discussions of a not so greek tragedy

Why is it that we are drawn to tragedy?

For example, the modern genre of “true crime” has skyrocketed in popularity over the last 20 years. This is because people love to learn about mysteries and to delve into the minds of serial killers and other criminals.

However, what all of us do not acknowledge is that a true crime novel could be written about each of us. We engage in criminal acts every day—murder, stealing, and even defacement of public property.

“How dare you! I am no criminal scum bag.” Is what you are probably thinking.

But you are. You, and I and everyone else are murdering, stealing, and defacing the natural habitat we call home.

We buy things that are manufactured by large chains of corporations. By doing so, we do not see the impact we make—these corporations contract with factories whose byproducts of production pollute the environment of the countries in which they reside. We do not see the animals and humans that perish because of this pollution. We do not see the pollution-dirtied pools of water from which underdeveloped countries take water to use for everyday life. We do not see the disease that humans in these environments contract because of pollution from factories. By supporting large corporations, we are stealing from our environment, from the lives of others, and from our future generations. In addition, the pollution created by corporations in their efforts to keep up with our demands negatively alters our environment’s appearance—sometimes irreversibly. If we truly abided by the laws of our land and of our world, each of us would face punishment and consequences for committing these crimes against humanity and against nature.

If we thought about our actions as if we were characters in a true crime story, do you think we would behave differently?

The waste we produce and the harm we inflict upon our environment can sometimes be helped. This was evident when our class visited the Sustainability office on campus. We were able to see first-hand some efforts that OSU is making to enforce and promote sustainability in Stillwater. We were refreshed on the triple bottom line, and encouraged to reduce, reuse, and recycle—in that order. The upholstery shop re-covers, repairs, and re-stains furniture from all over campus. The fabric used to re-cover these pieces of furniture is often recycled from various sources instead of bought new. The recycling center was apparently “cleaned out” before we got there, yet there was still quite a bit of waste inside. We learned the difference between different types of paper waste; for example, cardboard is different from junk mail is different from white paper. We were able to visit the composting yard to see how materials from all over campus are returned to the earth to be decomposed and enrich the soil. It seems as though the more we learn about the terrible things that humans are doing to our environment, we also learn about good things that mindful people are doing to help improve and offset tragedy.

From visiting the sustainability center, I learned some things that could help my own sustainability practices. For example, there are places around campus that anyone can go to and recycle textiles. They act as donation bins, and the sustainability office will pick up that material and use the textiles directly or break them down to their fibers to be recycled that way. So maybe the designers in DHM should collect all our scraps instead of throwing them “away” so that we can bring them to one of these textile recycling locations on campus. Another example of something I learned at the sustatinability office that helps me in my daily life is not only the concept of RRR, but the order. We were prompted to think first of how we can reduce our consumption, secondly on how we can reuse leftovers from consumption, and thirdly how we can recycle what is left after that. I like thinking of even the smallest of ways I can reduce my consumption, such as buying clothes secondhand instead of new or using less gas. I do not often buy disposable water bottles but refill a Nalgene throughout the day. Also, I really like to take my own shopping bags when I go grocery shopping and have made a habit out of this. I further understand from this visit to the sustainability office and from taking wicked problems that sustainability cannot happen unless we are mindful of our actions and in tune with ourselves.

In the future, I would like to use fashion as a vehicle for communicating important messages about sustainability to the world. I think that humans universally respond strongly to visual messages, and this is why I believe that fashion can be so impactful when its power is harnessed. From visiting the sustainability office’s recycling center, I was reminded of the large volume of trash humans create. It would be very interesting to explore ways to use this trash as components for apparel. It would be cool to make garments out of trash that were very bizarre in order to capture an audience, but also it would be beneficial to further research ways to incorporate trash into daily clothing. It might also be a fruitful effort to convey to people that the current volume of trash is not okay—it is ugly, harmful, and reckless. If this could somehow be conveyed through clothing, I think it would be a memorable message.

Maybe there is some hope for us–maybe we are destined to redeem ourselves from the criminal scumbag title. With determination and mindfulness, I believe we can achieve this feat. We should think of ways we can turn our life around because, as long as we are living, we can make a difference for the better. We can positively impact our own lives, our natural environment, and future generations to come.

To close, I would like to offer a proposition. Crime is something that many humans are naturally drawn to. Could it be a survival mechanism, or a primal instinct? Could it be that we are so frightened by the gory details that we feel the need for closure? Or is it something else entirely?

Maybe the reason we are drawn to tragedy is because we are so tragic ourselves.

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