Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fall 2010-Updates & Pics coming soon!

Hey All!

It's been quite a while hasn't it? I do apologize for our lack of expertise/punctuality when it comes to this blogging thing. We have plans to be much better this year! We will not be communicating through this website however. It will mostly be through Philau e-mail or SOSA's gmail account. This website will be available for discussions if you guys want...but important information about events will not be communicated via this blog.

We have pictures SOMEwhere of our sustainability fair last year, which was a lot of fun! Those will be up shortly, so please check them out!

This year we will hopefully be joining forces with Philau's Students for Social Justice group who also works with OFXAM. It's gonna be a great year guys!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Week of 10/5-10/10 Message Board

Sorry I forgot to open this up for you last week. Just respond to this post by clicking on comments or add comment or something along those lines. I believe you can find specific directions on how to post on an earlier post of mine if you can't figure it out. So, here you go! Discuss away, any ideas or concerns are welcome!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cradle to Cradle Chapter 6: Putting Eco-effectiveness Into Practice

Chapter 6: Putting Eco-Effectiveness into Practice
This chapter looks at the future of applying cradle to cradle methodology and the possible optimistic outcomes. The chapter uses the example of the Rouge, Ford Motor Company manufacturing plant, whose current chairman William Clay Ford Jr. has taken on the immense burden of re-designing the entire plant to meet not only a modern car market but also using the opportunity to ensure that social and environmental concerns are explored at an early stage so that they become forces that help postively shape the entire manufacturing process at every scale and for all participants. The chapter goes further to show how currently the practice is simply to substitute, take an existing process or "recipe" and evaluate each ingredient in order to substitute less bad materials while trying to maintain the valued characteristics of the former recipe. This method is flawed because it is inherently conflicting and shortsighted in so far as it leaves no room for completly original ideas. A better method the chapter argues is to start at the beginning with an open-ended question such as what do i want to achieve. Rather, in the case of Ford, instead of asking how can i make the car better, ask how can we create efficient transportation for the modern world. Therefore the designers are not rooted or handicapped by outdated idealogy and can freely respond to contemporary social, environmental, resource, market, etc. conditions to make the best solution possible now.
Five guiding Principals:
1) Signal your intention, "commit to a new paradigm, rather than to an incremental improvement of the old."
2) Restore, "strive for good growth, not just economic growth"
3) Be ready to innovate further, "remember that perfection of an existing product is not necessarily the best investment.."
4) Understand and prepare for the learning curve, "change is difficult, messy, and takes extra materials and time."
5) Exert intergenerational responsibility.
The last principal and the end of the chapter focuses on the value of ownership. with some beautiful logic in the form of a quote from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, "The earth belongs....to the living..." Meaning contemporary generations should not create debt of any form to be paid by succeeding generations.

Personally i liked the over-arching idea of re-evaluation. I think consistant, periodic and thorough critiquing and testing is critical to ensuring "best" solutions in any scenario across time. Flexibility and Adaptation.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cradle to Cradle Chapter 5: Respesct Diversity

Hello I am Justine Welsh and this is my response to chapter 5.
This chapter emphasizes the respect we must have for diversity. I liked this point because the ways things are today, everything has become too commercialized. The example they brought up in the book was referring to a manufacturer who decided to rethink the way they make their detergent since not every consumer used the product the same. In most cases the soap was put in a washing machine, however the women in India washed their clothes by hand on large rocks thus introducing the harsh chemicals of the detergent to both their hands and the environment. So instead of following the “one size fits all” idea that we have all become accustomed too, these manufacturers need to start look at products on a smaller scale- every region of the world is unique in of itself and therefore calls for its own special needs. This unique diversity then becomes the foundation of all new ideas. By learning more about the native species, companies can find ways to use these species so that the environment still accepts them after use. For instance the book talks about doing away with Styrofoam packaging by creating a design made entirely of rice stalks and then encouraging people to throw their trash on the ground when finished so it can decompose and give something back to the soil.

The other way we must respect diversity is by finding this multiplicity in our products. The French reuse jam pots as drinking glasses. Something as simple as this needs to be modified in more products. Mankind has come a long way in regards to evolution, so now it is time to step back and rethink the way things are. This chapter lets us know that we have enough knowledge create or improve anything we want, but this time around products need to be more eco-efficient instead of bigger faster stronger. It’s time for a new revolution.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cradle to Cradle Chapter 4: Waste Equals Food

Hello :) my name is Kat Labate, I am a rising junior textile design major and SOSA's secretary of events and planning. First of all, kind of off topic, however I am so excited to be watching Bill Nye on the science channel on a series about 100 greatest discoveries in astronomy :) I haven't seen him since I was really little...

Anyways... reading chapter 4 worked in conjunction with several events for me this week. I urge anyone interested to check out the documentary entitled "Home" on You Tube


The discussion in Chapter 4 and the documentary run parrallel in their opening with the history of humans as a species on this planet. They remember mans nomadic days, when humans as a whole willed to be apart of earth’s biological system and not above it. Now, looking back in history to the beginning of agriculture, the industrial revolution along with the continuing technological boom we understand it necessary to regain the balance offset by the mankind’s continued technological advancement. Now I don’t mean to damper on progress however, it is such that has set mankind back on a much bigger scale and chapter four, waste equals food paints a clear picture on a brillian system to bring groove back our great mothers biological system.

Post Industrial Revolution, we find it necessary to have two systems inorder to meet lifestyle needs of mankind without further setting off the balance. Waste equals food provides a model using two systems to potentially re-establish equilibrium to life on earth. The first system proposed being the Technical. The technical nutrients consist of materials such as plastics and metals that may not be returned to the earth and safely biodegrade without harm to the natural system. This system would prevent today's phenomon of "throw away products." To think people throw away such modern technology as computers when they areout of date is appalling when so many of the materials can be recycled and as Cradle to Cradle suggests and turned into parts for cars or medical equiptment. Technical nutrients could also produce energy. For eaxmple landfills all over the world burn the waste as methane off into the atmosphere. Many landfills however are harnessing that methane and using it to power buildings. I have seen Johnson & Johnson commercials, explaining how they power their factory from methane harnessed from a local landfill. The goal is to eliminate the use of landfills completely, however improvement has to start somewhere.

The other system needed re-establish balance will require us to use technology to bring us back to our roots. We need to re-discover the materials provided by the earth, that are so organic, they can be simply discarded after use into a compost or the woods and will biodegrade not only without harming the enviroment, but ideally helping to further whatever ecosystem it becomes apart of. Cradle to Cradle uses an example of a Swedish Textile Mill that created a fabric that could be safely composted, while mainting buyer standards such as durability. Another place a biological nutrient could be succesfully used is packaging. Society creates extreme amounts of waste in packaging and if packaging was made from plant cellulose we would save energy from having to recycle the plastic and it could be composted easily. On the other end of the spectrum, packaging if created with a further use in mind, for example, I bought a box of Q-Tips the other day that came in a plastic tupperware like container that held the swabs and cardboard as protection in the box which was recyled. Simple decisions such as packaging can make the biggest difference.

At this point in the evolution of man, life without advanced technology would be impossible. It is mans greatest demise, yet its only solution to reverse this process weve started. It is therefore, our generations job as designers, engineers, scientists, politicians, parents, entrepreneurs or anyother path to instill this change before man does irreversable damage.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Cradle to Cradle Ch. 3: Eco-Effectiveness

Hey guys, my name is Calla Massman. A little about me, I’m currently an Architecture major at PhilaU with a minor in Sustainability, I’m also vice president of SOSA. For me, Ch. 3 has really struck home in relation to my projects in class. In all my assignments I aim to create designs in which encourage sustainable practices in all areas of the project including social, economic, and environmental factors. Through research of other projects and through my actual designs, I have come to realize there are countless ways to better a building; more south-facing windows to create more comfortable spaces and lessen energy use, open spaces to create more natural air flow and low building material costs… but there is no way I’ve come across to ever make it perfectly “sustainable”.

As chapter 3 brings up, a building could be efficient and cost effective, but by taking measures to make it this way, it could compensate for quality of material and environment. Further, there is the problem of what finishing materials to use such as; paint, carpet, flooring, etc. For every option there’s a teeter totter of pros and cons; what is a better material to use once one considers the energy put into making the material, the material life, off-gassing, etc. Environment-friendly water-based paints are a good example of this situation as a replacement of voc (volatile organic compounds)-ridden latex or oil based paints, however, the lifespan is shorter while the price is higher. This is where eco-effectiveness comes into play and has to be estimated; what is effective as a viable solution to these problems and do the pros outweigh the cons?

Another point, Cradle to Cradle does not promote “fixing” what we already have as our way out. However, our effort as we try to find solutions to our environmental crisis may be our first step to the realization that there is no quick fix. What needs to happen is the replacement of the failing systems with better, closed loop systems, in which there is zero waste and carbon offsets are neutralized. Do you think it is possible to create systems such as the cherry tree (mentioned in the book); in which the main structure sufficiently provides food for all the organisms in its system, enriches the environment and supports life, and even in its decomposition (if this happens), is able to reduce into something in which another system could be created or built from? It doesn’t seem easy and it’s not something that will be established very quickly but with the eminent need for a positive change, a design overhaul needs to be put in place. Cradle to Cradle looks as if it’s on the right track towards establishing an example of how this might come to fruition.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Don't forget to post your e-mail address!!

Hey everybody!
A lot of you are forgetting to post your e-mail address along with your post. We can't tell you you've won unless we know who you are!

A few of you did this on the second post mostly...so comment again if you have to as long as we have your e-mail address.