Blog #3

Even though this course is only four weeks long, I feel as though I have learned more than in many of my other classes combined. Being an interior design major, what I have learned in this class is something that is directly applicable to my field and along my career path. I hope to be able to implement what I have learned in this course in my future professional field. On a similar topic, I have learned quite a bit about waste and how it affects our environment, and plan on expanding my knowledge further on the topic of furniture, along with other home wastes in my investigative report.  I have recently been researching wood, the most regenerative fuel and renewable material, and how it generates enormous amounts of waste through processing, consumption, and replacing, especially when used to create furniture.  I’ve also been researching the particular selection of materials, substances, and components used in the construction of furniture and how those can be made to be more sustainable to promote a longer, more reusable life. I have also learned the importance of a lifecycle basis, and making sure that recycling yields usable resources at a lower environmental cost.

I enjoyed watching Leyla Acaroglu’s TED talk and her first example of “paper or plastic” and how people don’t really understand how deep the effects of their smallest actions are, which I completely agree with. I don’t think that the majority of people understand that how we use materials on a daily basis is what dictates the environmental impact.  I really liked her reference to the idea of “environmental folklore” and how it is based on our experiences and things we’ve heard from other people and isn’t really based on any scientific framework. It is true and is easily identifiable that no matter where you sit on the economic totem pole, every action you make has an impact on all three major systems, people, products, and the planet, as mentions in Leyla’s TED talk. I feel that if we focus more on how our actions, mainly our consumption, truly effect our living environment, we will quickly learn how to do more with less because our problem is definitely with use. I also enjoyed her reference to life cycle thinking, and how we need to monitor actions at all stages of a products life to make sure it is positively interacting with its environment. I found it funny that she talked about the tea kettle issue in the U.K. when their TV program ends, something we discussed at the beginning of this course, and how behavior changing products can really make a difference on our biggest issue: consumption.

I was very intrigued by the idea of biophilia, the loving of life or living systems, when it was introduced to us in class. It was something I had never really thought of before but is interesting in the fact that humans possess a distinctive affinity to seek relations with nature and other forms of life. It explains why ordinary people frequently take care of or put their lives at risk to save domestic and wild animals and flood in the insides and outsides of their homes with plants and flowers. In similar words, our “natural love for life helps sustain life” according to a wiki source, which is something positive compared to all of the negative we see in our relationship with the environment. I also really liked the idea of implementing biophilic design in architecture and how it is a positive sustainable design strategy. I very much appreciate that it decreases the poor environmental footprint of our built world.

I also agree with the NO stance in that way too much emphasis is placed on the relationship between poverty and the environment, according to John Ambler, and that it is possible to attack poverty while also improving the environment. According to the reading, environmental degradation is the loss in environmental quality from the pollutants and other activities and processes such as improper land use and natural disasters. I learned that it is theorized that poverty remains a root cause of several environmental problems, particularly environmental degradation. It is sad that the poor are forced into unsustainable practices in order to make enough money to survive. This is not their fault, but the fault of policy, that can be combatted by improved governance that can break the vicious cycle of the poverty-environmental interactions.

I thoroughly enjoyed our field-trip on Thursday to the OSU sustainability office, the recycling center, and the upholstery shop. I did not realize how much work went into keeping our campus clean and green. I also had no idea that something such as an upholstery shop even existed on campus and was shockingly impressed with the sheer number of repairs they do per week alone. It was sad to know that we get next to nothing back in monetary exchange for the amount of recycling that we do, but I know that the impact we are making on the environment is far greater than anything money can buy. I would not mind learning more about all the behind the scenes work that goes into keeping our campus clean and sustainable, and possibly lending a helping hand. 

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