Compassion Towards Sustainability

I entered this class having little to no idea what I was going to be learning. I was unsure about the course’s curriculum and what I was going to have to do well in the class. I was under the impression that this class was going to be more based on numbers and mathematical problems due to the class title of Wicked problems. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I figured out what the meaning of this class was. This class captures your attention to the problem but brings in the underlying components of symptoms, knowledge, and overall concern. I always knew that sustainability was a very large issue within the fashion industry. However, I had no idea how a potential solution could cause further issues for either the people, the economy, or the environment. I never knew how much waste was contributed by the apparel industry and how it affected so many different aspects of our environment. The fashion industry and its methods of production, distribution, and management have major tolls on the environment in vast ways and will directly affect the human population. Knowing that climate change experts are predicting we will hurt our planet beyond repair within the next few years, and the consequences will we face such as lack of resources, extreme weather, loss of biodiversity, rising ocean levels, disease, and more. With this, it affects the mind portion of understanding a wicked problem. Our emotional understanding was talked about more after the completion of our first blog post. The infographic project was very vital in regards to my overall understanding of key facts regarding fashion and its toll on the environment. My group designated its topic of concern on the waste that is from both the production and end-use of apparel. The Infographics were very important as they showed the environmental crisis that is caused by textile waste. It was very scary to read that 14 million tons of clothing are thrown away every year… and that is only in America. Another statistic that shows the horrific effect of apparel waste is that it takes 200+ years to decompose. This immediately raised several questions of concern. How do we fix a problem that is universal in its contribution and has no solution? The effects of fashion waste are not limited to what ends up in landfills; often, that waste has chemicals that are deposited into the soil and make their way into waterways and bodies of water that are vital to the environment’s ecosystems. Another key issue is the micro-plastic waste that is broken down and is distributed into the ocean and ends up entangled or ingested by marine life or circulated into giant trash pools that destroy our ocean. Now knowing how much is affected by textile and apparel waste, I have a growing passion for making conscious effects in not only reducing my contribution but also integrating ideas and potential solutions to minimize my individual contribution to this lethal muddle. I have a large amount of emotional guilt as I have practiced unsustainable methods when getting rid of clothing, but thankfully I have grown to adapt to healthy, sustainable implementations. I think that bodily understanding comes in the details.

Since learning about overconsumption I began to reflect on my own life, I’ve made a conscious effort to buy only what clothing I need and not buy cheap items that will only last me a year of wear. I’ve learned about what is put into the air, water, and ground and how it eventually enters my own body and affects my health. I am a pescatarian. Therefore, I only eat fish as regarded as animal meat. This is due to a concern about what I put into my body. Meat harvesting is very environmentally lethal and contributes greatly to climate change factors. The use of growth stimulation and medicine in order to pass regulations is very scary and can have detrimental effects on the human body. I learned about feeding practices and what goes into animals that we end up eating. Plastics and pollution end up in the pig that we eat, and it can seriously hurt our health.  Such health issues can also come from pollution put into the air and water from chemicals being released. From a bodily health perspective, I care too much about my health to let unsustainable practices take their toll on me and those I love. My new practice of mindfulness has helped me understand wicked problems in all areas. Not only do I feel like my stress from school and life has become more manageable since practicing mindfulness, but it’s allowed me to clear excessive thoughts. With these extra thoughts gone, I have the mind space and energy to think more deeply about sustainability in relation to my personal lifestyle. I have always been one to go on a journey of mindfulness incorporating meditation into my daily schedule is one that I hope to continue to do throughout the summer. It truly makes a difference in my personal life and has helped my anxiety tremendously. I hope that with my consistent practice, I will get off my anxiety and depression medicine. After I complete my studies, I plan on taking a year to travel to a Buddhist temple and build on my spiritual journey and incorporate it fully into my life practices.

After completing this course, I believe that I have truly been able to learn and establish the ways of practicing sustainability. My feelings of comprehending everyone’s role in sustainability have changed drastically. I never thought of all the different ways that not only people affect the environment but also how those methods affect the people. The debates within the class have given me knowledge on the factors of poverty being one that is uncontrollable to the individual but has a whole system in which they contribute to unsustainable practices in the environment. It gave me the ability to be sympathetic to others and their circumstances in regard to their contribution to climate change. Sometimes the situations of the country are not feasible to work with sustainable practices. I have learned to be less judgmental of those countries and hope that with further research and teachings, we will be able to come full circle. Sustainability is a matter of the utmost urgency, yes, but I believe we still need to put people first and be sympathetic to their situations. Putting people first, being sympathetic, and being sustainable really go hand in hand. Taking care of those who can’t yet be very sustainable because of their low resources is extremely important to remaining human, but by being sustainable, we’re taking care of anyone who lives on our planet or ever will. The best way, I think to grow globally towards sustainability is to be compassionate and encourage others to do the same. A single act of kindness will grow and spread universally. Being cautious of your own actions and how that plays a role in the environment is very vital. I hope to take what I have learned and teach others. I think that when I am home this summer, I will integrate these viable practices into my family in hopes of a domino effect taking place.

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