More than a lifestyle change

The lessons I have learned this semester have completely changed me, my values, and my goals for the better. Going into this course, I didn’t know anything about sustainability. I thought that I did, but now that I understand the subject better, I realize how little I had known before. I cared about the environment, so I would recycle and try to reduce waste, but sustainability is about so much more than that. To live sustainably is more than a few simple changes, it is about changing your mindset so that the choices you make in the present are trying to minimize harm in the future. Since every small change we make can add up to make a better impact, I’ve been switching more of my disposable goods over to reusable versions and being more aware of my water usage, and I use a refillable bottle. I feel good knowing these small changes can add up, but the changes I’m most excited about are the ones I am making for the future. As a fashion marketing major, I knew the industry I wanted to be in, but I wasn’t sure of a direction. My new goal is to create a fashion brand that collects some of the 17 million tons of textile waste produced each year, and recycles them into new pieces.
One of the activities that motivated this goal was the social entrepreneurship research activity, where I read about GLO Cleveland Inc., and its founder, Shelly Garcon. One of the beliefs that inspired Ms. Garcon was the idea that transformation is crucial for humanity. While her focus is on the economy and giving space and resources to creatives, especially women, and that is a different field than I am interested in, she believes that creative thinking and transformation will help us grow as a community and that unity leads to positive change.
One of the most difficult lessons I have come to learn this semester is the effects of industry on the environment. Those effects are bad, and they are massive. Corporations are the leading cause of pollution, and that’s because oftentimes, the choices that businesses make to lower overhead and increase their profits will raise their carbon footprint exponentially. I started to wonder if my future plans to create fashion would conflict with my personal values and if it was ethical to contribute to that, but reading Ms. Garcon’s thoughts on transformation being an important part of problem-solving, helped me realize that transforming recycled textiles might help me solve mine.
The Wicked Problems website did teach us that wicked problems are often intertwined with other problems, so our solutions will never be that simple, but this year I have started practicing sustainable living by evaluating all my choices for their future impact. It is a small start, but I am hoping that creating this habit now will lead to sustainable choices being made when I start working towards my professional goals.
Will a brand recycling textiles solve the climate crisis? Absolutely not. It requires all of us to look critically at our choices, our lifestyles, and our goals to tailor them towards the future. It isn’t enough to be environmentally friendly, we have to prioritize it. This can come at the expense of profit or time, and the changes can be difficult, but as the Fletcher reading told us, if the answers to climate change were free of sacrifices, we would have already done them. I am proud to be hoping for and working towards the solution, and I am excited to be doing my part to work towards a solution and thankful that’s a lesson I learned this early.

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