Paper vs Plastic Bags? Maybe we Need to Look a Nature’s Choice Instead.

I was assigned NO reading for the week because I am a design housing and marketing major at Oklahoma State University. This week’s reading focused on how impoverished communities face the most danger from climate change. Due to the rapid increase of population and demand for resources, people facing poverty are more likely to stay in poverty, and low-income communities are more likely to fall under the poverty trap. Today, our society depends on the economy and resources, so when communities face a humanitarian crisis, they get pushed aside for short-term economy stabilizers. A direct example of this is looking at how poor income communities are built on top of chemical waste fields, fossil fuel extracting plants. With this exposure to chemical, water, and air pollution, they are more likely to face health complications. Poor people cannot wait for benefits and investments to a better future; they have to live in the now to survive. Causing them to be trapped and unable to escape poverty. This is why cities’ development can get away with the mistreatment of poverty areas because they aren’t directionally affecting their livelihood in the now.

Leyla Acarpglu’s Ted Talk discusses how maybe in the now, our actions are okay, but they have future relocations. This can be seen in the discussion on which is better, paper bags or plastic bags when picking at the supermarket. She points out most people will pick paper because it is made environmentally friendly and biodegradable. However, when not looking into that paper bag’s future, it doesn’t actually biodegrade because of the landfills being oxygen suffocaters. The bags aren’t going to decompose and disappear out of landfills, it’s going to sit next to plastic bags. So when given an eco-friendly choice at the supermarket doesn’t really exist. 

I learned looking at suitable options in the now are perceiving, they may be designed to look and act environmentally friendly, but they have the opposite effect. Another example other than paper bags is the drawers in fridges marketing as air-tight and will not let food spoil as quickly to prevent food waste. It actually doesn’t really work. There isn’t any difference between putting lettuce in the lettuce saver drawer or leaving it out in the fridge’s main compartment. These situations give a false perception of what our understanding and actions have effects on climate change. I am a paper bag picker victim and have thrown away soggy and old produce from my fridge as well, even though I consisted myself eco-friendly before finding out the sad truth. When basing our day to day choices in trying to be as ecofriendly as possible, the most effective choices mimic nature. So now, I don’t make a choice between paper or plastic, taking old cloth bags lying around the house to go grocery shopping. I recently found out that submerging lettuce in water can keep it fresh and crunchy for up to 2 months. 

As a future interior designer, I do value Biophilic design. I view so many benefits of Biophilic design not only for the environment but also for people. Biophilic design connects us back into our environment and creates a connection back into nature. As well as known to calm anxiety and create mindfulness. Which are the first steps of learning about and interacting more with an eco-friendly lifestyle. I like looking at non-rhythmic sensory stimuli and connecting with natural world system and design patterns. This grasps people’s attention and instantly puts them in a calm environment. In my focused field of work, healthcare facility design, I feel like this would help people seeking medical treatment. Being in a facility space away from home causes discomfort and exhaustion. But adding home feeling sensory design would help patients feel grounded.  

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