As the semester came to an end, I sat down to analyze my sustainable journey during this course. It was then that I realized I was not ending my journey, but just beginning it.
It would be a lie to say I was cautiously, environmentally aware previous to enrolling in this course. Sustainability was first introduced as a debate topic to me. The economic evidence exhibited right in front of our eyes was no illusion, however it was discussed as a problem that was too late to be fixed. Being one person out of billion living on this earth seemed as though nothing we could do would make an impact on the damage already done by large production companies. As a millennial, we were born into an economy that did whatever it took to make their money. We are taught marketing tactics to manipulate consumers into buying products in order to increase success of a business. This course has taught me that the focus of sustainable design is to not only create a sustainable environment better for the planet, but also better for the people living on it.
At the beginning of the semester we were introduced to the carbon footprint, which showed our individual impact on the earth. Although the act of one person seems so small I continued to understand the significance that it could make. Allowing ones self to be transformative and to continuously learn is a critical aspect to success. The iceberg effect of converting a paradigm to structure, patterns, and events proves that a single act can become something much larger if properly practiced and normalized. Self-determination must be anticipated in order to get to the top of the iceberg.
Biomimicry and Industrial Ecology helped me have a better understanding of how a future merchandiser like myself can begin to facilitate sustainable actions. Recycling and using less electricity is just a portion of contribution. Studying the way earth revolves and adapts to itself by using the natural atmosphere given to it, proves that its living patterns have been successful for years. Creating an environment that is inspired by natures structures almost seems too simple. Everything we use is manmade and customized for the “average” person. By educating more people about the brilliance of nature’s patterns, we can begin to eliminate complex manufacturing methods and use manmade ideas for empathic designing.
Our economy tends to design and market towards the “average” American. What I have learned is that there is no “average” person. We are all different in many ways but there is one thing that every person alive has in common, that we are entirely living on this earth together. Empathic Design revealed the many issues people face on earth every day. By observing peoples actions and addressing human needs we can expand our minds to design for good and not strictly money. Design Activism showed me that a future merchandiser like myself can holistically achieve this within my profession.
In order to incorporate empathic design and design activism into your daily work ethics, it needs to become a culture within your business. From becoming an activist to a facilitator, creating a sustainable brand image can raise retail-manufacturing expectations. The amount of things you can produce for your brands merchandise by upcycling materials is almost limitless. Waste can be transformed into knits, wovens, labels, buttons, and even packaging. The importance is to focus on creating a sustainable design of the product, in order to make its usage sustainable for the needs of the consumer.
This course has showed me that sustainability is not just a vocabulary word or definition. Sustainability is a role in which us as merchandisers, designers, and human beings must rehearse to cultivate a system that is viable to the planet and our time on it. In the future, I would like to research more about the cost difference of using recycled materials for a business. In order to successfully influence sustainable design on to my industry, I would need to study the different cost methods used to achieve all aspects of this vision.