Individual Actions Becoming that of the Whole

I have to make a confession. I grew up recycling and although I can’t say that I enjoyed it as a kid, I understand now why this was important.  My parents instilled in me the idea of taking responsibility for the plastic bottles we consumed ever since I was a child.  We separated the gross plastics or bottles into different containers and never mixed them with trash. We knew early on that any bottle we recycled meant one less bottle would end up in the landfill and ask a kid, this endeavor became a pleasant chore since we would end up with a few dollars in our pockets.  In time, I learned that I needed to be mindful of my role in the consumption of plastic and decided to buy a Hydro Flask to avoid buying bottles of water altogether.  Being mindful takes not only effort but also resources. But, because I grew up in a more progressive area of Northern California, there were people that paved the way and fought to have recycling centers in place for the community. I can’t say the same for say inner-city Los Angeles in Southern California where my mom grew up.  These areas were drowning in poverty, gang violence, drugs, and evident environmental degradation.  I had never made the connection until reading, “Is Poverty Responsible for Global Environmental Degradation?” I had never the role that poverty played. It was fascinating to discover that poverty is detrimental to the environment because when a poor person’s livelihood and survival are at stake, they don’t have the “luxury” to stop and think about the damage being caused to the environment.  This article further points out that when the resources have been exploited, the negative effect is that poor people are often forced to move “marginal areas” which “alter the environment” even more. I can see that, for example, a family living in Los Angeles might prefer to use bottled water instead of drinking or cooking with tap water, but might not have the ability, knowledge, or much fewer resources to be able to make sure the plastic products get recycled.  The resources are just not in place for them to be able to do that.  Hence this is why the reading also points out the need for empowering the poor.

Leyla’s Ted Talk was really interesting because she mentioned that we have to buy self-restricting products in order for us to avoid being overly wasteful in ways that I had never truly thought of.  She further points out that we need to design products that will force the user to be more efficient in their use.  This means forcing us to use only what we need.  Layla suggested the use of closed-loop and recycle something infinitely. Leyla puts the onus on the consumer.  Her message is powerful and resonates with me.  I want to continue to ponder her message in order to understand more clearly what my role is as an individual.

Leyla’s movement of Post-disposable Future is fascinating to me because it is something that I had not heard of.  Essentially the Post-disposable Future idea is to create products that are zero waste.  Post-disposable is at odds with recycling where “we heat, beat, and treat.” Leyla challenges me as a consumer because it points to the fact that some of the products that I use like straws or plastic cups are for sheer convenience but detrimental to the environment even if they were made with recycled materials.  A glass or plastic bottle can never fully be recycled in its complete form.  I am actually on board with the Post-disposable Future philosophy. It is “a global movement to rapidly design the systems that sustain wastefulness and contribute to resource depletion and pollution by reframing the negative narrative”  I believe in this wholeheartedly.  A part of my goal and reason for wanting to be apart of the Fashion Industry is to help change the ways people think and shop. I hope to make this difference in my day-to-day life and continue these practices in the future. 

It is so vital that we continue to work toward practices that will preserve our environment.  We all need to keep in mind that even one individual can make a huge difference. Once this mentality grows the individual has the potential to influence an entire community, and it is only then that the environment will stand a chance at a future. One final suggestion would be to do this is through Eco Design. I hope to be able to take various things into consideration when it comes to design for the future. I hope to reduce chemical uses, reduction in waste, as well as the recyclability of something. 

Through merchandising, we can influence the industry with more eco-friendly and find ways to reduce the problems within the industry. 

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