Making Sustainability Trendy

Leyla Acaroglu’s TED Talk is all about how we must do more with less. She said, “40% of food purchased for the home is thrown out,” and, “half of the food produced is wasted.” This is so shocking to me. We buy so much more than we need instead of buying what we know we will use and nothing more. It is the constant, overarching problem of overconsumption. Everything we do affects the environment, so we have to be conscious of our actions otherwise nothing will change. Leyla speaks about how we must first solve the small problems before we can move into the bigger picture issues. This is true with the tea kettle design that feeds into humans’ laziness by making them only heat up the amount of water they need. This is also a good example of the idea that consumption is the problem, design is the solution. I think this really applies to me and my field of merchandising. Although I’m not ADP, so I won’t actually be designing the clothing, as a Merchandiser, we must approach sustainability as how to make it appealing to the consumer. This means learning how to design the salesfloor and market the clothing in the most appealing way. Design can be the solution to overconsumption in my field as well. I heard about an app that lets you put a picture of every piece of clothing in your closet into it and then it uses AI to put together new outfits. The idea is that it refreshes pieces of clothing you already have into new outfits so you won’t be as inclined to go out and buy new things, but instead feel as though something in your closet is new because you’re wearing it in a different way. I think this is another great example of design being the solution to overconsumption. I think it is all about reworking the way we think about design now. I identify strongly with designing based on humility. It is completely reasonable to assume that what we design today or what is trending now, will not be in the future. Trends come and go, there’s no changing it, so it makes sense to go ahead and set that straight in our minds. This means we should try and shift our designs to be sustainable to compensate for that fact. This is an interesting idea that I think goes really well with my wicked problem of overconsumption. I’m learning that fast fashion doesn’t necessarily have to be the enemy. What we choose and how we choose to create said items is. Design is the solution, so we need to start designing with sustainability in mind. Meaning, biodegradable, recyclable fabrics, less water/chemical usage in production, etc. Although the end goal is to cut back on overconsumption, that can’t be done in a day, so, like Leyla said, we start small. We design sustainably and tackle overconsumption day by day. Overconsumption was a theme present in the “Story of Stuff” video, but what stuck out to me was how cheap things are. She talked about how she was standing in line, about to buy a radio for like $4 and she began to wonder how something could be so cheap. This got me thinking about clothing, obviously. The $10 jeans from Forever 21, the $20 boots from H&M and just about everything else from companies like that. How is that possible? It is costing so many people so much just so I can buy $10 jeans that will fall apart in about three wears. Is it worth it? I’m realizing that it really isn’t. The people in these countries that are working 7 days a work for pennies a day, breathing in toxins and other horrible things, are not worth $10 jeans. The poverty reading, like the last yes v. no reading, was a struggle for me. It began by saying that poverty causes environmental issues because they are forced into unsustainable practices just to survive. While I understand the issue with that, I find it difficult to really blame the impoverished for it. They are forced to do these things because they do not have a choice. They do what they can with what they have. The article briefly said in the next paragraph that they’re not blaming the poor, but that was the tone for the entire article, which made it frustrating to read. I think the emphasis should have been on the environment because I think that is the way to approach the situation. I would hate to come at the situation with the “blame the poor” mindset, so I think it’s important to try and come up with sustainable practices for them to make their lives easier and help the planet. I am a fashion major. I love trends and clothing and sometimes fast fashion. My love for these things hasn’t changed, they’ve just evolved. Now, I care more about where my clothes come from, what they’re made of and how they’re made. Before my classes with Dr. Jayadas, those things never even crossed my mind. I approach shopping so differently and I am so glad I know what I know now.

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