During this course, I was able to learn and express my thoughts on multiple wicked problems in and out of my industry. There is way more factors in my industry that affect our planet. We spoke about mindfulness practice a lot and I feel that I was able to really contribute to that topic the most. Before this course I practiced yoga regularly, but I quickly learned that there are so many more ways to practice it. Humans are so unaware of the things they do daily that are killing our environment. Speaking about mindfulness practice came easy to me because I use it for my own personal anxiety. I love talking about mindfulness practice because I practice it often.

My major takeaway from this course is how my industry effects the world. I didn’t know that interior designers left that much of a footprint on the world. Interior designers leave a large footprint from construction and demolition waste. Landfills are full of all sorts of things but C&D waste leaves toxins from things such as drywall. It not only pollutes land, but it also pollutes the water and air quality. It made me more aware of all that can ruin the planet in my industry. I am now able to realize what I can do differently when it comes time to be able to actually perform in this industry.

I want to learn more about energy sustainability in the design of homes. I want to create my own business doing interior design and real estate. After going through this class, I want to make more sustainable homes for the future of the earth. I want to be more mindful in my industry when it comes time to actually own my business. Solar panel roofs are something that I really want to learn more about when it comes to the design of the home. Doing research in this class has opened my eyes to all of the possibilities that this industry has to offer. There are so many different ways to make this world more environmentally sustainable.

In my circle of influence, I can impact it by using what I learned in this class and applying it to my work. Sustainable homes not only look sleek but create a healthy living environment. In my business I want to innovate the way we run things. The world is dying, and every little thing effects our footprint as humans. We must be one with nature in order to keep the earth alive. The earth is dying, and we must change our ways before we lose it all. The world is able to live without the human population. We are only killing ourselves. I believe that in all we do, we should be mindful. I want to be a change in the design community. I want people to look at my work and crave what I produce. My goal is to be sustainable but affordable at the same time. A big problem is not being able to afford the cost of remodels for sustainability. 

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Simple Sustainability

Is sustainability really as difficult as it sounds?

Wicked Problems. What this class is all about. When I first heard that word, I could not wrap my head around what those two simple words meant. When I would say it, for some reason it would remind me of the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz. I can not explain why that visual always popped into my head, but it did. However, it could be a good reflection of what a wicked problem really is. It might not be as easy as pouring water onto it and it dissolving away, but it is as simple as realizing it takes a lot more than just figuring out a solution to the problem. Wicked problems surround of society and our world and everyday they go uncared for because so many people live their lives without the slightest thought that these problems are surrounding our communities. As I continue to grow and reflect the wheels inside my head began to turn as I begin to think of other wicked problems in the design world specifically. Along with furniture waste, the reduction of trees also plays a big part in that. We are losing trees left and right to urbanization, but we neglect to think of all the other ways trees are cut down, wood is wasted, and our environment loses oxygen. What makes this wicked is because it is not a simple answer with an easy fix. People use furniture in their day to day lives for all kinds of occasions, and wood furniture is a very common. Characteristics like this make it wicked, and a lot more difficult if even possible to generate ideas for a solution. 

Fortunately, taking a trip to the sustainability office gave me a little bit of insight of how the process worked in the real world, instead of just in a classroom generating ideas. It really broadened my view of sustainability and easy it is to make those simple changes like turning the lights off when you leave a room, or turn things off when you leave for long periods of time. I also learned that almost seventy percent of Oklahoma State’s power comes from a wind farm. Seeing the efforts my campus is making has encouraged me and challenged me to want to take more sustainable steps. It makes me wonder what would happen if people would not take small steps like that. If no one cared enough to do anything about our environment, where would our world be right now? The small sustainable steps we take will continue to save our world. I have gained so much more knowledge on how sustainability works and have loved being able to grow in my journey during this process. 

With the class being more than halfway over, my journey has continued to develop. I have realized that in this process I have to take steps to move forward in being sustainable. Coming up with a wicked problem does not mean anything, if you do not take steps to make the problem less wicked. That is something very important that I have learned this semester. I have learned that the small steps could potentially make the biggest impact and that is something that I can take with me for the rest of my life. 

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Feeling Inspired

This week in class my eyes were opened up to many different things. Especially when we went to visit the sustainability office. I had no idea that the facility even existed. There were so many interesting parts to the sustainability office. I left feeling inspired to do my own part in helping out OSU and its mission to be more sustainable.

I thought it was really cool that they reuse the furniture. They said that they even have furniture that they reuse and upholster that is from the 20’s! I thought that it was really cool that they take the time to reuse furniture and make it like brand new because furniture waste is a major problem today. It would be easier to just buy new furniture but they take time to make the old into new. I really appreciated it that Oklahoma State is doing a huge part in reducing furniture waste.

I also really thought that the recycling center was amazing. You could see how much recycling goes through there. Boxes, paper, and cans are recycled there. They showed us all of the equipment that they use to recycle and it did not look how I expected it to look. The people who were working with the recycling were working very hard in hot weather and I really appreciate how hard they were working just to help and make Oklahoma State a more sustainable place. All of the efforts that Oklahoma State makes to reduce waste and better our environment is amazing. One thing that I think we can all work on better is reducing our plastic waste. We can all do our part is saving the world and working to eliminate a wicked problem of all of the plastics being used today. Everyone should start with cutting back on plastic straws and water bottles and they should turn to reusable things. The sustainability office really inspired me to be more sustainable in my everyday life.

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Treating the planet as if we plan to stay

I’m currently sitting in my local Starbucks and a sign they have had for almost a year is really captivating my attention. This sign isn’t of some elaborate artwork or creative designs, it’s rather simple really. The sign reads in white letters  “Sustainability: treating the planet as if we plan to stay”. I’ve glanced past the sign at least a hundred times over the past year. The thing is that I’ve read the sign countless times before and didn’t really register anything from it until now. Over the past 4 weeks of this class we have learned of many of the wicked problems that are happening in our everyday lives. I believe that being made aware of the wicked problems we’ve talked about and seen in class over the past four weeks has changed the way I view sustainability and even define it. It has made me form a more sensitive and emotional response to taking care of our planet. For this blog post we are asked to briefly talk about another wicked problem that we are aware. There are a dozen wicked problems I could write about for this blog but the one that I feel is being ignored the most is the child labor happen in mica mines. In case you might not be familiar with what mica is, it’s a natural occuring mineral dust frequently used in the majority of makeup products. It gives the makeup products the soft shimmer we often see in makeup products. Up until 3 weeks ago I had no idea what mica was or that it was used in the majority of the beauty products I use in my everyday life. This isn’t uncommon, the majority of people aren’t even aware of what mica is or what it’s used for or how it’s obtained. Many children in places like India have to mine for mica everyday in order to feed themselves. Children starting at around the age of four years old work all day every day in these mines while barely making 43 cents a day. These mines are dangerous places to work and a lot of these children die because of accidents happening in the mine or inhaling the dust and fumes from the mine. Why is this wicked problem practically unheard of? This past week in class, the class took a visit to the sustainability office, I was not able to attend the sustainability office tour. However, I still was able to learn that college campuses are one of the most wasteful places. Every year during college move in and move out days the recycling center here at Oklahoma State gets overflowed with items. The majority of these items are practically in new condition. The living habits of the majority of my classmates is to throw out everything they own at the end of a semester and buy all new items again during move in the following semester or school year. This nasty habit is killing our planet faster than we realize. I believe that due to this behavior, all students attending any university should be required to take a sustainability course and be made fully aware of their actions and the consequences behind them. I believe that it’ll open the majority of their eyes to the real problems happening around us and become more mindful in their everyday lives just as it has for myself. How would our planet be right now if there weren’t people who are doing their part in taking care of our home? It would be a completely different and toxic planet. So why don’t you make the change and choose to live a sustainable life?! Next time you read the word “sustainable” I hope that you gain a new perspective on the meaning. So, will you start treating the planet as if you plan to stay? 

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I feel as though I say this every time I write for these blogs but I can’t stress enough how important this class is. I have learned so much about sustainability and the wickedness in this world and the fashion/design industry. These past 4 weeks have shown me how the smallest change in a lifestyle can help transform an issue. As I have been doing research, I have discovered that there are more wicked problems than I had originally thought. Not having a solution or knowing you can no longer fix something is terrifying. If we have this many problems in 2019, I can’t imagine what problems we will have in 10-15 years if we don’t do something about it now. Wicked Problems is a class that is helping to prevent the decay of our world and to educate the leaders of our future. 

Deforestation is a Wicked Problem that absolutely terrifies me. Trees are one of the essential elements that we need to survive. They bring us more things than we know. If we don’t have trees we will not be able to live on this planet. I personally love trees. That sounds weird but when I go to New Mexico and Colorado the trees are breathtaking and one aspect of those states that I cant wait for. The “Quaking Aspen” in New Mexico is one of my favorite parts of going there. Hearing the noise of the leaves moving in the wind during the cool fall breeze gives me the chills just thinking about it. And when I go skiing and hiking in Colorado, the tall Aspen and the insane looking Pine trees are like no other. There is nothing like those visuals. I can’t imagine a world without trees. Growing up going on road trips and staring out the window trying to count as many trees as I could before they disappeared out of my view. This scares me because one day my kids or their kids could be doing the same thing but there wont be any trees to look for. There’s something so nostalgic and memorable about trees. And again, they give us life. Deforestation is a wicked problem, but I have seen more awareness around the issue but we still need and HAVE to do better. I know that I am very aware of how much paper I am using and how much paper I buy when I go to the store to buy supplies for classes. That is something so small but I always feel that I buy too much paper and then buy even more the next year even though I still have paper from the year before. I can also make sure that later down the road when I am a designer that I am aware of how much wood I use in my designs. I can even shop second hand for items that contain a lot of wood and repurpose the wood for different projects. Deforestation is a wicked problem that is very serious and everyone should be trying to resolve it.At the Sustainability Visit, I learned so many new things about OSU that I did not know before. OSU is very dedicated to being sustainable and making the earth a better place. The fact that we have an entire center dedicated just to our recycling is amazing. Most people hear the word recycling and don’t know what goes on after you put it in that green bin. I was amazed to see how the machines worked and how much effort goes into recycling for one university campus. I also learned about the upholstery shop. I had no idea that OSU had this great resource to restore the furniture that goes into the dorms around the campus. It also offers great work experience for the people who get to restore these furniture items. The sustainability office visit showed an entirely different side of OSU and I am so grateful that I got to experience it. After the visit I told all of my friends about it and they were blown away because, like me, they had no idea that there was such a thing at OSU. If the “efforts I saw did not exist”, OSU would not be a sustainable campus and we would not be doing anything to help our planet. I am so thankful that we have these resources. My question that I pose is, Is one University making a difference by being sustainable and being aware of recycling? I don’t know how OSU compares to other campuses, but is OSU making a huge difference?

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Sustainability’s Affect on Me

 During my time in this short 4-week course I learned about wicked problems. At first I had no idea what that meant and what to expect out of this course. This course opened my eyes up to the problems being faced around the world. The population of earth, 7.53 billion individuals are suffering from these problems caused by one another. These problems are caused by the simple choices we make everyday such as choosing to each individually drive ourselves in our cars to work, school, and other activities. Choosing to drink out of plastic water bottles every day instead of a reusable water bottle. These are little things that have huge impacts on our earth. What I learned and found interesting about these problems is majority are influenced by society’s wants and desires. This could be referring to fast fashion. Fast fashion meaning how individuals are constantly getting rid of clothes to buy new ones that are “in style”. This could also be referring to building new things rather than reconstructing the old. I found this topic to be very interesting as I am interesting in interior design and architecture. I think each family and individual has a goal with retirement of where they want to live and for many this is a home they build for themselves. I personally have that same desire. A desire to build a house on a ranch or a lake. These houses could be reconstructed from older homes or built by reusable materials rather than all new materials. I read an article that discusses using simple every day materials for building. Materials such as newspapers, corks, tree bark, recycled glass, and many others to construct these houses and designs. The corks were described as being used for siding and flooring. Such a small and simple item that could have such an impact on the earth’s health. The newspaper was described as being used to make wood. Each material being reused instead of going to waste. Materials finding a second purpose helping the earth. 

Over the past 4 weeks I have realized the issues of the earth and its health in a new perspective. As a person from the south and a child of a oil and gas engineer I had never thought much about the earths health quality. I always though the people in California and Colorado were being dramatic. These people were making these issues seem larger than they actually are. I was wrong. These issues are large and do need attention. These problems need attention from more than just a couple states. These problems need attention from the entire world and its population not just one state, one country, one continent. The earth needs all 7.53 billion individuals to come together to save planet earth from the destruction us humans are causing. I never thought much about the use of these resources because I thought they were the only way for humans to survive. These are not the only way though. There are other ways that are just as efficient and are better for the environment. I’m not saying that we should stop oil and gas production. I know that this is an economy based society and that this industry provides jobs and money to many families. However I think that society should find a better way, a more effective way and beneficial way to use its natural resources such as oil and gas. For example I think oil and gas should be used for public transportation. Public transportation such as airplanes, buses, etc.. I think electric cars should be used for personal use of individuals.

A major takeaway I had from this course was a realization of how economically based our society is. The economy is affecting the health of individuals and our planet. Something I also learned about during this course was fast fashion. Fast fashion is defined as “inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends” (oxford dictionary). The idea of fast fashion creates a lot of waste by overproduction. These companies produce more than what consumers will buy by the time the next latest trend hits. Big brands such as H&M and forever 21 use this idea of fast fashion. These fashion items being produced rapidly also creates for a lower quality making them damaged easily and there for easily put to waste. I think if people had knowledge on brands like this taking advantage of consumers and adding to waste on earth, these brands would not be as large and as popular as they are in media. As an individual I think that I could use social media to create a positive impact on my circle of influence. To provide what little knowledge I have gained on such a massive topic to inspire those around me to learn as well. One of my best friends is from California and I have enjoyed talking to her about this class and comparing our different society’s back home and how they have impacted the way we act and behave now. For example she doesn’t use straws because California made the switch to paper straws. Every time we go out to eat and I get a straw I am remembered that I am wasting a piece of plastic for what reason alone than to drink my water without my lips touching the glass/ cup. A simple difference in the use of a straw. That’s like when I go to her apartment she ahs reusable straws that she washes and cleans. She also drinks from a hydroflask that she takes with her everywhere she goes and is constantly filling it up with water rather than wasting a cup or a bottle. Imagine if everyone did something small like this. Such a small change in her daily routine but the impact it could have on the earth if all individuals made a simple change to their routine. As an individual I don’t feel as if I was able to contribute any knowledge further than what I learned in class as I was a close-minded oil field kid. However after taking this class I feel as if I can contribute this new knowledge to those around me. 

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Wicked Education

During the course of the class I brought my understanding of buildings and my pragmatic ideas to the many discussions. This allowed me to bring up the point that often times what is currently being tried is not working, and that we, the future of our country, hold the most influence over where we go in the next few years, if we only use said influence.

My major takeaways from this course are that sustainable practices are much more nuanced than I previously knew. Additionally, I learned that there are many factors into sustainable plans, but with many factors comes many opinions, and with many opinions comes many disagreements. Furthermore, I gained knowledge as to just how interconnected our respective industries are with each other and the environment. Moreover, I took away from the course that many sustainable ideas would be made more practical with government involvement.

One problem I would like to learn more about, as it pertains especially well to my major, is the issue of energy consumption by buildings, and more specifically, how buildings waste energy and how they can be made more sustainable, efficient, and self-reliant. I find these issues fascinating as they are issues I can actively work to change and improve.

I think I would be able to bring a positive change to the field of architecture by designing sustainable structures. This is something that is happening more and more in the world as we learn more about climate change and global warming and the influence that buildings have on it, but by strictly designing sustainable structures I would be making some difference, even if it was only a small part of a much larger movement. Additionally, I think that a national standard for all buildings of all types should be set so that every architect has to hold themselves to the highest environmental standards, which is something I can affect by getting more involved in my industry and explaining the importance of such standards.

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