Looking back at any point in my life where I was reminded of sustainability or saw something as a result of sustainability, I always viewed it as something that was given either another opportunity or an extended opportunity to serve its purpose. With thanks to what I’ve learned so far in this class, this definition has evolved in my perspective by changing to how something can be used in the present without negatively effecting its potential in the future or the future in general. The issue of making things sustainable opens a door to a term known as wicked problems. This term can be described as a problem that while being fixed creates other problems. It’s almost like an endless cycle of issues to worry about. It’s different from a tame problem because tame problems usually can be solved and then there aren’t repercussions.
The concept of recycling and reusing products was hit hard by Andrew Dent in his TED talk. He brought up interesting facts such as how the car industry is really good about recycling parts and finding new uses for them over time. I love his ideas behind reworking different products like shoes or metal architecture pieces so that the materials used in them can serve more than one life. I think reducing waste like he encourages is something we need to think about before we run out of resources and/or space for waste. Another TED talk, by Paul Gliding, alarms listeners about what is to come if humans don’t start to sustain resources. He makes an interesting point that if we keep living the way we do now, in 2050 we won’t be able to live the same. Resources will restricted and limited. Our lifestyles will have to be adjusted. I personally am pushed to do what I can to sustain my resources because of what Gliding said and I’m sure it did for many others as well.
Going back to the term of wicked problems, there are six characteristics that can help explain and describe what would be considered a wicked problem. These six characteristics can be summed up as not having a concrete idea of what is causing the problem and what can fix the problem without leading to other issues. These problems have to be treated differently than typical problems and they also need to be dealt with quickly.
From a cultural outlook, the Native American perspective on sustainability is how can the current lifestyle be maintained without ruining the potential for the future. It was also explained that long ago Native Americans thought generations ahead in order to sustain what they had by doing things like strategically picking flowers so that they had optimal growth potential. In other parts of history, sustainability was not really taken into consideration and Easter Island is an example of this. The people that initially inhabited this island did not think about the consequences of how they used up their resources. Therefore, deforestation occurred and it is not a location where people can really live today. This scenario is similar to our society today because us humans as a whole are doing a really poor job of conserving for the future so it is very possible that habitable locations will be limited sooner rather than later.
Looking at the environment from a personal standpoint, my family’s carbon footprint is 112 tons of carbon dioxide per year. We definitely need to start thinking about how we can preserve our quality of living for the future because at the rate we are going now we are going use up all of our resources. We can help make a difference by carpooling more and being more aware of how we use our electricity. To wrap all of this up, looking at all of the wicked problems that are at hand today, I would like to explore the sustainability of clothing. Materials that create clothing are wasted so often and I would love to learn how I can help decrease the harm that throwing away fashion materials cause.