We can look to nature for so many solutions to our everyday problems as we learned in Janine Benyus’ TED Talk. When it comes to our plastics project in the Philippines, we should try to not only look to nature when thinking about ways in which we can re-use these plastics but understand how we will also affect nature in the process. The creation of plastics is already harmful to the environment, from the chemicals that are used to create the product to the actual manufacturing process. Even before plastic products are placed on the market, they are affecting the environment in so many negative ways. If one of the purposes of us re-using this plastic is to get the products out of the environment, we should repurpose them in a way that would require as little excess environmental damage as possible. Our environmental impact with this project doesn’t stop when it comes to re-purposing the plastics and removing them from the environment. We have to take into account our solutions entire carbon footprint in order to consider this a truly sustainable venture. The distance these products will travel from its original source, to where we re-purpose them, to their final destination however far that may be. These all need to be taken into account. We should think about the environmental impact of the ways in which we will alter these plastics– will they be melted, cut, or smashed? What kind of waste will be produced and what would we do with that waste? Thinking even further ahead, what is going to happen once the end user is done with this product? Will it end up in the landfill once more?
Depending on what we decide to make with these various plastic products, our designers could potentially use biomimicry to ensure that they are strong and durable products like Benyus discussed in her TED Talk. It’s important that we make sure that whatever we produce that its high quality and extremely sustainable. It wouldn’t be ethical of us to introduce this repurposed product to a developing community that doesn’t last as long as whatever the regular product would. I personally don’t know much about this part of the project since I’m not an engineer, but that would definitely be something that the engineers and designers in this group would have to consider.
Life’s five principles reminded me about so many things about life on earth, but the one that resonated with me the most that actually connects to this project was the fourth principle. “Life inhabits the same space where it synthesizes, uses, and disposes of chemicals or toxins.” Everything we do on this planet, everything we create, everything we dispose of, remains on the planet. Even if it is something that is out of sight, out of mind, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. With our plastics project, we can help bring light to this (even though it isn’t a new phenomenon) and maybe get people to think more about sustainability in developing countries like the Philipines. It may only start with our final product and whoever the final consumers are, or it may begin when we start outreach and asking for funding. No matter what, what we are doing will begin a dialogue and remind people that it’s important to look at the products we use every day.