I feel very drawn to the minimalist movement, the idea of using only what you need and getting rid of everything else. When it comes to clothing, I have found that I wear most of the clothes in my closet, so none of them are necessarily going to waste. But I know I have far more than I need. This idea of having “spares” is new, at least it is new for the middle and lower classes. There is so much pressure put on people to wear something different so that others don’t see them in the same outfit as last week or last season. This idea that clothing goes “out of style” seems a little preposterous to me. Even now, though, when people choose their style and stick with it for a long amount of time, they are constantly buying new because manufacturers are using cheap materials and techniques to profit as much money as they can from consumers. This idea of aesthetic obsolescence is precisely what drives the need to manufacture new products every season.
In my assignment 3, I discuss this exact dilemma, but how it applies to housing and American consumerism. Maybe HGTV has had an impact on the growing desire of Americans to build or design their own homes, or perhaps I just see it more as an aspiring Interior Designer. But in the housing trend, Americans tend to want large homes with extra rooms and expensive furniture and everything must be NEW. Even if the style is older, the materials, furniture, everything must be brand new. Antiques are a thing of the past because the newer generations don’t want something that makes them feel old or anything like their parents. To separate themselves from previous generations, to set themselves far apart, they have chosen styles that look young and daring, homes that are bigger and better and more exciting than that of their parents.
On the other hand, there is a portion of every population that is homeless or impoverished. In our reading on Poverty, scholars discussed whether or not the poverty population was a cause of economic downfall and lack of resources. In one light, this makes sense as a majority of those who are homeless are also without employment. This means that they are using resources but not necessarily giving back to the economy. Those who are on welfare are seen by most conservatives as lazy people who don’t deserve their tax money. If we as a country devoted the money currently used on welfare and put it towards economic improvement or sustainability endeavors, would we not see an increase in our country’s positive impact on the planet? But this can be said about literally any of the government programs that require taxpayers’ money to function – which is to say all of them.
Leyla, an innovator and design “guru” spoke on researching where your goods go after you use them (or don’t use them – crisper drawer lettuce). She explained that while certain things seemed more ecofriendly, like a brown paper sack versus a plastic bag, the end result of their use and life cycle was far different than what we would expect. Researching what happens after you use a product gives you a further understanding of its life cycle and helps you make better and more sustainable choices in the long run.
I have recently done a presentation on Biophilia and I really enjoyed looking into it. I have always found the outdoors soothing and to find ways to implement natural characteristics into the built environment is entirely something I plan on doing throughout my career. One of my favorite characteristics of Biophilia is “prospect and refuge.” This means that in some areas, you will want to utilize the open concept, where you have an emphasis on brighter light and clear lines of sight; it also means having small spaces for 1 or 2 people, with dimmed lights and closed or almost closed walls, or canopies. Each of these is inspired by the natural need for daylight and clear vision and the need for comfort and protection. Another obvious characteristic of Biophilia is having literal plant life in your built environment. I looked into the Amazon spheres, giant metal and glass bubbles in the middle of a metropolitan city, that are filled to the brim with flora of every kind. The built structures inside the spheres also mimics nature to an extent, with wooden walkways and group areas shaped like actual birds’ nests. An emphasis on natural environments not only boosts the attitudes that workers have, but also boosts their want to work and their focus. And it’s very odd – human brains never get tired of seeing nature. No matter how often they see it, brain function increases and stress decreases. Every time. If that doesn’t say inspiration, I don’t know what does.