with the information, it is up to us what we do with it. So since we were being presented with the information that pertained to our professional lives, I decided to dive deeper into sustainability in my personal life on my own. I found so much information online about sustainable choices in the home from blogs and videos and even stumbled onto some products that I am so excited to try, including cloth diapers. I want to be able to make sustainable choices in my life so that as my family grows we aren’t making adjustments to be more sustainable, it is just our normal.
I’ve loved this class, and I have loved OSU. It is hard to say goodbye and turn the page on my journey, but I am so excited for what the future holds, and what I can do to make a positive impact on our world.