My definition of sustainability has changed a lot since I first started my sustainability journey. On day one of my journey my definition of sustainability was creating things that are made out materials that are made to last from generation to generation while at the same time will better the environment or give back to the environment. While that might be part of sustainability it is actually much more. Sustainability is not just about making things that will last a long time. I now know that sustainability and being sustainable could greatly impact the way we live and the planet we live on for the better. Sustainability is the change in behavior to take the time to reduce waste by recycle materials or reuse materials so that they don’t end up in a landfill that is destroying the ozone which protects us from other dangers beyond. We also need to conserve more energy and use more renewable energy such as wind and solar energy because it is a natural source of energy that will not harm the environment. I think that my new definition for sustainability is the actions we make to improve our environment by changing our behavior to create a better environment for ourselves and for the future generations to come. I think the most important thing I will take away from this class is how I can spread the word about sustainability through day to day life as well as through interior design because of all the in class activities that really make you think of all the different opportunities we as designers have to educate our clients about sustainable alternatives and making them a reality in our designs. This class like I said really gets you thinking about all the possibilities there are to make something more sustainable. Another thing I learned that I will definitely use in my future career is the use of empathic design and really getting to understand my clients wants, needs, and wish for a design creating it in a sustainable way. I think it is a good learning experience for both the client and the designer to connect on that personal level and in a way creating something together just like we are doing for Mr. Vincent. This class has taught me a great deal about what sustainability really is and how I and use it today and in the future. Somethings that I would like to learn more about in the future that we discussed in class would be more on deforestation and how that is affecting the people as well as the wildlife in the areas where there is a large amount of trees being destroyed and cradle to cradle systems. When I am either working for a company or possibly starting my own company I will want to make sure that a closed loop system is in place. I don’t think people realize just how much waste there really is in the world. I know I didn’t before this class and I want to be a part of the sustainability movement by reusing materials and recycling things that wouldn’t be reusable and to make connections with other people that want to do the same. In conclusion this class has really opened my eyes to just how much we need to change to make a more sustainable and more healthy environment for the future and I can’t wait to one day really make a change in the sustainability movement.
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In the beginning of this course I would have previously described sustainability as simply “going green”. However, I do know now that there is so much more to even that simple term going green as well as the umbrella of what sustainability really means. Sustainability is not just an action, it is a lifestyle. To be sustainable does not just mean you recycle a bottle every now and again, but you keep the world around you in mind in all decisions you make and practice your best to protect it. Living in a sustainable can also mean more than just actions. I feel that having nature and the world around you be a constant inspiration is also a big way to live out sustainability.
To be transparent, I never cared about sustainability before taking this class. Mostly because I genuinely had no idea how far gone our world has become in terms of global warming. I got my reality check very early on in the semester when we watched our 11th hour video. The video opened my eyes to the very real reality of what exactly global warming is and the depth of the damage its bringing to our planet. Once I left that class a very funny thing happened. As I was walking back to my house I saw the outside world around me in a new way. I say the grass and the trees and saw a beauty in them I never saw before. I had a deeper appreciation for the road I was walking on because a real person created it. I saw the things I overlooked everyday in a new way and honestly began to feel guilty that I had ever treated it with disrespect. This was one of the biggest epiphanies to me.
The concept that stuck with me the most from this semester is the concept of biophillia. This concept is used a foundation for design practices. Designers will seek things in nature as the stepping stones for design elements in modern products or technology. This idea was reiterated in Janine Benyus’s TED Talk. She talked about the train and tunnel architects who were inspired by the bird diving into the water to upgrade their design of the train making the loud booming sound when it went into the tunnel. They were able to use biophillia to help them better a design in modern trains.
I am hoping to later know more about sustainable practices that are being used in the fashion industry. Now knowing that the fashion industry is the second highest industry contributing to problems related to global warming, I am very interested in seeing how this industry develops strategies to help solve this crisis. I am aware of a few technological advances on the matter and I am eager to see where the industry goes as far as making the sustainable changes they need to make for a better future.
In the beginning of the course I thought of being sustainable only involved the environment with recycling and reusing items but I have now realized it involves a lot more than that including the way of designing or merchandising a store to upcycling clothing and creating products with empathic design. The way I define sustainability and sustainable design is being conscious or aware of your daily activities, how you impact the environment, the way you design, produce, and sell products with thinking of the environment and society. Sustainability is about designing or helping effect the environment but also involves thinking about the people around the world. People around the world are effected by the way products are made and disposed of. Many of the factories in developing countries are not paying fair wages or treated with respect. A lot of the trash around the world including textiles are thrown in landfills which does not help the environment or the people.
Throughout by sustainable learning journey I will start at our reverse lecture where I focused on “gather and use energy efficiently” in the article for industrial ecology. The article talked about how sunlight is the best resource for energy and had an example on how leaves on the trees in mature forest are perfectly angled to get the most out of the sun as it crosses through the sky. Trees set the ceiling on what we should be doing to gather our energy as well as wind power. This is my favorite idea in industrial ecology because I love trees and believe people have a lot to learn from them and we have learned a lot from them.
After the industrial ecology idea, we learned about Biophilia. Biophilia is humans possessing a tendency to connect with nature and other forms of life. Some of the patterns in biophilic design is the visual connection with nature, presence of water, and connection with natural systems. Visual connection with nature is a view to elements of nature so the preferred view would be a scene that includes shade trees, flowering plants and bodies of clean water. Presence of water is a condition that enhances the experience of a place through seeing, hearing or touching water. Water enhances the experience of a place so that it is soothing and enhances the mood. The connection with natural system is awareness of natural processes, especially seasonal and temporal changes characteristic of a healthy ecosystem. So, integrating rainwater into the design would create a connection with the natural ecosystem.
After learning about what Biophilia can include my favorite LOLA show was that included a biophilic idea/design. It was about cleaning the ocean with once carpet tile at a time. The problem is there is no solution, nothing mentions ways to help clean up the ocean just ways to prevent it. Harmful materials like plastics are not biodegradable. A solution that was mention is Interface which is the world’s largest commercial carpet manufacturer and are the leaders in the industry for sustainability. The carpet, called Net Effect, they take polluted fishing nets and partnered with Aquafil. Aquafil leads in Italy and globally and their focus on closing the loop. I really enjoy hearing about neat ideas like this one that really can make an impact around the world in many different ways.
One of the last things throughout this journey was learning about empathic design. As I have mentioned previously my grandmother has Parkinson’s disease and hearing different ideas about how companies are out there designing with people with setbacks gave me the idea to think of new ways of designing for the people around me that makes up the bigger picture in the world.
I learned many things in this course that gave me ideas for the future in my field of merchandising. I will be able to be more consciously aware where things come from and go or how they impact the world. I would have liked to learn more about how I could be more sustainable in my individual life like the small things I could do. I know it was mentioned at the sustainability store such as cleaning out the containers we recycle that people later then have to sort but more ideas that I could do in a small way to try and make a difference.
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At the beginning of the course with my first blog I defined sustainability as “what we can do to help save the world. As our world has developed new technologies we have become less conserved about our Earth and what we are doing to it”. When I was writing that definition I was thinking more broadly of what sustainability is. Throughout the course we learned or I realized that sustainability does not have to be a big plan in a large company. This course taught me about my how one person can change one little thing in his or her life and make a difference in sustainability. If each person took a little bit of time to find their top three most wasteful things in his or her life and find a way to cut back, or look for a more sustainable option. Three small changes in peoples lives can make a large difference overall to the earth. Once people start to make personal changes they are able to feel more comfortable to talk to others on changes that they can make in their personal lives. That is when that one person grows into a group of a few, more people join and it is a larger group. When people become more comfortable with sustainability can feel more comfortable about changing the practices at their work and to make their work place more sustainable. Sustainability does not have to be a big thing but a grouping of small changes can make large changes. In the first blog I talked about how everyone wants the newest and greatest item on the market. With each newer item on the market it makes the older products obsolete and creates a large amount of waste. There should be some type of system that makes waste less with the products that people no longer need. Sustainable design is about making new products with existing products. It is about finding different ways to run things instead of using oil.
One thing that I will be taking away is empathy design. In this course we learned the definition of empathy design, which is the process of developing an understanding of users, not just their needs. As a merchandising major I think about how to showcase different products for stores in the best ways to increase sales. Before this class I did not think that merchandisers could be considered an empathetic designer. I thought that it was up to the product designer to think about how to best design for the consumer. However, I have learned that it is up to everyone to think about how to design for everyone. This course focuses on how to design for the older adults. As a 22-year-old merchandiser it is hard to understand how someone who is 75 has problems putting on their clothing, cooking, and shopping. Through different activities I have been pushed to think outside of my own mindset and try to see how others see things, feel things, and move. Empathetic design is not just about stepping into someone else’s shoes, but rather seeing them with a problem and feeling the need to fix their problem to make his or her life better and easier.
I personally love working with natural materials and bringing nature into design. I never knew before this class that there were theories that support what I personally do. It made me see that it is not just me that likes to design with nature in mind. Nor did I know that designing with nature in mind or incorporating it into places can make people feel more comfortable. These are just a couple things that I am taking away from the class.
In this course I thought that I would learn about sustainability and come up with ways to change our future job to become more sustainable. These are things that we did through class activities and talks from readings. However, I think this class could help people start thinking about making his or her life more sustainable by talk and doing activities that someone can do right now while still in school. Most of our learning community activities were based on what we would or could do in our career. That is not a bad thing at all, but I think that it takes steps for someone to become an sustainability activist and I believe that starts with him or her changing how he or she does things in the everyday life right now. I wish we could have talked more about and done activities for how to make our lives in school more sustainable. Or doing a semester long project of coming up with a sustainable design to help students on campus thinking about sustainability. Then take our ideas to the school and try to implement it into Oklahoma State. In my opinion the only people who know how to help students think more about sustainability are students. We know how life is on campus and what our major waste problems are. If this idea was implemented into the course I think the course should be less than a 4000 level class that is mainly for seniors. That way the winner of the sustainability challenge could work with Oklahoma State on the winning project in the upcoming years of his or her schooling.
When I started this class this semester, I thought sustainability was all about recycling and using less gas. I saw it as a little thing that didn’t really effect my life. Like many people on campus and the world, I thought just dumping my cans and plastic bottles in the recycling bin was enough. Sustainability to me was for quote on quote “tree huggers”. I also thought of sustainability as something only people who had money could truly invest in. “Solar panels and other sustainable equipment cost money that my college student budget can’t afford” was what I use to think. I didn’t look at sustainability as a full picture. Now after being in the class since January, I’ve learned sustainability is a way of life, it’s a movement in itself. Sustainability is about designing for the now and the future. To me its about finding innovative ways to reuse or create things that work with the environment, not against it. Sustainability to me includes being more flexible and functional. When creating something we have to think about how many uses that one design can do because that saves on materials and energy. The main thing I took was that to not be sustainable is to hurt the future.
We learned a lot during this semester but the two things I enjoyed the most was empathetic design and biophilic design. The one thing I like about empathetic design is designing with other people and the environment in mind. Empathetic design is something that I believe large companies often miss the mark on. We as merchandisers and designers have to think about how our designs effect others such as the disabled, elderly, and even just others beliefs. I got a better understanding of empathetic design when I did my LOLA. In the DHM program we have focused a lot on the elderly and I wanted to focus on something that affected people of all ages. Learning how retailers are taking the time to offer better shopping conditions for consumers with Autism was astounding. Empathetic design can include just tuning down the music, or having smaller, crowds, or even just dimming the lights. Empathetic design is designing with heart and understanding. Biophilic design to me is designing with nature in mind. When I think about Biophilia in merchandising, I see incorporating nature in the retail environment. When I open my store biophilia is something I plan on incorporating into my décor. I love the idea of using natural light, I can do that by having bigger windows so it can bring the outdoors in. Its not just about putting plants everywhere, I think putting an actual garden in the middle of the store will be great to have a beautiful place within the store that will relieve stress and bring the outdoors in.
This course taught me way more about sustainability than I ever though existed. I thought I was just going to learn more about recycling and reducing gases but I learned sustainability is smart design. Something that I want to learn about it biophilia in merchandising. I know that I already spoke on this topic but this something I want to incorporate in my future business, so I believe its very important that I get more knowledge on how I can include it in my business plan for my store. Although I learned a lot in this class, I can say I have a long way to go before I’m truly sustainable. The first step is being more aware of your carbon print and I now know mine is pretty bad. I recycle more on campus and anywhere that offers recycling but in the future I want to have my own recycling bin at home. I also want to learn more about composting. If my trimmings from my food can serve another purpose its worth looking more into. In the future I hope to take what I’ve learned about sustainability and not only use it in my own life but to introduce it to my loved one to create my own little sustainable community.
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Sustainability, for me, has changed throughout the semester. When I was just starting out on this journey I thought the idea of sustainability had a simple meaning of to just recycle and reuse what you can when possible. But from what I have learned this semester is that sustainability is so much more complex than just recycling. Sustainability is thinking of others, designing new products, entrepreneurship, and thinking outside of the box. Sustainability is a web of many things that can help the world, big and small. I think that is what makes sustainability so great, it is not just recycling plastic it is getting in touch with our planet and what it has to offer. Whether it is people or plants, we are all living here and we need to learn to listen to the life that has sustained on its own for many years.
After being able to learn about all the different branches of sustainability, I have become more aware of the world and of my own actions. Learning of the difference principles has caused me to make decisions that have quite a bit to do with what we are learning in class whether it is consciously or subconsciously. With regarding to Biophilia I find myself buying plants for the house and just being outside more. The past few weeks I have been taking my dog on walks around Boomer Lake. We talk about how relaxing nature can be but very rarely do we find ourselves actually in nature, therefore I am trying my best to be outside more. I have always thought of myself as being an empathetic person, sometimes I am overly empathetic I feel. However, talking about it in class and taking to Mr. Vincent has opened my eyes even more especially with regards to older people. Sometimes I think we find ourselves getting frustrated with old people when they walk slow or drive slow, but eventually we all get old and I think we need to think about everything they go through and that they truly cannot help that their body hurts and they walk slow. There is always something we can do to get in touch with sustainability it does not have to be something difficult. I think that is what is so fascinating about it, personally, I am not someone who can make new clothes out of my old ones but I know that I can make a difference by recycling or helping an older person whenever I can.
If I could learn more about sustainability, I guess it would be where I could find resources to connect businesses. I would like to know all of the costs and what it would take to switch a company to sustainable ways. For me, I am going back to work for Dillard’s who unfortunately waste a lot of clothing and other products. I would love to propose a way they could recycle all the wasted product but I am not sure where to start. I know they will not donate it because they do not want their clothes sold for very little, which I understand, but I would love to know of companies that recycle products. Companies do not want to lose money or “waste” money and I would love to know how to open the companies’ eyes. As far as not learning what I expected to, I think I learned it all. I did not really know what to expect and I am pleased with all the information I learned. Sustainability is something I had no real previous knowledge of, and I feel that I know enough to pass on the information and to change my life style which I feel is the purpose of this class.
After taking this course, I would define sustainability/sustainable design as a way of doing/creating in a way that is beneficial or does not harm the environment and also ensure that future generations are able to enjoy this wonderful earth and all of its resources. My definition from the first of the semester is slightly similar, “Sustainability to me is the relationship that one has with the environment, and bettering behaviors in order to extend the longevity of our great planet.” I understand now, however, how important it is to be sustainable in designing products, and how little changes can really make big impacts.
As stated previously, a big epiphany was how important sustainability is for design. It is so important also to be conscious of where the products we as consumers are buying and the companies we are supporting by doing so. At first I really thought that sustainable design was really just all about recycling excess materials and using eco-friendly resources such as wind power, solar power, etc. I know realize that while those topics are important in sustainability there is so much more to consider. Never before have I really thought of those who are making the product, much less thought about those who were perhaps growing the product and why exactly that is important. Sustainable design deals so much with every single aspect of the product from the very first concepts of the product/design all the way until it reaches the customer and how they use it (empathic design/c2c).
What I would like to learn more about in the future is more about sustainable companies, and also more about the companies who are not so sustainable and why. I would like to see fast fashion change, and although I really enjoy being able to buy a t-shirt for $7 at a place like H&M or Forever 21, after this class I feel so guilty about it. There really wasn’t much that we didn’t talk about in this class, and I feel as if I am leaving it knowing a great deal more about how to be more sustainable myself in my everyday life, and also in ways in which I can possibly incorporate it in my professional life.
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