Sustainability is the New Buzz Word, but Will We Sustain it?

If you grew up with 2 younger sisters than you remember the fashion shows of getting new clothes. You remember trying on outfits before going to a big event together. You remember (or still do) share and swap clothes all the time. The sharing and the swapping were my first look into sustainability. I didn’t know it at the time, I thought it was fun to style my little sisters in my clothes. Sharing and swapping is sustainable because we are not buying new clothes for just one event. We are not participating in fast fashion as often as the events occur. Now that I am older and in a different state than both of my sisters (they live in Texas) I don’t share and swap clothes anymore with them. I do however still go through my clothes and get rid of them. I am guilty of throwing a few pieces away (the not suitable for donation kind). So far, I have reached out to several different outlets of getting rid of my clothing pieces. I have given pieces away to friends, tried selling them to Plato’s Closet, donated to Goodwill and The Thrifty Butterfly, and I have also done a clean out bag with ThredUp. However, the more I was taught in my classes about the wicked problems of the fashion industry the more I researched the different things to do with my clothes. I have started to educate myself about what clothing is appropriate to buy in the first place and how to maybe upcycle my clothing before giving it away. The wicked problem of the fashion industry ENDS with practices like this, but not this action alone. Wicked problems have unseen solutions. Wicked problems have solutions that could just ADD to the problem. Wicked problems are diabolical to our Mother Earth. If you are not sure if you are facing a wickedproblem or a tameproblem, I challenge you to brainstorm solutions. IF you see light at the end of your problem through just your brainstorming alone, you, my friend, have a tame problem. You may ask, “How can it be THAT easy to differentiate?” Well wicked problems are tricky. They have opposite characteristics of tame problems. Wicked problems are vague in definition and solutions. Wicked problems are URGENT. Wicked problems require multiple, unique approaches that are simply not required for the tame problems. With a tame problem you might come up with a solution that is one and done! A one and done solution is not the case for a wicked problem. You will need to continually work at the solution so that the wicked problem doesn’t overpower your solution. Your solution might need to evolve over the years. What solution worked yesterday might not work tomorrow.

Speaking of our tomorrow and the wicked problems of the world not just the fashion industry. The Earth is starting to fill up with people AND be depleted of resources. In my opinion this is the wickedest of wicked problems. How do we expect to provide for our future generations if by the time of 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean? How are we supposed to provide for the future generations if there is nothing left? Intergenerational responsibility is something that we need to be actively working on. It takes CHANGE to tackle this wicked problem. I think that is one of the biggest obstacles for people. People don’t like change; they want improvements and results with the click of their heels. Just like weight loss, there is no magic pill that will make you wake up to your ideal body. Mother Earth is hurting and the people in this world are ignoring the signs. Let’s look at Easter Island. Jayadas brought up a good point in class. The clans of Easter Island did not have history to look back on and improve. They got caught up in greed and positional power. We as just a nation, not even the world, just our nation has history to look back on and improve but the nation chooses not to. We are caught up in green and positional power that the future is not being taken care of. I feel like people say to themselves “oh, that won’t happen to me” but fast forward 10 years and look what they’ve done. We end up depleting the Earth of resources leaving nothing behind for the future. The movie the 11thhour highlighted just what kind ‘hurting’ the world is going through. It educated us on climate change, biodiversity loss, population growth, deforestation, and nonrenewable resource use. I’ll be honest, after watching this movie I needed to exercise. I needed to shake the guilt it made me feel for taking the Earth for granted and it made me sad about what we might be headed into in our future. It did make me want to research more about the topics. We need to be learning and teaching and learning some more about all the different ways we can solve some of these topics. We can’t just hope and pray that it won’t happen to us, because then what is left for the future?

The change that these wicked problems need starts with your own paradigm. I actually see it happening for me right now. I watched the film, The True Cost, and it started my snowball effect. I started researching and researching about what I can do or start doing, or even what I can stop doing. Honestly, I became very overwhelmed with the responsibility and got really frustrated about how I couldn’t do it all and that the weight of the world landed on Jessica Dao’s shoulders. (I know, very dramatic). Then the more I read about the issue the easier it was to make small changes. A lot of the articles said that the first step was just the realization. I definitely got that step down, and I focus on it sometimes when I feel like I am failing at the new steps. I started really investing in the pieces of clothing that I buy, or I buy second hand. I started researching what companies aligned with my new sustainable look on life, and let me tell you, I am not buying as much because there is a lot of limitations to sustainable buying in Stillwater. It’s really about looking and researching instead of impulse buying and shopping just for fun. It is a hard concept to swallow, for me shopping is a social thing. Every time I am with my mom we go shopping, it is one of our bonding things. So when I am with her I talk about the articles I’m reading, and how we should be shopping in certain stores because they pay their factory workers appropriately. Shifting the paradigm of your collective starts with you. You gotta look in the mirror and figure out where you are going to start the changes in your life because Mother Earth is begging us for it.

The wildest thing exercise we did in class helped you look in the mirror for change. It starts by asking what you issue you wish were better and what you issue you need to gripe about. Then you call upon change and brainstorm a solution. I like how our groups switched papers, it seemed less repetitive and it help call upon fresh ideas each time we switched papers. A lot of the groups chose sustainability and recycling and even kindness with peers. None of the papers I saw were about carbon footprints. A group member did share her score, she was pretty happy with it. We had the same thing in common where our traveling by car was the biggest issue. I do feel like my carbon footprint is a little skewed from what it could be if I owned my own house. Living in the apartment complexes is a little hard to have energy efficient things. My group member and I both agreed that even though driving was our biggest mark against us, it was better than flying.


About jessicafdao

Merchandising Student | Passion for learning | Always smile to make someone's day
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