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WHY LIVE SIMPLY?

VOL.1

Exposing our inefficient ways of living to propose the need for a change in habit.

KIMBERLY A. CHACRA


WHY LIVE SIMPLY? Vol.1 Exposing our inefficient ways of living to propose the need for a change in habit.


For Our Future


Contents Forward Abstract Approaching A Problem Finding A Focus Thesis Statement

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CH. 1: LIVE SIMPLY Composting Biomimicry The Experiment

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CH. 2: TAKE AN ORGANIZED APPROACH 22 Resources 26 The Environmental Textiles Course 30 CH. 3: MAKE CONNECTIONS 40 The Global Case Study 44 The Local Case Study 50 The Bio-Tourism Survey 54 Conclusion Acknowledgements References

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Forward Syracuse University 5th Year Industrial and Interaction Design Thesis Project A design thesis project is a capstone experience that integrates principles, theories, and methods that were learned in courses throughout my Syracuse University education. It is divided into two main parts:

Part 1: RESEARCH

(September 2013 - December 2013) Creatively analyze, synthesize and communicate results of a self-identified course of study. It is about exploring an idea using the tools I have gained as a designer, following an idea through many phases of exploration and thinking about it in as many different ways as possible. The goal is to suggest many different conclusions, but not come to any one, difinitive answer. This comprehensive design research document reflects these supported ideas.

After four years in the Industrial and Interaction Design Program, I have learned how to solve problems. My professors have taught me to question everything. I have been dared to alter prexisting systems, challenged to be an agent for change and encouraged to propose alternative solutions. The pages that follow reflect my thought process throughout this journey.

Part 2: IMPLEMENTATION (January 2014 - April 2014)

The coherent body of exploration from part one will be interpreted in many different ways as “design� in the second phase of the thesis project.

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Abstract My interest in materials has been prevalent for many years now, but where was I to go from there? A solo post-it pin-up session was my first step. It is here where I brainstormed thoughts related to why I had such a strong curiosity in the materials we touch on a daily basis. No ideas were vetoed. At this stage all ideas were considered valuable. Inspirational TED Talks, books, periodicals, and chats with professors and peers were the sources behind these short ideas written on the form of these colorful square pieces of paper. After 7 days I had a wall full of postits, so I habitually felt the need to organize. I grouped based on similarity. In an effort to move forward, I realized it helped if I understood myself as a person/ designer first. My potential lies in what I do naturally and why I do it. How could I design a topic of interest if I didn’t know how to approach it as a designer? What kind of person/designer am I? Well, I do things habitually, and they work. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries caused me to question why? ‘The Lean Startup’ is a fast way of approaching the beginning phases of pursuing your own startup company. I figured their methods would apply just as well to approaching a design thesis. I decided to participate in one of his research methods called the 5 Whys. This technique is used to fully determine the root cause of a problem by asking ‘why’ 5 times. . Doing so then leads to the core of the problem and then the solution there after reveals itself.

I know these three things about myself: 1. I continually strive to live simply. 2. I understand things better when they are organized. 3. I regularly make connections with new pieces of information. These traits are the chapters of my book. Take number one, ‘I continually strive to live simply.’ But why is it a challenge to live simply? Because I save everything. Why? Because that is how I was raised. Why? Because that is how my parents and my parents’ parents were also raised. Why? Because they grew up during The Great Depression, where saving quickly developed into a habit. Why? To survive. The root of why it is a challenge for me to live simply is because I save. Because time and history has taught me that this is one thing I need to do in order to survive. But, tradition can sometimes be the hidden source of our problems. We have to recognize and admit to ourselves, that if our actions are not helping us to live healthier, better lives, than we need to change our habits.

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Approaching A Problem I am continually inspired by Henry David Thoreau, Jacque Fresco and Andrew Dent. Along with the impressive examples these individuals have set, I also gained great guidance from a peer who simply asked me: What do you want to know how to do better? What do you want to learn more about? The goal here is not to solve one of the world’s biggest problems. The duration of this project does not allow enough time to do that. For instance, the goal is not as large as trying to find the cure for cancer. Yet the goal is also not as small as redesigning the pill bottle. The goal here is to make a suggestion as to how we could approach solving cancer in a different way, a way that is more effective. Something that has always stood out to me is how much we as a culture consume and waste. For example, consider the life cycle of your old electronics, makeup containers and take-away coffee cups. What is their after-life? They are not merely being ‘thrown away’.‘Throwing away’ does not mean that they just disappear; it is a habit that leads to the constant increase in landfills, the sites of our material waste by burying it into our Earth. ‘About 80% of the electronic waste in the United States is exported, mostly to Third World countries like India.” (You Are Here, 26) These piles of trash that we are contributing to are greatly effecting the health of our planet, which in return effects the air we breathe and the health of ourselves and of our children. We are far beyond the point of making sustainable decisions an option. It is now an obligation and priority to our world.

HENRY DAVID THOREAU : Thoreau, a philosopher and leading transcendentalist, first became an inspiration to me in 2005 when I read his most popular book, Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings. He focuses on a concept called transcendentalism, which is a philosophical movement that developed in the U.S. during late 1820s that is based upon the inherent goodness of both people and nature. JACQUE FRESCO : The self-taught concept artist and futurist first captivated my attention through his many theories explored in one of his films from the organization he started called The Venus Project. This project focuses on restructuring society, natural resource management, sustainable cities, and energy efficiency. ANDREW H. DENT PH.D : Watching Dent’s highly influential TED Talk, Material Innovation Now, was where my interest in his work first began. Dent is the Vice President of Library and Materials Research at Material ConneXion, a global materials consultancy with the world’s largest library of advanced, innovative and sustainable materials and processes.

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Finding A Focus Thomas M. Kostigen’s book, You Are Here: Exposing the Vital Link Between What We Do and What That Does to Our Planet, states: “... the direct relationship between our actions is too often ignored. But the seemingly insignificant things we do everyday [has] the power to literally alter the landscape in the ongoing battle to resuscitate the planet.” (You Are Here, 1). These words inspired me to think that just because in the past our habitual urge was to “throw away” does not justify its continuance. It is not that we neccessarily lack awareness of this epidemic though because as Kostigen declares, “We have been told, not shown, which issues matter and why.” (You Are Here, 3) Now that I knew the core of the problem, I then knew the role I had to play. I have dedicated my time to research this issue so that I have the credibility to successfully show why this issue matters. My goal is to stress the importance in the value of dedicating time, money and other various resources in the efforts to address our addiction to overproducing and over-consuming. Let me show you why you I care and why you should too. Kostigen’s writing highlighted the fact that, “There was and continue’s to be a general lack of understanding about why what we do matters.” (You Are Here, 2) I believe this is because our goals are not condusive to how we want to live and what we are expecting from our environment. I am questioning: Are we not making connections amoungst different fields of study towards collective improvement because we are greedy, which has caused a fog of corruption?

There are so many possibilities to solving our problems with over-production that are more likely to be solved if collaboration amougst different fields is emphasized as more of a priority. A book by William McDonough and Michael Braungart titled Cradle To Cradle: Remaking The Way We Make Things highlights the importance of this issue very effectively: “Consider this: all the ants on the planet, taken together, have a biomass greater than that of humans. Ants have been incredibly industrious for millions of years. Yet their productiveness nourishes plants, animals, and soil. Human industry has been in full swing for little over a century, yet it has brought about a decline in almost every ecosystem on the planet. Nature doesn’t have a design problem. People do.” (Cradle to Cradle,16) If we were more knowledgeable of the resources that we have, would we be more apt to protect and care for our environment and be less likely to buy products that pollute it? If the retail environment didn’t give consumers a choice between many different products, than would we be forced to only purchase the products that considered the effects it had on our environment? We no longer have the option to choose whether or not to care for our environment. As I continued to read The Lean Startup I came across a very powerful statement (featured on the left page), leading me to believe that designers are acting upon a ‘look what I can do attitude and approach’.

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MY INTEREST LIES IN THE MATERIALS THAT PRODUCTS ARE MADE OF.

WHERE DO THEY COME FROM?

HOW ARE THEY MADE?

WHAT IMPACTS DO THEY HAVE

IT IS A ON OUR DESIGNER’S RESPONSIBILITY PLANET? TO CHOOSE ENVIRONMENTALLY APPROPRIATE MATERIALS THAT SUPPORT, RATHER THAN DEPLETE OUR WORLD’S NATURAL RESOURCES. SUCCESSFULLY COMMUNICATING OUR EARTH’S DIRE NEED FOR A CHANGE IN HUMAN HABIT EMPHASIZES OUR OBLIGATION TO MODIFY HOW WE CURRENTLY MISUSE OUR INVENTORY OF MATERIALS.

INDUSTRIAL & INTERACTION DESIGN viii

THESIS RESEARCH

BY:

KIMBERLY A. CHACRA


Thesis Statement It is a designer’s responsibility to choose environmentally appropriate materials that support, rather than deplete our world’s natural resources. Successfully communicating our Earth’s dire need for a change in human habit emphasizes our obligation to modify how we currently misuse our inventory of materials.

‘ENVIRONMENTALLY APPROPRIATE’ : This term commonly refers to materials, goods, services, processes or people that intend to do minimal harm to the environment, that contribute to practices dedicated to help conserve resources, and that prevent contributions to air, water and land pollution. ‘NATURAL RESOURCES’ : Natural resources are material sources of wealth, such as mineral deposits, forests, fresh water, living organisms, fertile land, etc. that occur in nature, have economic value and are necessary or useful for our survival. The majority of natural resources are exhaustible, which means they have a fixed quantity, and can diminish if they are poorly managed.

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01 Live Simply


“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what I had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.� -Henry David Thoreau

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Image: Inside the refrigerator of The Johnson’s Zero Waste Home are containers that Bea Johnson takes to the store in lieu of using plastic packaging. She brings one jar for meat, one for fish, one for cheese, and one for deli. The remaining jars contain fresh ingredients from the farmer’s market.

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01 Live Simply The values of a transcendentalist support a lifestyle that is one with nature. A mindset that strives to live simply. So what is living simply? What does it look like? I wonder what percentage of our lives are spent simply moving objects around and arguing over the things we own. Our problems, more often than not, stem from stuff. Using the correct materials can allow us to live simply. I introduce to you the Zero Waste Home. Bea Johnson, a 36 year old mother, and her husband, Scott Johnson, strive to live a zero-waste lifestyle with their two sons. They used to fill a huge trash bin every week so Johnson’s decided to get rid of it. Her family wasn’t going to bring in any waste. If any of her family members wanted to dispose of something it is either composted or recycled. Johnson has an arrangement with her butcher to pick up her meat using her reusable glass jars. She makes her own cleaning products and she purchases products like compostable toothbrushes for her family. The zero-waste lifestyle that the Johnson’s strive to live for made me realize that in order for this broken system of overconsumption to change, our mentality needs to change. By altering our approach to the problem, we are able to simplify and understand what truly matters. My goal is not to propose a product idea; it is to propose a change in our daily habits. So that we can all live simply.

THE 5Rs : 1. Refuse what you do not need. 2. Reduce what you do need. 3. Reuse what you consume. 4. Recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce or reuse. 5. Rot (Compost) the rest.

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Image: Red Worm Compost Statistic Source: You Are Here: Exposing The Vital Link Between What We Do And What That Does To Our Planet By: Thomas M. Kostigen

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Composting Thomas M. Kostigen’s book, You Are Here: Exposing The Vital Link Between What We Do And What That Does To Our Planet, acknowledges that “The 3rd most common refuse at dumpsites is food.” (You Are Here, 10) This approach is damaging and there are other options that are far more effective. Vermicomposting, or worm composting, is a method of rapidly consuming food waste by the use of worms, while producing high quality compost soil and fertilizing liquid. Fortunately, it is self-contained and nearly odorless. The Johnson’s have developed a habit of composting along with not purchasing any packaged food. They buy in bulk and shop at the farmer’s market. This has led to a healthier diet for her family without junk food and their use of reusable cloth bags to fill their produce and dry goods with has saved money that would have otherwise been spent on packaging. In an article called Art and Labor, the authors, Jessica Stockholder and Joe Scanlan question if creativity has unintentionally become the reason for why we know very little of how the things we need are made. They state that,“Perhaps art was the repository of more eccentric impulses than those generated by the making of life’s necessities--soap, toys, furniture, houses--all made by people locally and with available materials. Now we are aware of very little, if any, of the making of the things we need.” (Art And Labor, 51)

Can following the habits of The Johnson Family bring us back to rediscovering how the things we consume and use are made? For example, she goes to the farmer’s market and meets the people who grow the food she eats instead of purchasing processed food that is packaged in cardboard and plastics that end up filling our trash bins and landfills.

10¢

of every dollar we spend is used on packaging.

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Image: Burdock plant Image: Velcro

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Biomimicry While composting is a solution that works with nature, biomimicry is a smart way to approach design inspired by nature. For example, what if we strived to design, “Products that, when their useful life is over, do not become useless waste but can be tossed onto the ground to decompose and become food for plants and animals and nutrients for soil; or, alternately, that can return to industrial cycles to supply highquality raw materials for new products.” (Cradle To Cradle, 91) Let’s design sustainable products that “Celebrate their materials rather than apologize for them.” (Cradle to Cradle, 72) This is easier said than done. Where we can look first is in nature. Nature has the ability to balance extremes very well and we can learn from that. One example of looking at nature as a way to solve our own problems is velcro. This hook-and-loop fastner was invented in 1941 by George de Mestral, a Swiss engineer. While returning from a hunting trip with his dog, he took a close look at a plant that kept sticking to his clothes and his dog’s fur. This plant is called burdock. When he examined the plant under a microscope, he noticed it had hundreds of “hooks” that caught on anything with a loop, such as clothing, animal fur, or hair. Duplicating the hook and loop pattern, created a fastener that could temporarily bind two materials. Velcro is viewed by many as a principle example of the imitation of elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems.

‘SUSTAINABILITY’ : “At its heart, sustainability is a quest for equilibrium a balance between human use and natural regeneration.’ (Design For A Living World, Preface)

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Statistic Source: You Are Here: Exposing The Vital Link Between What We Do And What That Does To Our Planet By: Thomas M. Kostigen

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Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the Earth

4x.

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Statistic Source: You Are Here: Exposing The Vital Link Between What We Do And What That Does To Our Planet (p.10) By: Thomas M. Kostigen

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It would take the resources of

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planet Earths to support the current world’s population at U.S. standards of living.

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Image: Clothing from my closet.

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The Experiment I am studying to be an Industrial Designer, a field that trains people to design and make stuff. Yet ironically, a lot of our problems stem from the stuff we own, the sheer volume of it, when things don’t work properly, when we have to move and we realize we have too much stuff, when we pay a lot of money for products and then we get tired of their design, and the list goes on and on. How can we continue to constantly produce products when we haven’t addressed where these products end up when their use is no longer needed? “As Peter Drucker said, ‘There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.” Peter Drucker is a management consultant, educator and author. I agree with his theory, leading me to believe that we shouldn’t give consumers a choice to choose because it shouldn’t be an option. Not only is it the responsibility of the designer to choose environmentally appropriate materials, it is also the responsibility of the consumer as well to make smart choices. We need to stop making and start considering the after life of these products. It is true that Industrial Design trains you to design and make products but it also trains you to be a problem solver. I habitually look at the world with a lense of ‘how can that be better?’ In this sense everyone is a designer, whether designing spread sheets or designing how you are going to fit everything into your moving truck: “It shouldn’t take a scientist to figure out that what we do in one place influences something else somewhere on the planet.” (You Are Here,17)

I conducted an experiment that analyzes myself as a consumer. What do I own and why do I own it? I am trained to be an Industrial Designer. I design objects and interactions. It would make sense for me to analyze the objects that I own and their purpose. In my college apartment I quantified my belongings. The experiment’s aim was to wittle your belongings down to 100 things. However, the number of stuff you own is arbitrary. It is a matter of what are you actually using and what could you live without? I discovered that when you write down everything you own it puts everything into perspective. You realize that you can get rid of so many superfluous unused items. The take away here is that by participating in this experiment you too will realize that you actually don’t need to own many items. And that by participating we will all realize that we do not need to produce things that do not add value. Getting a couple hours of use and a few moments of happiness out of a product that ends up in a landfill is not worth it.

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Everything I Own: My 547 Things

67 items

36 items

Office

Includes: camera, desk lamp, set of speakers, cutting mat, drawer of office supplies, laptop sleeve, laptop, laptop charger, external hard drive, headphones, books, tv monitor, extention cord, phone, and phone charger.

14

37

18

items

items

Furniture Includes: milk crates, organizer bins, storage crate, floor ottoman, desk, picture frame, bed frame, box spring, mattress, bed risers, floor lamp, night table, and mirror.

Kitchen Includes: microwave, toaster, silverware, utensils, pan, cutting boards, hand towels, ice cube bucket, ice cube tray, cupcake wrappers, glassware, canteen, cleaning supplies, coasters, plates, bowls, measuring cups, strainer, and Tupperware.

Misc.

Includes: maps, tapestries, Christmas decoration, volleyball, beach ball, luggage bags, candles, string of lights, jars, spare change, yoga mat, set of weights, small rug, hangers and lighter.


334 items

16

39 items

items

Linens

Includes: bath towels, face clothes, mattress protector, mattress foam, set of sheets, pillows, pillow cases, comforter, and blankets.

Bathroom Includes: bath mat, garbage bin, curling iron, perfumes, makeup, medicine, makeup applicators/grooming items, body care items, hair accessories, laundry basket, and boxes of tissues.

Wearables

Includes: scarves, jewelry, watch, pair of sunglasses, bathing suits, undergarments, socks, tights, shoes, dress pants, dresses, skirts, dress shirts, T-shirts, sweaters, jackets, pants, shirts, small bags, shorts, and belts.

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Everything I Actually Use: My 277 Things

25 items

12 items

Office

Includes: camera, desk lamp, set of speakers, cutting mat, drawer of office supplies, laptop sleeve, laptop, laptop charger, external hard drive, headphones, books, tv monitor, extention cord, phone, and phone charger.

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17

14

items

items

Furniture Includes: milk crates, organizer bins, storage crate, floor ottoman, desk, picture frame, bed frame, box spring, mattress, bed risers, floor lamp, night table, and mirror.

Kitchen Includes: microwave, toaster, silverware, utensils, pan, cutting boards, hand towels, ice cube bucket, ice cube tray, cupcake wrappers, glassware, canteen, cleaning supplies, coasters, plates, bowls, measuring cups, strainer, and Tupperware.

Misc.

Includes: maps, tapestries, Christmas decoration, volleyball, beach ball, luggage bags, candles, string of lights, jars, spare change, yoga mat, set of weights, small rug, hangers and lighter.


158 items

14

37 items

items

Linens

Includes: bath towels, face clothes, mattress protector, mattress foam, set of sheets, pillows, pillow cases, comforter, and blankets.

Bathroom Includes: bath mat, garbage bin, curling iron, perfumes, makeup, medicine, makeup applicators/grooming items, body care items, hair accessories, laundry basket, and boxes of tissues.

Wearables

Includes: scarves, jewelry, watch, pair of sunglasses, bathing suits, undergarments, socks, tights, shoes, dress pants, dresses, skirts, dress shirts, T-shirts, sweaters, jackets, pants, shirts, small bags, shorts, and belts.

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UNUSED STUFF

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USED STUFF

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BUY LESS.

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CHOOSE WELL.

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02 Take An Organized Approach

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“Earth is abundant with plentiful resources. Our practices of rationing resources through monetary control is no longer relevant and is counter-productive to our survival.� -Jacque Fresco

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Image: Samples of materials from around my apartment. Left Side: Teavana Tea, Rope, Tea Blend, Australian Acorn, Coconut Oil, Curry, Beads, Beads (after reacting to water), Hemp, Cork, Styrofoam Right Side: Paper Packing, Material, Eye Shadow, Wire, Brown Sugar, Eucalyptus Leaves, Seaweed, Sea Foam, Stainless Balls, Sea Urchine Spines, Udon Noodles (Made from Egg and Buckwheat), Chocolate Barley Malt

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02 Take An Organized Approach One of Jacque Fresco’s many hats is designing for the future. He designs systems for the future to work with the upmost efficiency, to utilize the world’s resources in the smartest way possible. Whenever I start a task, I look at what is available to me: What do I have? What do I have access to? What do I need to know and how do I retrieve that information? Now, I am able to experiment and come up with solutions. It is then (once I know what my materials and resources are) that I can fully understand what my options are.

We need to approach our problems the same way, by first recognizing what we have available to us and have access to, so we are able to come up with the best solutions. Because the best solution for our environment is the best solution for us. Let’s organize our information. Let’s figure out what we have and what we know to create innovative solutions to our problems. Let us use materials for what they are best for instead of designing a product and then find a material that could simply work for it, which is a backwards approach. This can act as a vehicle to form a bridge for purpose. Organizing our resources can lead us to choose environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable materials for our products.

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Image: Samples of materials from around the world. Cocoa Beans Wool Suade Pulp from Leather Bamboo Black Bits of Leather Tea Moss

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Resources A resource is a source or supply that produces benefits. Different types of resources that we manage are time, money (capital), people and natural resources. Materials are a type of resource. What do we expect in a material? Sometimes when a material is poorly selected for an application, the user expects the material to perform in a way that it is not capable of. More often than not, the right material isn’t used because the designer doesn’t know of it and/or doesn’t know its characterics. This can easily be solved. Material demonstrations are used for this very reason. The more I read and researched the more I came to treat everything as a material. Jonny Bowden Ph.D. C.N.S. author of The Most Effective Natural Cures On Earth analyzes the benefits of food and ingredients. His writing caused me to treat even food and herbs as materials. Bowden treats the human body as a system. We should treat our society as a system as well.

As designers we should know how to read materials and the feelings they create. The material we have the most intimate relationship with is cloth; we wear it, we sleep with it, it dries us after we bathe. We so heavily rely on cloth yet when have we acknowledged how cloth is made? Is the shirt you are wearing hand woven or is it created on a hand loom? We know so little of how the products we need are made. Maybe if we knew how the products we use on a daily basis were made, we would care for them more and strive to own just well-made necessities. This realization could prevent billions of clothes to be dumped onto the floors of a 60,000 square foot facility also known as the Rescue Mission Donation Warehouse. This site is were 44,000 pounds of clothing come in every 2 weeks in trucks loaded with 1,200 pound bails of clothing.

How in tune are we of the materials that encompass our daily lives? “The eye is the usual route for incoming data.” (Touching Is Believing, 46) We see these objects everyday but do we interpret them as materials? And if we do interpret them as materials, do we recognize their importance? Do we know where they come from? How they are made? What impacts they have on our planet?

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Upon visiting the 60,000 sq ft Syracuse Rescue Mission Donation Warehouse. I discovered that 44,000 lbs of clothing gets shipped to 14 Salvation Army stores within the Upstate New York Area every 2 weeks. Each bail weighs 1,200 lbs.

Rescue Mission 436 W Seneca Turnpike Syracuse, NY 13207 (315) 492-0802 28


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Image: Cloth from the Rescue Mission.

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The Environmental Textiles Course Environmental Textiles is a course based on the Textile Reader by Jessica Hemmings. This textbook addresses textiles as a distinctive area of cultural practice and introduces the theoretical frameworks essential to the exploration of textile from both a critical and a creative perspective. Content is drawn from a wide range of artists’ statements, fictional literature and critical writings. These works are then organized into themed sections. The two sections I chose to focus on were politics and touch in relation to cloth. These two themes were covered in detail through in-class discussions. The exchange of dialogue was especially valuable because of my peers’ varied backgrounds and majors, which made for a melting pot of perspectives. Our individual viewpoints on the topic were then displayed in the following two group exhibitions:

EXHIBITION 1: POLITICS Lipe Art Park W Fayette St. Syracuse, NY 13204 (315) 443-0320

The location of each exhibition provides a context for the objects and installations that emerge from each theme. Similarly, each exhibition space presents the work to an audience for evaluation extending the conversation to a broader framework. Exhibition 1 took place in Lipe Art Park in downtown Syracuse, NY. “Formally an abandoned train yard, Lipe Art Park... is now the city’s first art park and public green space...for the development of, display, performance and appreciation of all forms of art, in order to facilitate public/ community engagement with the ecological and cultural life of the city.” Our trip to the Rescue Mission inspired my installation for this exhibition. Exhibition 2 took place in the Sue & Leon Genet Gallery in The Warehouse. This Syracuse University building is a space dedicated to students enrolled in design majors. The following two pages feature my work for these two exhibitions.

EXHIBITION 2: TOUCH Sue & Leon Genet Gallery The Warehouse 350 W Fayette Ave. Syracuse, NY 13202 (315) 443-4644

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A piece I created for Lipe Art Park in Syracuse, NY, spells out the word choice in various materials emphasizing that pollution was caused by us. Which means we should be able to fix it. The materials I chose were plastics and cloth; both non-economical materials.

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This piece that I created lives in the Genet Gallery in downtown, Syracuse, NY. The left side represents the use of natural materials. The right side shows the materials that we currently use in our products that are now polluting the Earth. The use of a fashion manneqin pulls it all together and symbolizes that this is a human problem. 34


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BE RESOURCEFUL.

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TO DESIGN BETTER.

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“It requires a cultural shift by consumers and businesses alike to take it to the tipping point; from the exception to an expectation, but it will happen.” ‘REFASHIONED: Cutting-Edge Clothing From Upcycled Materials’ ‘FastCompany’ Carey Dunne

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03 Make Connections

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“In the work that we do, we deal with a range of clients that come from automotive, architecture, fashion, sportswear, interior design, product design. And we feel that they all have a lot to learn from each other. This sort of cross-pollination, where it’s possible to source ideas and technology from different industries I think has a great way of solving a lot of our material problems.” - Andrew H. Dent Ph.D 41


Image: Material ConneXion’s New York Library

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03 Make Connections The work done at Material ConneXion functions on the guidelines of making connections. They are a global company with offices in New York, Bangkok, Beijing, Cologne, Daegu, Istanbul, Milan, Seoul, Shanghai, Skövde, and Tokyo. They utilize their global resources by connecting with people of different fields. Recognizing the advantages in innovation that result from these collaborations has successfully benefited the material solutions that Material ConneXion pursues.

the right system. Collaborations like these provide a better platform for designing products that are environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable. Let’s take what we have and what we know and use it to implement progressive ideas. Let’s shift our current way of functioning to access our ideal capabilities and minimize the human footprint while doing it.

The Vice President at Material ConneXion, Andrew Dent, specializes in library and materials research. In one of his most viewed TED Talks, Material Innovation Now, he discusses a project where his team was asked to redesign the golf club. They asked themselves “What is the function of a golf club?” “To hit a small round object a far distance.” Further, “What else does that?” “Weapons also do that.” They then researched the materials used in those products, such as titanium, and put a small piece of that in the redesign. I learned that there is a term for this, technology transfer, the act of cross-pollinating information, resources and processes used in different fields. By communicating with people who think unlike ourselves, we greatly multiply our options in making fitting solutions to our problems. This allows us to make the right connections to transfer these solutions into

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Image: Clothe from the Rescue Mission.

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The Global Case Study Another example of this cross-pollination was in 2009 when The Nature Conservancy and the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum became partners. Their book, Design For A Living World, is a global venture that “brings together two seemingly disparate worlds: international product design and the natural environment.” (Design For A Living World, 17)

allowing consumers to make informed decisions. Examples of these third-party systems are the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) (considered the gold standard for forest-product certification), Leadership In Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) (criteria for buildings), Cradle To Cradle (standards for industrial products), and Fair Trade (certification for agricultural goods).

The Nature Conservancy commissioned ten well-known designers to develop new uses for sustainably grown and harvested natural materials, starting with the materials’ point of origin. The designers were dispatched to specific places around the world to create functional objects that aim to celebrate their chosen materials, not apologize for them. Each design’s final objective uses inspiration from the landscape, the people, and the material in its most basic, raw form.

1 TED MUEHLING Federated States of Micronesia Vegetable Ivory & Black Pearl

“As designers and consumers explore the environment ethics of manufacturing things, they seek transparency about where goods come from and how they are made.” (Design For A Living World, 23) It is about analyzing what works where and why. Furthermore, it is about questioning where else can it work? These commissions reveal truths about the challenge and the potential for sustainable sourcing. In searching for helpful resources regarding conservation principles, practices and choices, the designers turned to thirdparty systems for guidance. The third-party systems they utilized measure the social and environmental impact of goods, making it easier for designers to obtain materials for products that have been sourced responsibly

2 STEPHAN BURKS Australia Raspberry Jam Wood 3 YVES BÉHAR Costa Rica Cocoa 4 ABBOTT MILLER Bolivia FSC-Certified Plywood 5 KATE SPADE Bolivia FSC-Certified Hardwood & Jipijapa 6 ISAAC MIZRAHI Alaska Salmon Leather 7 HELLA JONGERIUS Mexico Chicle 8 CHRISTIEN MEINDERTSMA Idaho Organic Wool 9 EZRI TARAZI China Bamboo 10 MAYA LIN Maine FSC-Certified Red Maple

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1 TED MUEHLING Federated States of Micronesia Vegetable Ivory & Black Pearl “Over the duration of its life, an ivory nut palm tree produces hundreds of seeds that drop naturally to the ground, allowing them to be sustainably harvested.”

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2 STEPHAN BURKS Australia Raspberry Jam Wood “Raspberry jam is a primary host for sandlewood, a small parasitic tree that is highly valued for its aromatic oil. Sandlewood has shallow roots and depends on other trees and shrubs for its own survival.”


3 YVES BÉHAR Costa Rica Cocoa “Cocoa farming demonstrates the interdependence of biodiversity and healthy crop yield. It is a highly successful form of agroforestry, in which crops are raised within a forest setting.”

4 ABBOTT MILLER Bolivia FSC-Certified Plywood “Growing demand for certified sustainable wood products in Europe and the United States is yielding higher prices for the people of Bolivia and building incentives to protect the country’s life-giving forests.”

5 KATE SPADE Bolivia FSC-Certified Hardwood & Jipijapa “After cutting leaves from palm trees with machetes, the women boil them with lemon and sulfur to bleach the fibers. Then dry the fibers in the sun, boil the leaves again, and dye them in shared vats of color. Dyeing is planned in stages as colors are added to the pot, one by one, to yield a variety of hues.”

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6 ISAAC MIZRAHI Alaska Salmon Leather “While the modern leather industry relies largely on the skins of animals that are hunted or farmed only for their hides, fish processors discard enormous amounts of potentially valuable material each year as a byproduct of the food industry. Over the past decade, salmon skin has been rediscovered as a beautiful and economically viable product.”

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7 HELLA JONGERIUS Mexico Chicle “Chicle latex flows from the Manilkara zapota, a tree that grows in the rainforest of Belize, Guatemala, Mexico, and Nicaragua.”


8 CHRISTIEN MEINDERTSMA Idaho Organic Wool “People have grazed sheep on open land for millennia, using these animals as a source of meat, milk, leather, and fibers.”

9 EZRI TARAZI China Bamboo “Capable of growing up to a meter in a single day, bamboo takes 3 years to mature, while an oak tree takes 20. Because they shoot up from a system of roots, new stalks regenerate automatically after cutting, making replanting unnecessary.”

10 MAYA LIN Maine FSC-Certified Red Maple “People walking into a room have no way of understanding where the surrounding surfaces and structures come from; for designers, however, this understanding becomes transparent through FSC.”

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Image: Leather

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The Local Case Study Having been inspired by the work of the Design For A Living World project, I set out to follow a similar path. I found my landscape in Aurora, NY and my material, full-grain leather. This connection was made when I met David Binns, owner of the Aurora Shoe Co., a small group of dedicated artisans who have been manufacturing hand-crafted leather shoes in Central, NY since the early 1990s.

My aim was to design a product that could potentially be featured in Aurora Shoe Co.’s future product line that utilizes their scrap material. All while considering the balance between manufacturer and user needs: production limitations, distribution, marketing patterns, current user demographic, manufacturing time etc. Through an iterative process of market research, material exploration, form finding and user testing, I created a product proposal for Aurora Shoe Co. My product proposal emphasizes the reclamation of waste materials from Aurora’s current process, using leather scraps to create new products. Thus the tinkering began. The next page features my product proposal.

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The Treasure Carrier Using the designers commissioned for the Design For A Living World Project as role models, I too began by manipulating and experimenting with my material in any which way I could think of. I made leather pulp, scratched henna patterns using a blade, lasercut it and punched holes to test flexibility, etc. Following the ideals of Aurora Shoe Co., I paired quality American materials, highgrade full grain Horween Leather, with handmade workmanship to create a longlasting product. Aurora uses specific pattern shapes and sizes for each part of their shoes. Thus, unavoidably creating scrap pieces. These scraps usually don’t get used and are often wasted. These scraps are small in size but they are still great quality full-grain leather.

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Image: Study Abroad Trip ‘13 Coogee Beach NSW, Australia

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The Bio-Tourism Survey I conducted an online survey about biotourism in order to learn more from people who were only one degree of seperation from me. I contacted Syracuse University Industrial and Interaction Design Alumni, current professors and family members of mine who have traveled to foreign countries for research. This acted as an opportunity for me to pursue further knowledge. I wanted to know what the take-aways were when people returned home from visiting a new landscape with a completely different culture from the one they were used to. I think it is a somewhat addicting feeling to be lost in a new country. Sometimes it is so refreshing that it offers a level of comfort. 41 people participated. The following pages visualizes their responses when being asked question #7: What would you say is unique to that area? What is that area known for?

SURVEY QUESTIONS : 1. Which country have you spent the most time in? 1. Have you ever traveled to a foreign land? 2. Which country have you spent the most time in? (Besides the country you call home). 3. How long did you live there for? 4. What was your reason for traveling there? 5. How did you immerse yourself into the area? What types of activities did you participate in to get to know the area? 6. What were somethings you noticed that were different about this country compared to your home country? (This includes things that you liked and did not like). 7. What would you say is unique to that area? What is that area known for?

8. How did you find out that this country was known for those things? 9. What items did you bring back from that country and why? 10. Did you bond with the locals? If yes, how did you go about doing so? Was there a language barrier?

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CA

CANADA

US

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Fresh Water, Maple Syrup, Mountains

Muscle Cars, Baseball, Melting Pot of Cultures 56

MX

MEXICO

CR

COSTA RICA

Hot - Humid Jungles, Exotic Fruit, Tequila

Bananas, No Military, Gourmet Coffee Beans

PR IE

PUERTO RICO Beautiful Beaches, Plantains, Rum

IRELAND

Green Grass, Castles, Literature

UK

UNITED KINGDOM

BE

BELGIUM

Rain, Strawberries, Cheese

Diamonds, Artisan Plates, Lace


IT

ITALY

GR

GREECE

Canals, Olive Oil, Wine

Mountains, Beaches, Holy Water, Leather, Oregano

PL

POLAND

IL

ISRAEL

Natural Remedies, Amber, Kielbasa

Fertile Agriculture, Museum, Desert

KE

KENYA

IN

INDIA

Maize, Cattle Herding For Milk, Beans

Colorful Fabric, Mangos, Wooden Instruments

CN

CHINA

AU

AUSTRALIA

Bamboo, Papermaking, Woodblock Printing

Wildlife, The Great Barrier Reef, Seafood 57


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Conclusion It all started with those colorful square pieces of paper, accidently invented by a man named Art Fry. Ah, the Post-it. A quick spurt of information was all I needed to get started. It all blossomed from there. I learned that I know three things about myself: I continually strive to live simply, I understand things better when they are organized and I regularly make connections with new pieces of information. By exposing our inefficient ways of living I learned that we have to recognize and admit to ourselves, that if our actions are not helping us to live healthier, better lives, than we need to change our habits. Something that has always stood out to me is how much we as a culture consume and waste. We are far beyond the point of making sustainable decisions an option. It is now an obligation and priority to our world. “Nature doesn’t have a design problem. People do.” (Cradle to Cradle,16)

By participating in ethnographic research in Ecuador I aim to see first hand how different cultures solve problems with what is available to them. I propose a shift in our current way of functioning to access our ideal capabilities and minimize the human footprint while doing it. So back to the question that directed me from the very beginning: what do I want to know how to do better? Through travel, I hope to learn how to find appropriate applications for a specific area’s resources. Going from country to country finding solutions for how they can use their land’s natural treasures in the best way possible. I hope to connect people back to the roots of how their belongings were made.

We no longer have the option to choose whether or not to care for our environment. That is why I strongly believe: It is a designer’s responsibility to choose environmentally appropriate materials that support, rather than deplete our world’s natural resources. Successfully communicating our Earth’s dire need for a change in human habit emphasizes our obligation to modify how we currently misuse our inventory of materials.

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Acknowledgements I would like to extend my gratitude to the following people who contributed to the creation of this book: Most importantly I would like to thank my mother, my father and my sisters, Stephanie and Danielle who consistently act as my backbone and support system. I would also like to thank: Denise Heckman, Johnathan Mills, Cas Holman, Jonathan Truex, Donn Carr, Kathleen Brandt, Anne Cofer, Paul Cusano, Diane Drugge, Barnett Klane and Roseda Lo. who have supported me throughout this journey.

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REFERENCES: Books “Natural medicine—or nutritional medicine—works by treating the whole body as a system.”

Bowden Ph.D., C.N.S., Jonny. The Most Effective Natural Cures On Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth About What Treatments Work and Why. Massachusetts: Fair Winds Press, 2011. Print. “Imagine what a world of prosperity and health in the future will look like, and begin designing for it right now. What would it mean to become, once again, native to this place, the Earth—the home of all our relations? This is going to take us all, and it is going to take forever. But then, that’s the point.”

Braungart, Michael. Cradle To Cradle: Remaking The Way We Make Things. New York: Allyn, 2002. Print. “As an exploration, research is purposefully flexible, meaning divergences from planned protocols and the collection of information from spontaneous interactions and observations are encouraged.”

Hanington, Bruce; and Martin, Bella. Universal Methods Of Design. Massachusetts: Rockport Publishers, 2012. Print.

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“It is therefore ‘better that the material speaks than that we speak ourselves’. This denial of the self and of emotional introspection conveys a canonically modern sensibility toward function and away from the obfuscating potential of art, or the privileging of the ego.”

Hemmings, Jessica. The Textile Reader. London: Berg, 2012. Print. “Telling stories is about transforming the stories we heard during research into data and information that we can use to inspire opportunities, ideas, and solutions.”

IDEO and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Human Centered Design: An Introduction 2nd Edition. Chicago: AuthorHouse, 2011. Print. “Caring for our future means caring for our past and understanding the basic components of our existence—air, water, the food we eat. But importantly, understanding needs to enter the equation; it is the missing link in the ecology of the planet.”

Kostigen, Thomas M. You Are Here: Exposing The Vital Link Between What We Do And What That Does To Our Planet. New York, NY: HarperOne, 2008. Print.

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REFERENCES: Books “Professor Keen might have thought I was crazy, but he didn’t assume I was joking.” - William ‘Bing’ Gordon

Lingwood, Dave; Nemtin, Ben; Penn, Duncan; and Penn, Jonnie. What Do You Want To Do Before You Die?. New York: Artisan, 2012. Print. “For the human race to thrive, we must choose to preserve and respect the natural world upon which we all depend.”

Lupton, Ellen and Miller, Abbott. Design For A Living World. New York: Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum Smithsonian Institution, 2009. Print. “A good design is one that changes customer behavior for the better.”

Ries, Eric. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses. New York: Crown Business, 2011. Print.

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“Good design will inevitably call for a reevaluation of needs. It will also introduce new behavorial patterns.�

Vivaldi, Gabriella. MATTER. New York: Material ConneXion, 2013. Print.

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REFERENCES: Articles “...the role of the designer is not to ‘create meaning, but rather to render meaning apparent’.”

Bao, Mingxin; Delong, Marilyn; and Wu, JuanJuan. “May I Touch It?” Textile. Volume 5. (2007): 34-49. Print. “He created, at a monumental scale, an impeccably balanced system of shapes and of force relations that at the same time propitiated the interplay of tensions that produced an alarming instability. It was also an entirely carnal, sensual, and quasierotic work of art.”

Benko, Susana. “Ernesto Neto: Leviathan Thot.” Art Nexus. Volume 6 Number 64 (2007): 90-1. Print. “However, material culture, as the name would imply, centres ‘on the idea that materiality is an integral dimension of culture’, and that ‘the study of the material dimension is as fundametal to understanding culture as is a focus on language’.”

Bristow, Maxine. “Continuity of Touch—Textile As Silent Witness.” (2011): 44-51. Print.

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“Consequently, beyond selecting a material that meets a functional need, designers started to raise questions regarding the meanings that materials express: It is luxurious? Is it convenient for a cozy and friendly room? The problem however is that meanings do not (always) seem to be properties of materials; the same material may represent different meanings under different conditions. In order to convey their intentions properly, designers must understand how a material acquires its meaning and what kind of variables play a role in this process.”

Hekkert, Paul and Karana, Elvin. “User-Material-Product Interrelationships in Attributing Meanings.” International Journal of Design Volume 4 Number 3. (2010): 43-52. Print. “The eye is the usual route for incoming data.”

Mensing, Margo. “Touching is Believing.” The Presence of Touch: Art Institute of Chicago: Fiberarts. Vol.24 (1997): 45-50. Print.

“Now we are aware of very little, if any, of the making of the things we need. It happens elsewhere, often overseas. We are able to have many things because they don’t cost what they would if we ourselves were the makers.”

Scanlan, Joe and Stockholder, Jessica. “Art and Labor: Some Introductory Ideas.” Art Journal. Winter. (2005): 50-51. Print.

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REFERENCES: Articles “Humans have been weaving fabrics since the dawn of civilization, but researchers around the world are now cooking up myriad new textiles capable of containing explosions, protecting astronauts, thwarting bacteria and even keeping buildings standing during earthquakes. These new fabrics are also finding more commonplace uses, such as helping to keep people cool in the heat or ensuring that clothes stay clean and smell fresh.”

The Economist. “High-tech Fabrics: Material Benefits: Advances in seemingly mundane textile technologies promise to make the world a safer place—using a variety of tricks.” Technology Quarterly. Q3 (2013): 1-5. Print.

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REFERENCES: Videos TED Talk: Designing Objects That Tell Stories By: Yves Béhar “I think as designers we need to really think about how we can create a different relationship between our work and the world.”

http://www.ted.com/talks/yves_behar_on_designing_objects_that_tell_ stories.html TEDxGrandRapids: Material Innovation Now By: Andrew Dent “Rather than fight nature and go against it, why not use it?”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvpvSWsdHws

YouTube Video: Zero Waste Family “By focusing on bulk shopping or the farmer’s market, we’re actually cutting expenses out of our daily budget, on the order of 10-15%.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQiqHgE0h3U

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“It is going to take us all, and it is going to take forever. But then, that’s the point.” Cradle To Cradle By: William McDonough & Michael Braungart

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NOTES:

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This book represents the research phase of the undergraduate thesis for the degree of Bachelor of Industrial Design. It was completed in the fall semester of 2013. IIND 573, Professor Denise Heckman.

Kimberly Chacra's Thesis Book Vol.1  
Kimberly Chacra's Thesis Book Vol.1  
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