Consume less and Create more!

I have become more knowlodgeable about the importance of making sustainable choices every day. How our choices each day have large impact on Earth. Why should us as humans become eco-friendlier or learn how to live eco-friendly? Becoming eco-friendly means to live with intention and living in an authentic way to want to make positive decisions. Poverty is also a huge factor when it comes to living eco-friendly, poverty I would say causes more stress on the environment. However, I believe all humans are taking more from our environment that what we need to be able to survive. All to say that your choices and behavior towards wanting to be eco-friendly can start with just turning off your lights when you leave a room. 

Leyla Acarpglu’s Ted talk gives us more creative ideas to make change, environmental issues, and how we can be more mindful when it comes to using certain materials daily. I believe she taught us the it is possible to still achieve more with less. Leyla had mentioned that when we as humans need to make a complex choice, we usually go in search for a simple solution. We tend to ask for a simple solution. I found that to be so true in our choices we all choose to make without thinking long-term effects. I liked how Leyla discusses how large of an impact us humans can be if we start to make different choices daily. These choices can be as small as choosing a paper bag versus a plastic bag. I will say when she had mentioned using a plastic bag versus a plastic bag, one way I will try to be eco-friendly is by using a reusable bag. For example, if I go to Trader Joes or Sam’s Club/Costco to shop for groceries I will try to use lululemon bags or any other reusable bag. Another way is our large recycling trash bin outside our house we will use to put cardboard, broken glass bottles, wine bottles and etc. I think a large goal to try to accomplish is to showing people that small actions truly make an impact on Earth and I think Leyla’s Ted talk very well highlights the importance of being mindful with our decisions every day. 

Furthermore, I think a post-disposable future would be very advantageous to our earth. It’s very concerning that there are quotes made like, “soon there will be more plastic in the ocean than there will be fish”. This is why moving to a post-disposable future is also known as the, “The Global Challenge” which is exciting but also comes with so many questions. Having the possibility of a post-disposable future means that we need to become creative with effective ways of how to lessen waste. This is a good representation as to why us as humans should start living eco-friendlier. Additionally, learning about biophilic design was notably interesting to me. Biophilic design strives to build sustainable designs to reconnect humans with nature. Biophilic design chooses to put the attention on natural features. To sum up everything that has been said so far, reaching these different goals will take time and being mindful but I would not say it is not unachievable. 

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Win-Win Solutions in Sustainability

In the John Ambler excerpt from the “A New Green History of the World” article, Ambler emphasized the importance of finding win-win solutions – ie. solutions that benefitted both the environment and people. This viewpoint resonated with me because so often it seems like one is chosen at the expense of the other, either the environment over people or people with disregard for the environment; however, I think the only real solutions are the ones which benefit both people and the environment. One way Ambler suggested to achieve these win-win solutions was to get the community involved on the local level in the policies and practices being implemented, rather than taking a centralized, top-down approach where the local communities have no say.

In her TEDxTalk, Leyla Acaroglu offered another method to reach a win-win solution, and that was through smarter, systems-based design solutions. Acaroglu noted that often people get hung up on using energy efficient technology or “green” materials, but she argues that the real problem is consumption, illustrating how redesigning everyday objects like refrigerators or tea kettles would be substantially more impactful while still serving the needs of people.

A key thing Leyla says to keep in mind when designing systems-based solutions is to think about the whole life cycle of the product, from extraction to end-of-life. She called this the “life cycle assessment.” This assessment reminds me of what is commonly referred to as “cradle-to-cradle” (C2C) in the construction industry. The idea is to eliminate single-use items or items that once they are used head straight into the landfill (cradle-to-grave). C2C is fascinating to me because I love the idea of reusing a material continually, reinventing its function so that it never dies. The C2C process reminds me of the natural life cycle process of the environment, like when a plant grows, dies, and becomes nutrients to spur new growth. The cycle continues. In a way the C2C process is biophilic in itself because it’s mimicking a process found in nature. Although, there are many other forms of biophilic design as well, including environmental features, natural shapes and forms, natural patterns and processes, light and space, place-based relationships, and evolved human-nature relationships. Out of all of these, it is difficult for me to choose a favorite because they are all so valuable. What I love about biophilic design is that it really is another win-win solution because it is more sustainable and geared towards stewarding the environment well, and it also increases the well-being of people too, as research shows that connection to nature and natural processes is beneficial for human health and satisfaction.

The wicked problem of environmental degradation is one that needs to be solved, and through the takeaways from this week’s content, we have learned several ways to work towards sustainability using “win-win” solutions such as community-involvement in policy making, systems-based problem solving, and sustainable architectural design methods such as C2C and Biophilic design. Working together with the combination of these win-win solutions like these will help us to tackle the issue of environmental degradation and begin to make change.

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Sustainability and reoccurring Issues

In this past week, we were given two different articles rather YES or NO to environmental degradation in terms of poverty. Even though I was assigned the YES side, I read through both articles to get an understanding yes and no on the subject. Prior to reading, I had knowledge on degradation from previous classes and readings, but I was unaware of the part poverty played in degradation.  It makes me wonder how little knowledge people have on the subject. I think that people don’t think that poverty can have an effect on the environment but in reality humans will do what they can to survive. Also, I think that people in poverty are often overlooked and are unheard causing more of an issue These people who are in poverty are forced into unsustainable practices that lead to environmental risks. Although this is a factor on the environment, people are creating ways that can help the poverty levels and the unethical practices people may be performing. 

This week we also got the opportunity to watch a ted talk by Leyla Acraoglu that went into depth on how we as humans abuse the environment when it comes to waste loss and water overuse. I think that if everyone knew the impact that industrialized societies have on the environment and cared to make a difference in sustainability efforts, then we would be in better shape for the future of our earth. With this being said, I think that having everyone put in a little effort to sustainability efforts then we would be in better shape and ecosystems all over the world would feel the impact needed to function.  

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Poverty and Landfills and TED Talks! Oh My!

This past week I was given the YES reading of Is Poverty Responsible for Global Environmental Degradation. It was very interesting for me to read because I have never thought about the connection between poverty and environment, or even that there was a connection. Now that I’ve read the article it makes a lot of sense. Places that have a large percentage of people living in poverty are generally places where people are given no other option than to participate in unsustainable practices, as Opschoor relates. In developing countries it’s very easy for companies to use these people for low cost labor in factories that contribute to greenhouse gases, acid rain and the use of nonrenewable resources. I believe it can be really difficult for people in those situations to even find the time or energy to care about their environmental impact. When getting food on the table is a daily struggle your environmental impact tends to take a backburner. I believe that it should be the government’s responsibility to put restrictions on practices that have negative impacts on the environment. In some cases the people aren’t given the opportunities or the power to educate themselves and decide what’s best for their home. In order to create a post-disposable future people have to be given the option of products that don’t contribute to environmental degradation and harmful chemical emissions.

 As Leyla talked about in her TED Talk every little decision we make, and every little thing that we buy, has an impact. Leyla also talks about how even though some products are labeled “biodegradable” or “eco friendly” doesn’t mean that they will biodegrade in a landfill that’s already covered in plastic and other non biodegradable things. Before biodegradable products are going to work the entire system of landfills needs to change. The creation and expansion of landfills is destroying ecosystems and rendering once healthy and useful land obsolete, not to mention the immense amount of greenhouse gases being produced by landfills. Going along with this Leyla explains that everyday products, like refrigerators, need to be designed differently so that people will simply use less and therefore waste less. Through Leyla’s TED Talk I learned that the solution isn’t necessarily that people need to make better buying decisions, though that does help, but that designers need to make products that make it harder for the consumer to contribute waste. In other words product designers need to think about how the consumer will use their product, and how it will impact the environment.

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Society and Environmental Pollution

As a society, we have become desensitized to waste and pollution. Although it is a growing problem in our world today many people don’t put in an effort to solve it. As the world’s population and industry continue to grow we begin to face even more problems such as climate change, water pollution, depletion of natural resources, and much more. As a society, many of us disregard the problem because we don’t see the piles of waste or the trash in the ocean like other less developed countries do. The United States along with many other countries is reliant on single-use plastics and other toxic materials that pollute the earth. Since there is such a large amount of these things most people don’t even think about it. From the packages, our food comes into the bottles that contain our products to the decorations in our homes. All of these goods will inevitably end up in a dump somewhere someday. These products are not only harmful themselves but the way they are manufactured causes environmental problems as well. As a society, we need to find ways to eliminate the excessive use of plastics, especially single-use plastic. As individuals we can do many things such as buying fresh foods, using reusable bags instead of plastic, cutting back on unnecessary plastic goods. All of these small changes can help make a greater impact. 

There are also bigger things we can do to help the issue such as working with legislators, working together, and making plans to clean up the earth so that it can live longer and healthier to support us and the generations to come. It is important that we think of others in this cause. Working together is the best solution to try and mend the crumbling environment. As we think about small changes we can make to aid the environment what comes to mind? Do you know where your goods come from or how they’re produced or sourced? Are you supporting businesses that harm the earth or protect it? There are countless choices made daily that affect the environment. I personally try to practice these conscious decisions making skills while shopping for clothes as the fashion industry is a huge part of the pollution problem. I try to shop at stores that sustainably produce their goods and ethically source their products. It is important to be mindful when making every decision because each decision you make has an effect on other people and the environment in one way or another. 

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Paper vs Plastic Bags? Maybe we Need to Look a Nature’s Choice Instead.

I was assigned NO reading for the week because I am a design housing and marketing major at Oklahoma State University. This week’s reading focused on how impoverished communities face the most danger from climate change. Due to the rapid increase of population and demand for resources, people facing poverty are more likely to stay in poverty, and low-income communities are more likely to fall under the poverty trap. Today, our society depends on the economy and resources, so when communities face a humanitarian crisis, they get pushed aside for short-term economy stabilizers. A direct example of this is looking at how poor income communities are built on top of chemical waste fields, fossil fuel extracting plants. With this exposure to chemical, water, and air pollution, they are more likely to face health complications. Poor people cannot wait for benefits and investments to a better future; they have to live in the now to survive. Causing them to be trapped and unable to escape poverty. This is why cities’ development can get away with the mistreatment of poverty areas because they aren’t directionally affecting their livelihood in the now.

Leyla Acarpglu’s Ted Talk discusses how maybe in the now, our actions are okay, but they have future relocations. This can be seen in the discussion on which is better, paper bags or plastic bags when picking at the supermarket. She points out most people will pick paper because it is made environmentally friendly and biodegradable. However, when not looking into that paper bag’s future, it doesn’t actually biodegrade because of the landfills being oxygen suffocaters. The bags aren’t going to decompose and disappear out of landfills, it’s going to sit next to plastic bags. So when given an eco-friendly choice at the supermarket doesn’t really exist. 

I learned looking at suitable options in the now are perceiving, they may be designed to look and act environmentally friendly, but they have the opposite effect. Another example other than paper bags is the drawers in fridges marketing as air-tight and will not let food spoil as quickly to prevent food waste. It actually doesn’t really work. There isn’t any difference between putting lettuce in the lettuce saver drawer or leaving it out in the fridge’s main compartment. These situations give a false perception of what our understanding and actions have effects on climate change. I am a paper bag picker victim and have thrown away soggy and old produce from my fridge as well, even though I consisted myself eco-friendly before finding out the sad truth. When basing our day to day choices in trying to be as ecofriendly as possible, the most effective choices mimic nature. So now, I don’t make a choice between paper or plastic, taking old cloth bags lying around the house to go grocery shopping. I recently found out that submerging lettuce in water can keep it fresh and crunchy for up to 2 months. 

As a future interior designer, I do value Biophilic design. I view so many benefits of Biophilic design not only for the environment but also for people. Biophilic design connects us back into our environment and creates a connection back into nature. As well as known to calm anxiety and create mindfulness. Which are the first steps of learning about and interacting more with an eco-friendly lifestyle. I like looking at non-rhythmic sensory stimuli and connecting with natural world system and design patterns. This grasps people’s attention and instantly puts them in a calm environment. In my focused field of work, healthcare facility design, I feel like this would help people seeking medical treatment. Being in a facility space away from home causes discomfort and exhaustion. But adding home feeling sensory design would help patients feel grounded.  

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Are low income families being priced out of progress?

This week in class we focused on how to work sustainability into our culture.  We must be working towards sustainability both actively, and passively. Every single day people are making the active choice to be more sustainable, but the positive impact of those choices can be negatively outweighed by the passive choices we make each day. There are a ton of tiny decisions we make when we aren’t considering the impact, and some of those can be very harmful. One of the resources used to help us understand the gravity of these small decisions was the Leyla Acaroglu TedTalk. Leyla discusses our tiny choices, and how large the impact can be. While watching her discuss the impact everyone overfilling their tea kettle just a little can have on environmental resources in the long term, I tried to reflect on the passive choices I make in a day and how each of them may be making an impact. The hardest part wasn’t figuring out the impact or coming up with solutions, it was trying to pinpoint what things I may be doing unconsciously. For example, I have transitioned out of using plastic straws and switched to a reusable coffee cup that I take out with me, but how many times have I overfilled the coffee maker or used plastic “K-cups” out of convenience? If I, someone who has the resources to make sustainable choices, can be causing harm with my unconscious actions, how large of an impact is made by people who don’t have as many opportunities as I do?

The reading for this week builds on that idea, arguing that poverty contributes quite a bit to environmental degradation. People in low-income households often center their priorities around making an income and maintaining life, leaving less time and money to focus on sustainable problem-solving. In the Leyla TedTalk, she mentions the importance of designing products that help eliminate some of our harmful passive decisions, but I also know that innovation usually comes at a price. If low-income communities are the ones who are more likely to hurt the environment, going forward, items designed to encourage sustainability and environmental good can only have a profound impact if they are appropriately priced for lower-income demographics.

If individual consumers do not have the time or resources necessary, then some of the responsibility needs to fall on the companies selling to them. The work that the RILA is doing to assist companies with environmental compliance is an important step to holding these companies accountable. While I do think that it’s great that the RILA focuses on making warehouse facilities incorporate green standards and that the EPA Smartway system promotes supply chain efficiency and minimizes environmental footprints, I do not think it is enough anymore for large companies to focus on compliance. Environmental impact needs to be a priority at every level of business. Product designers should be working with sustainability in mind, and the environmental impact of production needs to be considered from the start. When sustainable products are created, they need to be made accessible to lower-income demographics – both through adequate marketing and fair pricing. If this week taught us anything, it is that the places where we aren’t thinking about sustainability are where we are doing the most harm. Compliance may help us maintain the status quo, until we start considering our environmental impact in every step of the process, we won’t be helping fix anything. 

Going forward, I plan to start looking more closely at my passive actions and finding ways to eliminate wasteful behaviors to see how the little changes add up. Right now, it may only be influencing my daily routine, but learning how to be more mindful of my environmental impact can hopefully help me influence change on a larger scale in the future.

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Environmental Degradation: Causes and What is Being Done to Improve it

I have done research on sustainability, related and unrelated to the apparel industry, since I was a freshman in high school. However, I never considered the role that poverty could play in sustainability. I know poverty is incredibly common in developing countries, and I am aware that even in Stillwater, Oklahoma, two-thirds of the population either suffers from poverty or resides on the poverty line. Furthermore, I had not made the connection that because those suffering from poverty in developing countries relied so much on agricultural practices, they overconsumed natural resources, in turn depleting the environment. The environment’s poor state also comes from the manufacturing and power plants other countries place in the developing countries due to the lower costs. I knew this caused air pollution, but I neglected to consider the other effects such as acid rain and soil erosion. Finally, the reading made me realize the correlation between the people’s focus on personal wellbeing and their lack of focus on the wellbeing of the environment. The first takeaway that I got from Leyla’s TED Talk was the true definition of biodegradability and that it does not define environmental benefits. I also learned that about half of the produced food in the world ends up being wasted, and that companies also need to consider how consumers use their products when trying to make the product more sustainable. What surprised me the most in this talk was that e-waste has about 50 million tons trafficked. When it comes to ensuring or creating a post-disposable future, I believe we as individuals have the responsibility to recycle. Whether it is simply putting an old piece of paper into the recycle bin or turning a used food can into a flowerpot, a post-disposable future requires increased recycling. If each individual recycled, not only would the environment be healthier, a post-disposable future can be achieved. In addition, to eliminate waste, companies can begin to design their products to be reusable, and apparel manufacturers and retailers can make the switch to using fabric scraps, etc. The RILA is the Retail Industry Leaders Association which is a trade organization for retailers in the United States in which retailers are able overcome economic challenges while also work towards sustainability and growth. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has created a sustainability-focused program, named SmartWay, in order to increase sustainable practices and methods in the supply chain. This includes finding sustainable solutions towards increasing freight emissions. In order to improve freight emissions, SmartWay tracks freight emissions and the use of fuels and shares this information to multiple parts of the supply chain, provides more sustainable modes of transportation etc. with different companies, and promotes the use of technology that saves and preserves fuel.

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Why Is Sustainability Widely Uncommon?

As an environmental science major, I was assigned the NO reading for this week. The reading largely considered the correlation between the poorer populations and how their opportunities may be effected by their environment. The reading led me to consider a multitude of things. As I was reading I felt frustrated at the potential helplessness these communities might feel. Without help from the government to improve their situation, the communities are left to fend for themselves as a result of lesser income. At what point does the human population lose empathy for those “created equal”, especially under these degrading circumstances? It is widely understandable as to why the poorer communities might lack mindfulness in their current conditions. Their personal problems involving well-being might be considered more detrimental compared to the well-being of the environment surrounding them.

I found Leyla’s TED talk to be fascinating, because of her description of “Environmental Folklore”. The subject regarding how each one of us has potential environmental impact without trying is frightening. Every decision we make every single day potentially contributes to our changing environment, so why are we not more conscious of it?

If the potential of a post-disposable future arises, I would be more than happy to oblige. Waste is a huge driver of the climate crisis and the potential for eliminating it could create amazing opportunities for our planets healing. I try to minimize my waste as much as possible so this is right up my alley. Biophilic design has always intrigued me. I love the association of architecture with the environment. I find lots of value associated with biophilic design, because as humans we easily disassociate from nature as our busy lives progress. I especially enjoy the biomorphic forms and patterns, because they are quite rare to find in an architectural setting. Eco design in general is something I think will become increasingly popular as time progresses. With the worsening state of the planet, increasing concern could potentially allow for the eco design industry to develop.

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Sustainability with less

In this week’s reading we were given two articles to read. I was assigned to the NO article, since I am an Interior design major. This article focuses on the overpopulation of the homeless. The environment we live in today is based around money, resources, and opportunity. Due to low income, the homeless population has increased overtime. The homeless are treated unfairly, yet are to blame for their circumstances in today’s society. The poor are not offered enough opportunities to expand beyond the situations they are in today. They are offered minimum to nothing by the government. In order to create an environment full of equal opportunities we must help the less fortunate and share our resources. Due to economic inequality, the world has lost sight of doing what’s right; the importance of helping one another. 

In Leyla Acaroglu’s TED Talk, she speaks on doing more with less. She focused on environmental issues and the choices we make that can impact the environment. She inspires us to be aware of the materials we use each day. Innovative design can help create change for the better. Sustainability is essential to our future. In order for environmental gain we must create eco-friendly alternatives in our life. Leyla states that everyone is responsible for the environment we live in today. The overuse of energy and resources today is not sustainable. We must do our part to conserve while bringing awareness to this concept.

We must create a future that is post disposable. In order to improve our environment, citizens must create ideas to reduce waste. This concept focuses on recycling and reusing. The condition of our environment would improve, while preventing global warming. We must find alternatives to reduce waste. The Ted 10 is an approach to sustainability. The design of products that are effective and that will benefit the environment. Ted 10 focuses on improving nature, while using natural resources. This concept will benefit the environment and improve our society’s health. Consumers must be aware of the overconsumption of energy and resources. We must adjust our daily habits to make a positive impact on our future.

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