What Happens When You Recycle?

The visit to the sustainability office was an eye-opening experience for me. It was interesting to be able to see local recycling practices up close in person. Was any of the shredded paper that was turned into a bale in front of our eyes mine? Were any of the plastic bottles in the plastic bags mine at one point? The possibility was fascinating to think about. Before the field trip, I was unaware of most of the ways that our university practices sustainability. I knew some of the ways that the university tries to help students be more mindful when they throw something away. For example, next to most trash cans on campus is another bin for recyclable materials. In each computer lab, there is a paper recycling bin that students can use to recycle pages that may have misprint or pages they aren’t using anymore. All of these recyclable materials are sent to the recycling facilities on the edge of campus to be sorted and compacted. These materials are then resold to be upcycled in future projects. In addition to paper, the facility also recycles discarded cardboard from the university campus. Worn or damaged furniture from around campus is sent to the upholstery shop to be repaired and reupholstered so that the furniture can be used for many more years.   

The visit to the sustainability office has shown me many ways that I can practice sustainable design in my future career as a fashion designer. There are numerous ways to incorporate re-used or recycled materials to create quality fashionable garments that will last. Minimalist designs can increase the longevity of a garment. This type of design is trendy to individuals of all ages and body times. Garments that have simple construction will be much easier to repair to resize based on the needs of an individual verses garments that have complex construction.

At the sustainability office, I learned many practices that I will incorporate into my daily life. Most of these practices are easy habit changes that everyone should start doing, like turning the light off when you leave a room or recycling instead of throwing away. At home I will unplug cords when they are not in use, and I will wash clothes on the cool setting to decrease energy consumption. I will also be more mindful of my purchases, and try to seek out more environmentally friendly alternatives to items that are not traditionally eco-friendly.  

Why may people be aware of sustainable alternatives but still choose options that are harmful to the environment?

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