My Sustainability Improvement

Over the duration of this eight-week long course, we had the opportunity to dive into a wide range of topics directly related to or pertaining to the wider matter of sustainability. I have never considered or even been aware of the efforts and importance of sustainability. I have heard the term be used before however I never really knew or cared about what it might mean. I am someone who absolutely loves to travel and see the world for what it is naturally. I have always been sensitive to seeing living things being harmed or destroyed. After seeing videos about it, especially the movie The 11th Hour, it made me see just how poorly humans are treating the world and destroying the very thing that gives us life. We conversed on the topics of fast fashion, construction and demolition, pollution, deforestation, global warming, and so many other things that are taking place that have been slowly diminishing our world. It was disgusting and disappointing to look at, however it also made me reflect on myself and the choices I have made over the past years, weeks, days, or even hours that have made a negative footprint in the sustainability of our planet. I was never aware that some of the choices I have been making are making an ecological and atmospheric impact. Speaking of self-reflection, a key part of this course was focused on the time we dedicated to mindfulness practice and understanding. The definition of mindfulness, as seen in the Webster dictionary, is the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis. I am someone who easily finds myself being overwhelmed, distracted with tasks that need to be taken care of, always want to please the people around me, and sometimes find myself stuck in a certain emotion. Especially being a new student at a large university, I had a lot of emotions and thoughts running through my mind that I was not quite sure how to handle. When coming to wicked problems of industrial practice and learning about the meaning, affects, and benefits of mindfulness practice, I found myself fascinated because it was exactly the tool I needed to obtain in order to calm myself down and tackle any situation or circumstance that would come my way each day. I became way more aware of my thoughts and I am now on a journey of learning to control those thoughts and direct them in a positive way. I know the lessons of mindfulness in this course have impacted my thinking because now I will catch myself at random moments throughout the day wanting to take a mindfulness break to simply breath, become aware of my thoughts, gather them, and make it a point to exit my mindfulness break with a positive thought. The intellectual changes that have taken place from mindfulness practice has been nothing but positive and beneficial. At the start of this class and our mindfulness journey, I found it very difficult to stay focused, keep my mind clear, and sit still. At first, I wasn’t sure if mindfulness was going to be beneficial for me simply because I didn’t think that I could sit through it. I then realized that mindfulness practice does not have to be the same for everyone. My favorite place to take a few mindful minutes is in my car. I used to be in a habit of making excuses like, “I don’t have time” or “I will just fall asleep.” I recognized that I can practice my mindfulness anywhere, so why not try to do it in a place that I frequent and feel comfortable. My mental health has been a dominant factor in my life over the past two years or so, so starting to incorporate mindfulness practice in my routine throughout my day has helped keep me grounded not only physically but mentally as well. Being aware and in touch with my feelings has allowed me to view things more sympathetically. I have never considered the ecological effects of my lifestyle and choices, but this class has made that change. I have gained almost a hyper-awareness to how my earth is being impacted by products and choices made by humans. Some of the daily products that I have never thought twice about are now a concern in the back of my mind each time I use or see these products. Some popular and common products would be paper straws and plastics. I would say one of the main problems with plastics and trash is the littering that comes with it. It is now a point in my life to make sure I am throwing away anything I’ve used or recycling what is able to be recycled. I am moving to the beach in just two short months, so the well-being of the beaches, sea life, and human life is something that I am very excited to learn about and partake in keeping those things in the best condition. Living in the more metropolitan areas of Oklahoma, it can be hard to care or even know about sustainability. I feel like that when we ar surrounded by artificial building materials and human made things (buildings, roads, bridges, parks) it is difficult to be in touch with the earth and environment. I believe that the more emotionally connected we are to something, the more we will care about it and want to take care of it. I was not sure as to why mindfulness played a part in the whole topic of sustainability, but after the conclusion of this class, I think I have grasped at least part of, if not all of the reason behind it. There would be no efforts of sustainability if we did not care about the planet. To care about something or someone is to have emotion for that something or someone. So, making it a point to be in touch with our feelings is directly related to sustainability for many reasons. Some people have to be convinced to care, and honestly, I was one of those people. Feelings and emotion are in every single person, but what those feelings look like is entirely up to you. I have been emotionally and physically affected by this class, when I truly had no idea that would be the result of the things taught throughout this course. I came in with a more close-minded mindset and have left with a new personal characteristic to be more open-minded to thing things, people, ideas, and functions taking place around me. I now think not only about my own personal satisfaction, but how the people or things around me are being affected in order to satisfy my own wants and needs.  I have a very tight knit group of friends who have not been through this course. The majority of them actually live over a thousand miles away from me. I am excited to take the information I have gathered and practiced over the past eight weeks, and put it to practice not only by myself but with the people around me. Sharing about sustainability and setting an example to follow the good side of sustainable living is how I plan of bringing a greater amount of awareness to sustainability and mindfulness. My two best friends and I are now collectively trying to do our part in keeping our earth safe and healthy. We also are now incorporating daily, or as often as possible, mindfulness practices. Although only starting out by sharing about sustainability with two people is not very great or impactful, my hope is that just those two small seeds can spread and keep spreading like a wildfire. (A metaphorical one of course.) The last thing I have found interest in making an impact is in the world of fast fashion. I am going to stop purchasing clothes from fast fashion industries and am going to try to educate or mention the negative side effects of fast fashion to any of my friends who do it regularly. Fashion is a very friendly and ongoing are of popular culture, so making sure I do my part in positively impacting that category of society is important to me. This course has provided me with self-reflection, new thoughts, a better understanding of the very world I live in, and much more. I am going to take the things I have learned in this class and practice incorporating the positive lifestyle changes into my own life. Wicked problems cannot be solved with the click of a button, but I do know that it takes an army. I now know about some of the key wicked problems happening in society today, so it is my responsibility as a human and active member of society to take care of the planet.  

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